Carmelo Anthony defends his defense

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Carmelo Anthony is not a good defensive player. That’s not just me talking, after ‘Melo was traded from Denver to New York Nuggets coach George Karl told TNT his team would be much better on defense now that they didn’t have to “handle what Carmelo gives you” on that end.

Anthony took exception to that then. He takes exception to people calling out his defense now.

He did that with Sports Illustrated when the Knicks star sat down with them Wednesday. (Go read the whole Q&A, it’s good stuff.)

“Look, defense is about energy and focus at the end of the day. I can’t see any team or any coach just coming out and saying, ‘Oh, we’re just gonna come out and run every play at Melo.’ I never saw that before. I think [Karl] was being strategic in what he did and what he said. In Denver, we weren’t always known for being a defensive team, but that’s because we were running up and down the court. Like I said, I take it for what it’s worth. I store it in the back of my mind.

SI.com: What about the Knicks? As a team, what do you guys have to do better to improve defensively?

“As a team, we’re on our way. You gotta remember, you talking about a group of guys who never played a day with each other and were used to a system that they had already — and that actually was working a little bit for them. And then you get four or five guys who were key components on that team, and they leave and they only get two guys in return — it’s a totally different situation for the guys who came in and the guys who stayed.”

Convinced? Neither am I.

Mike Woodson has brought in to New York make sure they play defense (and to be there to step in if Mike D’Antoni gets axed, but that’s another matter). The problem is neither Melo nor Amar’e Stoudemire are great defenders and the Knicks have no big man in the paint who can play the role of rim defender. They need someone to be their Tyson Chandler or Andrew Bynum or Kendrick Perkins in the paint (to name the bigs from the last three NBA champs).

Knicks fans will get over the novelty of their two stars fast if the wins don’t start to come. And if defense is the issue, ‘Melo’s going to hear about it. A lot.

PBT Extra: One last mock draft of NBA lottery

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DeAndre Ayton will go No. 1 to the Phoenix Suns Thursday night. Marvin Bagley III probably goes second to Sacramento (but that’s not a lock).

After that, things get wide open in the 2018 NBA Draft. Teams value different players at very different levels this year, and there are going to be a number of trades.

Which makes putting together a mock draft for this year more random than a roulette wheel. Not that it stopped me. Here is my final mock draft for the 14 lottery picks. I present it without much confidence, but I’m throwing it out there anyway.

Report: Dewayne Dedmon opts in for $6.3 million with Hawks

AP Photo/Todd Kirkland
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The Hawks’ rebuild got going with big John Collins. Though they’re reportedly eying Luka Doncic with the No. 3 pick, they could easily draft another big – Jaren Jackson Jr., Mohamed Bamba, Marvin Bagley or Wendell Carter.

And then there’s veteran center Dewayne Dedmon.

He no longer fits in Atlanta (never did, really). But he’s not bypassing a chance to earn $6.3 million.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

There just wasn’t going to be that much money for the 28-year-old Dedmon in a tight market this summer.

Dedmon is a good defender, and he developed his ball skills – as a 3-point shooter and passer – in Atlanta last season. The Hawks could look to trade him. Maybe, in a deal primarily about his expiring contract, he adds extra value to the other team due to his playing ability.

If Atlanta doesn’t move him, Dedmon will be a fine player on a likely tanking team. At least he’s not good enough to subvert the Hawks’ tank, especially with the new lottery format.

Nick Young says ‘everybody needs to do cocaine,’ later insists he was joking

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
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Nick Young will say and do nearly anything for attention.

Empowered by the Warriors’ championship, he swung for the fences when asked about Canada passing marijuana legalization.

Young, via TMZ:

“I want people to pass cocaine,” the NBA star told TMZ Sports outside 1 OAK on Tuesday night … “Everybody needs to do cocaine!”

Predictably, that caused a bit of an uproar. Then, Young backtracked:

Chill. You know I was just joking

A post shared by Nick Young (@swaggyp1) on

Too late, Nick. People are already asking questions you don’t want asked.

Report: 76ers trade No. 39 pick to Lakers

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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The 76ers have too many 2018 draft picks – Nos. 10, 26, 38, 39, 56 and 60.

Philadelphia already has 11 players under contract for next season. Plus, the 76ers have the space to add premier players. There just isn’t room for everyone on the roster.

So, Philadelphia unloaded one of those selections.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This is good return for the 76ers, who everyone knew had to trade a draft pick. The rebuilding Bulls could easily land a higher second-round pick than No. 39 next year.

Why do the Lakers want an extra second-rounder this year? Second-round picks don’t count against the cap until signed, and they can always slightly sweeten a trade offer. They’re helpful for a team with big plans and little wiggle room.