Anthony, Knicks keeping expectations low after 17-win season

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GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — No bold predictions from the New York Knicks. No real predictions at all, actually.

“To be quite honest, I don’t really have any expectations at this time,” Carmelo Anthony said.

Maybe he shouldn’t. He’s never played with most of his teammates and the ones who were Knicks last season didn’t exactly distinguish themselves, as New York went 17-65 in its worst year ever.

But media day is usually a time for high hopes and fresh starts, when players and coaches speak confidently about how good things can be. Just last year, Knicks President Phil Jackson even said he thought his team would compete for a playoff spot.

Anthony isn’t ready to say anything like that yet.

“It’s going to take some time to kind of figure out what our expectations will be,” said the All-Star forward, who is fully recovered from knee surgery in February. “It’s good not to have any expectations at this time. It gives us a chance to kind of have a fresh start, get our identity.”

That will start when the Knicks open training camp at West Point. Anthony and many of the Knicks’ newcomers have been working out together for a few weeks, but Tuesday is when they finally do it with the coaching staff.

It’s also when rookie Kristaps Porzingis, the No. 4 overall pick from Latvia, can start figuring out his NBA potential. He said Monday he doesn’t know yet, keeping with the theme of keeping expectations low – or absent.

“All that I know is that I’ve played against the guys, pickup games, 5 on 5, that’s how I can rate myself,” he said. “But now that training camp has started, the real deal is here.”

He played 1-on-1 games this summer with Anthony, who reiterated again that he supported the Porzingis pick even though reports after the draft said he didn’t. The 20-year-old forward said he won some of them and appears to have also won Anthony’s respect, with the 13th-year pro looking to help his new teammate understand the pressure he will face in New York.

Jackson couldn’t land another superstar to pair with Anthony but signed a number of veterans who have been contributors on winning teams, such as center Robin Lopez, guards Arron Afflalo and Sasha Vujacic, and forward Kevin Seraphin.

Seraphin was with the Washington Wizards when they made the gradual climb from the lottery to the playoffs and thinks the Knicks can follow the same process.

“I think if we keep working out, putting everything together that we can do some great things,” he said. “I think we have a good team and we can surprise people.”

It’s hard to say if Anthony would be one of them, since he was so guarded with his thoughts about the team’s potential. He couldn’t even take much from watching them last season after his surgery, since he didn’t know who would be coming back.

He said he wants to reward Jackson’s confidence that he can be the centerpiece of a winning team at 31, and doesn’t think he is running out of time to do it.

“My window is open. I don’t think it’s closing, but for more the most part coming into this year I think we get a chance to write our own destiny right now and that’s a good thing,” Anthony said.

“We can start off fresh, start off with a clean slate and we can write whatever story we want to write, whether good or bad. And I think guys are excited about that, to have a chance to start off fresh and kind of put the past behind us and move forward.”

Donovan says Lonzo Ball’s recovery has ‘been really slow’

Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls
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Watching the finger-pointing and heated moments between Bulls’ defenders on Wednesday night as Devin Booker carved them up to the tune of 51 points, one thought was how much they miss Lonzo Ball‘s defense at the point of attack.

Ball had a second surgery on his knee back in September and the team said he would be out at “least a few months.” It’s coming up on a few months, so Donovan gave an update on Ball and his recovery, and the news was not good for Bulls’ fans. Via Rob Schaefer at NBC Sports Chicago:

“It’s been really slow,” Donovan said when asked about Ball’s rehab. “I’m just being honest.”

Donovan added Ball has not necessarily suffered a setback. The Bulls knew this would be an arduous process. But he also noted that Ball is “not even close” to being cleared for contact or on-court work.

Ball had his first knee surgery in January and the expectation was he would be back and 100% by the playoffs. However, Ball’s knee didn’t respond well, and he was eventually ruled out for the season. Things didn’t improve over the summer, which led to the second surgery. How much do they miss him? The Bulls were 22-13 with him last season, and he averaged 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.1 assists, a game. However, it was his defense that was most crucial.

There is no timeline for his return. Which is not good news for Chicago.

PBT Podcast: Timberwolves without KAT, get Luka some help

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Minnesota has stumbled out of the gate this season, and now they will be without Karl-Anthony Towns for around a month with a calf strain. Just how much trouble are the Timberwolves in?

Corey Robinson from NBC Sports and myself discuss that and then get into Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s Team USA vs. Team World matchup — does Evan Fournier get the world team in trouble? Who guards whom?

From there, it’s time for Corey’s Jukebox and some New Orleans jazz for Zion Williamson. Some Mavericks’ talk follows that — Dallas has put a big load on the shoulders of Luka Doncic, and while he’s playing like an MVP it’s a long-term concern for the Mavericks and their fans.

You can always watch the video of some of the podcast above, or listen to the entire podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please feel free to email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

LeBron calls out reporters for asking him about Kyrie Irving but not Jerry Jones

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Within days of Kyrie Irving being suspended by the Nets in the wake of a Tweet promoting an antisemitic film (and his initial refusal to apologize for it), Irving’s former teammate LeBron James was asked about it. He had to deal with the controversy, saying, “I don’t condone any hate to any kind. To any race.”

At the end of his press conference Wednesday night after the Lakers beat the Trail Blazers, LeBron scolded the assembled press for not asking him about the 1957 photo that surfaced of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones outside North Little Rock High School while white students protested the integration of the school when they had been quick to ask about Irving.

“When I watched Kyrie talk, and he says, `I know who I am, but I want to keep the same energy when we’re talking about my people and the things they’ve been through,’ and that Jerry Jones photo is one of those moments that our people, Black people, have been through in America. And I feel like as a Black man, as a Black athlete, someone with power and with a platform, when we do something wrong or something that people don’t agree with, it’s on every single tabloid, every single news coverage. It’s on the bottom ticker. It’s asked about every single day.

“But it seems like to me that the whole Jerry Jones situation, the photo, and I know it was years and years ago, and we all make mistakes, I get it. It seems like it’s just been buried under, like, `Oh, it happened. OK. We just move on.’ And I was just kind of disappointed that I haven’t received that question from you guys.”

Irving and LeBron were teammates in Cleveland and won a ring together, there was a direct connection (plus Irving had been linked to the Lakers in trade rumors over the summer).

However, there was a connection between LeBron and the Cowboys as well. LeBron was for many years a very public Cowboys fan (despite growing up in Browns territory). It came up as recently as October, when LeBron was on Instagram Live promoting his HBO show with Maverick Carter “The Shop” and he said he had stopped rooting for the Cowboys in the wake of Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protests, “There’s just a lot of things that were going on when guys were kneeling. Guys were having freedom of speech and wanting to do it in a very peaceful manner…. The organization was like, ‘If you do that around here, then you will never play for this franchise again.’ I just didn’t think that was appropriate.”

When asked about the photo, Jones said he was a curious 14-year-old who was watching and didn’t understand the magnitude of the moment or situation.

Watch Russell Westbrook drain two buzzer-beaters against Blazers

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The Portland Trail Blazers had to know it was not their night when Russell Westbrook knocked down a buzzer-beating step-back 3-pointer just before the half.

Westbrook wasn’t done, he had one more buzzer-beater in him at the end of the third.

Westbrook wasn’t the only guy in the building draining half-courters — for the second-straight game a Laker fan knocked down a half-court shot, this time to win $25,000.

It was a good night all around for the Lakers and their fans at home against the shorthanded Trail Blazers. They got 31 points from LeBron James, plus 27 points and 12 boards from Anthony Davis. Austin Reaves added in 22, and the Lakers took control in the third and cruised in for a needed win.