Report: If Carmelo Anthony leaves New York, he is leaning toward Chicago

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In the end, I still believe that Carmelo Anthony will be a New York Knick next season. When he surveys all his options, he will choose Manhattan, he will choose to go down as a Knicks’ legend.

But ‘Melo is going to look at his options closely. His amazing 62-point performance aside, the 16-27 Knicks’ struggles are clearly wearing on him — it doesn’t help the Knicks are largely locked into this same roster next season. The idea that ‘Melo could leave as a free agent this summer has shifted from “no way he leaves” to “he has to consider his options.”

Anthony knows those options and if he bolts he’s thinking about Chicago not Los Angeles, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports.

The losing, the decaying roster, has inspired ‘Melo to consider closely the possibilities of free agency this summer. Within the past several weeks, a longtime confidant of Carmelo Anthony confesses, something changed. Never did he believe there was a chance Anthony would leave the New York Knicks – never the Madison Square Garden stage, never the $129 million contract extension.

Only now, the gloom of the Knicks’ season – the uncertainty of the franchise’s future – left that man to believe it’s possible Anthony could leave New York in free agency.

“Chicago is much more in play for him than L.A.,” the source said.

While the Lakers will have the cap space and likely would have a conversation with Anthony, the interest on their end isn’t as strong as some rumors suggest. They understand that a Kobe Bryant/’Melo team, with not much around that pair (they will be over the cap and not able to spend much on role players) is not going far in a deep West, nor is it building for the long term. That doesn’t even touch on the fact they would need to change coaches again. Expect the Lakers to be more aggressive in 2015 and beyond when they can go after players such as Kevin Love.

The Bulls are a more interesting fit. Chicago will have the cap space to sign Anthony after the Luol Deng trade and if they amnesty Carlos Boozer as expected (plus make a couple other small moves).

If you are going to win a title with Anthony on your team you need a strong point guard who can make sure the workload is shared and Anthony doesn’t become a black hole. The Bulls have Derrick Rose. Your team also needs a strong team commitment to defense and a big who can erase mistakes, because while Anthony has tried harder on defense the last couple seasons he’s still not good. The Bulls are the prototype of team defense. You need to be able to play Anthony at the four, which Chicago could do. ‘Melo would be an interesting fit in Chi-town.

I’m still not sold that the Tom Thibodeau/Anthony marriage would go well. I’m not sold the Rose/Anthony marriage goes all that well. I’m certainly not sold Anthony wants to leave being the guy at the center of the New York spotlight. I’m not sure he wants to leave that max guaranteed year of salary on the table (the Knicks can offer five years, the Bulls just four).

But it sounds like Anthony is going to seriously consider that option.

Michael Beasley had his truck stolen out of his driveway

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Michael Beasley will be getting buckets, shooting long twos, and playing inconsistent defense for the New York Knicks next season (the analysis is just based on recent history).

But first, he’d like to find his truck. Which was stolen.

Well, I did see a Dodge Ram 1500 on the road today, but since I’m on the West Coast and I have no idea what color/year Beasley’s truck is, I’m going to assume the guy I saw didn’t perpetrate the heist.

Still, that sucks for Beasley, even if he can easily afford to replace it.

Kevin Durant gets into Twitter debate with reporter over White House comments

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Kevin Durant became the latest Warrior — joining Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston, that we know of — to say he would not visit President Donald Trump’s White House as NBA champion. Which is all kind of moot because it’s unlikely the White House invites them and outspoken Trump critic/Warriors coach Steve Kerr and his players any way. (The White House’s biggest concern should be that Kerr accepts the invitation and uses that platform to challenge the president’s policies and style in front of him.)

Durant’s comments led to plenty of talk on sports talk radio and around the sports world online about whether a player or team should decline an invitation from the president. It’s not a new debate, Tom Brady denied that politics is why he didn’t visit Barack Obama’s White House (although I’m not sure many believed him), but KD’s on a big stage now so it became a talking point.

Former ESPN reporter Britt McHenry questioned a player not visiting the White House, and Durant responded, leading to a little Twitter back-and-forth.

Durant had previously Tweeted in response “by doing the opposite, I am inspiring more people” but that Tweet was deleted.

There is no one correct way to protest a person/policy/action, McHenry may see things differently, but Durant has chosen to stay away. That’s valid — traditionally these “champions to the White House” things are tedious photo ops with a few bad jokes thrown in. Having a hoops fan/player in Obama in the White House made the NBA visits more entertaining the past eight years, there was some trash talk, but still, they are largely just a public relations moment. If KD doesn’t want to play the PR game with Trump, that’s a legitimate response.

This has all been a tempest in a teapot. Until/unless the White House actually invites the Warriors to come, it’s all kind of moot.

Dwight Howard on Hornets’ coach Clifford: “It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you”

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Dwight Howard‘s game is much better than his reputation among fans.

He’s not the Defensive Player of the Year/All-NBA/MVP candidate level player he was back in Orlando, but Howard is still one of the best rebounders in the game, he’s strong defensively, and he’s an efficient scorer inside. He’s a quality center, if he plays within himself and is used well. His perception as a guy who does not take the game seriously and held back Houston and Atlanta in recent years has validity (he plays better in pick-and-roll than on the move, but wants the ball in the post), but the idea he is trash is flat-out wrong. He’s still good.

Howard wants to change his reputation, rewrite the final chapters of his career, and told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that Steve Clifford’s Charlotte Hornets are the place that is going to happen.

“The other places I was, the coaches didn’t really know who I am,” Howard told ESPN. “I think that they had perception of me and ran with it. Cliff knows my game. He knows all the things that I can do. I’m very determined to get back to the top. It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you. They aren’t just saying it; they believe it. It really just pushed me to the limit in workouts: running, training, everything. I want to do more.

“In Orlando, I was getting 13-15 shots a game. Last season, in Atlanta, it was six shot attempts. It looks like I’m not involved in the game. And if I miss a shot, it sticks out because I am not getting very many of them. But I think it’s all opportunity, the system. I haven’t had a system where I can be who I am since I was in Orlando.”

Howard averaged 8.3 field goal attempts per game in Atlanta, which is about five a game below his peak. Last season 75 percent of Howard’s shots came within three feet of the rim — is is not there to space the floor, however, he can still move fairly well off the roll and is a good passer for a big.

Last season, 28 percent of Howard’s possessions came on post ups, and he averaged a pedestrian 0.84 points per possession on those. On the 21 percent of shots he got on a cut, he averaged a very good 1.36 PPP. When he got the ball back as a roll man (again on the move), it was 1.18 PPP. The challenge long has been Howard is better on the move but doesn’t feel involved unless he gets post touches, and if he doesn’t feel involved and engaged he’s not the same player.

Maybe Clifford can make this all work with some older plays where Howard feels comfortable.

Charlotte, with Howard in the paint and on the boards, should get back to being a top 10 NBA defensive team, not the middle of the pack as they were last season. Clifford is better than that as a coach, and Howard is an upgrade in the paint (on both ends). Charlotte should be a playoff team again in the East.

But it all will come back to Howard. Fair or not. And Wojnarowski is right, this is Howard’s last best chance to write the ending he wants to his career.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.