Knicks Walsh under pressure to make ‘Melo deal, but Nets have upper hand

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Knicks fans are in “Carmelo Anthony or bust” mode — they want him and they want him now. Get him and the Knicks win the title, the housing market will rebound, and the Dodo bird will return from extinction. Well, that’s what it sounds like on sports talk radio anyway.

Knicks decision maker Donnie Walsh is playing it cool. He’ll trade a few parts to get Anthony but he’s not going to gut the team because he understands that if ‘Melo really wants to be a Knick the Nuggets will have to deal with him. Or, he can just sign him during free agency. Why gut the team when you don’t have to?

Because the owner wants you to or you don’t get to keep your job.

ESPN’s Marc Stein explains as part of an update on the ‘Melo situation.

Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni and Knicks president Donnie Walsh are understandably hesitant to give up too much of New York’s depth to get Melo, as Chris Sheridan spelled… but one source well acquainted with both teams’ strategies echoes the rising notion that Walsh might have no choice if Knicks owner James Dolan takes a Melo-at-all-costs stance, as many observers anticipate. The source said: “Don’t forget Donnie is still trying to get a contract extension.” Translation: Getting Melo now, no matter what the cost, might be the clincher to get that extension.

That all may be moot, because if the Nets are seriously back in the game the Knicks don’t have the hand to win the pot.

The Nets and Nuggets are talking and currently the deal being discussed is Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Renaldo Balkman, Melvin Ely and Shelden Williams for Derrick Favors, Derrick Harris, Troy Murphy, Ben Uzoh and four first rounders, according to a tweet from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.

Not sure the rebuilding Nets will really give up four first round picks — even with ‘Melo there will be a lot of rebuilding to do in New Jersey and Brooklyn, they will need those picks.

That said, if the package is anything like that, it doesn’t matter what Dolan and Knicks fans want, they can’t come close to matching it. The entire decision will come down to Anthony, after he meets with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

Except, Prokhorov’s people are saying he has not changed his mind on talking to Denver. That’s a little tough to swallow, although he may try to drive a harder bargain than the one listed above. But that deal gives the Nets some powerful pieces as it prepares to head to Brooklyn in two seasons. Good businessmen don’t walk away from a good deal.

Of course, it’s only a good deal if Anthony signs an extension with the Nets. Ultimately, that is what this comes down to.

But it’s always come down to Anthony. It has for a long time. It’s just now time for him to really, finally make a decision.

Rockets star Russell Westbrook says he tested positive for coronavirus

Rockets star Russell Westbrook
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Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Luc Mbah a Moute didn’t travel with the Rockets to Orlando for the NBA’s resumption at Disney World.

Westbrook says he tested positive for coronavirus:

It’s good that Westbrook is feeling well. And, once he had coronavirus, it’s good he tested positive before the team departed. He can quarantine in the comfort of his own home rather than a hotel room. He didn’t risk spreading coronavirus during the flight.

When will he join the Rockets? That’s tough to say. He must clear coronavirus first, and it’s unclear how long he has had it. Then, upon arrival at Disney World, he faces an in-room quarantine. The length of that can vary.

With Harden as the centerpiece, Houston has built its secondary attack around Westbrook’s aggressive style. The Rockets’ unique center-less approach is a direct response to Westbrook’s minus outside shooting. Empowered by spacing later in the season, Westbrook has really thrived.

He’d be a huge loss. Houston could go from a championship-contending wildcard to one-man show – or less.

This revelation also raises questions about Harden and Mbah a Moute, whose late arrivals haven’t been publicly explained.

Report: Rockets’ Bruno Caboclo violates quarantine, must remain in room 10 days

Rockets forward Bruno Caboclo
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Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard and 76ers star Joel Embiid expressed doubt about players following the NBA’s protocols in the bubble.

See Rockets forward Bruno Caboclo.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

Players first arriving at Disney World is one of the most perilous times in the NBA’s plan. A player leaving his initial quarantine with coronavirus could undermine the whole operation.

The league has no practical choice but to be strict.

James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Luc Mbah a Moute didn’t arrive with the rest of the Rockets in Orlando. This makes four players who are behind in their ability to build chemistry and train with their teammates. At least Caboclo is just four days away from being four days away – major progress for him.

Houston has already clinched a playoff spot. But there’s some danger of slipping to the No. 7 seed and facing the powerful Clippers in the first round. So while they don’t have the most urgency for the seeding games, the Rockets are playing for something in the seeding games.

Lakers star LeBron James: #FreeWOJ!!

Adrian Wojnarowski
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Missouri U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley sent out a press release complaining about the NBA’s list of approved social-justice messages for jerseys.

ESPN NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski replied to the email, “F— you.” (Wojnarowski did not censor the first word.)

Wojnarowski apologized. ESPN condemned his behavior and, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, suspended him two weeks.

Several NBA players have publicly supported Wojnarowski:

Lakers star LeBron James:

Clippers guard Lou Williams:

Clippers guard Patrick Beverley:

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray:

Heat big Bam Adebayo:

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie:

Kings forward Harrison Barnes:

Pacers center Myles Turner:

Grizzlies forward Anthony Tolliver:

Wizards wing Troy Brown Jr.:

Trail Blazers guard Jaylen Adams:

LeBron’s message is particularly notable.

Obviously, he’s the NBA’s biggest star. His words carry weight.

Wojnarowski also has a long history of harshly criticizing LeBron. Here are just a few examples.

But if he can get over The Letter from Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, LeBron can probably get past anything written about him.

Report: Brooklyn near deal with Lance Thomas for restart

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Still rounding out their roster for the NBA restart in Orlando, the Brooklyn Nets have reached out to bring back veteran forward Lance Thomas.

Thomas, who went through training camp with Brooklyn but was cut right before the season, will sign as a substitute player for Brooklyn, reports Alex Smith with SNY.TV.

Thomas is an eight-year NBA veteran who spent the last four of that with the Knicks. He can play the three or a floor-spacing small four, with New York using him more as a power forward in recent years. He’s averaged 5.2 points per game in his career and is known more as a good player to have in the locker room and guy who can soak up 15-20 minutes a night and not hurt a team. Brooklyn had Thomas in at training camp and liked his fit, but they didn’t have a roster spot for him.

They do now. Three Nets players — Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, and Taurean Prince — tested positive for the coronavirus and will not be at the Orlando restart. Wilson Chandler opted out of playing. All four of them can be replaced by substitute players for the remainder of this season, so the Nets signed Jamal Crawford, Michael Beasley, and Donta Hall. Thomas rounds becomes the fourth member of that group. (Note: The Nets cannot sign players to substitute for Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant because they are out due to injury; substitute players are only for players missing due to coronavirus issues.)

Thomas will be a free agent this offseason.

Lance Thomas and Brooklyn enter the bubble in Orlando as the seven seed in the East.