Report: Knicks to go after Pau Gasol, as if that will help keep Carmelo Anthony in New York

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Phil Jackson has worked hard at establishing a relationship with Carmelo Anthony.

Jackson already has a relationship with free agent Pau Gasol, whom the Lakers traded for when Jackson was the coach and they went on to win two titles together.

The Knicks are banking on Phil’s relationship to keep Antony in blue and orange. So how about this leap: Gasol signs with the Knicks as part of a plan to help keep Anthony and in sooner? It’s a ridiculous long shot but the Knicks are thinking about it, reports Marc Stein at ESPNNewYork.com.

Sources told ESPN.com that Knicks officials, while not willing to trumpet it publicly with free agency fast approaching, are quietly confident about their odds of retaining Anthony thanks in part to the idea that new team president Phil Jackson and the high-scoring forward have “connected” to some degree.

Furthermore, one source close to the process told ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne that Jackson is planning to make a determined attempt to try to recruit his former Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol to replace the freshly traded Tyson Chandler alongside Anthony on the Knicks’ front line, despite the fact New York is limited to offering Gasol less than $4 million for next season.

Anthony may or may not choose a return to New York, I don’t think he knows the answer to that yet. However, there are a multitude of reasons I don’t think Gasol to the Knicks happens. Here are a two key ones:

• Pau Gasol is going to get offered more than $4 million from other teams, a lot more, and he is not going to go to New York at a step discount. (There is a sign-and-trade option but the Knicks don’t have a lot of assets they would give up that the Lakers would want.)

• Anthony wants to win now and the Knicks, even if he comes back and they add Gasol, are not the best team in the East (let alone able to beat the best of the West). It’s going to be a process in New York. Anthony may choose to be the face of that process (and get paid handsomely) but Gasol isn’t as patient.

Gasol is going to be in the second tier of free agents, when teams that had dreams of Anthony (and maybe LeBron James) strike out Gasol will be one of the names they turn to. He will have options.

Gasol also struggled the last season and a half, looking old fast, but to me a lot of that is on Mike D’Antoni. Gasol is not a stretch four but the system coach that is D’Antoni does not easily adapt his system and that led to clashes with Gasol. It sucked the joy out of the game for Gasol. Look for a bounce back year from him — Gasol will represent Spain on its home soil in the World Cup, where he will rediscover his passion for the game, then next season he will play for a coach that uses him more wisely.

That is the one thing Phil Jackson knows how to do with Gasol. It’s just not enough to get him to the Knicks.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.