Report: Carmelo Anthony wants to stay a Knick, but if he leaves likes Bulls, Lakers, Clippers

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I still think come the start of next season Carmelo Anthony will slip on New York Knicks warm-ups before he takes the court pregame. When presented with all his options, he will stay in New York and trust management to build a team around him.

Still, there is louder and louder talk he is looking to bolt this summer because Anthony wants to win a title and doesn’t see a path to that in New York. Plus he has seen the organization and fans turn on Stephon Marbury and doesn’t want to walk in those shoes.

Which led to this interesting note from Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Anthony wants to play for a winner, but desperately wants to play in a big market because of his business ventures — his Jordan Brand sneaker line, his PowerCoco energy drink, his watch deal.

That is why New York, Los Angeles, where he has a home, and even Chicago are on his short list, according to a source. The source said the Clippers — with buddy Chris Paul — are more attractive than the Lakers, though the purple-and-gold have cap space and the Clips don’t.

Let’s run through those three teams one-by-one.

Los Angeles Clippers: L.A. wants to bring in Carmelo Anthony so he can take the ball out of Chris Paul’s hands? Does Doc Rivers think the Clippers need to run more isolation sets? Does Doc think Anthony will provide the defensive consistency along the front like the Clippers need? No, no and no. The only reason has any chance of happening is Chris Paul and Anthony are good friends and CP3 could push for it — and he’s gotten whatever he pushed for in recent years (especially before he signed his new deal last summer). However Anthony is better at the four than the three and the Clippers are set at the four — Blake Griffin is much younger, puts up numbers and more importantly is the heart of the Clippers marketing efforts. They are not moving Griffin, he’s worth far too much to them. Yes, you could play Anthony at the three but to make a trade that works financially without Griffin you end up gutting what depth the Clippers have. Los Angeles needs to make moves with this roster, but Anthony is just not the kind of help they need.

Los Angeles Lakers: They have the cap space to go get him with just a minor roster move (or Steve Nash retiring), and this would certainly signal the Lakers were done with Mike D’Antoni because nobody wants to see a sequel to that movie. (Which is why some Lakers fans may want this to happen.) An Anthony/Kobe Bryant team would sell a whole lot of tickets but how many games would it really win? There are instant defensive questions when you play Bryant and Anthony together, plus the rest of the roster would have to be assembled on the cheap with those two huge contracts — Anthony and Kobe couldn’t lift that kind roster past the second round (if even that far). Finally, the Lakers are looking for the future face of the franchise post Kobe and ‘Melo turns 30 this May. Is he the future?

Chicago Bulls: If this happens, please let me be in the room when Gar Forman tells Tom Thibodeau he replaced his beloved, versatile, hard defending Luol Deng with Anthony. I’d expect Thibodeau to go “Scanners.” The Bulls are looking for another shot creator to pair with Derrick Rose but I’m not sure Anthony fits the mold of guys they are looking for.

Lakers’ recruiting pitch for Paul George leaks

AP Photo/R Brent Smith
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LeBron James doesn’t want elaborate pitches in free agency.

Paul George never said that, though.

So, the Lakers are apparently planning to put some showbiz into their recruitment.

Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated, citing a “Hollywood source,” revealed a Lakers pitch for George. The direction:

Less Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington, and more Jamie Foxx. A bit more edge an attitude to their voice, and a bit less aspirational

The text:

When you were just a kid

In your room
Dreaming from Palmdale

We were dreaming too.

While you dreamt, we built – built for your arrival

And while we dreamt, you built too
Becoming one of the world’s greatest.

Life’s most powerful dream are the one we realize ourselves.

The ones that turn us into legends.
That kid from Palmdale always knew it
Now the world will, too

Who wrote this, noted storyteller Kobe Bryant?

My bigger question: Did or did not the Lakers, who’ve gone to great lengths to make their interest in George known, want this to leak before the official start of free agency?

Report: No divide between Chris Paul and Rockets over contract

AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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That rumor of tension between Chris Paul and the Rockets over his contract?

Sam Amick of USA Today:

As for the recent report from Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard that there are rising tensions between the two sides because Paul wants the full max and isn’t sure if he’ll get it, two people with knowledge of the situation refuted the idea there is any friction between the sides.

Remember, everyone who leaks something has an agenda. But I find this report far more credible than the initial rumor.

Paul’s max projects to be about $205 million over five years. That’s a lot to commit to a 33-year-old, but Paul took a discount to facilitate an opt-in-and-trade to Houston last year. He expects to be made whole.

Until Broussard’s report, all indications were the Rockets would appease him. Barring more information, that should remain the expectation.

Report: LeBron James not planning to sit for elaborate pitch meetings in free agency

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LeBron James held court in Cleveland in 2010, listening to pitch after pitch as teams flew in to recruit the superstar during free agency. That approach became a model, and Kevin Durant followed it in the Hamptons in 2016.

But maybe once is enough.

Durant announced months ago he’d stay with the Warriors. And now LeBron – who could definitely leave Cleveland – is making clear he doesn’t want the hoopla, either.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

sources close to the situation tell ESPN that he has no intention of hearing elaborate pitch meetings from teams.

league sources believe he and his agents Rich Paul and Mark Termini have enough understanding of the stakes and NBA landscape to handle the process without much fanfare.

LeBron is still haunted by The Decision. He’s a great player and philanthropist and does plenty to connect with fans. Yet, people still dislike him purely because of how he changed teams eight years ago.

If I wielded as much power as LeBron, I’d want suitors wining and dining me. He wants to avoid more backlash.

This will probably look similar to 2014 – LeBron’s agents hearing out teams then LeBron meeting with only the most serious options, though the final announcement will likely come via Uninterrupted rather than Sports Illustrated.

The Lakers, Cavaliers, Rockets and 76ers are commonly viewed as the favorites for LeBron. This approach makes it less likely for a longshot to emerge – though, for what it’s worth, we don’t know those four teams are his favorites right now.

Report: Nuggets re-signing Nikola Jokic to five-year max after declining team option

AP Photo/Matt Slocum
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The Nuggets are building around Nikola Jokic.

But a second-round pick turning into a franchise player so quickly creates complications. Denver is resolving one by declining Jokic’s team option, which will send him into restricted free agency (as opposed to unrestricted free agency next year) and paying him.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

This ought to please Jokic. He would have earned just $1,600,520 next season if Denver exercised his team option.

Jokic is one of the best-passing full-time centers ever. He also shoots and rebounds well, though he must improve his defense to become worthy of this contract. At just 23, he’s worth betting on.

That said, I’m surprised the Nuggets didn’t get him on a slight discount. Though they clearly didn’t want to risk him testing unrestricted free agency next year, they gave him a MASSIVE raise (about $24 million) next season when they didn’t have to.

Jokic’s exact max salary won’t be determined until the salary cap and luxury-tax line are set this month. But this clearly puts Denver in cost-cutting mode now.

As constructed, the Nuggets are in line for about $24 million in luxury-tax payments. That’s without considering Will Barton, who’ll be an unrestricted free agent. Expect Denver to look to unload Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur, Wilson Chandler and/or Mason Plumlee.

Jokic was always going to be in Denver next season. The Nuggets have now secured him far longer. It will cost them next year – an important season to them – but they also clearly value a future with Jokic.