Golden State Warriors v New York Knicks

Report: Carmelo Anthony’s camp doesn’t want to wait for 2015 Knicks rebuild

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Every player says it. Carmelo Anthony is saying it. It’s is some variant of “I’m not about the money, I’m about winning.”

Then the money goes on the table and it’s all about the money.

That’s the choice facing Carmelo Anthony this summer — a big payday from the Knicks and trust them to rebuild over a few seasons, or take a pay cut to go to a contender. Maybe a steep pay cut.

Frank Isola writes at the Daily News ‘Melo may not want to wait.

But the Knicks’ salary-cap situation is such that if they re-sign Anthony they’ll have to wait until 2015 to add that second star. For one, I’m hearing that Anthony’s camp is interested only in the summer of 2014. They don’t want to hear about 2015. And they’re right. Anthony will be 31 with a lot of NBA miles on his legs before reinforcements arrive.

This is the New York media, they are more than happy to stir up questions and the fan base. Still, Isola makes a good argument that the smart long-term move for the Knicks is to let Anthony walk as a free agent this summer — be bad for another year and in 2015 they will have a high pick (they still have that one, can’t trade it) and a lot of cap space. However, all indications are that Plan A and Plan B and Plan C in the Knicks’ front office is to bring back Anthony. The team switched general managers to a guy with a better relationship with CAA — which represents Anthony — for that purpose.

Which means Anthony is going to have a pretty stark choice this summer.

The New York Knicks can offer the most money — starting at $22 million plus one more guaranteed year on the end of the deal. Nobody is going to match that. But the Knicks roster next season will look a lot like the 21-40 team this season — the massive contracts of Andrea Bargnani, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler (plus ‘Melo) would make really meaningful moves difficult. Maybe they can shake things up at the draft of in July, but meaningful change is not likely. The real plan is a 2015 rebuild with free agents when those other guys come off the books — Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo and others are potential free agents that summer. Convince them to join ‘Melo in NYC.

Anthony has said repeatedly — and to PBT on All-Star weekend — that he wants to stay a Knick and would take less money to do so but he needs to see what their plan for rebuilding the roster really looks like. The next question becomes should Anthony trust the Knicks management to rebuild a winner around him? New York will always be a draw to free agents, but this franchise has won one playoff series in a decade. Smart rebuilds have not been a tradition in New York under current ownership.

Of course, if Anthony wants to jump to a contender he is going to have to take a pay cut. Maybe a steep one.

The Chicago Bulls often get mentioned as a likely destination (and they make the best roster sense on paper), but if all they do is amnesty Carlos Boozer they will be able to offer roughly $14 million a year for four years (depending on other moves). If the Bulls shed Taj Gibson’s salary they can get up closer to $20 million, but it cuts into their depth. If I were Chicago I’d make the lower offer and keep the young core of the team (Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Gibson, Jimmy Butler) together.

(There was some Miami speculation out there, which can be best described as radically far fetched. Basically their existing big three would opt out and take pay cuts down to less than $15 million a year, then Anthony would do the same. Good luck with all that.)

Anthony’s other options are limited. The Lakers are not interested. Dallas might be but that is Dirk Nowitzki’s team, plus you need a ball dominant point guard with Anthony to limit his tendency to be a black hole on offense (passes go in but nothing comes out). The Clippers don’t have the cap space and aren’t trading Blake Griffin for him (that is a Knicks’ fantasy that has no basis in Clipper reality).

So what will it be ‘Melo? Contending or money?

Chris Paul finds brilliant counter to hack-a-DeAndre Jordan (video)

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I originally favored allowing Hack-a-Shaq as the NBA currently does. I found the strategy fascinated – why and when teams would use it and how their opponents would counter.

But it just became too common. Far too many games featured a parade of trips to the line, a boring stretch that made games too long. I thought the intrigue had run its course.

Then, Chris Paul pulled this move last night.

The Clippers guard saw Jonas Jerebko charging toward DeAndre Jordan to commit an intentional foul, so Paul stepped in front of an unsuspecting Jerebko and took the foul himself. That’s sent a good free-throw shooter to the line instead of the dismal Jordan.

Just an awesome heady play by Paul.

PBT Podcast: NBA All-Star Weekend talk, predictions with Sean Highkin

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NBA All-Star weekend descends upon frigid Toronto starting Friday, with everything from the Rookie/Sophomore… er, Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, the Dunk Contest/Three-Point Contest on Saturday, and the main event on Sunday.

Kurt Helin and Sean Highkin of NBC’s ProBasketballTalk break it all down, from Pau Gasol replacing Jimmy Butler to predictions on the Dunk Contest and if anyone can knock off Zach LaVine. Plus, there is plenty of “why Sting?” talk.

PBT will be in Toronto with reports from the event all weekend, so come back early and often for all the latest (plus trade talk, as all the GMs get together in one city where it’s too cold for them to go outside).

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Pistons retire Chauncey Billups’ jersey at halftime (VIDEO)

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Moments before his jersey went up to the rafters, Chauncey Billups spoke to the crowd about the night the Detroit Pistons wrapped up the 2004 NBA title by routing the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the Finals.

“We had one motivation,” he said. “We wanted to win it here at home.”

Billups was the most valuable player in the Finals that year, and he had his No. 1 jersey retired by the Pistons on Wednesday night at halftime of their game against Denver.

He was the second player from that 2004 team honored by the Pistons this year. The Pistons retired Ben Wallace’s jersey last month at a similar ceremony – in front of a packed house on a night Detroit beat Golden State.

There were some empty seats in the upper level Wednesday, but Billups wanted to be honored while the Pistons were playing the Nuggets. Billups is a Denver native and played for the Nuggets for two stints during his career.

“This was by design, only because there’s a lot of people that contributed to my success as a player and as a man, in Denver, my hometown,” Billups said before the game. “There were several dates that I could have chosen. This one obviously stuck out.”

Billups does have a mild regret about his run of success with the Pistons. He figures they could have won more titles.

“I felt like, two and maybe three championships – we were that good,” he said.

Ben Wallace was on hand Wednesday, and so were Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince from the 2004 champions. Pistons great Isiah Thomas was also at the Palace for the ceremony.

“This is what tradition looks like,” Thomas told the crowd. “This is what it feels like.”

Five Takeaways from NBA Wednesday: How ‘Bout them Celtics!

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Traditionally, NBA players treat the last game before the All-Star break like you treated the last day of school before summer vacation. But through the slop, there were some entertaining games on Wednesday, here is what you need to know:

1) If you weren’t taking the Celtics seriously before, the Clippers think you should start. The Boston Celtics are 32-23, have the third-best defense in the NBA, and in their last 10 games are outscoring opponents by 7.9 points per 100 possessions (fifth best in the NBA in that stretch). They are legitimate. Not title contenders, but they are looking like the third best team in the East and a second-round showdown with Toronto could be interesting (especially if Danny Ainge can pull off a big move at the trade deadline — he’s trying). Brad Stevens is earning Coach of the Year votes every time the Celtics step on the court.

The latest sign the Celtics are for real — winning a shootout against the Los Angeles Clippers. Two good defensive teams decided to take the night off on that end, which was entertaining and fit the “last day of school before break” theme. Isaiah Thomas just shredded the Clippers perimeter defense on his way to 36 points and 11 assists (watching how quick he is on the dribble, he’s got to be the favorite at the All-Star Saturday skills challenge). Chris Paul countered with 35 points and 13 assists. It was an old-fashioned, 1980s-style barn burner that went to overtime when the Clippers didn’t score a field goal in the final 3:29 of regulation and the Celtics completed a comeback in a Thomas jumper. In OT, J.J. Redick started out hot, but the Celtics closed hotter and got the win. The one bit of bad news for Boston Kelly Olynyk suffered a shoulder subluxation, he will have the week off to let that rest. (We will now note that happened on the same night Kevin Love suffered a shoulder injury, too. His was just a stinger, and he will be back after the break.)

2) Kawhi Leonard drains game winner to give Spurs another win. A couple of seasons back, when the Spurs motion offense was clicking, with the game on the line they would have run a play, four guys would touch the ball, and they would get a clean look. But this is how much Gregg Popovich trusts Kawhi Leonard now: Tie game with 13.3 seconds remaining, and the play design is a 1-4 flat isolation for Leonard. That’s what you call for LeBron James or Kevin Durant. Popovich called it for Leonard. And he was rewarded with the win.



3) Chauncey Billups got his number retired in Detroit.
There is a 2004 championship banner hanging above the Detroit Pistons court in large part because for a stretch Billups was not only the ultimate leader but played as well as anyone in the league. Just ask Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. Wednesday night they honored Billups in the Motor City (well, in Auburn Hills) by retiring his number.

4) Portland beats Houston to take over final playoff spot in the Western Conference. If the playoffs started today, the Trail Blazers would be the eight seed in the West and the Rockets would be golfing. That’s because Portland beat Houston 116-103 to move to .500 and ahead of Houston in the standings by half a game. Houston had some success scoring in the first quarter thanks to some old school Dwight Howard in the post and James Harden on the drive. The problem is, when Portland adjusted and Houston’s offense sputtered, they had no defense to fall back on — Portland scored at will all night. Damian Lillard finished with 31 points, the Trail Blazers had an offensive rating on the night of 115.6, and the Rockets head into the break trying to answer the same questions they had back when Kevin McHale got fired. Houston thinks things can come together, and they can make another playoff run, but a playoff run would be based on defense and the Rockets don’t play four quarters on that end nightly.

5) Suns Markieff Morris, Aaron Goodwin scuffle on bench. After the game — a 112-104 loss to Golden State — Morris said this was no more than two guys as close as brothers having a disagreement. It’s just a little hard considering everything that has gone on in Phoenix this season — including Morris’ poor play and the towel throwing incident with now-fired coach Jeff Hornacek — to think this is not another window into the chemistry problem in the Suns locker room.