Report: Knicks’ long-term plan is to keep ‘Melo then recruit Kevin Love

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We at PBT danced around this a little earlier talking about how Minnesota is willing to make moves to win now in an effort to put a winner around Kevin Love so he will not leave.

It’s a long, long ways off, but in the summer of 2015 Love will be the premiere free agent. Thanks to the ineptitude of former GM David Kahn (who refused to offer Love a five-year max extension because he wanted to save the one long deal he has for his favorite Ricky Rubio, so Love pushed to get an opt-out after three years in a four-year deal) Love has the ability to and is expected to opt-out that summer.

The Knicks, who are off to a slow start this season with questions about their roster construction, have as priority No. 1 re-signing Carmelo Anthony this summer (which is likely but not a lock). How they keep him is telling him of their plans for Love, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Almost assuredly, Love will exercise his early termination option in two years and take a strong look at where the free-agent landscape stands with the T’wolves. He could re-sign a longer, richer deal with Minnesota, or chase big-market platforms in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and perhaps elsewhere….

The suitors promise to be plentiful for Love in two years, which is why the Knicks are already brainstorming his pursuit, sources said. Between now and July free agency, the Love pursuit will be part of New York’s hard sell to Anthony. The Knicks are a mess now, but the mirage never changes: always a salvation on the way at the Garden, always a championship parade headed down the Canyon of Heroes.

While it’s too early to know how things will shake out, we do know Love will be very, very popular in a couple of summers.

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has said he expects the process of attracting the team’s next star to pair with Kobe Bryant — and take the torch from him — would take a few years. A lot of Lakers fans have their eyes on Love. The Chicago Bulls could lose Luol Deng this summer and by 2015 will have Carlos Boozer off the books. Derrick Rose will be there as the draw and with just a couple smart moves they could have the cap space to go after Love (and still have some talent on the roster). It is possible Dallas and other teams will be in the mix also.

Of course, if the Timberwolves are a potential contender (and they have a good core right now) it would be hard to walk away. Plus Minnesota can offer the largest contract out there.

Then of course don’t forget the Knicks, they are going to be at the forefront of this parade. At least that’s the dream they are selling right now.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.