D’Antoni gets backing of Stoudemire, Anthony. Will it matter?

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I feel I could do better walking into the Palms casino in Vegas (got to help out those struggling Maloofs), stroll right up to roulette table and place one bet on what the next number will be than I do of predicting what the New York Knicks will do this week.

Owner James Dolan has to decide what to do with Donnie Walsh — he seems to be leaning to keeping him — and by extension the fate of coach Mike D’Antoni is there too. Then there is what to do with Chauncey Billups — name another point guard they can get this summer who their stars respect? — but we will save him for another day.

Right now, we’re talking D’Antoni. And both Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony told Neil Best at Newsday they want him back.

“Mike is a phenomenal coach,” Stoudemire said. “He’s been great my whole career. He’s been great in New York so far this year. I have high confidence in his coaching style and what he can bring to the team.

“Coach Mike is phenomenal. He’s been doing great all year with the different changes we’ve made throughout the season. We’ve been able to maintain and still have a winning record and also have a chance to do something special in the postseason if it weren’t for injuries, so I have high confidence in Coach D’Antoni.”

Said Anthony: “I think D’Antoni was very patient. I only can speak on when I got here. I think he’s been very patient due to the circumstances. We came a long way, especially when I first got here, with the expectations being so high so quickly.

“For us to lose some games and take a step backward, and then to go out the regular season winning the way we did, you’ve got to take your hat off to Mike for being able to handle a situation like that, after almost losing damn near the whole team and start off fresh with something new. He lost four key components to his team. They had something rolling here.

“For him to take on another challenge and getting everybody on the same page when we got here, I think it took a lot and I respect that from him.”

The question with D’Antoni really is one of fit of style. If you bring back Chauncey Billups, is he the right guy to run the up-tempo offense? Does the isolation preferences of ‘Melo fit with that style either? And can D’Antoni get them to play enough defense to take the next step and be consistent (and maybe contenders)?

The questions are not easy. And Dolan throws in a complete randomness factor. This is the guy who wanted to bring Isiah Thomas back as a consultant, who made sure extra role players went to Denver in the ‘Melo deal (and Denver got a playoff win out of it). I’d be better off at the roulette table.

Once again, Klay Thompson makes it sound like he’s staying put as free agent

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Klay Thompson will be a free agent next summer, and that leads to a lot of teams drooling — the Lakers reportedly love his potential fit with LeBron James/Brandon Ingram/Lonzo Ball — and lots of fans thinking “he’ll want a bigger role on his own team” (or, a role on whatever team said fan roots for).

Good luck finding any executives around the NBA who think he’s leaving the Warriors. In part because Thompson has said he wants to stay countless times and even adding might take a discount. At Warriors media day Monday the topic came up again and Thompson was clear, once again.

Thompson is staying, the only question is the price tag. There have been rumors about Thompson signing an extension with the Warriors, but while he may want to give the team a discount that would be a RIDICULOUS discount: His max extension will be $102 million over five years, if he becomes a free agent and re-signs he can get as much as $188 million over five years. You think he’s leaving $86 million on the table?

Of course, a reporter brought up the extension idea at Thompson’s press conference, and he played it off saying that’s up to his agent (it starts around the one minute mark of the video below).

Just because there is no extension does not mean Thompson is going to leave via free agency. There is far more of a sense around the league Kevin Durant will be the first of their big players out the door, but even that may not be likely if they win it all again this year.

 

Clippers use ridiculously steep arc to fit Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s last name on jersey (photo)

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In NBA history, there have been eight players with at least a 15-character last name (including spaces):

They’re no match for Clippers rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who has an 18-character last name.

The Clippers had to go to extreme angles to get Gilgeous-Alexander’s name onto the back of his jersey. We already saw this humorous setup when Gilgeous-Alexander held up a jersey in his post-draft press conference (see above), but the jersey looks even more absurd on his back.

Darren Rovell of ESPN:

It doesn’t help that Gilgeous-Alexander is so lanky. As he bulks up, maybe this won’t stand out quite so much.

Evan Fournier takes shot at LeBron’s hairline with Tweet of media day photo

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Just because LeBron James is in the Western Conference doesn’t mean you want to give him fuel for motivation when he does see your team.

Orlando’s Evan Fournier decided to have a little fun at the expense of LeBron’s hairline when Tweeting out his media day photos.

LeBron may have a whole show based in a barber shop, but he did have a little more forehead going today.

Still, Evan, is that really where you wanted to go?

Dwight Howard could miss start of Wizards camp with bad back

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Dwight Howard joked Monday about the sore back that’s expected to keep him out for the start of training camp with the Washington Wizards.

Coach Scott Brooks downplayed the significance of the injury, too. Still, it’s not ideal that the team needs to put off incorporating its one offseason addition to the starting lineup.

“I’ve been having to do a lot of traveling with shoe companies and stuff like that in China. So just from training, traveling – and airplanes weren’t made for tall people. … It kind of sucks to fly 15 hours curled up in the fetal position,” said Howard, a 6-foot-11 center entering his 15th NBA season.

“So just a minor setback. It shouldn’t take that long for me to get back on the court,” he added. “I’ve been feeling great all summer. Just something that we’ll have to deal with, and it shouldn’t keep me out too long.”

The Wizards traded away starting center Marcin Gortat to the Los Angeles Clippers and added Howard, who’ll turn 33 in December, on a two-year, $11 million contract with a player option. He averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds last season for a Charlotte Hornets team that missed the playoffs and now is with his fourth team in four years.

That means adjusting yet again – to new teammates, to a new coach, to a new system.

In Washington, everything revolves around the backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal.

Last season, when Wall appeared in only 41 of 82 games, the Wizards went 43-39 and were eighth in the Eastern Conference, losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Toronto Raptors.

Howard, an eight-time All-Star, said that he has not had a chance to get on a court with Wall and Beal to start getting a feel for one another.

“But one thing that I have done is I’ve watched a lot of film to really learn the tendencies of my teammates. Where they like the ball. Where they like to get screened at. Just things that will really help them get to their sweet spots,” Howard said. “A lot of times, the best way to really understand your teammate is by watching film.”

Brooks, Beal and others said all the right things at Monday’s media day about Howard.

“He’s going to make my job a lot easier. He’s going to make everybody’s job a lot easier on both ends of the floor, because you still have to respect his ability at the rim. He averaged 16 and 13 last year. Those are great numbers, you know? In our system, those can increase, easily,” said Beal, who led Washington in scoring by averaging 22.6 points and was an All-Star for the first time.

“Watching him, if you don’t hit him, it’s over. He’s going to dunk on you. And I love it. Because I think that’s going to get me hyped – just being able to have a big who’ll just flush it on you every time and somebody who will block some shots if you get beat on defense,” Beal said. “He’s a threat on both ends of the floor.”

Now it’s just a matter of getting Howard out on that floor with the rest of the Wizards.

“We’re just going to be careful. Not sure if he will practice tomorrow” when camp opens, Brooks said at the club’s media day.

Brooks listed Howard’s status as “day-to-day,” saying he wasn’t “overly concerned.”

“But we’re not going to rush him to get back,” the coach said.