Report: Carmelo Anthony could take less than the max to stay with Knicks

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Carmelo Anthony has reportedly bought in to Phil Jackson’s vision for turning the Knicks into a contender, and that, along with the fact that New York is willing to offer up a max contract if Anthony were to choose to re-sign, would seem to be a strong indicator that the Knicks remain the favorites to retain Anthony’s services.

But just because the team offered a five-year max deal worth $129 million, that doesn’t mean that Anthony has to take it.

New York is going to be strapped from a cap perspective this summer anyway, but a max deal wouldn’t provide the help Jackson would be looking for moving forward, when the summer of 2015 will have more impact players available, and the Knicks will have more money to spend.

For that reason, Anthony could take the max this year when there is likely to be little help on the way, but agree to a lesser salary in the future that could give the team additional room to upgrade the roster.

From Marc Berman of the New York Post:

Knicks president Phil Jackson told Anthony during Thursday night’s meeting in Los Angeles he can have the team’s maximum 5-year, $129 million contract if he wishes. But The Post has learned there’s a distinct possibility Anthony will still decide to take a little less than the max.

One scenario would be Anthony starting at the max $22.4 million, but taking a 7.5 percent pay reduction in Year 2, as allowed by the collective bargaining agreement. That reduced salary for the 2015-16 season would give the Knicks a little more cap space next summer.

Jackson has said he prefers for Anthony to take less than the max to give him more salary-cap flexibility in 2015 and 2016 to sign free agents.

This seems like a viable option for both sides.

Anthony would get paid as he should in the upcoming season, which might be better than last but still figures to be another down year in terms of the Knicks being very far away from their stated goal of championship contention. Then, moving forward, he could take a relatively small discount that would allow for some increased cap flexibility, while painting Anthony as the good guy for leaving money on the table to try to help his team win.

If Anthony does indeed believe in Jackson’s long-term plan for the franchise, this would appear to be the best way for him to show it.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Cavaliers on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. Especially against a team going small — the Cavaliers start Kevin Love at center — Embiid should be fed down low.

Instead, look at his shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

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NEW YORK (AP)—  The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.

Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.

NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.