Milwaukee Bucks v New York Knicks

Report: Knicks, Sixers discussing possible Amare Stoudemire deal. Don’t bet on it.

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Because the Sixers have room under the salary cap and therefor can absorb bad contracts, they have become everyone’s favorite dumping ground for bad contracts. By everyone I mean people at home playing on the trade machine and real GMs looking for options alike.

Enter the Knicks and Amare Stoudemire.

Stoudemire will make $23.4 million this season, the last year of the max deal that brought him to New York (to pair with Mike D’Antoni… that’s a memory Knicks fans would like to repress). That contract, combined with Andrea Bargnani’s $11 million and in theory a max contract for Carmelo Anthony (the cap hold is there now) ties the hands of what Phil Jackson could do. However, if he could dump Stoudemire’s deal…

Enter the Sixers and rumors, ones that first went big with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN and now picked up by the New York Post.

Knicks president Phil Jackson is still trying to clear this year’s payroll and has looked at avenues to try to trade Amar’e Stoudemire’s expiring contract, already having contacted the obvious team, the 76ers.

The Sixers have $30 million in cap space and have made it known they’d be willing to accept an undesirable expiring contract if a pawn is thrown in. That extra pawn likely would be Iman Shumpert — something the Knicks prefer not to do.

The idea is, at the least, to reduce payroll so the Knicks can make a sign-and-trade to obtain a free agent and be able to wield the full mid-level exception of $5 million instead of mini-mid-level $3.27 million. Currently, the Knicks are above the luxury-tax apron and are forbidden to obtain a free agent through a sign-and-trade or use the full mid-level to try to lure free agent Pau Gasol.

This is unlikely. To put it kindly. I see it as a Knicks fan fantasy — Jackson I’m sure did make the call, he should at least try — but not one the Sixers likely pull the trigger on without more in return.

The Knicks have shopped Shumpert around since the last trade deadline so the idea that Jackson is hesitant to move him now is borderline laughable.

The better question is would the Sixers do all this just to get Shumpert? Hard to see that, they will want more. Problem is the Knicks don’t have more and the Sixers will have other offers to fill up their cap space that could land them picks or better young players (a proposed Jeremy Lin deal from the Rockets, for one).

This trade makes a lot of sense for the Knicks, who if Carmelo Anthony returns would love to add Pau Gasol at a reasonable price to the mix. Of course, the Thunder and Spurs have offered Gasol that exact same financial deal and those teams are legit title contenders next season, and the Bulls are expected to go hard at Gasol (and could make a larger offer) if/when Anthony chooses another destination. Which is to say Gasol to the Knicks is not likely at all.

I could go on, but you get the idea. This is out there, Phil Jackson might love to make it happen, but the quick fix is not coming to New York. This is going to be a process, it’s a deep hole to climb out of.

DeMarcus Cousins says right now he wants to play in 2020 Tokyo Olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 17:  Demarcus Cousins #12 of United States reacts in the first half while taking on Argentina during the Men's Quarterfinal match on Day 12 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1 on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Four years in the NBA is a couple of lifetimes away. GMs get paid to try and plan that far out, but the constantly shifting sands of the NBA — injuries, player improvement, new talents coming into the league, players changing teams, not to mention front office/ownership changes — make that a nearly impossible task. Nothing is set in stone that far out.

But if four years, DeMarcus Cousins wants to be playing for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics. Here is what he told Gary Washburn at the Boston Globe.

“I’m open to [coming back for Tokyo 2020]. I’ll be older then, so it depends on how my body feels. As of right now, where I’m at, absolutely, I’m open to it,” he said. “I think people don’t understand [how hard this winning is]. They see the guys on the roster and they think automatically, they’re supposed to win. This [international game] isn’t our game. This isn’t the way we play. This is an adjustment for every guy on the roster.

“No matter how much time there is, if guys can come together and mesh and play with some type of chemistry, you’re going to win games. It’s been proven in the past. We’ve had some of the most talented teams in the past and we didn’t win, so it’s not as easy as people think it is.”

I’m sure everyone on that team, save for Carmelo Anthony, is saying the same thing about returning for the next Olympics right now. We’ll see how things play out. C0usins certainly struggled to adjust to what is a foul in international ball (not to mention the inconsistent officiating) and spent much of Rio in foul trouble, but he was a monster in the gold medal game.

On another note, Cousins is right, the USA players face unreasonable expectations. They are unquestionably the most talented team in the Games, but with that and the history of USA Basketball they are expected to do more than win, they are expected to dominate. The 2016 team in Rio went undefeated and won gold, but because they had three tough games won by 10 or less — good Australian, French, and Serbian teams —, there was a lot of “what is wrong with Team USA?” talk.

The 2020 team will likely be even more talented — Cousins and Kevin Durant could well be joined by guys who skipped Rio such as Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, and Anthony Davis. However, the challenges will be the same: The rest of the world is getting better (watch out for Canada) and the USA will still be throwing a team together and trying to build chemistry on the fly.

But we still expect Gold.

After two years off court, Joel Embiid says he “probably” will have minutes restrictions

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 30: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers takes a shot from the bench prior to the game against the Utah Jazz on October 30, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Joel Embiid could be the best player on the Philadelphia 76ers in a couple of years — many scouts had him the highest rated of all the first-round draft picks the Sixers have had in recent seasons.

But after two foot surgeries and two seasons sitting on the sidelines, we don’t know how good Embiid can be. We should find out starting in October when Embiid is part of the Sixers training camp. Embiid says he feels 100 percent, but he expects there will be restrictions on him at first, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com during the Sixers Beach Bash community event this weekend.

This is the smart move by the Sixers — they are not competing for a title, the games in November have minimal meaning long term, bring him along slowly and make sure he can make each step along the way. Let’s see what he can do, then worry about how much run he can get in games that matter.

It’s going to be interesting to watch how Embiid, Ben Simmons, Nerlens Noel, and Jahlil Okafor all fit together up front — and which one of them gets traded this season.

Celtics’ Avery Bradley on defense: “Kyrie Irving, none of those guys scare me”

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 09:  Avery Bradley #0 of the Boston Celtics celebrates after scoring against the Memphis Grizzlies  during the first quarter at TD Garden on March 9, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Avery Bradley was first-team NBA All-Defensive team last season, and his coach Brad Stevens lobbied for him to get the honor. Bradley picks up guys full court, pesters, and plays physical — we can debate if he is as good defensively as his reputation, but guys like Damian Lillard think he’s tough to go up against.

Bradley, for his part, says he has no fear going up against the best. Here is what he said to Tom Westerholm of Masslive.com.

“I love the challenge,” Bradley said on Friday, making an appearance at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “I love going up against the best players. I don’t care who it is. I don’t care about getting embarrassed. I don’t care. Kyrie Irving, none of those guys scare me. I know some players in the NBA probably get butterflies before the game, but not me. I’m licking my lips. I come excited. They need to prepare for me at the end of the day. That’s how I think.”

That’s exactly the attitude you want an elite defender to have.

Bradley injured his hamstring in the first game of the playoffs last April and sat the rest of the Celtics’ one series. Then this summer his name came up in potential Jimmy Butler trade rumors (that deal never actually came close to getting off the ground). Expect Bradley to put that all behind him by the time training camp opens.

Watch highlights of LeBron James’ playoffs, Finals run

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LeBron James was dominant — the clear best player on the planet — when the Cleveland Cavaliers needed him most. That’s the reason Cleveland got its first major sports title in 52 years.

It’s the dead part of the NBA season — training camps don’t even open for a month — so why not enjoy a look back at LeBron’s amazing run to a legacy-defining NBA ring. Like you don’t have 15 minutes for this. What are you going to do, watch more preseason football?