Report: Knicks not signing second rounder Thanasis Antetokounmpo

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At one point, the Knicks sought a trade to open a roster spot.

Instead, they made a deal that essentially closed a roster spot.

In its trade with the Kings, New York essentially swapped Wayne Ellington for Travis Outlaw, both of whom have guaranteed contracts, and Jeremy Tyler for Quincy Acy, both of whom have unguaranteed contracts. Prior to the deal, I was already counting on the Knicks waiving Tyler to clear space, but waiving Acy would ruin the whole point of the trade (not that the Knicks always act logically).

Acy’s contract becomes guaranteed Aug. 15, and it seems New York has already decided to keep him and lock in 15 players with at least partially guaranteed contracts.

That leaves unsigned No. 51 pick Thanasis Antetokounmpo on the outside looking in.

Shams Charania of RealGM:

To keep Antetokounmpo’s rights, the Knicks must extend him a required tender – essentially a valid NBA contract – by Sept. 6. That can be a fully unguaranteed one-year deal.

I don’t know what promises Antetokounmpo made (many second rounders agree to play in the D-League or overseas before the draft, which increases the likelihood of being selected) or what New York can do for him (many teams in this position help their draft pick find work in exchange for him declining the required tender). But if nothing is on the table for him, Antetokounmpo should consider accepting the tender.

That would likely lead to him joining the team for training camp and, unless the Knicks make another move that trims the roster, getting waived before the regular season begins so they can reach the roster limit of 15 players.

Antetokounmpo would then become an unrestricted free agent. Considering he sipped to No. 51 in the draft, no NBA team would likely be beating down his door immediately. But if he excels in the D-League or overseas, he could negotiate with any NBA team rather than just the Knicks, an advantageous position.

After playing in the D-League last season, Antetokounmpo probably doesn’t need New York’s help to get another job there again this season. If the Knicks can secure him a more lucrative offer – in the D-League or Europe – than he could get on his own, that obviously changes the equation. But the onus should be on them to deliver before Antetokounmpo gives away his right to bargain with other teams around the NBA.

On the other hand, teams don’t always act rationally. Phil Jackson surely doesn’t want to waste a draft pick or be viewed as someone who wasted a draft pick. He very well could give Antetokounmpo the benefit of the doubt when it comes to making the roster in future seasons – even though he technically wouldn’t be any more beholden to an unsigned Antetokounmpo than a free agent.

Antetokounmpo will probably play ball with the Knicks, who chose to fill their roster without him. But before he does, he should consider how it will affect his future.

Watch Rockets C Nene lead the break, eurostep past Enes Kanter (VIDEO)

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Houston Rockets center Nene is from Brazil, but on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder the South American native went full euro.

On a fastbreak possession, Nene took on Thunder big man Enes Kanter near the rim and absolutely shook him with a nasty eurostep.

The play was so good that it forced Oklahoma City to call a timeout as James Harden and the rest of the Rockets bench met Nene on the court to celebrate.

Kobe Bryant says he didn’t even have NBA League Pass until a month ago (VIDEO)

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What has retired all-time NBA great Kobe Bryant been doing with his time? A little of this, a little of that. Apparently that doesn’t include watching non-national NBA games.

Speaking with ESPN’s Jemele Hill and Michael Smith on SC6, Bryant revealed that he went to go watch a little NBA while he was getting a workout in at his house and realized he didn’t have the NBA package hooked up on his cable.

Via Twitter:

I don’t know if I totally buy this. On one hand, Kobe is a busy guy and he did spend two decades living and breathing the NBA night in and night out. I would expect that after all that time he might want some kind of relief.

Then again, to think that Kobe doesn’t have multiple assistants that would have handled that sort of thing already is sort of silly. The only benefit here is Kobe trying to sell that he’s just relaxing and not paying attention to the league too much, which is hilarious.

Kobe, we all know who you are by now. You’re watching the league, man. You’re Kobe. We get it. You didn’t suddenly turn into The Dude.

Let’s just hope Kobe’s League Pass works right off the bat. We all know how much of a hassle it can be.

Damian Lillard dismisses playoff expectations as pressure, says it insults regular people

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The Portland Trail Blazers have had a disappointing season thus far. The team is just 34-38 before their game with the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, and they’re battling it out for the last spot in the Western Conference playoffs with the Denver Nuggets.

This comes as after expectations rose greatly following the 2015-16 campaign which saw the Blazers finish 44-38, good enough for the No. 5 spot in the West.

Portland has looked better after trading Mason Plumlee to Denver in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic, but it might be too little too late. Meanwhile, team leader Damian Lillard isn’t bowing to the idea that last season’s good fortune raised the bar so much that it put undue pressure on his team.

Speaking with Sporting News, Lillard said he thinks the idea is really more about pressure vs. challenges.

Via SN:

Pressure, nah. Fam, this is just playing ball. Pressure is the homeless man, who doesn’t know where his next meal is coming from. Pressure is the single mom, who is trying to scuffle and pay her rent. We get paid a lot of money to play a game. Don’t get me wrong — there are challenges. But to call it pressure is almost an insult to regular people.

Look at the Wizards, they were kind of on the same wave as us. Didn’t even make the playoffs while we did. Now this year they’re the second-best team in the East. The adversity made them better. It can make us better, too. What I come from and my background made me who I am. As comfortable as I am with the good times, I’m also comfortable in adversity. Yeah, I might feel some type of way when somebody comes for me or says my name. But when it’s all said and done, it ain’t gonna rock me.

This is interesting to hear an NBA player say out loud. One, because I’m not sure I entirely believe it. You can have pressure without it having to be something that threatens your overall wellbeing.

Then again, maybe we’re arguing linguistics here. There’s definitely a different emotion from, say, trying to make sure you make rent and aren’t evicted to the street vs. trying to make the NBA playoffs. If one emotion is being defined as pressure, it makes sense to call the other a challenge.

It’s also interesting to hear an NBA player speak in those kinds of terms. There are a few guys around the league who seem to be relatively grounded and give out quotes like this from time-to-time. The absurdity of the NBA — playing games, making millions, and having folks worship you — would easily bend reality for most of us.

In any case, the challenge of making the playoffs for Portland is not going to be an easy one to overcome. Going into Sunday’s matchup with the Lakers, the Trail Blazers are a game behind Denver for the final spot.

Portland will face Denver on Tuesday, March 28 in perhaps their most important game of the season.

Kobe Bryant’s “Musecage” is like if Sesame Street had an NBA film room (VIDEO)

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Kobe Bryant’s video “Musecage” aired on ESPN on Sunday, and it’s one of the craziest things I’ve watched on an NBA broadcast. That includes watching Kobe’s own alley-oop to Shaquille O’Neal in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals.

Someone on Twitter called it a “drug-fueled Muppet nightmare” but that’s selling short how remarkable the video was. In it, Kobe delivered a message about finding motivation as a young basketball player alongside a talking “Lil’ Mamba” puppet.

But here’s where it gets good: this video was made true to Kobe’s own person. Despite the happy, glockenspiel-laden background music with puppet accompaniment, Kobe’s message in “Musecage” was to use the dark part of your psyche as motivation to conquer your enemies.

I’m dead serious.


It doesn’t get any more Kobe than that.

The first video ends with Kobe’s advice to Lil’ Mamba, who goes off to become strong by using the dark musings as his fuel. Meanwhile, the second video talks about — and I’m not kidding — tactics James Harden and Russell Westbrook use to defeat their opponents in the pick-and-roll.

It’s like if Sesame Street was also a film room session.

Needless to say, all 10 minutes of Musecage are incredible. I don’t mean that in any sarcastic way, either. Bryant has been working on his Canvas series for a while, and his message shines true to the person we’ve known for the last two decades.

Use your happy feelings to push yourself? No! Use self-doubt as a motivator to Jawface your way through to six championship rings.

He debuted the original episode on Christmas Day, and it too had a kid-friendly feel.

I literally cannot wait for the next edition in this series.