Former GM: Carmelo Anthony leaving in free agency would be ‘doing Knicks a favor’

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The Knicks have won three straight and the playoffs, especially in the dreadful Eastern Conference, remain within reach. But gaining entry to the postseason and getting crushed by the Heat or the Pacers in the first round wouldn’t begin to take the sting away from what’s been an underachieving season.

What a playoff berth might do, however, is help convince Carmelo Anthony to re-sign in free agency.

Anthony can (and almost certainly will) opt out of the final year of his deal in order to sign a max contract this summer. Whether or not that will be with the Knicks remains to be seen, but at least one former front office executive believes New York might be better off if Anthony chooses to go elsewhere.

From Al Innazzone of Newsday:

“I really think if Carmelo left them, he may be doing them a favor,” said the ex-GM, who has no ties to the Knicks. “They probably don’t see it that way. But in the long run, it’s probably doing them a favor.”

The logic is that it would give the Knicks a chance to rebuild. They’ll have a boatload of cap space in the summer of 2015 — when Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani are scheduled to come off the books and Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge could hit the open market — and a first-round draft pick.

The problem is, the Knicks just aren’t that patient.

Rebuilding isn’t something the franchise has been willing to do, at least not in the traditional sense. New York is a market that requires a star player in the fold to keep the interest of the general population of the fan base, and even in a down year, Anthony has provided some incredible moments, including his 62-point performance a couple of months back.

New York will happily sign up for Anthony for five more seasons at the maximum contract level, despite it maybe not being the best long-term course of action. But this, too, could be a blessing, as few All-Stars want to be the first to commit to a new situation to see how it might turn out.

With one star in Anthony already in place, it should increase the likelihood of another being willing to join him — without the franchise going through the pain of rebuilding with a largely faceless roster.

Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. guesses Vince Carter’s first NBA season was in 1987 (video)

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Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. insisted he meant no disrespect to Luka Doncic after liking an Instagram comment that called the Mavericks rookie overrated.

But this is darn sure disrespectful toward Vince Carter.

Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype:

Carter – who signed with the Hawks for next season – entered the NBA in 1998. He’s old, but he’s not that old.

Hawks rookie Trae Young: ‘I know there is a lot on my plate’

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The Grizzlies plan to bring No. 4 pick Jaren Jackson along slowly.

No. 5 pick Trae Young won’t have the same luxury.

After picking Young, the Hawks traded Dennis Schroder, their incumbent starting point guard. Though Atlanta also dealt for Jeremy Lin, Young knows where he stands.

Young, via Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“Obviously when they move the point guard they’ve had for a while, their starting point guard, it definitely opened my eyes,” Young told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from New Jersey, where he was taking part in the Rookie Transition Program. “It shows how much they are committed to me. Bringing Jeremy in as well is a good fit for us. I know there is a lot on my plate. I’m looking forward to it.”

Unlike Memphis, the Hawks aren’t trying to win now. They can ride through Young’s highs and lows.

Though I’m quite high on Young, I also expect him to struggle next season. Most rookies do, especially point guards. And the small Young could face an especially tough adjustment to NBA size and athleticism.

But he seems to be embracing the challenge with the right attitude, giving himself the best chance of emerging on the other side ready to lead an NBA team.

76ers’ Ben Simmons: ‘We’ve got to get past Boston. Those are the guys at the top right now’

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After winning the Eastern Conference the last eight years, LeBron James leaving the Cavaliers for the Lakers has created a power vacuum in the East.

The Celtics, Bucks, Wizards and Pistons have staked their claims as teams ready to fill the void. The Raptors announced themselves with their trade for Kawhi Leonard.

But 76ers forward Ben Simmons isn’t ready to put Philadelphia atop the Eastern Conference hierarchy.

Simmons, via James McKern of SportingNews:

“We’ve got to get past Boston, those are the guys at the top right now. Beating them, that’s our next goal,” Simmons said.

“Obviously getting further than the second round and winning the Eastern Conference Finals and then moving on to the Finals.

This is a surprisingly restrained approach by Simmons. Many of his peers are talking bigger.

But the 76ers belong behind the Celtics, who beat Philadelphia in the second round last year. The 76ers could pass Boston. They just must prove it. In the meantime, Simmons is paying the Celtics proper deference.

Don’t forget about Toronto, though. Though Boston and Philadelphia were poised to own this next era in the East, Leonard reinvigorates the Raptors. If he’s healthy, they belong at the top with the Celtics.

Report: Jon Leuer expected to return to Pistons by start of season

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Pistons big Jon Leuer underwent meniscus surgery, leaving plenty of doubt about his availability for next season.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

After losing Anthony Tolliver in free agency (to the Timberwolves), Detroit needs Leuer as a stretch big off the bench. Unless Henry Ellenson is ready for rotation minutes, which…

If Leuer isn’t quite ready for the start of the season, Stanley Johnson could play small-ball four, but that weakens wing depth.

The Pistons’ best hope is Leuer getting healthy on schedule.