Tag: Carmelo Anthony

Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game Two

Hawks’ excellent season shouldn’t be discredited because of playoff exit


It’s easy to get caught up in narratives, especially on Twitter. Nothing can be good without something else being bad. As the Cavs blew out the Hawks to reach the NBA Finals, I saw this play out all over my timeline. The Hawks are the worst 60-win team of all time. Their phenomenal regular-season success wasn’t for real because they fell apart in the playoffs. You just can’t win in the playoffs without a superstar.

That, or, a very good team that absolutely could have made the Finals ran into some bad injury luck and one of the most dominant performances of LeBron James’ career.

At the beginning of the season, I picked the Hawks to win 48 games in PBT’s season previews. That seemed high at the time. It turns out I lowballed them by 12. Just about everything broke right for Atlanta after a summer that couldn’t have gone much worse. The racism controversy and lingering uncertainty about ownership could have hung over the team all year like the Donald Sterling scandal did over the Clippers during last year’s playoffs, but it didn’t. Mike Budenholzer achieved total buy-in to a system built on ball movement and passing up good shots to get great shots.

The downside to a system like that, though, is that all of the pieces have to be in place, and once injuries start to take their toll and players’ roles shift, the entire thing can unravel. The Hawks weren’t the same after Thabo Sefolosha’s run-in with the NYPD sidelined him for the year, and all throughout the playoffs they battled injuries to Al Horford’s finger, Paul Millsap’s shoulder and DeMarre Carroll’s knee before losing Kyle Korver to a season-ending ankle injury. Every team has dealt with injuries in the playoffs, and some handle it better than others. In that way, it’s easier to weather that storm when you have LeBron James. But that the Hawks lost to him should not be an indictment of their season or of Danny Ferry’s approach to team building.

In no way is the Hawks’ philosophy dependent on not having a star — they went hard after Chris Paul and Dwight Howard in the summer of 2013 and even sniffed around Carmelo Anthony last summer. When they didn’t get one of those players, they were forced to regroup, and they deserve credit for maximizing their reality as well as they possibly could have, targeting the right role players and putting them in the right spots. If the Bulls don’t fall apart in the second round, maybe Atlanta faces a more favorable matchup in the Conference Finals, and then suddenly we might be talking about the Hawks going to the Finals.

The Hawks have a lot of questions to answer this summer, chief among them the worth of Millsap and Carroll. One of those questions isn’t whether they can win without a star, as if they can make one materialize out of thin air. They have the infrastructure in place now, and if everyone can get healthy, there’s no reason to believe they can’t be serious contenders again next year.

Until then, they and their fans should be proud of what they accomplished.

Mitch Kupchak: Lakers “don’t have time” to build through the draft

Mitch Kupchak

In a little over a month, the Lakers will be selecting second overall in the NBA Draft. The player they take, whether it be Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell or someone else, is someone they will hope to be the post-Kobe Bryant face of the franchise. Beyond that, though, the word is that the Lakers are done trying to slowly acquire talent.

Here’s what GM Mitch Kupchak told Bleacher Report Radio on Sunday about the team’s mindset following two straight years missing the playoffs:

The Lakers are going to have max-level cap space this summer, which they’ll use to chase a top-tier free agent, whether that be Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge. This has been their strategy for the last year: they went hard after Carmelo Anthony last summer and attempted to reach out to LeBron James and Chris Bosh during free agency, although they didn’t get far with either one.

With the Kobe Bryant era drawing to a close (Kupckak reiterated in the same interview that the Lakers are proceeding as though 2015-16 would be Bryant’s final year), the Lakers don’t have a clear direction going forward. They’ll get Julius Randle back from the leg injury that kept him out all but one game of his rookie season, and paired with whoever they take in next month’s draft, that’s a solid young foundation.

But that won’t be enough to win in the crowded Western Conference, at least not for a while. They’ll need to add talent to put around them, and the quickest way to do that is through free agency. After missing the playoffs two years in a row, the historically dominant Lakers are anxious to get back to being relevant.

The Lakers’ hands are also sort of tied when it comes to building through the draft. They still owe next year’s pick to the Sixers, unless it falls in the top three. Even if they wanted to build through the draft, they don’t have any more first-round picks after this year until 2017.

With that said, Kupchak’s “don’t have time” wording is questionable. If it were any other franchise than the Lakers or the Knicks, it would be assumed that the road to contention would take several years of developing talent. But the Lakers pride themselves on being a consistently championship-level organization, and missing the playoffs two years in a row has been tough on them, so their mentality is not going to change.

And if the Lakers get a star free agent, that’s great. But if they don’t, they could be in for another several years of disappointment relative to expectations.

Lakers GM: If free agents don’t choose L.A. because of Kobe Bryant, ‘we don’t want them. You should go someplace else.’

kobe mitch

The notion that free agents haven’t been willing to come to the Lakers in recent seasons because they don’t want to play with Kobe Bryant was brought up near the beginning of the season, but has been refuted by plenty of star players since.

The reality is that the only star-caliber players who have changed teams lately had very specific reasons for doing so. LeBron James was never going anywhere but back home to Cleveland, Carmelo Anthony stayed in New York to get the maximum amount of money allowed, and L.A.’s poor treatment and marginalization of Pau Gasol the past two years had him ready and willing to play somewhere (or perhaps anywhere) else.

Bryant has one year remaining on his contract, and though he’s expected to be healthy at the beginning of next season, no one can predict how long that will last. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said that Bryant hasn’t indicated that he will play beyond next season, but also mentioned that if Bryant’s presence is seen as a deterrent by free agents considering Los Angeles, then he doesn’t want them, and they should go play somewhere else.

From Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com:

Kupchak was also asked if it’s important for free agents to have clarity on Bryant’s future plans with the Lakers, particularly if they’re wary of joining the team while Bryant is still playing, a notion that has been reported in recent years.

“I think it is clear,” Kupchak said. “He’s on the last year of his deal. There have been no discussions [about playing beyond next season]. He hasn’t indicated that he wants to continue to play.

“But if there is a player out there like that, that won’t come here for that reason, then we don’t want them. Every great player is demanding and focused, and if you don’t want to play for a guy like him that’s driven to do nothing but win championships and work hard, then you shouldn’t be here. You should go someplace else.”

This has been the stance the Lakers have taken all along, and they are right to do so.

Dwight Howard famously clashed with Bryant, and took less money to play for the Rockets. He may not have wanted to play with Bryant any longer, but I believe he left more because he couldn’t take the pressure of being the face of the franchise in a major market like Los Angeles once Bryant was gone.

That’s one example of the type of player the Lakers can’t afford to sign to a long-term, max-money deal as they look to reshape the franchise into a contender in the future. There certainly are others. But the Lakers organization needs a strong-willed star to carry it into its next era of greatness, and someone who would bristle at Kobe’s level of commitment or competitiveness simply isn’t a match.

Stephen Curry, LeBron James unanimous choices, lead All-NBA First Team

Stephen Curry

This is bigger than the All-Star Game for a lot of players. Because it’s more exclusive.

Only six guards, six forwards and three centers get to make the All-NBA team, it is the cream that has risen to the top of the NBA.

No shock, LeBron James and freshly-minted MVP Stephen Curry were unanimous choices to make the first team — if you put together a ballot and they’re not on it you’re doing it wrong. This is also the first First Team vote for Anthony Davis, who earned this spot based on his historic season and carrying the Pelicans to the playoffs.

No Hawks made the list — the team ball concepts can hurt come time for individual awards. Fair or not.

Here is the full list. The two forwards are listed first, followed by the center, then the two guards. After the players team is the number of first team votes (in parenthesis) and total points.


LeBron James, Cleveland (129) 645
Anthony Davis, New Orleans (119) 625
Marc Gasol, Memphis (65) 453
Stephen Curry, Golden State (129) 645
James Harden, Houston (125) 637


LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland (13) 390
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento (18) 220
Pau Gasol, Chicago (15) 242
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City (10) 397
Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers (1) 335


Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers (2) 189
Tim Duncan, San Antonio (6) 167
DeAndre Jordan, L.A. Clippers (12) 175
Klay Thompson, Golden State 122
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland 112

Other players receiving votes, with point totals (First Team votes in parentheses): Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio, 155; Paul Millsap, Atlanta, 70; Al Horford, Atlanta, 64 (1); John Wall, Washington, 50; Jimmy Butler, Chicago, 32; Damian Lillard, Portland, 22; Draymond Green, Golden State, 9; Zach Randolph, Memphis, 7; Jeff Teague, Atlanta, 7; Andrew Bogut, Golden State, 6; Nikola Vucevic, Orlando, 6; DeMar DeRozan, Toronto, 3; Rudy Gay, Sacramento, 3; Andre Drummond, Detroit, 2; Gordon Hayward, Utah, 2; Kyle Korver, Atlanta, 2; Joakim Noah, Chicago, 2; Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas, 2; Dwyane Wade, Miami, 2; Carmelo Anthony, New York, 1; Tyson Chandler, Dallas, 1; Mike Conley, Memphis, 1; Brook Lopez, Brooklyn, 1; Kevin Love, Cleveland, 1; Kyle Lowry, Toronto, 1; Khris Middleton, Milwaukee, 1.

Carmelo Anthony says he’s afraid of cats (VIDEO)

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony visited Facebook’s headquarters on Monday and answered a set of fan-submitted questions, rapid-fire style. When asked the animal he’s most afraid of, he revealed that he’s afraid of cats.

You can watch the whole video below: