Knicks have most favorable schedule for back-to-backs, Raptors least favorable

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Carmelo Anthony called having fewer back-to-backs “the dream.”

The NBA fulfilled that dream, significantly reducing the number of back-to-backs in the 2015-16 schedule.

In fact, the league did Melo’s Knicks one better.

New York plays just 17 back-to-backs, tied for seventh-fewest in the NBA,. More significantly, the Knicks opponents are on a back-to-back a league-high 25 times.

That gives the Knicks an NBA-best +8 difference in back-to-backs.

On the other side, like the Knicks, the Raptors play 17 back-to-backs. But Toronto’s opponents are on back-to-backs just 10 times, giving the Raptors a league-worst -8 difference.

Here’s how every team stacks up, using data from NBAstuffer.com:

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Team Back-to-backs Opponent back-to-backs Back-to-backs difference
New York 17 25 +8
Brooklyn 15 21 +6
Phoenix 14 19 +5
Oklahoma City 16 21 +5
Indiana 17 22 +5
Dallas 17 20 +3
New Orleans 17 20 +3
Portland 19 22 +3
San Antonio 17 19 +2
Chicago 17 18 +1
Utah 18 19 +1
Atlanta 19 20 +1
Orlando 19 20 +1
Washington 19 20 +1
Denver 16 16 0
Detroit 20 20 0
Houston 20 20 0
Milwaukee 20 20 0
Charlotte 16 15 -1
LA Lakers 18 17 -1
LA Clippers 20 19 -1
Minnesota 14 12 -2
Boston 19 16 -3
Miami 17 13 -4
Sacramento 19 15 -4
Cleveland 19 14 -5
Golden State 20 15 -5
Memphis 18 12 -6
Philadelphia 19 13 -6
Toronto 17 10 -7

Kudos to the NBA for reducing the number of back-to-backs. It’s important for preventing injuries and improving the level of play.

But the next step is equity.

The Knicks and Raptors play in the same division. They shouldn’t face such radically different schedules.

Rumor: Patrick Beverley may meet with five teams before Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers want to bring Patrick Beverley back next season, his spark was at the heart of why this team made the playoffs and impressed with their potential.

First, however, the Clippers are going big game hunting for the likes of Kawhi Leonard and/or Kevin Durant (even with the Achilles injury). Beverley isn’t just going to sit around and wait for them, reports longtime NBA reporter Sean Deveney Tweeted.

The Bulls need a point guard and Beverley — a Chicago native — has said he is interested.

The Lakers also are reportedly big game hunting, but Beverley is the kind of guard they could use around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Phoenix and other teams have been mentioned.

Beverley is going to have options, but he loved his time with the Clippers last season, and that means something.

Pelicans reportedly pick up option year on coach Alvin Gentry

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David Griffin, the guy with the hammer in New Orleans, likes Alvin Gentry. They have a relationship that goes back to Phoenix, where Gentry was the coach and Griffin was in the front office (and was eventually GM).

Gentry also has a style of play — he wants to run and be up-tempo. That should fit very well with soon-to-be No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise the Griffin and the Pelicans want to keep Gentry around, as reported by Malika Andrews of ESPN.

This is another smart, stabilizing move by Griffin. The Pelicans want to build an athletic, fast-paced team and Gentry is the right coach for that style.  Maybe it doesn’t pan out, maybe the Pelicans ultimately need to go another direction with their coach, but right now this seems a good fit.

Report: Utah “frontrunner” to land Mike Conley Jr. if Memphis trades him this week

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Utah feels like it is close — a 50-win team two seasons in a row, an elite defense, an All-NBA center in Rudy Gobert and an elite shot creator in Donovan Michell. They look at the West next season, with a depleted Warriors team, and see an opening.

Yet when Utah fell to Houston 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs this year, it was reminded of what is keeping the team from being truly elite, and another shot creator and shooter is at the top of that list.

Enter Mike Conley Jr. He averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game last season, shot 36.4 percent from three, and plays strong defense. Conley would be an upgrade over Ricky Rubio at the spot.

The almost All-Star point guard out of Memphis is available via trade. He’s the kind of veteran floor general, shooter, and shot creator Utah could use. The Jazz and Grizzlies talked but couldn’t come to an agreement at the trade deadline, but the sides are talking again and conversations are “intensifying” in the run-up to the NBA Draft Thursday, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Grizzlies are intensifying talks to potentially move franchise cornerstone Mike Conley Jr., league sources told The Athletic. Memphis has been in conversations with the Jazz and Utah is a frontrunner to acquire Conley should the Grizzlies trade the point guard during draft week, league sources said.

What would be in a trade package? Certainly the No. 23 pick in this draft, plus some young players the Grizzlies like (maybe Grayson Allen, Royce O’Neal, and even someone like Jae Crowder. Reports say Derick Favors is not part of the discussion.

While anything can happen the week of the draft — and things change quickly — don’t be surprised if some version of this trade gets done.

Kawhi Leonard wins day with last laugh — his viral laugh — at end of speech

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Kawhi Leonard just won again.

He won his second NBA title leading the Toronto Raptors to the franchise’s first crown. He earned his second Finals MVP in the process.

Then on Monday he had the last laugh and won the Raptors’ championship parade in Toronto by ending his speech with his laugh, the same one that went viral at the start of the season.

Of course, what Leonard will do on July 1 was a cloud hanging over the parade, Leonard is a free agent this summer. Kyle Lowry at one point started a “five more years” chant during the parade, which is the maximum number of years Toronto can re-sign Leonard for.

Leonard, exactly as we all should have expected, dodged the question, while praising his time in Toronto.

Unfortunately, this was a parade marred by more serious concerns.