Nuggets sit down with Carmelo Anthony to woo him, while Rockets, Clippers wait in the wings

11 Comments

Thumbnail image for canthony_arty.jpgIt still sits there on the table. The elephant in the room. The thing as subtle as an Oliver Stone film — three years, $65 million. Denver’s contract extension offer to Carmelo Anthony. Which he has yet to sign.

Because it sits untouched trade rumors swirl. But the Nuggets don’t want to ship him off, they want is him to sign it, to keep him a mile high. And by extension to keep themselves as contenders.

Last weekend Josh Kroenke — son of owner Stan Kroenke who may well take control of the team soon if Stan completes efforts to buy the St. Louis Rams — flew to Baltimore to sit down with Anthony and sell him on Denver, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo. Kroenke wooed, but no resolution was reached — Anthony did not sign the deal.

Denver is expected to hire a general manager soon, with the Suns No. 2 man David Griffin still the frontrunner. As Dell Demps did with Chris Paul in New Orleans, Griffin (or whoever is hired) will sit down with Anthony and try to sell him on his vision, his plans. Even with that, it was important for Kroenke to make the effort as he is the guy that ultimately pulls the strings.

And all that may not be enough.

If Anthony is not going to sign that deal — and he should be clear with Denver of his intentions one way or the other — Denver has no choice but to trade him. They do not want to end up like Cleveland and Toronto, who are starting to rebuild from scratch after losing their superstars with little compensation.

But any trade would need to be an extend-and-trade with the deal Denver has on the table. Anthony could leave as a free agent at the end of the year and sign a new max deal under the new collective bargaining agreement (which will be approved after next summer’s impending lockout), but that likely will cost him $15 million or more in lost wages. That’s a lot of scratch.

Wojnarowski says that Houston is as or more desired of a landing spot by Anthony than New York. The Rockets certainly have pieces to trade for Anthony and it would give them a star player on the perimeter, someone who if matched with a healthy Yao Ming would make them very formidable.

But the Denver Post reports the Clippers are also in the mix. The belief is that Anthony wants to play in an entertainment hub because of his new wife, actress LaLa Vasquez. Los Angeles is that. And they certainly have talent on the roster to trade, although due to contract size center Chris Kaman almost certainly would have to be part of any deal. A stumbling block could be how insistent Denver would be on getting Blake Griffin.

Oh, and if Anthony would approve going to the Clippers. That may be the biggest hurdle of all — his side has never mentioned the Clippers, that came from Denver sources.

Fast start, LeBron James enough for Cavaliers to hold on to win, even series

Getty Images
Leave a comment

For the first time in 11 days, we had an NBA playoff game that finished with a single-digit margin. Barely.

It didn’t look like it would be early — Boston missed lay-ups and dunks all through the first quarter, LeBron James was being LeBron James, and the Cavaliers had a 16 point first quarter lead. It was 15 at the half.

But these Celtics would not go quietly.

Boston started to find it’s offensive groove — hunting Kevin Love incessantly — but in the end couldn’t get enough stops because, well, LeBron James. He finished with 44 points on 17-of-28 shooting, his sixth 40-point game of these playoffs. No other Cavalier had more than 14 points (Kyle Korver), but they made enough defensive and hustle plays to hang on.

@realtristan13 with the swat and @kingjames with the finish!

A post shared by NBA (@nba) on

Cleveland got the win, 111-102, and evened the series at 2-2. Game 5 is Wednesday night back in Boston.

What Celtics fans can feel good about is their team’s resilience and grit. Down big for the second-straight game on the road in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics fought back from as much as 19 down earlier in the game to get it to single digits and make the fans in Quicken Loan Arena nervous in the fourth quarter. That is something the team can carry over to Game 5.

What should bother Celtics fans was another night where they struggled to generate offense in the face of more intense defensive pressure.

That came from the opening tip, with the Celtics missing a few layups and a couple of Jaylen Brown dunk attempts — all of which allowed the Cavs to get early offenses and mismatches going the other way. Those missed shots fueled a 10-0 Cavaliers run that had Cleveland up 19-10 early. The Celtics shot 3-of-10 at the rim in the first quarter, shot 26 percent overall, and trailed 34-18 after one.

The second quarter saw the Celtics start to find their offense — they scored 35 points on 50 percent shooting — but they only gained one point on the Cavaliers lead because Boston couldn’t get stops. LeBron had 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the first half to pace a Cleveland team that shot 61.5 percent overall and hit 6-of-11 threes. That’s why the Cavs were up 68-53 at the half.

The Celtics energy was better than Game 2, but in the first half they looked like a young team, one that made a lot of mistakes.

In the second half, the Celtics started to figure things out — they started making the extra pass, they looked more like a young team figuring things out. They finished the night with 25 from Jaylen Brown, 17 from Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier had 16 points and 11 assists.

They just couldn’t completely close the gap because they couldn’t get stops — the Cavaliers shot 60 percent as a team for the game, and a ridiculous true shooting percentage of 59.6. Cleveland mercilessly hunted Rozier on switches — forcing him on to LeBron or Kevin Love then attacking — and the Cavs got enough from their role players. Tristan Thompson did what he needed to bringing energy in the paint and some defense, plus he had 13 points. Korver was diving on the floor for loose balls. Larry Nance Jr. had his second good game in a row. George Hill had 13 points.

And whenever the Cavaliers needed a play, they had LeBron to turn to. He set another NBA record on Monday night, most playoff field goals made for a career.

LeBron is what needs to worry Boston most of all. The Celtics will be better at home in Game 5 — they have not lost in TD Garden all postseason — but if this thing goes seven, it’s a dangerous thing when the other team has the best player on the planet.

LeBron James passes Kareem to become all-time leader in playoff made field goals

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LeBron James is already the NBA’s all-time leading playoff scorer, having passed Michael Jordan last postseason.

However, LeBron racked up his buckets in the era of the three-point shot (as did Jordan, to a lesser extent), so Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the all-time leader in field goals made in the postseason. A lot of them beautiful skyhooks that still give Celtics fans nightmares.

Monday night, LeBron made history passing Abdul-Jabar for the top spot in NBA playoff made field goals.

Just add that to the already insane resume.

Kevin Love with insane touchdown outlet to LeBron James for bucket

8 Comments

Not sure what part of this was better.

Was it Kevin Love‘s length-of-the-court outlet touchdown pass that was right on the money, where only the receiver could get it?

Or was it LeBron James, with a catch in a crowd that would make Julio Jones’ draw drop?

Either way, this first quarter bucket from the Cavaliers may well be the play of the game.

Spurs disbanding all-female dance team in favor of co-ed hype team

Getty Images
5 Comments

Is this the wave of the future?

Since then newly-minted owner Jerry Buss started the Laker Girls’ in 1979, all-female dance teams have become standard around the NBA. However, with how things are now viewed through the prism of the #metoo movement, and reports on how NFL cheerleaders were treated in places such as Washington and Miami, a lot of professional sports teams are re-thinking the concept of female dance teams.

The Spurs are apparently doing away with theirs, to be replaced by a 35-person co-ed “hype team.”

The Spurs have not said officially that this is the end of the Silver Dancers. “Lack of interest” is an odd reason to give — is there suddenly less interest now than there was five years ago? A number of teams have both female dance teams and co-ed “spirit” or “hype” teams.

Far more likely, this is about perception in what is a conservative state and marketplace.

The question is will this become a trend, both around the NBA and professional sports. As the teams try to evolve and make more dynamic their in-arena experiences, are the dance teams going to fade from view?

Just something to keep and eye on going forward.