Associated Press

Tim Hardaway Jr. ready for 2nd chance in New York with Knicks

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NEW YORK (AP) — Tim Hardaway Jr. thought that with Phil Jackson gone, maybe there was a chance someday he could come back to New York.

Even he was surprised it was this soon.

With Jackson and his triangle offense gone, the Knicks reached back to their past to sign Hardaway, a former first-round pick who didn’t fit under Jackson but they hope can flourish without him.

“I definitely left with a bad taste in my mouth and just to have that opportunity to come back here is very rare, so you’ve got to make the most of that,” Hardaway said Monday.

Jackson and the Knicks parted ways last month after three dismal seasons and were quiet at the start of free agency until signing Hardaway to an offer sheet for a four-year, $71 contract. When the Atlanta Hawks decided not to match the offer for the restricted free agent, Hardaway was officially a Knick again on Saturday.

“You play here for two years and then you’re gone and then two years after you get a phone call and it’s like, `Wow, I wouldn’t expect it coming from them,”‘ Hardaway said.

The 6-foot-6 guard was the No. 24 pick in the 2013 draft after helping Michigan reach the NCAA championship game and was voted to the All-Rookie first team. Jackson was hired as team president late in that season, fired coach Mike Woodson and hired Derek Fisher to replace him and implement the triangle.

Hardaway shot just 39 percent in 2014-15 as the Knicks stumbled to a franchise-worst 17-65 finish, and Jackson dealt Hardaway to Atlanta in a three-team deal on draft night for the rights to first-round pick Jerian Grant.

“It was a tough season for everybody on that team and they had to make changes. At the end of the day it’s a business and the goal is to make your team better,” Hardaway said. “They had a decision to make, they made it and I rolled with it, and I was grateful that a team like Atlanta really wanted me to be a part of their franchise.”

It was rocky at first in Atlanta, where Hardaway was sent to the NBA Development League during his first season. But he averaged a career-best 14.5 points last season and the Knicks noticed, making an offer that not only was too much for the Hawks to match but seemed too high for a player who has never started more than 30 games.

“I really don’t know what to say about it. All I know is I’m going to come in here and work my tail off,” Hardaway said. “I’m going to give the fans what they want to see and I’m a mature player now. Everything is in full effect right now. I’m taking everything very serious.”

His role on the Knicks is unknown, as neither general manager Steve Mills nor coach Jeff Hornacek attended Hardaway’s reintroduction to the local media. Also unclear is how the roster around him will look as the Knicks seek a deal for Carmelo Anthony, whose locker was next to Hardaway’s in New York.

“I mean it’s an odd feeling, but Melo’s got to do what’s best for his family and for him,” Hardaway said. “Yes, we definitely want him back, no question, and just having that veteran leader out there on the floor, a go-to guy that can get you a bucket at any given moment of the game, it’s great. It’s great to have that, you want to have that, and it’ll be tough for him to leave, but like I said, he has to do what’s best for him and his family.”

There may be no Anthony, but there certainly won’t be Jackson or the triangle, and that should mean a better Hardaway than the one who left.

“I think I can really excel in this type of offense, rather than when I was in my second year in the league,” he said. “But that was learning a new offense, learning a new system and that staff, they didn’t draft me, so it was different. I can see this being more like my rookie type of season but being more mature, being able to take bigger strides and bigger steps on both ends of the floor.”

 

Elfrid Payton slams chasedown block on LeBron James (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is usually the guy handing out chasedown blocks. He’s famous for them, and has carted out his signature move in the biggest moments of his career.

He’s also not used to having his own shots blocked from behind, and certainly not by opposing point guards.

Enter Elfrid Payton.

During a play halfway through the first quarter against the Orlando Magic on Thursday, LeBron was on a drive to the hole with Elfrid trailing far behind.

Thanks to a pinch by two Magic defenders, LeBron had to try and use brute force a bit deeper in the paint than he wanted to.

That allowed Payton — running at full speed — to catch up and pin The King on the glass.

Cleveland still got the best of the Magic, as Isaiah Thomas hit a clutch free throw to win the game with 11 seconds left, 104-103.

All-Star Joel Embiid doesn’t need Rihanna: “On to the next one”

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For about as long as we can remember, Joel Embiid has famously thirsted after Rihanna on Twitter. Fans have tried to boost his standing with the singer, but it apparently that has not been enough.

In 2014, Embiid mentioned on social media that a “famous girl” — presumably Rihanna — told him to “Come back when you’re an All-Star.”

Well, today is that day.

Embiid is a starter out of the Eastern Conference, and on Thursday night he had his chance to speak to Rihanna (or whomever) via national TV on TNT.

Did Embiid decide to reach out to this famous person? Apparently he’s off it.

Via Twitter:

This is like that scene from Private Parts when Howard Stern hits No. 1 and he tells Paul Giamatti’s character to get lost.

Embiid had the chance to curve Rihanna (or whomever) and took it. Long live The Process.

Here are the weirdest NBA All-Star voting results for 2018

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NBA All-Star voting is over, and now we have the results. The starters are in, and what’s left is for us to wait until they announce the teams after they are picked in double secret ceremony.

Of course, the NBA did release the full voting results via their PR website this week, and as such there are some head scratchers. My boy Patrick Redford over at Deadspin did an excellent job rounding up some of the players who got exactly one (1) vote from other players.

The gag here is that these guys presumably voted for themselves.

Of course, what I found most interesting was actually the guys who got multiple votes from their compatriots without being All-Star caliber players.

My favorite list of player-voted non-All-Stars includes: Michael Beasley (4), Gordon Hayward (2), Boban Marjanovic (2), Jahlil Okafor (4), Quincy Acy (2), Tyler Zeller (4), T.J. McConnell (2), Elfrid Payton (2), Zaza Pachulia (3), Taj Gibson (6), Zach Randolph (5), Maurice Harkless (2), Deyonta Davis (3), Lonzo Ball (9), Mike Conley (3).

There’s a whole smattering of guys in there who either didn’t play enough, aren’t stars, are injured, or who aren’t very good.

That multiple players took time to vote for these guys really speaks to the frivolity of the NBA All-Star Game. At least outside of player contract incentives.

Bring on February!

LeBron James throws behind-the-back, nutmeg pass for assist (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is one of the best passers the NBA has ever seen, but even this is too hard to believe.

During Thursday’s game between the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron through a ridiculous behind-the-back pass that nutmegged Orlando’s Aaron Gordon.

The result of the play was a bucket for Dwyane Wade.

Via Twitter:

I mean, that’s just … insane.