Washington Wizards v New York Knicks

Carmelo Anthony tour moves to Los Angeles as increasingly teams think he stays in New York

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Chicago made its pitch first, and if Carmelo Anthony was going to take a pay cut and leave New York to go somewhere the Bulls are the logical frontrunner — they are already on the cusp of contending just needing more scoring, they have the defensive system Anthony needs around him to win, it’s still a major market, and it’s a team with a good history (thanks to that Jordan guy).

Yet Chicago started to ramp up its pursuit of its second targets (Pau Gasol for one) right after Anthony left and there are whispers of pessimism from them, as reported by Ian Begley at ESPNNewYork.com.

“They’re worried that he’s headed back to New York,” a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking said of early Tuesday morning. “They’re more pessimistic than optimistic.”

The source wasn’t speaking for the entire Chicago front office, just a small segment. So there is reason to believe that not all members of the team’s hierarchy shared this opinion.

If Chicago is pessimistic, then where does that leave Houston and Dallas? Those two teams made their pitches on Wednesday and both can make the case that, like Chicago, with Anthony on board they are instant contenders. But if Anthony is leaving New York for a shot at a title is he going to leave the Eastern Conference to go to the West and the loaded side of the bracket with the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Warriors, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies and more?

Thursday the Lakers will make their case. They will sell Los Angeles (where Anthony lives in the off-season), the most recognizable brand in basketball, and Kobe Bryant will be at the meeting. But the Lakers are not only in the Western Conference they are farther away from winning than the Rockets and Mavericks and would need to add pieces around ‘Melo and Kobe to be a serious threat. That likely doesn’t happen overnight.

More and more the sense around the league seems to be that Anthony is going to give Phil Jackson a chance in New York.

Nobody knows exactly what Anthony is thinking. It’s a decision he and his family need to make over the coming days (Anthony has been ribbed on talk radio for the influence that his wife Lala may have here, but you try and make a decision about how much money you’ll make and where you’ll live without involving your wife and see how that goes). He could choose Chicago. There is a lesser chance but maybe James Harden and Dwight Howard were convincing in Houston, Mark Cuban was in Dallas.

But more and more it seems Anthony is in a New York state of mind.

Monty Williams is back coaching with Team USA, ready to get back on NBA sidelines

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18:  Draymond Green #14 of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team drives against assistant coach Monty Williams of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team during a practice session at the Mendenhall Center on July 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Watching Monty Williams back on the court at the USA basketball camp/practices in Las Vegas, you could see he was at home. He’s easily the best 44-year-old defender on the planet — he went toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and the rest, was physical, and made them work for buckets. Then he’d instruct. He’s just a natural.

Back in February, Williams’ wife was killed in an auto accident. It devastated the devout family man, in ways it’s hard for us to understand who have never experienced it. He walked away from coaching the rest of the NBA season with the Thunder, and nobody questioned it for a second.

Now, after getting his feet wet with Team USA (where he is an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski), he told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman he is ready to get back on the sidelines.

“I wouldn’t even think that if I didn’t know, one, my wife would want me to; my kids talk about it all the time. And there have been some things that have happened in my life lately that have allowed me to get that back. I’m so juiced up and ready to get back into it again.”

He is one of the better respected assistant coaches in the league, and a guy who will get another shot at a top spot someday. Soon. Can’t wait to see him back on the sidelines.

Ben Simmons says he plans to work on shooting, handles, getting stronger before camp

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons cheers from the bunch during the first half of the team's NBA summer league basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Associated Press
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The leap from college — even high-level college programs — to the NBA can be hard to describe. Now everybody is bigger, longer, and far more athletic — the guy at the end of the bench barely getting any burn was one of the best players on his college team.

Players get their first taste of that at Summer League. The Sixers’ No. 1 pick Ben Simmons looked pretty good when he got that taste, but you can see the development that needs to go on as well.

He’s spending the time between now and the start of training camp working on his shooting and getting stronger, among other things, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

All good things. Handles and shooting in particular — he’s about to start seeing much better defenders nightly. It’s going to take time, and we’ll see how far he can go, but Simmons unquestionably brings a lot of skill and potential to the table. That he’s putting in the work is a good sign — that was one of the concerns about him heading into the draft.

New GM Bryan Colangelo is going to benefit from Sam Hinkie’s process. So long as he doesn’t screw it up.

Report: Warriors sign JaVale McGee to make-good training camp contract

JaVale McGee
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JaVale McGee is getting another shot in the NBA.

He played just 34 games off the bench for Dallas last season. He played 23 games the season before that due to injury.

But the Golden State Warriors are thin up front — Zaza Pachulia will get the bulk of the minutes at the five (when the Warriors use a traditional center), and there is the often-injured Anderson Varejao behind him. The Warriors could use another big. So they are giving McGee a look, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

This is a low-risk move by the Warriors, and it’s worth the gamble. Vintage McGee, for all his Shaqtin’ a Fool flaws, is far more athletic and a better rim protector than any of the guys the Warriors now have at the five. If it doesn’t work out — and the odds are it will not — they cut him, if it does they pay him a minimum deal.

I hope he makes it, just because the league is more fun when McGee is in it.

Russell Westbrook laughs off question about Kevin Durant

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant #35 discuss play during the first half against the Los Angeles ClipperLos Angeles Kingsat Staples Center on December 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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At some point, Russell Westbrook will sit down with members of the media and discuss Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder, how he felt about the move, and how it impacted him both personally and professionally.

But not right now. He remains silent.

This Vine making its way around, where Westbrook laughs — probably at the question, although read into that whatever you want — when asked about Durant sums up where we are.

https://platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js

In the full Facebook clip, Westbrook walks away, too. It’s his right. He can talk about it on his schedule.