Carmelo Anthony plans on taking his sweet time with extension decision

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Thumbnail image for Anthony_game.jpgCarmelo Anthony seems pretty comfortable stepping into LeBron James’ shoes.

Last season, in every city he traveled to, James got the question “can you picture yourself playing in X?” He tried to shut the speculation down, he stopped talking about his contract issue, he said he had thought about playing everywhere. But every stop of the season — including when he was at home in Cleveland — the question of his next move hung over him and his team.

It is going to be like that for Anthony this coming season. Don’t expect an hour-long television special to announce where he will take his talents at the end of it, but the speculation — and a feeding frenzy of it in New York — will dog him all season long.

And Anthony seems good with that, because he told the Denver Post he is in no rush to make a decision on the three-year, $65 million extension the Nuggets have offered him.

“I’m just taking my time with it,” he said. “Obviously, everybody knows I’m loyal to the Denver Nuggets community and to the Denver Nuggets. I’ve shown that over my seven-year stint here. I don’t think anybody can question that. But at this point in time, I have to do what’s best for me and my family. I’m just taking my time, figuring out if I want to take that extension or not.”

There is no real pressure on him to decide what to do until June 30 next year. By then he has to sign the deal and remain in Denver for three years, pick up the one-year option he has on the end of his current deal (which would pay him $18.5 million) or become a free agent. There are rumors that Anthony is very interested in playing in New York for the Knicks.

The question is, how much money would he lose doing so?

Whatever the Knicks (or any other team) could offer next summer will be dependant on the terms of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (which likely will not be known until a lockout ends). Almost certainly it will be considerably less than the $65 million the Nuggets offered in an extension.

How much less? Nobody knows. If it’s “just” a couple million going to New York may be worth it to Anthony. But what if it is $15 million? Is Anthony willing to bet big that the new CBA will have max deals close to the current one?

It’s a tough question, one Anthony is going to take his time deciding.

After Zion Williamson injury, Donovan Mitchell notes risk without reward

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Hype for rival North Carolina visiting Duke on Wednesday night was near an all-time high β€” secondary ticket prices were pushing Super Bowl prices. It was on national television. A lot of people were making money off of this, starting with the two universities.

Then Duke star and lock No. 1 pick Zion Williamson had to leave the game with a knee injury (later described as a knee sprain).

Utah Jazz wing Donovan Mitchell wanted to remind everyone Williamson was not among the people making money.

Luka Doncic then reminded everyone there is another path.

The NCAA makes its money off the archaic notion of amateurism, that myth fuels the profits major universities rake in off their revenue sports. Keeping that myth alive creates the underground market where players are bribed with shoe money or by boosters (or coaches) to come play at specific universities. It’s that myth that needs to die for the system to change. The issue of paying players is not a simple one β€” college softball players spend just as much time perfecting their sport and face the same restrictions, shouldn’t they be compensated as well? That said, there’s enough money for everyone if done right. A first step might be to allow Williamson and other stars to be able to profit from their name and likeness while in college without losing their eligibility.

Or, more basketball players may just start choosing Europe or other paths.

76ers coach Brett Brown says he doesn’t expect rookie Zhaire Smith to play in NBA this season

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Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons.

Zhaire Smith?

A few recent 76ers first-round picks missed their entire first professional season due to injury. Smith, the No. 16 pick in last year’s draft could join them.

Smith has missed the entire season so far with a broken foot then allergic reaction. He just returned to practicing with the 76ers, but maybe not in time to play for them this season.

Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

If the 76ers clinch their playoff seed before the regular season ends, I wouldn’t be surprised if Smith plays for them. But meaningful minutes seem unlikely.

Philadelphia is trying to win now, and a rookie who entered the NBA relatively raw then missed so much time is unlikely to help.

That said, backup wings James Ennis and Jonathon Simmons aren’t exactly reliable options. If everything breaks right for Smith – essentially the opposite of his season to date – maybe, just maybe, he plays for the 76ers this season.

Warriors vs. Bucks or Raptors betting favorite to be NBA Finals matchup

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Who will we see in the NBA Finals come June?

The West looks cut and dried β€” if the Warriors are healthy, it’s hard to imagine any other team in that conference giving them too much trouble.

The East? That’s wide open. A good case can be made for Boston, Toronto, Philadelphia, or Milwaukee finding their way in. (For a more detailed breakdown, listen to the latest PBT Podcast where Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports and myself break down the East in more detail.)

The bookmakers over at BetOnline put together these odds on potential Finals matchups, and after the first four options the odds get pretty long.

Milwaukee Bucks vs Golden State Warriors 9/2
Toronto Raptors vs Golden State Warriors 9/2
Boston Celtics vs Golden State Warriors 5/1
Philadelphia 76ers vs Golden State Warriors 5/1
Indiana Pacers vs Golden State Warriors 28/1
Brooklyn Nets vs Golden State Warriors 33/1
Boston Celtics vs Houston Rockets 40/1
Milwaukee Bucks vs Houston Rockets 40/1
Philadelphia 76ers vs Houston Rockets 40/1
Toronto Raptors vs Houston Rockets 40/1
Charlotte Hornets vs Golden State Warriors 50/1
Detroit Pistons vs Golden State Warriors 50/1
Miami Heat vs Golden State Warriors 50/1
Orlando Magic vs Golden State Warriors 66/1
Washington Wizards vs Golden State Warriors 66/1
Boston Celtics vs Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1
Milwaukee Bucks vs Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1
Philadelphia 76ers vs Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1
Toronto Raptors vs Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1

A few quick thoughts on that list:

β€’ Interesting that the Sixers and Celtics are just a little behind the Bucks and Raptors in the minds of the bookmakers.

β€’ I don’t know that I’d have Houston in front of Oklahoma City as the second-best option in the West. Not this season. The Thunder have the defense and star power to do playoff damage.

β€’ If you’re thinking about putting money on Washington or Orlando to make the Finals β€” against anyone β€” just donate that money to charity instead. That way it will do some good.

Likely No. 1 pick Zion Williamson leaves Duke-North Carolina game with knee injury

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Zion Williamson will probably be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

He’s a generationally good prospect. The rest of this draft also looks relatively weak.

In fact, Williamson has such a stranglehold on the top pick, some have suggested he sit out the rest of his freshman season.

His injury during Duke’s game against North Carolina tonight will only heighten those calls.

Duke:

Hopefully, Williamson is OK.

And hopefully, the system changes. The NCAA is a cartel in which schools conspire to cap compensation for athletes at a scholarship plus some expenses. In a free market, Williamson would earn far more.

Unfortunately, it probably can’t be both. If Williamson escapes this without major injury, the status quo will likely endure.

But, if this injury even allows him to play again this season, it might be a warning shot that causes him to sit until he can enter the NBA draft.

Again, I hope he’s healthy enough to make that decision for himself.