Author: Kurt Helin

Carmelo Anthony

PBT Extra: Is it time for Carmelo Anthony to shut it down?


I’m not a doctor, but I’ll play one on the Internet…

The amazing Jenna Corrado and I talk New Year’s resolutions for some NBA names and Carmelo Anthony was at the top of the list: Should he shut it down and get surgery? If his knee is really bothering him as much as it appears, absolutely he should. Yes, he should have concerns about surgery — any surgery has potential complications — and I get he wants to play in the All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden, but he shouldn’t do those things at the expense of his long-term health.

We also talk about what a couple of coaches should do this new year — Kevin McHale in Houston and Tom Thibodeau in Chicago.

Rumor: Larry Sanders told some Bucks officials he doesn’t want to play basketball anymore

Larry Sanders

Larry Sanders is not your average NBA guy. He’s complicated, a guy who talks of wanting to open a children’s art camp but also admits his anger management issues. The Bucks knew all that when they gave him a four-year, $44 million extension after a breakout season (he looked like a future elite rim protecting big), a deal that kicked in this summer.

Since the ink dried on that contract there has been a nightclub brawl that left him with an injured thumb in need of a surgery that cost him 25 games (then when he returned he suffered a fractured orbital bone in his face that ended his season). There was the drug suspension. There were the charges of animal cruelty. Sanders has missed the last six games this season for undisclosed “personal reasons.”

And now this — he may not want to even play basketball anymore, reports Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times.

Be warned, this could be spin from the Bucks. This may well not be how Sanders saw the conversation (or even how it really went down). That said, we’ve seen this before, big men who play the game because they are good at it and can make a lot of money, not because of an inherent love of basketball. Think Andrew Bynum as the most recent example.

The Bucks are trying to get out from under Sanders’ contract.

Larry Bird and the Pacers may have their concerns about Roy Hibbert, but they aren’t stupid. They would never go for that deal.

Sanders will not simply walk away from the game, and I can think of 44 million reasons why. Money is an amazing motivator. But Sanders clearly has some things he needs to work out, and the Bucks need — at that price, they deserve — a guy fully committed to the team and his game.

Read Ben Golliver’s great interview with Sanders over at Sports Illustrated. Sanders is not someone you can simply pigeonhole into whatever box some want their athletes to conform to. Sanders is a guy who likes to push the rules, and in the NBA there are a lot of rules. That can work for some guys — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was and is a non-conformist, but he had a pretty nice career. To put it mildly.

Sanders needs to figure out what it is he really wants and who he really is. That’s the only fair thing for himself and the Bucks.

Paul Pierce: Carmelo Anthony is toughest guy to cover in NBA

Washington Wizards v New York Knicks

If you were listing the toughest covers for a forward in the NBA, the first names that might come to mind are LeBron James and his overwhelming athleticism (when healthy) combined with a high IQ game. Or maybe Kevin Durant, a long guy with the handles and quickness to create a little space — all he needs to get off a high-efficiency shot.

Paul Pierce, in a first-person piece at the Players’ Tribune, named the five toughest covers he’s had in the league. LeBron made that list, not surprisingly. Kobe Bryant did as well, which also makes perfect sense. There are some quality guys from the last generation on the list in Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter (yes, Carter is still in the league, but he’s not that Vince Carter anymore).

But Pierce reserved his highest praise for Carmelo Anthony.

If I had to single one guy out who is the most difficult player to guard in the league, it would have to be Carmelo. He’s a unique blend of being big, strong, and athletic while also having a world-class shooting touch and a natural ability to get to the rim. That’s what sets him apart — every facet of his game is elite.

Some great players will have one or two particular skills that make them special. But Carmelo can do everything, which puts you in a baaad situation as a defender. A lot of guys might shoot better from certain areas, so you try to force them elsewhere on the floor. Carmelo doesn’t have a spot on the floor where he can’t consistently hit shots.

In my opinion, his combination of physicality and shooting touch is unmatched in the NBA. You can’t take one second off when you’re matched up against him.

Anthony is unquestionably a difficult matchup for any defender because of his versatility.

But as a coach of the opposing team if Anthony is stopping the ball and using that versatility in isolation sets, if he is not swinging the ball to open teammates when his gravity pulls defenders to him, I can live with that. It’s going to be a rough night for the guy guarding Anthony, but if you can force him into inefficient shots — and Anthony has never been the king of efficiency — and not get him moving the rock, you can beat the Knicks. Anthony certainly has looked for his rather than played the triangle the way Tex envisioned this season.

That said, Pierce has been the guy trying to stop Anthony in games for more than a decade. He knows a tough cover when he sees it.