Author: Kurt Helin

Philadelphia 76ers v New York Knicks

Carmelo Anthony returns to lineup Sunday for Knicks vs. Heat

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We knew the Knicks were thinking about bringing Carmelo Anthony back sooner rather than later, but this was a lot sooner than expected.

Anthony started Sunday night at Madison Square Garden where the Knicks faced the Heat.

Anthony missed just two games after back spasms flared up that at first seemed would keep him out longer. The 4-13 Knicks certainly had no reason to rush him back — let’s hope they’re smarter than that, this is a lottery team even in the East, and they just inked ‘Melo to a five-year deal — but if he was healthy then get him out there.

Coach Derek Fisher certainly wasn’t holding back — Anthony played the first 20 minutes of the game, going 2-of-6 from the floor.

Report: New Orleans “seriously considering” signing Dante Cunningham

Dante Cunningham
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Dante Cunningham is the kind of solid reserve big man who normally would have been picked up by a team in early-to-mid August as they rounded out their roster, but last summer nobody went near him. The reason was a some ugly domestic violence charges — ones that led to him getting booed by home fans in Minnesota at the end of last season — and in today’s climate no team was going near that.

However by mid-August all charges were dismissed. A source who saw the evidence against him told me this was a case where there was no foundation to the charges, police had found the accusations contained “falsehoods.” It is unlikely the league would suspend him in this case.

Still teams have stayed away. However that may be about to change, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The Pelicans are looking for a little depth. They have an impressive starting front court with Anthony Davis and Omer Asik, and Ryan Anderson has been good as a stretch on the offensive end but he’s not providing much defense.

Cunningham, 26, is a quality defender, especially against the pick-and-roll, and he can defend the three or the four. Offensively he’s a pick-and-pop big man who makes his living on the long two on offense — he took 58 percent of his shots from 16 feet out to the arc last season in Minnesota (where he averaged 6 points and 4 rebounds a game in about 20 minutes a night off the bench). He hit a respectable 39.2 percent of those long twos but that’s still an inefficient shot.

The Pelicans have the roster space after waiving Darius Miller and Patric Young.

If the Pelicans don’t snap him up, some team will.

Dwyane Wade will return to Heat Sunday vs. Knicks

Minnesota Timberwolves v Miami Heat
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Miami’s offense missed Dwyane Wade — he averaging 19.8 points a game, shot 45.5 percent from three (although mostly he is getting the looks he wants inside the arc), they move the ball better, and the Heat’s offense is 8.8 points better per 100 possession when he was on the court.

Make that is on the court. After missing seven games due to a hamstring injury Wade will be back on the court for Miami Sunday against New York, he announced after shootaround.

Mario Chalmers played well at the two spot with Wade out and he should get some time at that spot off the bench, but he is no Wade. Chris Bosh and other Heat offensive players will find a little more room to operate.

The Knicks have not been lucky this week. Carmelo Anthony remains out plus first Russell Westbrook now Wade will make their returns against the struggling New York team.

LeBron James with wicked no-look pass to Kyrie Irving (VIDEO)

LeBron James.Chris Copeland
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When the Cavaliers’ offense gets clicking, it is a highlight reel in and of itself.

Take this play from Saturday’s Cleveland win over Indiana. LeBron James makes a long outlet pass to Kyrie Irving and he attacks the rim in transition but the Pacers get back and cut off the easy bucket, so Irving kicks it to Shawn Marion in the opposite corner. That pass is a little off target and by the time Marion controls it he’s covered and has no shot so he passes back out to the trailer LeBron.

At that point LeBron waves at Marion like he wants him to cut to the rim, but it’s all a distraction and LeBron hits an open Irving for the easy bucket.

Irving was making plays, too. Check out this rebound and mid-air outlet pass to Marion from the same game.

Banged up Timberwolves add forward Jeff Adrien for depth

Houston Rockets v Orlando Magic
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It’s been another injury-plagued year in Minnesota. The team’s starting offensive backcourt of Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin are out for an extended period. Up front they are without center Nikola Pekovic for at least a couple more weeks and his backup Ronny Turiaf will be out longer.

In the wake of that the league granted the Timberwolves a player exception to add a 16th man and they have used it to sign Jeff Adrien, the team announced Saturday.

Adrien did not make a roster this season and split last season between Charlotte and Milwaukee. With the Bucks he started 12 games and averaged 10.9 points and 7.8 rebounds a game.

Adrien has the build and athleticism of an NBA player — he passes the eye test — and he works hard on the glass. However he has no offensive range and doesn’t take many shots. Last season with Charlotte, for example, when he got in a game he averaged just 1.6 shots a contest but 82 percent of them were within the restricted area (dunks and layups). He’s a guy other teams are not afraid to help off.

That said, the Timberwolves need bodies up front and they could do worse than Adrien.