Carmelo Anthony meets with advisors to talk free agency, Knicks likely still in lead

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Conventional wisdom around the league remains that Carmelo Anthony likely will re-sign in New York, but not until he’s had a chance to be wooed by other teams. And the recruiting pitches could change things.

Anthony is playing things close to the vest (outside a two-hour sit-down with Phil Jackson) so nobody really knows what he’s thinking, but he had a sit down with his advisors late last week, reports the New York Post.

Anthony, his Creative Artists Agency agent Leon Rose, and CAA advisor William Wesley were in the group of six at a well-known haunt on 28th Street called Pergola in a strategy session discussing their options. The source said the group sat in a private back room.

A number of teams will show interest. The biggest names in that mix are Chicago, Houston and the long shot Los Angeles Lakers (they will go through the motions but wisely don’t see Anthony and Kobe Bryant as meshing or building for the long term). There will be others, but the Post lays out the case for the Knicks.

Two of his prime candidates, Houston and Chicago, still have to get far enough under the salary cap to make it worth it for Anthony. The Bulls may have to rid themselves of Mike Dunleavy, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson on a squad that was knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. Plus, Anthony would be banking on the uncertain future of the oft-injured Derrick Rose. The Rockets were also knocked out in the first round and need to get rid of Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik to get under the salary cap.

With all of these teams — the Knicks included — Anthony is going to be asked to take less money than his max.

As we have said before, what Anthony needs to decide is what really matters most to him. Is it money? Is it being “the man” on a team built around him? Is it winning? Is it being in New York? And along those lines Anthony needs to decide who he really trusts — does he trust Phil Jackson to be able to build a winner quickly in New York? Does he trust Rose’s knees and Tom Thibodeau’s system in Chicago? Does he want to play next to Dwight Howard?

I’m not sure Anthony can answer those questions yet. Oh, he’ll say “winning” but that’s the easy generalization, everyone wants to win. What is he willing to sacrifice, both financially and on the court, to get into the best position to do that? For example, if he likes Chicago as a fit is he willing to take enough of a salary reduction that they can keep Taj Gibson? Is he willing to let the offense run through Derrick Rose?

With Kevin Love out there on the trade market as another high scoring four, it’s going to be interesting to see who teams target, and what resources they throw at the efforts. But Anthony will have options, he just has to decide what he really wants.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.