Woodson says ‘legally, no one can recruit anyone’ in response to Melo-Bulls talk. But that’s not necessarily true.

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Knicks head coach Mike Woodson has enough to worry about, including whether he’ll even be employed by the team next season, before he can begin to think about what Carmelo Anthony may choose to do as a potential free agent this summer.

The latest rumor, of course, had Anthony being told by the Bulls’ Joakim Noah that Chicago should be his destination of choice if winning a ring is truly what it’s all about.

Woodson was asked to address the report, and said he believed that if that conversation had taken place, it would be a violation of league rules.

From Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News:

“You know legally, nobody can recruit anyone,” Woodson said in a radio appearance on ESPN 98.7. “You can’t do that at this point. Melo is still wearing a Knicks uniform and I hope he stays with the Knicks for the rest of his career. So whatever was said between Noah and the Chicago Bulls, that’s on them.” …

Those comments could be viewed as tampering since Anthony is under contract with the Knicks, and could result in a hefty fine for Chicago.

Wrong, wrong and wrong.

The league has strict rules in place against front office personnel reaching out to players under contract with other teams, but nothing that extends to its players discussing playing together at some point in the future.

David Stern addressed this specifically when he was commissioner back in 2010, when the Miami Heat managed to land LeBron James and Chris Bosh in free agency to play alongside Dwyane Wade, who was already in place.

From Howard Beck, then of the New York Times:

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh became Miami Heat teammates last week, turning a shared dream into reality and unleashing a torrent of suspicion: Had they planned it all along? If so, was this collusion? Tampering? Illegal?

The answer, as far as N.B.A. officials are concerned, is probably not. …

“What we told the owners was that the three players are totally, as our system has evolved, within their rights to talk to each other,” Commissioner David Stern said. …

Players on different teams who discuss the idea of someday playing together “is not tampering or collusion that is prohibited,” Stern said.

Why is this the case? Mainly because it would be virtually impossible to enforce.

Players in this era are friends off the court, and talk to one another constantly. When free agency is impending, players obviously are going to discuss what’s next — sometimes playfully, sometimes more seriously.

Either way, whatever discussion did or did not take place between Anthony and Noah is perfectly fine under NBA rules. Woodson doesn’t need to know this specifically, however, because he has more than enough to worry about — especially with the team meeting with Phil Jackson about the head coaching position that Woodson currently occupies.

For a couple grand, Warriors fans can have Larry O’Brien Trophy visit their suite

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There’s so much money floating around the Bay Area right now thanks to another tech boom, this price almost seems low.

If you have a suite for the Golden State Warriors home games this season — and those are pretty much sold out, the Warriors draw big from the Silicon Valley crowd — you can have the NBA championship Larry O’Brien Trophy visit your suite. All for just a couple grand. From Gilbert Lee, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The best part is it includes champagne… do you get to spray each other with it as you hold up the trophy? Now that would be perfect (goggles included, of course).

Have an issue with this? Why? To the victor goes the spoils. The Warriors may be able to sell this package for years.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.

Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

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When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).

Sixers enter camp with Joel Embiid not cleared for 5-on-5, Jahlil Okafor on trade block

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This is the season the 76ers make the leap from team with potential to playoff team fast on the rise.

Maybe.

That’s the plan in Philly, but there are a lot of questions for this team to answer. While a couple of these issues are answered already — Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are cleared to play and practice with teammates — a couple big ones still hang around. At the top of the list is “how healthy is Joel Embiid?” Coach Brett Brown doesn’t even have that answer yet, reports Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

It’s this simple: The Sixers outscored opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions when Embiid was on the court last season, he was a dominant force defensively who scored 20.2 points a game. When he was off the court the Sixers were 11.5 points per 100 possessions worse. They need him to play and play consistently if the Sixers have playoff dreams. It’s unclear when Embiid will return, but know that the Sixers will be cautious with his minutes again when he does get cleared (he has played just 31 games in three seasons).

Does that mean more Jahlil Okafor? Maybe not, the Sixers are still willing to trade him.

The Sixers have shopped Okafor for most of a year and found no deal they like. Okafor battled knee issues last season and, after a summer working to get healthy, other teams will want to see him play a little before talking trade. If he comes to camp slimmed down and his knee looks right, it could revive trade talks. Using a back-to-the-basket game, he averaged 11.8 points a night shooting 51 percent last season, he’s efficient, and some teams could use what he does (off the bench).

It’s going to be an interesting season in Philly. Are they playoff bound?