Dan Feldman

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Knicks president Steve Mills trying to add ‘calmness to what had been a little bit of a crazy environment’

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NEW YORK (AP) Carmelo Anthony is gone. Phil Jackson is gone.

The losing appears here to stay.

The New York Knicks have entered a rebuilding mode, with new president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry touting the team’s youth even before they had traded Anthony on the eve of training camp.

The young players might be ready to win in a couple years, but for now, it looks like another long season inside Madison Square Garden.

“The whole talk for us is it’s a start for us to instill a culture of playing as hard as you can, trying to play together as a team,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “We don’t necessarily have these superstars that have been in the league for many years carrying our team. We’ve got to do it collectively.”

That will fall on players such as Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Willy Hernangomez, rookie Frank Ntilikina and center Enes Kanter, who was acquired from Oklahoma City in the trade for Anthony.

The Jackson-Anthony drama hung over the Knicks last season and into the summer, with the team president making it clear he wanted to move on from the All-Star forward. But before he could, the Knicks moved on from Jackson, who couldn’t build a playoff roster in his three seasons. Mills was promoted and he has taken aim at cleaning up the mess within the organization.

“Part of my job is to try to add some sense of calmness to what had been a little bit of a crazy environment that we’ve been going through,” Mills said. “So I think that we have a good group of people here.”

But it’s a group that looks incapable of defending, and it will be hard to outscore its ineptitude on that end without the 40 points per game the Knicks lost when they traded Anthony and let Derrick Rose leave.

So they could be even worse than last season’s 31-51 finish, but at least some of the dysfunction could be gone. Fans seemed fed up with it under Jackson, so maybe they’ll accept a team that loses quietly if they see growth on the court without the circus off it.

“They want to see effort, they want to see tenacity, they want to see hard work and they just want to see us not backing down from anybody,” Hardaway said. “The icing on the cake is winning ballgames. That’s what we want to do and that’s our goal, to win ballgames, and win as many as possible to see ourselves looking towards the end of the season where we can find ourselves in the postseason.”

Some things to watch with the Knicks:

KRISTAPS’ KNICKS: Porzingis left frustrated, blowing off his exit interview before returning to Latvia for the summer. The third-year forward came back as the face of the franchise, returning to New York the day Anthony left for Oklahoma City.

FRANK FROM FRANCE: Jackson’s last big move was drafting the 19-year-old Ntilikina with the No. 8 pick. It’s hard to tell yet what the Knicks have in the French point guard, who missed summer league with an injury and then most of preseason when he was hurt again.

HARDAWAY’S HERE: Mills’ first big move was to give Hardaway a $71-million deal to return to New York after Jackson traded the former first-round pick to Atlanta two years earlier. His game grew with the Hawks, and the Knicks believe he’s ready for a bigger role now.

SPEED IT UP: Jackson’s triangle system is mostly gone, with Hornacek saying the Knicks want to open up the offense more in hopes of getting more easy shots.

JOAKIM’S JOB: Joakim Noah‘s forgettable first season of a $72-million deal ended with him serving a suspension for violating the anti-drug policy. It continues into this season and it’s unclear where he fits after that in a center rotation that also includes Kanter, Hernangomez, Kyle O'Quinn and sometimes Porzingis.

 

Derrick Rose: ‘Next time you’ve got to pay me, you’ve got to pay me double’

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Derrick Rose was still on his old-TV-money contract extension in 2015, when players began to reap the rewards of a rapidly escalating salary cap. Then with the Bulls, Rose  brought up his 2017 free agency and expectation that he’d earn a major payday.

Turns out, Rose settled for a one-year minimum contract with the Cavaliers last summer.

Rose, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

“I get a chance to reintroduce myself back to the league. I get to bet on myself. That was one of the reasons I came here, I get to bet on myself. And I’m from Chicago, I’ve got that hustling side; it’s in me, man. Next time you’ve got to pay me, you’ve got to pay me double, so it’s fine with me.”

Rose is earning $2,116,955 this season. Doubling that would put him around the full room exception. Players to receive that last offseason: Ron Baker, Jamal Crawford and Aron Baynes.

I can get behind Rose on this. If he plays well this year, the injury-prone, weak-defensive, poor-outside-shooting point guard might just get the room exception in free agency next summer.

Markelle Fultz says injury contributed to ugly free throws (video)

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Markelle Fultz was already causing concern with his shooting form.

Now, the No. 1 pick is sparking alarm with his Shaq-esque free throws, seen above in the 76ers preseason game yesterday.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer:

Fultz has been dealing with soreness in his right shoulder, which caused him to miss Friday’s preseason game, but he “can’t recall” when he first felt the pain. After Monday’s game against the Celtics, he said the shoulder has been hurting “on and off.” “I talk to trainers when it bothers me, and they get right to it and start working on it,” Fultz said. “When it’s not, I’m happy. Either way, I’m happy and I just go out and play.”

After Fultz left the locker room, I asked him if the shoulder issue motivated him to revise his free throw mechanics, to minimize the pain he feels when he raises his arm. Fultz said, “Yeah, for the most part. I’m just trying other things to make free throws. At the end of the day, that’s not an excuse for me. I’m just out there hooping.”

The big question: Is Fultz developing bad habits while playing through his shoulder injury?

If he’s just pushing up free throws for now so he can play and hone other parts of his game, OK. It’s the preseason. Heck, Philadelphia could probably afford him playing through that flaw in the regular season.

But if Fultz is screwing up his stroke, that’d be a major concern – especially if it flows into his shooting from the floor. If that’s the case, the 76ers should sit him.

It’s almost impossible to tell which is the case from afar and maybe even from the inside while Fultz’s shoulder is still bothering him. The 76ers just have to hope they’re handling this correctly.

Derrick Rose says he recorded video to recruit LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh in 2010

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LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose are all teammates with the Cavaliers.

They could have joined forces sooner.

LeBron and Wade considered the Bulls in 2010 free agency before choosing the Heat, who also signed Chris Bosh. Then Chicago’s big-name player, Rose said he refused to recruit those stars, though.

Now, Rose is telling a different tale.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

“Oh yeah, yeah, I tried,” Rose said after shootaround Tuesday. “People always said that I didn’t recruit. I tried to recruit. I put out the video, but, it wasn’t for me to say that. I felt like it was for the organization to say that.”

Rose said he filmed a video in which he recruited the big three to join him on a Bulls team that had a young core of Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah already.

When asked why this revelation was just coming to light now, Rose replied, “I just wanted to see who had my back,” presumably referring to members of the Bulls front office that could have corrected the perception that Rose was hands-off by telling the media about the video that was filmed.

Rose said he is unaware if the video was ever viewed by James, Wade and Bosh.

“(The Bulls) didn’t say anything about it,” Rose said. “They sent it, I don’t know if they really actually looked at it or played the video, but, I made the video, but at the time it really wasn’t for me to say that.”

Rose clearly didn’t want to alienate his Chicago teammates by openly recruiting outside free agents, a noble sentiment. The Bulls would have had to shed salary to clear room for two max free agents, let alone three.

But what did Rose expect the narrative to be when he said things like “as far as recruiting, I never did and never will”?

Bulls management had similar incentives to show loyalty to incumbent players. Rose probably would have been ticked if someone from the front office discussed the video publicly.

Rose chose to hide his recruiting efforts, which might have improved team chemistry but also painted him a star uneager to share the spotlight. It’s nice that he set the record straight now, but after he extracted all the positives of his misleading statements, there’s no reason to feel bad he also dealt with some negative perception.

Nuggets retiring Fat Lever’s No. 12

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What happens when you rank last in home attendance two years in a row?

You retire the number of someone who last played for the team 27 years ago.

Nuggets release:

the Nuggets will be retiring legendary player Lafayette “Fat” Lever’s #12 jersey on Saturday, December 2, 2017 vs. the Los Angeles Lakers.

“With what Fat Lever has meant to this team, this city and our community for the past 30-plus years, it makes perfect sense to honor him by retiring his jersey during this special season,” Kroenke stated. “He is not only one of the best Nuggets in franchise history, but a great ambassador of Denver basketball as well. It is going to be an honor to have his jersey hanging in our arena.”

Lever had a fine six-season stint with Denver, making an All-NBA second team, an All-Defensive second team and a couple All-Star teams. His Nuggets teams made the playoffs each season and peaked with a trip to the 1985 Western Conference finals, though they were already perennial postseason participants be he arrived. Lever is Denver’s all-time leader in steals, and he ranks second in assists, seventh in points and even eighth in rebounds. Not bad for a 6-foot-3 point guard.

The timing is questionable, but Lever is a reasonable choice to join Alex English (2), David Thompson (33), Byron Beck (40), Dan Issel (44), Dikembe Mutombo (55) and Doug Moe (432) with a number in the rafters.