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Everyone is losing their mind about Carmelo Anthony and Lonzo Ball’s ESPN rank

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It is early September and so you know what that means. Soon it will be team preview time! I know that because we are already deep into the early season rankings for players.

This typically results in some lively conversations, including several that include NBA players themselves. Usually, the big ruckus is all about some player who feels they are ranked too low. The noise is even worse when that player has a considerable fan base behind them. This has not changed in 2017.

Enter Carmelo Anthony.

According to ESPN’s “NBARank” for NBA players, the New York Knicks forward is ranked behind Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball. Carmelo came in at 64th overall and Ball is just under him at number 63.

This got Anthony a bit ticked off, and he took to his Instagram account on Tuesday to let fans know how he felt.

A bit of a warning for NSFW language in the post below.

Via Instagram:

That sounds about right in terms of a reaction from a potential Hall of Famer being below a rookie who has yet to play an NBA game.

Meanwhile, other players are upset not only about Anthony’s ranking but how they have stood up in rankings at other outlets, including Sports Illustrated.

One of those players is Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum.

McCollum was arguably a better player for the Trail Blazers last season than star guard Damian Lillard (mostly due to a nagging injury) but he came in at just 39 on SI’s list — two spots below Anthony.

That’s certainly an interesting idea from McCollum, although it does trigger the question that at least one journalist has asked and that’s why any players in the league pay attention to these rankings at all.

I’ll let you peek behind the curtain here a little bit in case it’s not obvious: what’s really happening with these lists is an attempt to generate page views and chatter online. It’s not any more complicated than that, and it’s not very subtle, either.

Ranking individual players against each other before a game has even been played is ridiculous. Rankings also don’t make sense due to positional need, style, and team construction. They really don’t make sense within the world of professional team basketball, especially once you get below a certain threshold.

You could point out that McCollum was a journalism major, but he and many others don’t have the simple industry experience to suss out what is really happening here. These rankings are a thought experiment dedicated to draw the kind of reaction that McCollum expressed. It happens literally every year. Everyone lost their marbles when Kobe Bryant came in at No. 93 in 2015.

Seriously, you can just Google this stuff.

Should you take the ranking seriously? No. Neither should anybody else. This is part of a post-Twitter culture where we rank everything from fruits to Kanye West albums, where the answer is never clear and that fact doesn’t matter. It’s malleable and subject to opinion.

And, while this may come as a shock to many, there is no vast conspiracy against certain players in the NBA. When it comes to analyzing statements by writers — just as you were taught in college — it’s best to understand the environmental (or explicit) biases of writers rather than to proclaim organizational or industrial sabotage.

Things like original rooting interests, beat coverage, what other sports they cover, what time zone they’re in, and other factors all affect how a writer sees a player — or whether they even watch them at all.

That’s before we even get to the way that the ESPN NBA rank actually works. Without getting too dull, it simply functions on a player vs. player voting system where writers vote which player is better between two options. ESPN then uses a model to figure out where players rank based off of the head-to-head voting results.

Just another way that computers have ruined sports if you ask me.

So no, you shouldn’t be worried about whether or not Carmelo Anthony is ranked lower than Lonzo Ball. My own eyes tell me that even given Carmelo’s shortcomings, he is still a “better” player than Ball.

What does “better” mean? That question is the subject of much of the basketball writing you read that has any value today. It’s one that is incalculable, subjective, and difficult to ascribe to even a whole set of statistics.

If you think Carmelo is a better player than Ball, then do what you can to enjoy watching him when he plays, wherever he does end up playing.

Report: Cavaliers signing Kendrick Perkins

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Kendrick Perkins spent fewer than four months with the Cavaliers, including the 2015 playoffs. But nearly a year later after Cleveland let Perkins walk in free agency, LeBron James was still bemoaning Perkins’ absence.

Are the Cavs righting a wrong?

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Kendrick Perkins joined the Cavaliers at LeBron James’ minicamp in Santa Barbara, Calif., and will come to training camp next week, sources told cleveland.com.

The Cavs now have 18 players with standard contracts, and 15 – the regular-season limit – have guaranteed salaries. I doubt Cleveland wants to waive the two without guaranteed salaries, Kay Felder and Edy Tavares, either.

In other words, Perkins is a longshot to stick into the regular season.

Perkins was washed up when with the Cavaliers two years ago. The 32-year-old who sat out last season hasn’t produced on the court in several years. He’s tough and well-liked in the locker room, which might give him a chance of sneaking onto the regular-season roster.

But the Cavs should focus on developing toughness and chemistry among their rotation players. Perkins is just a crutch, most likely one who’ll be yanked away by cut-down day a few weeks from now.

Report: Lakers sell jersey ad for $36M-$42M over three years

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The Lakers are a financial behemoth, though that’s tied to a local-TV deal signed when they were still good.

How do current conditions value their brand?

John Lombardo and Terry Lefton of SportsBusiness Daily

The Lakers have signed a jersey patch deal with S.F.-based e-commerce company Wish. The three-year agreement, according to a source, is between $12-14M annually

That’s the second-richest known jersey-ad deal – behind only the Warriors ($20 million annually) and ahead of the Cavaliers ($10 million annually).

It clearly pays to be Los Angeles, though don’t discount the role of the Lakers’ fantastic history and intriguing future.

Rumor: Carmelo Anthony to accept trade to Trail Blazers if Knicks and Rockets don’t strike deal

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Carmelo Anthony trade talks between the Knicks and Rockets appear to be going nowhere.

Yet, Anthony’s camp is reportedly cautiously optimistic he’ll get dealt by Monday.

This might explain why.

Jason McIntyre of Fox Sports:

Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have recruited Anthony to Portland. The Trail Blazers have plenty of expendable players who could be aggregated to matching Anthony’s salary – Evan Turner, Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis – plus lower-paid players to give New York value. This certainly looks plausible.

It’d make sense for Anthony to hold out as long as possible for Houston, his ideal destination. He can use his no-trade clause to force the Knicks to deal with only the Rockets.

But what if that fails?

I’m skeptical New York, Portland and Anthony all agree to a deal. There are just too many sides to please.

The Knicks will need more than just bad contracts to move Anthony, and the Trail Blazers don’t need more scoring enough to relinquish significant assets. Anthony would also have to approve, and as miserable as the Knicks have been, the New York market still matters.

Again, this is plausible, but I’m doubtful. Either way, we should know soon with training camp around the corner.

LeBron James reportedly “invested” in helping Derrick Rose get next big contract

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Reality smacked Derrick Rose across the face last summer.

Last season, the former MVP made $21.3 million in the final year of a five-year rookie contract extension, and while injuries had slowed his game he was playing better. Combine that with seeing the drunken sailor spending spree the previous summer, and he was hoping for — if not a max contract — still a healthy eight digit one. Instead, he signed a one-year deal at the veteran minimum, $2.1 million, to play for the Cavaliers.

LeBron James wants to see his man Rose get paid again, Dave McMenamin of ESPN said on The Jump.

“I’ve heard that for the first couple of days, Derrick Rose has been ‘killing it.’ I’ve also heard that LeBron is invested in Derrick Rose’s career so that he can get that next contract.”

The first part of that, the “killing it” part, you can just throw out. Maybe Rose looks great at the mini-camp LeBron is hosting for the Cavs in Santa Barbara, I hope he is, but preseason everybody is “killing it” or “has lost/gained 15 pounds and is in the best shape of his life” or “has worked hard and now has an impressive jump shot.” Rose probably does look great in Cavaliers camp against Jose Calderon, let’s see how he looks once he has to go up against real NBA players.

Rose’s next contract will be interesting. Maybe LeBron can set him up to look better this season, but it’s going to be on Rose mostly. Once healthy (whenever that is), Isaiah Thomas will be the starting point guard in Cleveland, plus as always LeBron James will have the ball in his hands a lot. (Which he should, he’s the best player on the planet.) But that means Rose needs to learn to work off the ball with LeBron more, and when LeBron (and eventually Thomas) sit, Rose needs to take over and show he can get a team buckets for a 5-7 minute stretch. Do that and he has a role that will get him some money. I’m not sold Rose can do much more than that at this point in his career.

How much money Rose will get is another issue. It’s going to be a tight market next year where only a few teams have much money to spend, and Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Cory Joseph, and maybe Rajon Rondo (depending on how he does in New Orleans) will be higher on team’s boards than Rose.

But if LeBron is “invested” that could help Rose make a little more green next season.