Carmelo Anthony admits his optimism is being tested. What about desire to stay in New York?

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With 26 games left to go in the season, the New York Knicks are 5.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the East. Let that sink in for a second. The eight seed Atlanta Hawks are on pace to win 39 games this season, to get there the Knicks need to go 18-8 the rest of the way.

It’s pretty hard to be optimistic if you’re a Knicks fan, especially after a loss to the Hawks this Saturday. Even if you are Carmelo Anthony.

Anthony has never missed the playoffs in 11 NBA seasons and was asked about possible missing the playoffs by Newsday:

“I can’t imagine what that’s like,” he said. “I’m not even trying to think about that at this point. We still got a lot of basketball to play.”

But Anthony admits his optimism is “definitely being tested” this season, and you wonder if his desire to stay with the Knicks is too.

Everything around the Knicks right now is about Anthony staying in New York.

At All-Star weekend Anthony said he would take less money to make the Knicks more competitive. Of course, if he’s taking less money he can do that by walking on to a Bulls team (after they amnesty Carlos Boozer) that is ready made to contend if Derrick Rose is healthy.

But Anthony wants to remain a Knicks.

“At the end of the day that’s my first priority, to stay,” Anthony said while meeting with the media in New Orleans All-Star weekend. “That’s my first priority. My priority is to figure it out, let’s figure it out together… My priority is not to just because I say I want to be a free agent, is to go leave. I never was a guy that comes into a situation and basically when it’s not going well to leave like that. That’s not my personality.”

But he also has to look at the Knicks roster and payroll situation and see that next season is going to look similar to this one — maybe they can make moves that shore up the perimeter defense and get the Knicks hitting threes again (two of the things missing from the 54-win team last year) but real improvement is not going to come until 2015 when the decks are cleared for some runs at free agents. Then, can the Knicks convince Rajon Rondo and/or Kevin Love to come?

It’s going to be an interesting summer for Carmelo Anthony. And each ugly Knicks loss makes it more interesting.

Heat forward James Johnson expected to miss 7 to 10 days

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MIAMI (AP) The Miami Heat will be without starting forward James Johnson for at least two games and probably more after bursitis was found in his right ankle.

Johnson left Miami’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday with ankle pain, and an MRI performed Sunday led to the bursitis diagnosis. Johnson is not traveling with the team for its trip for games at Atlanta on Monday and Boston on Wednesday.

The team says Johnson could miss seven to 10 days, which would also mean his status for home games against Dallas on Dec. 22, New Orleans on Dec. 23 and Orlando on Dec. 26 is in some doubt.

Johnson is averaging 10.9 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Heat this season.

LeBron James wears one black, one white LeBron 15 shoes with “Equality” on back (VIDEO)

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LeBron James notched his third-straight triple-double on Sunday, this one coming against the Washington Wizards. But before the game, the story was all about how James was voicing a silent protest — in Washington D.C., no less — by wearing a special version of his shoes.

LeBron took to the floor wearing his LeBron 15s, but this player edition had the word “Equality” on the back of them. James wore one black shoe and one white shoe.

James wore the black versions of this shoe in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ opener to start the season.

Via Twitter:

LeBron finished the game with 20 points, 15 assists, and 12 rebounds. The Cavaliers beat the Wizards, 106-99.

Stephen Curry says he’d want in on potential Panthers ownership

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The Carolina Panthers are up for sale. Owner Jerry Richardson said he would sell the team late on Sunday following an announcement by the NFL that Richardson was under investigation for “workplace misconduct”. The NFL’s investigation and Richardson’s decision to sell was preceded by a report from SI saying Richardson had paid out settlements amid sexual harassment and racial slur claims.

Enter Sean Combs and Stephen Curry.

Combs — that’s Diddy, you to and me — has previously voiced his interest in being involved with the NFL, and after seeing that Richardson would be selling the team, jumped at the chance to boost his profile. Combs tweeted that he wanted to buy the team, and that’s when Curry joined in.

Via Twitter:

Naturally, Curry is from Charlotte and went to both high school and eventually college in the area, playing at Davidson. He’s an avid Panthers fan and has been on the sideline for the team publicly many times over the years.

Curry being part of an ownership group for the Panthers would be pretty wild. Perhaps Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan would like to join in? It seems like they would have the liquidity and credit availability between the three of them to get the team.

Then again, the asking price for the Panthers could be north of $2 billion. The last team to be sold was the Buffalo Bills in 2014 for $1.4 billion. In September, Forbes released a valuation for the Panthers that put them at $2.3 billion.

Might need to get a few others involved in this one.

Watch Raptors fans give Vince Carter a standing ovation in Toronto (VIDEO)

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Vince Carter is 40 years old and playing in what could possibly be his final NBA season. The Sacramento Kings guard started his career with the Toronto Raptors, and on Sunday he played what could possibly be his final game at the Air Canada Centre.

And so, when Carter was subbed out late in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the folks in Toronto did what came naturally: they cheered.

The whole thing was pretty great to watch, and a real testament to how Carter is viewed by fans in Toronto.

Via Twitter:

Carter scored just four points in 25 minutes for Sacramento, going 2-of-5 from the field while adding three blocks, two assists, a rebound and a steal.

The Raptors got the win over the Kings, 108-93.