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?

Mike Conley does not crush Knicks free agent dreams, says everything on table

Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) gestures after making a 3-point basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
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When you talk about the most underrated players in the NBA, especially with the casual fan, Mike Conley is at the top of the list. The Grizzlies’ point guard has played at an All-Star level for a few seasons now but hasn’t gotten the recognition, in part because it’s Memphis and in part because the West is stacked with quality point guards.

The New York Knicks desperately need an upgrade at the point.

Which has led to the latest fantasy of seemingly every Knick fan (and talking head in the city) — the free agent Conley coming to New York this summer. When asked about it Friday before the Grizzlies and Knicks squared off, Conley didn’t kill the rumors (which in New York is like throwing gasoline on them). Here are his quotes, via Ian Begley of ESPN.

“I think everything will be on the table when that time comes,” Conley said Friday morning after the Grizzlies’ shootaround at Madison Square Garden. “I haven’t committed to anything…

“They’ve got talent, obviously,” he said. “I think [Kristaps] Porzingis surprised a lot of people. He’s going to be very, very good in this league. He already is pretty good. But he’s going to grow each year, and they already have one of the best small forward in Melo [Carmelo Anthony]. They’ve got a young team, so they’ve got a lot of room to improve.”

The smart money is on Conley staying in Memphis, the only NBA team he has ever played for. Conley was very active last summer in recruiting Marc Gasol to remain in Memphis, and has said it would be very difficult to leave him. Plus the Grizzlies can offer more money — one more guaranteed year plus larger raises.

The Knicks will need to lose some salary before July 1 just to offer Conley a max, which likely starts around $24 million (depends on the final salary cap number). What the Knicks can offer is a larger stage for his brand and the chance to bring that brand out of the shade of Gasol and Zach Randolph.

Conley — who is averaging 14.6 points and 6.1 assists per game, is shooting 35 percent from three, is good on the pick-and-roll, plus is one of the best defensive point guards in the game — will have plenty of other suitors as well. He’s one of the best players on the free agent market this summer.

NBA GM: Warriors ‘leaders in the clubhouse’ for Kevin Durant

Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin Durant, left, drives the ball against Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green (23) and Andre Iguodala (9) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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Kevin Durant to the Warriors is having a moment, but even the most recent and most credible report linking the Thunder star to Golden State contained an important caveat:

Make no mistake: Durant isn’t close to gone in Oklahoma City – no decision, no leaning, sources said

Nobody has credibly reported Durant is leaning toward leaving the Thunder. The issue at hand is where Durant would go IF he leaves Oklahoma City.

Except one NBA general manager has gone a step further.

Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

General managers know a lot of things we don’t, but like anyone, they can also be prone to repeating gossip and hearsay. Does this general manager have inside info, or is he just participating the echo chamber? Impossible to say, but the possibility of the former raises the level of intrigue.

Of course, the Warriors can’t be the leaders in the clubhouse, because they’re not in the clubhouse. Free agency doesn’t begin until July. Nobody has made their final pitch, not even the Thunder.

It’s fun to make bold predictions now, and this general manager has a chance of looking genius. But sometimes the desire for that designation causes people to get ahead of themselves.

Report: Clippers quickly rebuffed interest after Nuggets called about Blake Griffin

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) gets tied up near the basket by Denver Nuggets forward J.J. Hickson (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 13, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 110-103. (Michael Goulding/The Orange County Register via AP)   MAGS OUT; LOS ANGELES TIMES OUT
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Here was my gut feel on a report that the Clippers had talked to the Nuggets about trading Blake Griffin to Denver:

1. Nuggets calling Clippers about Griffin

2. Clippers saying they’re not interested

3. Nuggets leaking the fact that Griffin trade talks happened with the Clippers – technically true! – to excite their fan base and potential free agents considering whether or not to take Denver seriously

Dan Woike of The Orange County Register:

https://twitter.com/DanWoikeSports/status/695691007053070336

Woike is the more reliable source of information here. I believe that’s all this was.

The Clippers probably shouldn’t sell low on Griffin now. But if the Nuggets made a truly reasonable offer based on Griffin’s peak value – and I doubt they did – it also wouldn’t hurt to consider it.

LeBron James wants to leave Hack-a-Shaq rules as they are

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) drives on Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich., Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015.  (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he increasingly believes the league should change its Hack-a-Shaq rules this offseason.

LeBron James – who has the commissioner’s ear on a number of issues – disagreed.

LeBron, via Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:

“I don’t really see a problem with it,” James said at shootaround Friday in preparation for the Celtics. “At the end of the day, it’s a strategy of the game and whatever it takes to win. If that’s a part of the game, and you have a guy that is a bad free-throw shooter and you put him on the line, that’s a part of strategy.”

“That’s no different from a guy that can’t shoot well from the outside and you try to make him shoot bad from outside, or if a guy is turnover-prone and you put pressure on him. It’s all part of strategy. It’s no different,” he said.

There is a difference – a big one.

Hacking someone takes no basketball skill.

I could intentionally foul DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond. I could not keep a bad NBA outside shooter from getting into the paint. I could not force a turnover-prone NBA player into coughing up the ball.

There’s nothing wrong with exploiting an opponent’s weakness, but with the exception of hacking, that takes ability of your own.

Hacking is an outlier strategy, and as a result, it deserves special treatment in the rulebook.