Author: Dan Feldman

Denver Nuggets versus the Atlanta Hawks

Nuggets mascot decks a kid with a late hit, gloats (video)


Rocky has taken plenty of abuse. Dikembe Mutombo taunted him, and Dwight Howard kicked him in the face.

The Nuggets mascot got his revenge during halftime of last night’s Denver Broncos-Arizona Cardinals preseason game – on a kid who’d already stepped out of bounds.

Report: Kevin Durant considering Knicks, being recruited by Carmelo Anthony

2014 Summer Classic Charity Basketball Game

When Carmelo Anthony was a free agent last summer, Kevin Durant recruited him to the Knicks.

Durant reportedly pitched Melo on the virtues of New York coach Derek Fisher, who was previously Durant’s teammate with the Thunder.

Now, Melo – who re-signed with the Knicks – is reportedly returning the favor.

Stephen A. Smith of ESPN:

I know for a fact that Carmelo Anthony has been and will continue to recruit Kevin Durant until the cows come home. I’m also hearing that Kevin Durant is giving the New York Knicks consideration.

For what it’s worth, Melo strongly denied Smith’s last major report about him, that the star forward was upset about the Knicks drafting Kristaps Porzingis. That doesn’t mean Smith was wrong, but it’s something.

To the matter at hand, I believe Durant is considering the Knicks. I also believe he’s considering the Thunder and Wizards and…

I doubt Durant has made up his mind about 2016 free agency. Why would he this soon?

But outside Oklahoma City and Washington – the two major favorites for Durant – New York would be my pick to land him. That’s still a small chance, though.

First, the Knicks must prove they have a legitimate chance of winning. I believe the New York market still appeals to players, maybe including Durant. But that’s not enough. Seventeen wins in Phil Jackson’s first full season – especially when he appeared to be targeting a playoff berth – is concerning.

The Knicks should be better this year, though. Melo will likely be healthier, and the roster has improved around him. Free agent center Robin Lopez is a significant upgrade.

Respectability on the court won’t be enough, though. New York also needs to clear cap room.

The Knicks have $67,964,567 committed to eight players. With roster charges, that puts New York $18,861,549 below the projected salary cap of $89 million.

Durant’s starting salary projects to be $25,136,700.

Player options for Arron Afflalo ($8 million) and/or Derrick Williams ($4,598,000) could clear more room. If Durant wants to come, the Knicks would surely do what it takes to dump Jose Calderon ($7,708,427), Kyle O’Quinn ($3,918,750) and/or Jerian Grant (   $1,643,040). The salary cap could also land higher than projected, though that would also raise Durant’s max salary.

Clearing cap space is an obstacle, not impossible.

New York’s market can open the door for free agents considering the Knicks. Durant’s fondness for Fisher only helps, and Melo’s recruiting could help lay the groundwork. But it ultimately falls on Jackson – the team he assembled this season boosting New York’s credibility and his ability to clear cap space and sell Durant on his vision for the Knicks.

Report: Former second-rounder Deshaun Thomas will accept Spurs’ tender if offered

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Deshaun Thomas famously refused to give the Spurs his phone number.

Now, he’s waiting to hear from them.

Despite his interview difficulty, San Antonio drafted Thomas with the No. 58 pick in 2013. The last two years, they offered him the required tender – a one-year contract, surely unguaranteed and at the league minimum, necessary to retain his rights. Both years, Thomas rejected it in favor of signing in Europe, allowing San Antonio to carry his rights another year.

But he’s apparently no longer willing to put off an NBA deal.

David Pick:

The Spurs have until tomorrow to offer Thomas the tender. If they don’t, he’ll immediately become an unrestricted free agent.

If he accepts the tender, he’ll either make the regular-season roster or he won’t. Either would get him closer to the NBA. San Antonio keeping him would obviously get him there immediately. But even if he’s waived, he could negotiate with all 30 NBA teams. As is, only the Spurs, who hold his draft rights, can sign him.

San Antonio has 13 players with guaranteed contracts plus Matt Bonner ($749,594 guaranteed), Jimmer Fredette ($507,711 guaranteed), Reggie Williams (unguaranteed) and Youssou Ndoye (unclear guarantee). Those are substantial guarantees for Bonner and Fredette. I think the odds of Thomas beating them in training camp for the final two regular-season roster spots are low.

But it’s obviously not impossible. The Spurs drafted Thomas, and the only way for them to get a return on that investment is bringing him to camp to compete for a regular-season roster spot.

There is a downside, though. Required tenders can’t include an Exhibit 9, which offers teams protection if a player gets hurt. If Thomas injures himself during training camp, his contract would become guaranteed until he can play again. San Antonio might determine Thomas’ odds of making the team are too low to warrant such a risk.

Thomas faces potential downside with this route, too. If the Spurs bring him to camp and waive him before the regular season, he won’t receive more than per diem. During that time, he could miss out on more-lucrative overseas options.

If Thomas wants to reach the NBA, though, this his best move. It’s on San Antonio to make a call.