Carmelo Anthony believes he can trump Knicks’ 5-35 record in selling free agents

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If the NBA salary cap lands where projected and the Knicks get the No. 4 pick in the draft and renounce all their free agents, they’d have $25,434,111 in cap room.

That’s plenty to land a max player and another solid piece.

*The NBA’s worst team has a 35.7 percent chance of receiving the No. 4 pick in the lottery, making the fourth selection more likely than No. 1 (25.0 percent chance), No. 2 (21.5) or No. 3 (17.8).

At different times, the Knicks have been linked to many of the top 2015 free agents.

They’ll pursue Marc Gasol – and Pau Gasol even said they have a chancebut they know that’s a longshot. Rajon Rondo has been a long-rumored target, but he’ll likely stay in Dallas. Goran Dragic said he’d consider the Knicks. Reggie Jackson could be a target. Tobias Harris might be interested, and he’d reportedly get a Nike bonus if he plays for New York.

If you really want to get crazy, Kevin Love, Dwyane Wade and even LeBron James could opt out and explore free agency this summer. Love’s loyalty to the Cavaliers is unclear (to be fair he hasn’t had an opportunity yet to prove it), and Phil Jackson pursued the forward in a trade last offseason. Why not try again this summer? Wade was once a New York target, and so was LeBron as recently as last year.

The Knicks play in a market where they can get their foot in the door with the biggest free agents.

But they’re also 5-35, a record that certainly won’t entice anyone credible.

Will New York overcome its on-court struggles in the marketplace? Carmelo Anthony says he’s up for the challenge.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

The problem is Melo is a key reason the Knicks are 5-35.

He’s struggling on the court, at least relative to his usual standards, as he delays knee surgery. Free agents should wonder how much long-term physical damage a 30-year-old Melo is doing now.

There are also the old concerns about Melo’s ability to help his team win given his lack of defense and passing. I think those issues are overblown, especially in recent seasons as Melo has expanded his game and increase his energy level. But, yes, free agents should consider all that, too.

There’s also Melo’s huge contract, which could inhibit the Knicks’ ability to further upgrade the roster. This team is not only one star away from title contention.

And Melo is probably the best thing the Knicks have going other than a draft pick that has yet to arrive.

Tim Hardaway Jr. has regressed. Iman Shumpert is gone. Derek Fisher looks in over his head. Phil Jackson is no immediate savior.

It’s not impossible for bad teams to land expensive free agents. LeBron James went to the Cavaliers last summer. Al Jefferson (Charlotte), Josh Smith (Detroit) and Tyreke Evans (New Orleans) joined bad teams the year before.

The Knicks’ record hurts, but it doesn’t disqualify them. It’ll be interesting to see how Melo factors, though.

I’m convinced a lot of free agents like the idea of playing with Melo, but when push comes to shove, we’ll see whether any actually do it this summer – especially when so much else is going wrong with the Knicks around Melo.

Watch Carmelo Anthony’s first bucket as a Trail Blazer

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That Carmelo Anthony started the first game he played for Portland speaks to why they signed him in the first place — this team is so shorthanded along the front line that the guy they just signed got thrown into the fire.

Anthony responded with a solid level of play. His first bucket was a wing three where both defenders went to CJ McCollum and left ‘Melo wide open.

Anthony played 12 minutes in the first half and had 7 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block, and three fouls. The team was looking to keep him at around 20 minutes for his first game back.

Portland led New Orleans 54-53 at the half.

How a single computer folder and dogged HR official exposed former Kings executive’s $13.4M embezzlement scheme

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Just how close did Jeff David come to getting away with embezzling $13.4 million from the Kings while working for them? He already secured a new job with the Heat and was in the process of moving from Sacramento to Miami.

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:

On this Monday, walking through the Davids’ new front door is a dizzying procession of cable guys, utility workers and movers. Amid all of this, Jeff receives a phone call from a former co-worker with the Kings. Her name is Stacy Wegzyn, and she works in HR. Jeff last remembers sitting in her office in Sacramento just months earlier, being told that the Kings were going to eliminate his position. After a few pleasantries, she gets down to business. She tells Jeff she’s been going through his old files, and in doing so she found one labeled “TurboTax” that references an entity called Sacramento Sports Partners.

“I was just curious what that is and if those are documents that should go to somebody else,” Wegzyn says.

It’s a seemingly innocuous inquiry from an HR lifer. But it’s one that will dictate the rest of Jeff David’s life. If he knows that — or senses it — he doesn’t let on.

“No, no, no,” Jeff responds. “That was a … man, this is taking me back. Maybe 2015?”

Wegzyn presses on. She asks Jeff whether the documents contain anything that anyone with the Kings needs to see. Jeff assures her they can trash them because the entity isn’t around anymore. A few minutes after he hangs up, his mother-in-law, Nancy, is standing at the front door when an FBI investigator appears, asking to speak to Jeff.

If you like the NBA or true crime – let alone both – I HIGHLY recommend reading Arnovitz’s full piece. It’s riveting!

Warriors Kevon Looney cleared for on-court basketball work, will return soon

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At least someone on the Warriors is getting healthy.

Big man Kevon Looney, who played opening night and has since been sidelined with a sore hamstring and neuropathy (what the team described as “nerve-related symptoms”), has been cleared to return to on-court basketball activities, the team announced Tuesday. From the official press release:

He will participate in select practice sessions with the Santa Cruz Warriors this week and will re-join the Golden State Warriors over the weekend. We will continue to monitor his progress and will provide another update on his status on Sunday.

Looney has already been officially assigned to Santa Cruz.

This is good news for the Warriors, who have been starting Willie Cauley-Stein but desperately need more shot blocking and depth up front.

Anyone getting healthy is good news for a Warriors team that is 2-12 and has the worst net rating in the NBA (-10.4).

Carmelo Anthony to start first game for Portland, apparently thinks he’s wearing number infinity

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Carmelo Anthony will wear No. 00 with the Trail Blazers.

Why?

Apparently because 00 kind of looks like ∞.

Anthony:

Somewhere, Kyrie Irving is nodding in support.

In terms of numbers that make sense…

Marc J. Spears of ESPN:

That’s a sizable role for a 35-year-old in his first game in more than a year. But Portland needs scoring with Damian Lillard sidelined, and – at last check (though, again, a while ago), Anthony was accustomed to big minutes.

Besides, we all want ample opportunity to see Anthony back on the court after his lengthy absence.