Report: ‘Melo undecided about signing an extension with Nets; says wife not driving choices

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At the end of the day, Carmelo Anthony holds the hammer.

And he wants to make it clear it is his hammer, not his wife’s.

That hammer is in the form of his signature on a three-year, $65 million extension sitting on the table in front of him. Just like it has been since this summer. The New Jersey Nets — who have contorted themselves like a Cirque du Soleil acrobat to make a trade palatable to the Denver Nuggets so they could land ‘Melo — will not take Anthony unless he puts pen to paper on that extension as part of an extend-and-trade (like Kevin Garnett did when leaving Minnesota).

When all the cards are face up on the table for this trade, Melo may not do it. He still hasn’t decided yet, according to Chris Broussard of ESPN, who quotes a source close to Anthony.

“He has not agreed to go to New Jersey,” said the source, who speaks regularly with Anthony. “I have never heard him, in all the times we’ve talked, say he’s willing to go to New Jersey. Not once. Personally, I would be stunned if he went there and signed an extension.”

Fact is, nobody knows. Maybe not even Anthony himself. He could still sign with the Nets, this is not a “no.” It’s not a “yes” either. The Nets are going to have to convince him by bringing in enough other talent so that Anthony feels he isn’t going to be wandering alone in the wilderness of New Jersey for a couple of years with a terrible team.

One thing he wanted to make clear is that his new wife, actress LaLa Vazquez, is not driving his choices or decisions. He spoke to reporters after the Nuggets game Tuesday night and asked people to back off from discussing her, as reported (via twitter) by Chris Tomasson of FanHouse.

“You all put this in bold words, LaLa has nothing to do with anything… It doesn’t bother me but people they have to write about something and for them to just come up with ‘She don’t want to be here…’ She has nothing to do with that. This is my career. This is my decision. Of course, I got to consult her with everything but it wasn’t one conversation I said where she told me, ‘Let’s get out of here.’

“It’s normal. You got to consult with your family about situations like that, decision making and that’s just all that we’ve been doing. She hasn’t had any say so on what should I do and where should go or anything like that.”

It’s a challenge to judge where Anthony stands on the Nets. His decision may have a lot to do with who comes with him. The trade being discussed — now apparently being negotiated under the Cone of Silence because not much is leaking out — is an at least 15-player, three-team trade that would send Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton to New Jersey; bring Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, Anthony Morrow, some other players and a couple first-round picks to Denver; and Troy Murphy and Johan Petro to Detroit along with picks.

Is that enough for Anthony? Nobody seems to know.

On one side of the equation is the fact his agent, Leon Rose, and the team at CAA (including William Wesley) have worked hard to bring this deal together. That means he hasn’t told them no (as he has done with several other teams that inquired about him), and they have some confidence he will say yes. The Nets have long believed they can convince him that owner Mikhail Prokhorov is building a winner if given the chance face-to-face.

However, Anthony’s people in the past have said it was Knicks or bust. That is his dream. And at the end of the day it still might be.

Which would mean a lot of people put in a lot of work for nothing.

Ben Simmons leaves game in first quarter, to have MRI on lower back Sunday

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Philadelphia, routed by Milwaukee on Saturday night and still starting on the road if the playoffs began today, may have another problem coming.

All-Star Ben Simmons skipped Thursday night’s game against Brooklyn with a sore lower back. He gave it a go Saturday in a nationally televised game against Milwaukee, but in the first quarter went back to the locker room not to return.

After the game, the news got more ominous.

Wojnarowski also reported, “There is some level of concern surrounding the possible nature of the injury.” That sounds ominous.

Simmons is averaging 16.9 points, 8.3 assists, and 7.9 rebounds a game for the Sixers this season as the starting point guard. He’s also been playing All-Defensive Team level defense. If he misses extended time, it will be rough on Philadelphia.

When there is word on the MRI results, we will have it here at NBC.

Bucks pull away in second half behind 31 from Giannis Antetokounmpo, rout Sixers

AP Photo/Morry Gash
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MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Milwaukee Bucks turned a tight game with the Philadelphia 76ers into a mismatch immediately in the second half, led by the reigning league MVP.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points and 17 rebounds, Khris Middleton scored 25 points and the Bucks beat the 76ers 119-98 on Saturday night in a matchup of Eastern Conference rivals.

Antetokounmpo scored Milwaukee’s first 11 points in the third quarter as the Bucks took advantage of the absence of Philadelphia big man Joel Embiid, who went to the bench less a minute into the period after picking up his fourth foul, and quickly put the game out of reach.

“We came out the third quarter and played fast,” Antetokounmpo said. “We were able to rebound the ball and just attack them. Joel had four fouls. That worked in our favor. We tried to be aggressive in the third quarter and set the tone.”

Antetokounmpo added eight assists as Milwaukee won for the 16th time in its last 18 games to improve its NBA-best record to 48-8.

The Bucks led 56-50 at the half before Antetokounmpo’s scoring outburst put the Bucks in control. Milwaukee would go on to outscore the 76ers 37-23 in the period.

Embiid, coming off a 39-point performance on Thursday night, had 17 points and 11 rebounds but shot just 5 for 18. Furkan Korkmaz and Shake Milton also scored 17 points apiece for the 76ers, who fell to 9-20 on the road.

“I liked what I was seeing in the first half, and the death knock was Joel sitting,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “We just didn’t respond well to Milwaukee playing their tails off, and they shot the heck out of the ball.”

Philadelphia lost All-Star point guard Ben Simmons early in the first quarter. Simmons, who missed the 76ers’ previous game with lower back tightness, headed to the locker room after making consecutive driving layups, the second with a little more than 7 minutes left in the opening quarter. He didn’t return after the injured flared up.

“We never got in a rhythm. Losing Ben, then foul trouble, not making shots and some calls that could have gone a different way,” Embiid said. “But it’s on us.”

The 76ers shot just 35%, while the Bucks connected on 53% of their shots.

The Bucks got off to a scorching start, taking a 12-2 lead sparked by seven points from Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee led by as many as 11 in the quarter and held a 31-21 lead at the end.

Philadelphia pulled within 37-36 in the second before the Bucks used a 10-2 spurt to push the lead back to double digits.

Watch Dwyane Wade have his number retired by Heat

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Dwyane Wade is the greatest Miami Heat player ever.

He was at the heart of every championship the Heat won, he was active and beloved in the community, he was the face of the franchise.

Now his legacy is forever part of the American Airlines Arena — the Heat have retired his number.

Wade is a three-time champion, and 8-time All-NBA player, a 13-time All-Star, and a Finals MVP who averaged 22 points a game over his 16 year NBA career.

Next stop: Hall of Fame.

Stephen Curry cleared for contact, goes through full scrimmage with Warriors

Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
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Stephen Curry is not sitting out the rest of the season. He wants back on the court — he’s targeting the first week of March — and the Warriors are not holding him out.

That got a step closer on Saturday when Curry went through a full scrimmage with the Warriors. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said this after practice, via NBC Sports Bay Area.

“Yeah he scrimmaged today, first day of scrimmaging,” Kerr told reporters at the Chase Center practice facility. “We only had seven other healthy players, so there were two coaches out there scrimmaging too, it was not pretty, but Steph looked great.”

The March return for Curry seems on track. Klay Thompson will not return to the court this season.

The Warriors are not playoff bound, but there is no reason to sit out Curry and tank, either.

First, that’s not the kind of culture the Warriors have built, coming off three titles in five years. Second, the fan base could use the boost of watching Curry drain deep threes after a disheartening season to this point. Third, and maybe most important, what exactly would they need to tank for, better draft position? This is a down draft to begin with, so anyone the Warriors select likely can’t help them much next season anyway (which is why there’s a lot of speculation the Warriors may try to trade the pick). Also, with the flattened out lottery odds, they don’t gain much anyway. The Warriors have the worst record in the NBA, but the three worst teams all have a 14 percent chance at the top pick, and the fourth worst is at 12.5 percent, fifth is 10.5 percent. Curry’s return for a month isn’t lifting the Warriors to the point teams will not want the pick.

We could all use to be reminded just how special Curry is as a player. Hopefully, we get to see that in a couple of weeks.