Kurt Helin

New York Knicks President Phil Jackson takes questions from reporters, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016 at the team's practice facility in Elmsford, N.Y. Jackson earlier fired Knicks coach Derek Fisher, with his team having lost five straight and nine of 10 to fall well back in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Associate head coach Kurt Rambis was promoted to interim head coach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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Phil Jackson says he, Carmelo Anthony talked, ‘Melo still cornerstone of Knicks

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For a team that has fast faded from the playoff picture in recent months, the Knicks are still making headlines. Because of Kristaps Porzingis. Because they fired Derek Fisher and brought Kurt Rambis is as an interim, and Phil Jackson wanted his friend to succeed. Because Kevin Durant is looking elsewhere.

There are three looming questions with the Knicks heading into this summer:

Who is the next head coach?

Is Phil Jackson wed to the triangle? (This will impact free agency and ties into the question above.)

Is Carmelo Anthony part of the Knicks future?

Jackson spoke with the media Friday in Los Angeles and, at least, discussed the last of those questions. From Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal,

Up to this point, Anthony has not been willing to waive his no-trade clause, and he has said he wants to be active in recruiting free agents to the Knicks this summer (although his reported targets may not be the best options). I believe he wants to help bring respectability and eventually a contender to NYC.

But this summer his 15 percent trade kicker becomes valuable (it couldn’t go above the max salary before, but this summer’s salary cap spike means the max goes up and the kicker is in play). He agrees to leave, he gets more money. He’s only going to go to a contender, and likely in a major market (he and his wife like NYC), but the money, at least, opens a discussion that wasn’t going anywhere before.

Jackson also discussed other issues around the Knicks.

Sixers’ Jahlil Okafor to undergo surgery on right knee meniscus, done for season

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We know the Sixers’ history, they are going to be cautious when their young stars suffers an injury.

Which is why we will not see any more Jahlil Okafor this season. Here is GM Sam Hinkie, from the official press release Friday:

“Jahlil recently started to experience discomfort in his right knee, which we immediately investigated. As a comprehensive series of tests and additional evaluations by our medical team, it was revealed he has a small tear of the meniscus. Jahlil will undergo a minor arthroscopic procedure to address the injury. Timing and details of the procedure will be finalized in the coming days.

“Our medical team will continually monitor and evaluate Jahlil’s progress, and we anticipate he will resume full basketball activities in about six weeks.”

That is after the season and means his summer workout program.

Hopefully this is not serious, as the Sixers made it sound. With a meniscus tear the options are removal or trim and repair, the latter is better for the player long-term and it sounds like what the Sixers are looking at considering the recovery time and his youth (removals, as was done with Dwyane Wade years ago, are rare now).

After being drafted No. 3, Okafor had an impressive rookie season — 17.3 points per game on 50.3 percent shooting, with a PER of 17.4 — which is what most expected. He was the most NBA-ready of the top draft picks last June, but not the one with the highest ceiling.

Still he has looked like someone who can be a central piece of what the Sixers are slowly building in Philly. He and Nerlens Noel are going to be good NBA players, even if they can’t play next to each other on the front line.

PBT Podcast: Knicks future, DeMarcus Cousins, Twitter questions with Dan Feldman

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  New York Knicks president  Phil Jackson (Bottom) and director Spike Lee (Top) watch Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Rangers during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 29, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Is it somehow a surprise that Phil Jackson wanted his friend Kurt Rambis to succeed in New York?

Or that Kevin Durant isn’t interested in the Knicks?

Or that DeMarcus Cousins is frustrated and lashing out in Sacramento?

It shouldn’t be, but those are the news stories of the day, which Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports’ ProBasketballTalk discuss in this podcast. Other topics include your Twitter questions on the Bucks, Lakers and if Durant could end up in Toronto.

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Nuggets’ Will Barton with sweet double-pump dunk (VIDEO)

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Will Barton knows how to throw it down. He just picked the wrong year to enter the dunk contest.

The Nuggets’ Barton has been throwing down amazing in-game dunks all season, and you can add this double-pump to the mix. The Nuggets got to the rim all night and became the latest team to put the beatdown on the struggling Suns, 116-98. Barton had 17 off the bench.

Three takeaways from NBA Thursday: Kobe says goodbye to LeBron with vintage performance

at Staples Center on March 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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What you missed from a light Thursday around the NBA because you were busy rapping about your cats.

1) Kobe Bryant drops 26 on LeBron James in final meeting, but Cavaliers cruise past Lakers for the win. We knew how this game was going to end, didn’t we? Sure, the Lakers beat the Warriors last week, but lightning striking twice and all that. The Cavaliers are clearly the more talented team, pulled away in the second quarter with an 18-8 run, and never looked back on their way to a 120-108 win.

But the fans fill Staples Center now to see Kobe, and the guy known for rising in big moments throughout his career was in rare form for his final meeting ever against LeBron. If your kids play basketball, have them watch Kobe’s footwork clinic — he works LeBron more than once with just perfect execution on his way to 26 points.

2) The Spurs execution slowly kills the Bulls, and San Antonio improves to 55-10 on the season (and remains perfect at home). There were moments of hope for Chicago fans, their team would hang around seemingly within striking distance. But then the Bulls would turn the ball over — they did that 21 times — or miss an open look, and suddenly on the other end Kawhi Leonard would be getting the shooter’s role on a three and the moment would pass. San Antonio did to shorthanded Chicago (no Jimmy Butler still) what they do to everyone — execute. Relentlessly, consistently all game long. Until the other team’s errors become their undoing. It’s not flashy like Golden State, but it’s just as effective (the Warriors have the better record, but the Spurs have the better net rating). Leonard had 29 and LaMarcus Aldridge 26 in the San Antonio win.

3) Toronto found its defense again, at least for a night, and handled Atlanta. Before the All-Star break, the Toronto Raptors had a top 10 defense, which helped fuel them to the two seed in the East. Since the All-Star break, the Raptors have allowed 7.6 points more per 100 possessions and have been 24th in the NBA defensively. Their offense has continued to carry them to wins, but if they want to win in the playoffs they are going to have to get their defensive groove back. Which is why this Raptors 104-96 win over Atlanta Thursday was a sign of hope — the Hawks had an offensive rating of just 96.1 points per 100 possessions. Toronto held key players like Jeff Teague — 4-of-15 shooting — in check. Start to do that consistently and everyone in Toronto can get back to worrying about how their weakness at the four will get exploited in the postseason. By the way, DeMar DeRozan was a beast and dropped 30.