Report: Knicks would like to revisit Ricky Rubio trade talks, eyeing free agents such as P.J. Tucker

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The Knicks need a whole lot of things this summer — starting with someone who would give them anything of value for Carmelo Anthony (they may well strike out there) — but at the top of the list should be getting players who can defend. That’s the end of the floor where they had the biggest issues last season (they were 25th in the league).

One way to do that, revisit the Ricky Rubio trade discussions they had near the trade deadline. Ian Begley of ESPN said some in the Knicks camp hope to do that.

Some in the organization were hopeful after the trade deadline that they could revisit their attempts to acquire Rubio from the Minnesota Timberwolves in the offseason, per sources. It’s unclear if that interest remains, but Rubio would fit the mold of a two-way contributor.

Rubio found his shot after the All-Star break and played some of the best basketball of his career during that stretch. Combine that with the fact Kris Dunn struggled mightily as a rookie, and it’s hard to see why Tom Thibodeau and the Timberwolves would want to move the only quality point guard on their roster. If they do, the price will be too steep for the Knicks to afford.

On the free agent side, they reportedly have an interest in physical defender P.J. Tucker, among others.

The club has preliminary interest in veteran free agent P.J. Tucker, per league sources. Jeff Hornacek coached Tucker in Phoenix and praised him last season as a strong locker-room leader and intense defender. Tucker shot 35.7 percent from beyond the arc last season, including a 40 percent clip after being traded to the Toronto Raptors.

New York has also shown preliminary interest in New Orleans Pelicans forward and free-agent-to-be Dante Cunningham, per sources.

Tucker is an interesting fit, but he’s going to have other suitors as well.

Whatever Phil Jackson and the front office do this summer, they need to do it better than the Derrick Rose/Joakim Noah signings of last summer. There is some pressure on Jackson to get things right this time around.

Report: Pelicans to hire Nuggets assistant coach Chris Finch

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The Pelicans excelled defensively with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins sharing the court last season. Their offense was the problem.

New Orleans is keeping Alvin Gentry – and trying to improve his staff.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The New Orleans Pelicans, looking for a potential spark for their All-Star frontcourt duo of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, are closing in on the hire of Denver Nuggets assistant coach Chris Finch, according to league sources.

Reminder: Denver stunk with Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic sharing the court. Scoring with two true bigs is difficult, and Finch won’t provide a magical solution.

But Davis’ and Cousins’ ability to shoot 3-pointers and handle the ball provide hope. Perhaps, with more time to mesh, the Pelicans’ stars will score better together.

James Harden, LeBron James headline All-NBA Teams

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James Harden was a unanimous First Team choice.

LeBron James and Russell Westbrook came within one vote of the same (one voter each had them on the second team).

While we aren’t going to know who won MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, or other NBA awards until their new ceremony June 26 (after the Finals and Draft), the All-NBA teams had to be different. Because it impacts bonuses and future contracts — most notably if players qualify for Designated Player max deals this summer — teams needed to know early, before the Draft. So on Thursday the NBA released the prestigious All-NBA team, a snapshot of the best in the game.

Here are the three All-NBA teams:

Other players receiving votes, with point totals (First Team votes in parentheses): Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota, 50 (2); Chris Paul, LA Clippers, 49; Marc Gasol, Memphis, 48 (2); DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans, 42 (2); Paul George, Indiana, 40; Gordon Hayward, Utah, 27; Hassan Whiteside, Miami, 18; Kyrie Irving, Cleveland, 14; Klay Thompson, Golden State, 14; Nikola Jokic, Denver, 12 (1); Damian Lillard, Portland, 12; Paul Millsap, Atlanta, 3; LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio, 1; Blake Griffin, LA Clippers, 1; Al Horford, Boston, 1.

These were voted on by 100 members of the media, their votes will be made public June 26 with the rest of the award voting. (Full disclosure, I was one of those voters.)

The big takeaways: Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, and Stephen Curry (already an MVP) are eligible for Designated Player max contracts. In the case of Leonard it would be five years at around $217 million, and while he would sign next summer it wouldn’t kick in until the summer of 2019. Wall can sign his extension this summer (he has more experience) but his deal will not kick in for a couple.

However, Paul George and Gordon Hayward did not make an All-NBA team, which could impact their summers because now the Pacers and Jazz cannot offer their stars those Designated Player max contracts. (That contract is only for players who make the team the past year or two of the last three, or are a former MVP.)

In the case of George (who made all-NBA regularly before his leg injury, now has not made it two of the last three), that means the Pacers may consider trading their star this summer. George is a free agent in 2018 and there is a lot of buzz he is going to leave (either to a contender or the Lakers), and Indiana’s new man in charge Kevin Pritchard may feel he needs to get something for George rather than just let him walk. However, the trade market for George will not be robust because teams feel he wants to be a free agent in 2018, so he could be a one-year rental.

For Hayward, it means the Jazz can only offer a little more than other teams — about $2 million a year more on average over the deal, but also a guaranteed fifth year, so it works out to $46 million more guaranteed (but Hayward would get paid somewhere that fifth season, just not as much). That may be enough to keep him, he likes Utah, but it’s known Boston — with Hayward’s college coach Brad Stevens — and other teams are going to come hard at him.

Some will question putting Anthony Davis at center, but he spent 64 percent of his time on the court this past season at the five (as tracked by Basketball-Reference.com). That likely will not be the case next season with DeMarcus Cousins in the picture.

Report: Mavericks targeting Jrue Holiday in free agency

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The Pelicans have built a fragile core around Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, the rest of the roster leaving plenty to be desired. And New Orleans’ third-best player, Jrue Holiday, is entering unrestricted free agency.

Expect the 26-year-old Holiday to have plenty of suitors, including the 76ers – and Mavericks.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

League sources say members of the Mavericks organization view Holiday as a free agent target this summer.

The Mavericks hold a $25 million team option on Dirk Nowitzki, and he plans to return. Dallas will have to decide on that option – part of a retirement-gift contract – before free agency. Maybe Nowitzki would happily take less to add talent, but he can’t know whom the Mavericks will lure until the option deadline.

The smart play: Convince Nowitzki that the team will do right by him even if it declines the option. The extra cap space could help, and if Dallas strikes out in free agency, it could always re-sign Nowitzki to a similar salary.

If the Mavericks decline Nowitzki’s option, it’d still probably take more tinkering to clear enough cap space for Holiday. But if they exercise Nowitzki’s option, it’d take a fairly large overhaul to make room for Holiday.

After tanking, Dallas has the No. 9 pick in a point guard-heavy draft. That might be a more cost-effective and realistic way to land a point guard.

The tragic story of Bryce Dejean-Jones

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Bryce Dejean-Jones, who’d just finished his rookie year with the Pelicans, was fatally shot last year when he broke into a Dallas apartment he apparently mistook for the one he was staying in.

His story was told in haunting detail by Jeff Pearlman of Bleacher Report. An excerpt:

Bryce Dejean-Jones should never have gone to Dallas. A year later, it’s the part that still gets people.

He didn’t like to talk about her, but Dejean-Jones had what he considered to be an on-again, off-again girlfriend. Her name is Chrystal Graves. She was a native of Camden, Arkansas, whom he met while attending UNLV. Graves graduated cum laude from Southern Arkansas University in 2014, then took a job as an elementary school teacher. She was bright and pretty and energetic.

And, in the later months of 2014, she was also pregnant.

Dejean-Jones, who was busy trying to go pro, did not receive the news warmly. Though Graves declined to speak with B/R Mag, friends of Dejean-Jones say the two had a tempestuous relationship, marked by frequent arguments. “He complained about her a lot,” a former Iowa State confidant says. “It wasn’t a healthy pairing.”

Yet having been raised largely without his biological father around, Bryce committed himself to being an involved dad to their daughter, who was born May 28, 2015. That’s why he decided to fly to Dallas, where Chrystal now worked as a teacher: to be with their daughter for her first birthday.

People familiar with Bryce and Chrystal’s difficult relationship insist they discouraged the trip. Shabazz Muhammad, the Minnesota Timberwolves forward who trained under Jamerson with Dejean-Jones in the offseason, says he urged his friend to skip Dallas and take a trek with him to Las Vegas. “He worked so hard, I wanted him to come along, have fun, relax,” Muhammad recalls. “But he wasn’t changing his plans.”

Jamerson, meanwhile, hated the idea of Dejean-James going to Dallas. “He’d never been there; he didn’t know the city,” Jamerson says. “I was worried, and I told him I’d fly his girlfriend and daughter out to California for him. He didn’t want that, but I should have insisted. I really should have. It’s my greatest regret.”

I highly suggest reading Pearlman’s piece in full.