Report: The Knicks interested in bringing back Jeremy Lin

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New York’s desperate search for a point guard at the trade deadline has finally come full circle.

The New York Knicks interested in bringing back Jeremy Lin, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford talking with Bill Simmons on the Grantland Podcast (hat tip to Real GM).

Of course, the Knicks are interested in pretty much any and every point guard on the market as they see the slippage of Raymond Felton as a key problem for them this season (and it is, one of several but it is). The challenge, of course, is that the Knicks are not flush with tradable assets the Rockets might want, unless Daryl Morey secretly loves Iman Shumpert (don’t bet on it). Every team that talks to the Knicks apparently asks about Tim Hardaway Jr. but the Knicks are not looking to move him.

You all know the history that makes Lin returning to New York a story.

Back in the summer of 2012 the Knicks let the Rockets Lin from them in what was a rare prudent basketball decision by the Knicks — this was a poison pill deal with Lin making more than $15 million in the final year of the three year deal. (For the Rockets it costs them $8.3 million a season on the books, the way the deal was structured, but they still have the big payments coming.) Lin is good but not worth what he was offered.

Yet the deal was very unpopular with the Knicks fan base, which loved Lin.

Lin has settled pretty comfortably into a sixth man role for the Rockets this season (although he started 25 games due to Patrick Beverly’s injuries) and is averaging 13.3 points a game with a strong true shooting percentage of 58.6 percent, plus he dishes out 4.5 assists a night. He still likes to create with the ball in his hands off the pick-and-roll (22.5 percent of his shot attempts come that way and he shoots a respectable 46.4 percent on those according to Synergy Sports) but he also has developed into a strong spot up shooting, hitting 44 percent from three on those this season.

For the Knicks this deal makes sense because they get a point guard, the fans would love it and he comes off the books in time to preserve their 2015 cap space.

The Rockets are open to moving Lin to avoid that balloon payment next season, however they are a team playing well right now (seven wins in a row) and are going to need a real incentive to mess with their chemistry right now.

The real question for the Knicks is simply this one: What would Carmelo Anthony think about the deal? Everything New York does has to be seen through the “keeping ‘Melo happy” prism and this is no different.

This seems a long shot, with the desperate Knicks talking to any team willing to move a point guard but lacking the assets to really get a deal done with Houston (Daryl Morey drives a hard bargain). Plus, Knicks owner James Dolan’s MO is not to do the deals everyone is talking about, but rather the ones he thinks are a surprise (not usually a good surprise, but a surprise).

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.