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.

Report: Dante Cunningham re-signing with Pelicans

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An intriguing battle emerged late in free agency over Dante Cunningham.

The Pelicans and Timberwolves were desperate at small forward, and Cunningham rare contributor at the position still available. New Orleans even traded a second-rounder and cash to dump Quincy Pondexter and get far enough below the hard cap to take advantage of Cunningham’s Bird Rights.

That’ll pay off.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

It’s not the $3,106,500 Cunningham opted out of, but a $2.3 million salary beats his minimum ($2,106,470), which is all Minnesota could’ve offered.

That’s a great rate on someone who might be the Pelicans’ starting small forward, considering Solomon Hill‘s injury. Even if he plays behind Tony Allen on a team that starts small on the perimeter, Cunningham will reduce the time New Orleans must rely on also-rans.

Cunningham is probably better at power forward, but he can defend either position. He also has become a good enough 3-point shooter to credibly play small forward.

For the Pelicans, he’s a huge upgrade at a bargain price.

Kevin Durant cops to tweets, calls elements of them ‘childish’ and ‘idiotic’

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Kevin Durant – tweeting in the third person, suggesting he forget to switch to a secret Twitter account – said he left the Thunder because he didn’t like the organization or playing for Billy Donovan and that Oklahoma City’s surrounding cast around himself and Russell Westbrook was lacking. Durant also appeared to have a second Instagram account he has used to insult critics.

Durant at TechCrunch:

Durant:

I do have other another Instagram account, but that’s just for my friends and family. So, I wouldn’t say I was using that to clap back at anybody.

But I use Twitter to engage with the fans. I think it’s a great way to engage with basketball fans.

But I happened to take it a little too far, and that’s what happens sometimes when I get into these basketball debates. Or what I really love is just to play basketball. I went a little too far.

And I don’t regret clapping back at anybody or talking to my fans on Twitter. I do regret using my former coach’s name and the former organization that I played for. That was childish. That was idiotic. All those type of words. I regret doing that, and I apologize to him for doing that.

But I don’t think I’ll ever stop engaging with my fans. I think they really enjoy it, and I think it’s a good way to connect us all. But I will scale back a little bit right now and just focus on playing basketball. So, I want to move on from that. It was tough to deal with yesterday. I was really upset with myself. But definitely want to move on and keep playing basketball. But I still want to interact with my fans, as well.

Durant can defend himself all he wants on social media. Fans, even those who detest him, do enjoy the interaction.

But an anonymous-looking account defending Durant provides no joy to those fans. They don’t – or at least didn’t – know they were interacting with the famous basketball star. This is something else entirely.

And it sure looks like Durant used his secret Instagram account to clap back at fans. Via SB Nation:

Durant denying that really makes it hard to accept this as him coming clean.

Mostly, Durant just opened himself to numerous follow-up questions:

Did he really dislike the Thunder organization? Did he really dislike playing for Donovan? If yes to either question, why? If no to either question, why say that? How does lying serve the fans he’s claiming he wants to engage?

Dwight Howard changes story, blames Magic front office for bringing up firing Stan Van Gundy

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While sipping from a can of Pepsi, Stan Van Gundy calmly explained to the assembled media that Magic management told him Dwight Howard wanted the coach fired. Then, an unsuspecting Howard walked up and put his arm around Van Gundy. Van Gundy slinked away, leaving Howard to answer questions.

That 2012 press conference was an all-time great NBA moment.

Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:

To hear Howard tell it, he has been the victim of more subtle misunderstandings than Larry David. The excruciatingly awkward press conference, when Stan Van Gundy confirmed that Howard was lobbying the Magic front office to fire him, only for an unsuspecting Howard to join Van Gundy and deny what the coach claimed? “That previous summer, the front office asked me about Stan, and I told them I thought he was losing his voice with the team. But they were the ones who said they should start looking for other coaches.”

Howard already admitted in 2014 he told the Magic he thought Van Gundy should have been fired after the 2011 playoffs. Howard even griped that Orlando didn’t listen to him!

I get that Howard is (again) trying to rehabilitate his image, but he has to do a better job of keeping his story straight.

Bulls hire Doug Collins as senior advisor

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Doug Collins burns out. Burns out his players, burns out himself. That was his reputation through 11 seasons coaching the Bulls, Pistons, Wizards and 76ers.

When Collins left Philadelphia in 2013, he declared he was done coaching. There was just too much pressure, he said.

Perhaps, Collins has found a role that better suits him.

Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

In a surprise announcement, the Chicago Bulls have brought former coach Doug Collins back into the fold, naming him a senior advisor to Executive Vice President John Paxson.

Even among NBA personnel, Collins was a basketball expert in his time. Whether he has kept up in a rapidly evolving league is an open question.

It won’t hurt having his voice in the room. It might hurt if the Bulls lean too heavily on it.

Hopefully, everyone entered this arrangement for the right reasons. Paxson played for Collins in Chicago. Collins’ son – Chris Collins – coaches nearby Northwestern. An overreliance on comfort won’t yield positive results. The Bulls need forward-thinkers, not just familiar faces. Successful executives put in a lot of work and aren’t just hanging around to be close with family.

This hire probably won’t move the needle much, but there’s certainly a chance it could – in either direction.