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Joel Embiid’s strong start to season could mean extra $5 million a year

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Not long ago, Joel Embiid and the Sixers agreed to a max contract extension — five years, $146 million. The Sixers are betting on Embiid staying healthy because when he is there is no doubt he is a max player.

In fact, Embiid has been so good to start the season — 22.9 points and 11.3 rebounds a game, plus being one of the best defensive big men in the league — he stands a chance of making an additional $5 million a year by being named First Team All-NBA. It’s called the Derrick Rose rule. The fantastic Bobby Marks of ESPN explains (insider, behind the paywall).

Signed to a five-year $146 million extension, Embiid’s total compensation will increase to $178 million if he earns first-team All-NBA honors or is named Most Valuable Player this season. While the MVP is unlikely, Embiid could have an outside shot at first-team All-NBA based on his strong early-season play and the injury to Rudy Gobert. Unlike the All-Star selection process, in which the voting is split into backcourt and frontcourt, All-NBA is designated by position. Anthony Davis, named first-team All-NBA last season, should receive votes at power forward with DeMarcus Cousins now entrenched at center. Cousins — on pace for a career season statistically — is the biggest challenger to Embiid for the spot.

While a lot of people perceived Davis as a power forward last season, he played 64 percent of his minutes at center, so a lot of voters — myself included — treated him as a center for All-NBA. This season he has played center just 29 percent of the time, he will be a forward in voting. Rudy Gobert was on the second team, he’s been injured. DeAndre Jordan was on the third team, but his impact has been muted some this season (he misses Chris Paul feeding him the rock).

All that opens up three center spots on the All-NBA team, and it’s early but as of now there are four contenders: Embiid, Nikola Jokic, DeMarcus Cousins, and Andre Drummond. Maybe five if you want to squeeze LaMarcus Aldridge in as a center (he has almost evenly split time between power forward and center this season). About 20 games into the season is far too early to predict who gets what spot, Cousins probably would be in front, meaning Embiid is a bit of a longer shot, but it certainly could happen.

If Embiid does earn First Team and the raise, it eats into the salary cap space the Sixers have next summer and makes it harder to chase elite free agents, for example, LeBron James.

Blake Griffin hits game-winning 3-pointer to douse Blazers (VIDEO)

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The final two minutes of Thursday night’s game between the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers had it all: a dislocated finger, a reversed blocking call, and a game-winning shot by Blake Griffin.

Portland took the lead with 43 seconds left on a sweet CJ McCollum floater from the right baseline. On the ensuing Clippers possession, LA missed a 3-pointer but recovered the ball for another attempt. That lead to an Austin Rivers drive down the lane, originally stopped by a blocking charge against Damian Lillard.

Much to the horror of folks in the Moda Center, Rivers appeared to not only have the opportunity to hit clutch free throws, but a dislocated finger as well.

Luckily, team doctors were there to pop his thumb back in place:

Officials went to the replay booth to check on the play and wound up reversing the call. Instead of a blocking foul, Lillard was awarded the charge against Rivers.

After Portland inbounded in the ball, McCollum was sent to the line with just under six seconds to go. Having a shaky night already, McCollum missed the first of two free throws, leaving the door open for LA.

That’s when this happened:

It was a gutsy win for the Clippers on a night in which they dominated Portland’s big men. Ed Davis and Jusuf Nurkic seemed to struggle all game, either with foul trouble or on the glass. Still, it was a close game and the Clippers grabbing the win at the end, gutting the fans in Rip City.

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.

Report: Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum did “good job of recruiting” Carmelo Anthony

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According to every report and every source, as of right now Carmelo Anthony will only waive his no-trade clause for the Houston Rockets.

That doesn’t mean plenty of people are not trying to get ‘Melo to broaden that list. The Knicks certainly are. So have been the Portland Trail Blazers, in the persons of C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN Radio’s The Russillo Show,

Wojnarowski had said before that Portland was a dark horse in the chase.

Lillard and McCollum have been public about it and worked hard to get Anthony to put Portland in the mix. So far to no avail, but the pair apparently has not given up.

Portland has the salary to make a trade work, particularly if the Knicks take on Evan Turner plus another rotation player, although with Courtney Lee and Tim Hardaway Jr. on the roster that may not work for New York. To match the salaries the Blazers could do Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Al-Farouq Aminu’s and Ed Davis, plus the Blazers can throw in picks and maybe one of their recent draftees. But I can’t see the Knicks taking on Leonard. Also, if the Knicks want a quality young player or if the Trail Blazers want to shed Leonard they will need a third team.

You could ask at this point how picky can the Knicks be, unless they want to bring ‘Melo into to training camp? However, GM Scott Perry has made it clear the Knicks are willing do just that.

All of this is fun speculation, but also moot if Anthony doesn’t add Portland to his list of destinations. So far, he has not.

 

Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum say Carmelo Anthony interested in joining Trail Blazers

AP Photo/Steve Dykes
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The Trail Blazers want to trade for Carmelo Anthony. Portland guard C.J. McCollum has even put on the public press:

But Anthony has a no-trade clause, meaning the Trail Blazers must convince both him and the Knicks on a deal.

The Knicks seem ready to move on. What about Anthony? Would he approve Portland?

Jay Allen of Rip City Radio 620:

Joe Freeman of The Oregonian:

McCollum is publicity-oriented. It’s unsurprising to see him interject himself into this saga.

This is a new approach for Lillard, who’s not known as much of a recruiter. Perhaps, it speaks to the Trail Blazers’ dedication in pursuing Anthony. The star guard could go a long way in convincing Anthony that Portland is big-time enough for him.

Anthony clearly prefers to join the Rockets, but it seems they’re having trouble formulating a trade that appeases the Knicks and any third (or fourth) team(s). If Anthony can’t get to Houston, there are reasons he might prefer remaining in New York over going to Portland.

For now, he can maximize leverage on a trade to Houston by refusing to accept a trade elsewhere. The question is what happens if Anthony eventually believes a Rockets deal has completely fallen apart.

Maybe he’s actually interested in Portland. Maybe he just didn’t want to outright reject Lillard and McCollum even if he knows he would never go there. Maybe he’s just unsure.

At least the Trail Blazers make sense on paper for a trade. If the Knicks want to turn Anthony into smaller bad contracts for younger players, Portland has plenty of options – Allen Crabbe, Evan Turner and Meyers Leonard. The Trail Blazers could also aggregate Maurice Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu and/or Ed Davis to match Anthony’s salary and provide New York with more value. There are enough potential permutations to believe there’s one viable for both teams.

But can the Trail Blazers get Anthony on board? That’s the bigger question. It sounds as if they’re trying.