Carmelo Anthony says players can’t worry about Mike Woodson’s job status

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The Knicks got an important victory on Wednesday over an undermanned Bulls team, because despite the fact that New York blew a 23-point lead before hanging on to win over the final few possessions, it relieved some of the pressure on head coach Mike Woodson.

New York has been without key players due to injury all season long. But being on the wrong end of a 41-point loss Sunday and following it up with another slow start Tuesday in a 15-point loss to Cleveland speaks to effort and preparation, and whether it’s right or not, the blame for that will ultimately fall on the shoulders of the head coach.

The players can’t focus on that, however, if they’re going to improve the situation by winning, and Carmelo Anthony said as much on Wednesday.

From Ian Begley of ESPN New York:

“When we win, the heat is off. When we lose, the heat is on. That’s just our business, that’s our society, that’s New York,” Anthony said after scoring 30 points in an 83-78 win over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night. “It happens. He can’t worry about that. We can’t worry about that.”

Woodson himself may not be worried necessarily, but he did defend himself a bit by detailing the injury issues.

“We’ve had restrictions on certain players, you know, we went through that phase. We’re kinda starting to grow out of that. Guys couldn’t play back-to-backs. Now, here’s Amar’e being able to play back to back. … [So] we’ve got to get our core guys back, No. 1. We’ve got to get Tyson back and see what our team is really about. [Because] I don’t know. We’ve had so many injuries, coming out of camp, I don’t know what this team is about if we had a full deck and everyone was playing. … I don’t know.

“I’ve never got to experience that [this season].”

Woodson is in a similar position as Jason Kidd with the Nets, in that even if you don’t like some of his lineup choices and substitution patterns, it’s difficult to judge him fully without seeing what he can do with his full complement of players.

And then, there’s this little issue that people seem to conveniently forget about when discussing making a midseason coaching switch: If you fire Woodson, who comes in to replace him?

That last part won’t matter, of course, if the Knicks continue to have lapses in energy that cause them to suffer more embarrassing blowout losses. But coming off of a much-needed win, the fury surrounding Woodson’s status has subsided a bit, if only until the team’s next game.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.