Dirk Nowitzki: It’s not realistic to expect Carmelo Anthony to come to Dallas

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When we talk about where Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James or where the biggest potential free agents (or trade pieces) could go the usual suspects start with Chicago and Houston, then move on to New York, the Los Angeles Lakers and on down the list.

Dallas wants to be in that mix.

But they don’t seem to be foremost on free agents’ minds and Dirk Nowitzki knows that. He admitted to Bryan Gutierrez of ESPNDallas.com that he doesn’t expect to see Anthony in Dallas.

“Not really,” Nowitzki said. “Somebody in his camp brought up the Mavericks first. It’s not like we brought him up. If we’re actually on his radar then it’s great. Then, we obviously have to look at it. Like I’ve said, he’s obviously one of the most explosive scorers that we have in this league. If a player like that has your team on the radar, [president of basketball operations] Donnie [Nelson] and [owner] Mark [Cuban] obviously have to look at it. Do I think it’s realistic? No. You’ve got to explore all of your options.”

Dallas may have a long-shot of landing someone, this was a 49-win team last year and still has Nowitzki, plus Monta Ellis.

But their biggest problem in attracting top flight free agents is location. No, not Texas, but rather the Western Conference. Anthony and LeBron are only leaving their current spots if they think where they go gives them a better shot to win a title (I don’t think LeBron leaves at all, but that’s another post). Both of them are in the East, where the flawed Heat were still the best of the conference. The East should be improved next season but it is still a far easier path to the Finals than the West with the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Warriors, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies and so on.

Mark Cuban is still big game hunting. At some point he will land one. But this summer it seems a tough sell.

Scottie Pippen on LeBron James, Michael Jordan: “It’s not a fair comparison”

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The battle has, stupidly, raged on between supporters of Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Both sides seem to believe their preference is irrefutably the choice for the best player in NBA history.

And because they did not play in the same era, the question will never be answered. No doubt in 50 years they will write columns about Jordan vs. LeBron, just like their fathers, and their father’s fathers before them.

James has certainly seemed to take a bit of a leap in the eyes of the NBA community this season, likely because of his wonderful performance at age 33. He’s also single-handedly won two playoff series this year. It’s been incredible.

But LeBron rising above Jordan has also brought out some more reasonable takes. Former Chicago Bulls legend and Jordan running mate Scottie Pippen spoke up recently about the debate, giving a measured analysis that I think is pretty strong.

In short, Pippen basically said you can’t compare the two because of the eras, the style, and the fact they just don’t play the same position (if LeBron even has a position, that is).

Via Twitter:

That sounds right to me.

Cavaliers’ Kendrick Perkins not into “all that new stuff” like Chewbacca

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Chewbacca was at Game 3 in Cleveland Saturday. Sitting courtside.

Why? Because growing up on Kashyyyk he played a little hoop and admires LeBron James‘ skill? Because Drake gave him the tickets? Maybe. I mean, it’s not like that was just a clever little publicity stunt for a movie.

After the Cavaliers’ win, Kevin Love decided to make a little joke of it with noted humorist Kendrick Perkins, and it went over as well as expected (with Dave McMenamin of ESPN catching it).

That’s vintage Perkins.

Celtics’ Terry Rozier on Game 3: “We needed to get our butts whooped”

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Cleveland dominated Game 3 Saturday night. They played harder, to start. The Cavaliers’ defensive pressure on the ball was better, they were sharper rotating out to shooters and covering passing lanes. Cleveland’s role players stepped up and helped LeBron James.

Boston, meanwhile, wilted in the face of that pressure Saturday, something it has done a few times on the road these playoffs. The Celtics got away from the things that got them to the Eastern Conference Finals. Guard Terry Rozier put it more bluntly, via A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston:

“I feel like we needed this (loss) to get us back … to get us ready for Monday,” Rozier said.

Rozier later added, “We needed to get our butts whipped. Come back to reality and take care of business on Monday.”

Cleveland is a championship team — from LeBron James on down through the core guys, they all have rings. They have been down before, and heading home it was expected they would play with force. Cleveland’s back was against the wall and they responded.

From the Celtics’ perspective, they also got a little too fat and happy and were not ready for what the Cavaliers came with in Game 3.

Now the pressure is on Boston to push back, to get back to their level of execution and do it under pressure. Make the Cavaliers prove the improved defensive effort was not a one-off game. The Celtics must move the ball and play with some pace, then see if the Cavaliers can keep it together in the face of crisp play.

When this series heads back to Boston Wednesday, it will either see the Celtics in control up 3-1, or the series will be a best of three (with the Cavs still having to figure out if they can win on the road). At home, the Cavaliers are going to play with force again and have some depth. We’ll see if Game 3 was enough of a wakeup call for Boston.

PBT Extra: Can Rockets take Game 2 energy, execution on the road?

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Houston found its blueprint to beating Golden State in Game 2: Strong defensive pressure on the ball, quick switches and communication on defense, getting out in transition when possible, and starting sets earlier in the shot clock and attacking downhill with James Harden and Chris Paul.

Now can they do that on the road? Against a more focused and sharper Warriors’ team?

That will be the question in the next two games of the Western Conference Finals, and it’s what I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.