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Carmelo Anthony unhappy with how Thunder, Rockets handled his exits

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Carmelo Anthony’s last three teams have decided they just no longer wanted him.

Anthony’s exit with the Knicks played out publicly with then-team president Phil Jackson declaring Anthony no longer fit in New York. Anthony’s finishes with the Thunder and Rockets went down more privately.

But appearing on ESPN today, Anthony explained his dismay with how both tenures ended.

Anthony on Oklahoma City:

It wasn’t until after the season that all this talk had started. Would he come back? Would he take a pay cut? Would he come off the bench? None of this stuff was ever discussed with me, as far as me coming off the bench. All I needed was somebody to communicate that with me. And I think people was afraid to stand up and communicate.

I wasn’t willing to accept that, because that never was explained to me. If you sat down with me man-to-man and said, “You know what, look, what’s best for this team is for you to come off the bench,” I probably would have fought it a little bit. But then I would have stepped away away from it and said, “You know what? This is what’s best for the team.” I went to Billy Donovan himself and said, “What do I have to do?” Right? “What do you need from me?” And everybody can vouch for that. “What do you need from me? What do I need to do?” And he told me. And I said, “Look, thank you. I appreciate it. This is what you’re going to get from me.” I really honestly wish the OKC situation would’ve worked out. I thought it was going to work out.

I think it was bigger than basketball. I think it was a tax situation. But I think they knew that for me coming in there. They was trying to get me to kind of revamp my contract. And at that point in time, I just felt like the situation wasn’t handled right. I felt like it was just a one-and-done situation in OKC. And I didn’t respect that. I didn’t want that. Because I went in there to fight.

After his lone season with the Thunder, Anthony said coming off the bench was out of the question. He said he couldn’t be effective in a small role.

It’s easy for him now to say he would’ve gotten over his ego if someone spoke to him face-to-face. But he was so opposed to coming off the bench. He made that very clear. It’s unfair of him to blame the Thunder for not talking him out of something he was proactively emphatic about.

Anthony exercised his $27,928,140 player option with Oklahoma City. That sealed his fate there. He was no longer worth anywhere near that high salary, especially with the Thunder so far into the repeater luxury tax. They traded him to the Hawks.

Atlanta waived him. Anthony joined the Rockets and played just 10 games for them last season.

Anthony on Houston:

I’m doing everything I’ve got to do. I never missed a practice, did all my work. I was real professional with everybody there. I don’t think there’s one person there that could say that I wasn’t a professional there. I did what I had to do, did my work. And then the 10th game come, I just didn’t understand where that had come from. I was reaching out to – I actually reached out to Daryl first and said, “Can we talk about how can we make this better? What can we do to fix? What can I do to fix this?” But then he had in mind that he wanted to come talk to me, too, about releasing me or letting me go. I didn’t like how that went down.

I was actually in San Antonio, in my room, getting ready for the game. And me and Daryl were supposed to speak that night, because I had reached out to him previously about just a heads-up meeting, like, “What’s going on? Let me know what I can do. I’m here to help the team. Let me know what I’ve got to do.” But he came in, and he was just like, “Look, basically your services are no longer needed.” And I’m like, “Hold up. What the hell are you talking about?” He’s like, “Nah, things just not working out, and you’ve got to figure out something to do.” And I’m like, “How the hell am I going to figure out something to do? I’ve got a game tomorrow.” “Nah, you’re not going to suit up tomorrow.” So, then I started taking it even deeper. He told me I wasn’t going to make the rotation. I’m like, “I can’t make a nine-man rotation? That’s what you’re trying to tell me?” I’m already starting to accept the fact that I have to come off the bench, which was very hard for me. I accepted that.

Anthony played poorly in Oklahoma City and even worse in Houston. The Rockets correctly diagnosed him as a problem.

However, it was strange they immediately dropped him from major role to completely off the team. Why not try to see whether he could help as a situational contributor? Anthony has a legitimate gripe there.

That said, he didn’t warrant a rotation spot. If he was going to cause problems sitting on the bench, Houston was correct to exile him. But the way Anthony tells it, he didn’t get much chance to come to terms with that before Rockets general manager Daryl Morey made up his mind.

Anthony also exposes Morey as untruthful. This meeting occurred Nov. 9, according to Anthony. On Nov. 11, Morey said Anthony was sick and would return to the rotation once healthy. Morey essentially called the Anthony-done-with-Houston reports fake news.

Morey also said earlier this summer he wouldn’t trade Chris Paul then traded Paul, anyway. There’s a pattern here.

Morey says whatever he wants publicly to downplay tension, true or not. That might be the right move in the short term for someone trying to help the Rockets. The rest of us should no longer trust him.

As for Anthony, getting fired usually isn’t enjoyable. There was probably no way for the Rockets to drop him and leave him feeling good about it. At least Morey spoke to him face-to-face.

Anthony remains a free agent wanting to get signed. He has clearly become more willing to accept a smaller role. Yet, he still sounds somewhat delusional about his place in the game.

Marginal players get rejected by teams all the time. Most of those players don’t get a national spotlight to complain about how it went down. It’s just the rough part of being, at best, a fringe NBA player.

That’s where Anthony is now.

Report: 76ers happy with GM Elton Brand, who’s drawing Knicks interest

76ers owner Josh Harris and general manager Elton Brand
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The Knicks are reportedly interested in hiring 76ers general manager Elton Brand.

In New York, Brand would work under new Knicks president Leon Rose. Brand holds the top position in Philadelphia’s front office. So, Brand would likely go to New York only if fired by the 76ers.

Paul Hudrick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

A team source on Wednesday confirmed Brand is under contract beyond this season and said the organization is very happy with his work since being named GM in 2018. The source cited Brand’s leadership and strong working relationships with players, agents, and executives around the league.

The 76ers are so pleased with Brand… someone said so without under the cloak of anonymity. If he wants to back Brand, 76ers owner Josh Harris can do so publicly. Otherwise, this is so weak.

Teams generally express support toward employees while the employees are still working for the team – whether or not the employees actually hold approval. A key way to tell whether the support is genuine? Check the source. Harris doesn’t want to look like a hypocrite. If he endorses Brand now then fires him soon, Harris would look silly. With this sourcing, nobody would get egg on his or her face if Brand gets ousted, because we don’t know the source.

I bet Brand does have good relationships with everyone. He has long connected well with others.

But his roster-building has fallen flat.

Inertia will probably keep him in his job. Philadelphia overachieving in the playoffs (whatever form they take) – certainly possible – would make that an easier call. It’s just difficult to build an affirmative case for Brand as a team’s lead executive.

Report: No chance of traditional NBA playoffs this season

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The NBA playoffs have a familiar format – four rounds, best-of-seven series, games in front of fans at home arenas.

But the coronavirus, which has forced the NBA into an indefinite stoppage and disrupted life around the world, makes that untenable. Don’t expect the league to wait until that’s workable, either.

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

At this point, several team and league officials told SI.com, any chance of a traditional postseason is out.

A shortened playoffs in Las Vegas is gaining momentum. It’d allow the NBA, hemorrhaging money, to draw revenue sooner. A reduced postseason would also minimize disruption to future seasons.

But even that comes with major complications, especially containing coronavirus from undermining the entire operation. It could be a long time until its safe to hold games, even in a centralized location without fans.

It could be so long… a traditional playoffs could be back on the table. Though I find that unlikely, I’m still not convince people have a proper understanding of how lengthy this hiatus could be.

Everyone wants to finish the season. The playoffs are the NBA’s most lucrative time, and it feels right to crown a champion.

So, it’s good the focus is on alternative formats. It’d be naïve to expect business as usual when the NBA resumes.

Who should be drafted No. 1? Podcast talking NBC Sports mock NBA Draft.

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Should Anthony Edwards be the No. 1 pick?

Or James Wiseman? How would Obi Toppin fit with the Warriors?

More importantly, how is anyone preparing for a draft when nobody knows when it will take place?

Rob Dauster of NBC Sports — who just completed his mock draft — joins me to discuss what they know and don’t know about the 2020 NBA Draft, starting with having no idea when it will take place. We discuss Obi Toppin, Lonzo Ball, sleepers to watch, and everything in between in a draft preview podcast.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

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

Bucks hoping to complete title pursuit after coronavirus stoppage

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — The NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks remain confident the coronavirus pandemic won’t put a permanent halt to the season and that they’ll get to resume chasing their first league title in nearly half a century.

The Bucks had a league-best 53-12 record when play was suspended three weeks ago. With Giannis Antetokounmpo having a potential second straight MVP season, the Bucks seemed poised to make a run at the title that has eluded this franchise since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led them to an NBA championship in 1971.

Bucks general manager Jon Horst thinks they will get that opportunity.

“We believe that we’re going to play,” Horst said Wednesday in a conference call. “Everything that we’re doing every day in our communications, in our preparations, everything we talk about is being prepared to play at some point, finish out the season and have a resumption.”

That’s why Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer has spent part of this hiatus making sure the Bucks don’t lose their edge whenever they do get back on the floor.

He’s been studying the Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets — the Bucks’ two most likely first-round playoff foes — as well as other Eastern Conference teams Milwaukee could see later in the postseason. He’s tried to learn from his experiences as a San Antonio Spurs assistant coach during the NBA’s most recent work stoppages.

“One of my reference points with the coaching staff has been lockouts,” Budenholzer said. “Sometimes when you come out of a lockout, things have been kind of slow, you haven’t been able to maybe do your normal routines and preparation, and things happen really fast. Whether it’s three games in three nights, or playoff series are shorter or the time between the end of the regular season to the first playoff game, everything can be shorter or can happen quicker.”

His instructions to his players have focused on conditioning while understanding they might not have as much time to spend working on their basketball skills.

“I think that we feel that there are things they can continue to do as far as continuing to stay strong, continuing to maintain a conditioning level and really just put a lot of time and effort and energy into their bodies,” Budenholzer said.

After blowing a 2-0 lead to the eventual league champion Toronto Raptors in last season’s Eastern Conference finals, Milwaukee appeared to have all the elements in place to make a serious championship run this year before the pandemic struck.

The Bucks had just returned from a winless three-game trip west when the hiatus occurred, but that was the first time they had lost as many as two straight contests all season.

Despite their optimism and their confidence that league officials will do what’s best for the safety of everyone, the Bucks realize that play might not resume. However, Budenholzer said they aren’t thinking about what impact canceling the season might have.

“If for some reason this season is not played or there’s nothing to look forward to or to complete, I’ll process it then,” Budenholzer said. “I would add that I don’t think it’s being totally head-in-the-sand. I think hopefully watching news, listening to the commissioner, listening to whether it be Tony Fauci or Dr. (Deborah) Birx or whoever it is, it does feel like there is I think some realistic hope and belief that we will get through this.

“I know that there are some negatives, some less optimistic modeling, but literally all we think about is we are going to play and we want to be the best team when we do play so how do we prepare for that, how do we get better? It’s a great way to get through this.”