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.

As he chases record, LeBron says he has ‘no relationship’ with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers
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Later this season, health permitting, LeBron James will pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

Kareem has said LeBron has earned it, but also has called out LeBron on COVID issues (something Abdul-Jabbar apologized for). Have the two legends started to build a relationship as LeBron marches toward the record? Not so much.

“No thoughts, no relationship.”

This question was asked of LeBron days after Abdul-Jabbar slammed former LeBron teammate Kyrie Irving in a Substack newsletter, calling him a “comical buffoon” and saying he is a poor role model. Abdul-Jabbar has been a vocal proponent of getting the vaccine, Irving remains unvaccinated, and LeBron has posted on social media questioning the severity of the virus and the response. Plus, LeBron and Irving are friends, which could have sparked LeBron’s terse response (as could the fact he was ready to get out of the arena after a dull preseason game).

A week earlier at media day, LeBron had been kinder when discussing Abdul-Jabbar and chasing his record.

“And you know, obviously Kareem has had his differences, with some of my views and some of the things that I do. But listen, at the end of the day, to be able to be right in the same breath as a guy to wear the same [Lakers] uniform, a guy that was a staple of this franchise along with Magic and Big Game [James Worthy] over there for so many years, especially in the 80s, and a guy that does a lot off the floor as well,” LeBron said. “I think it’s just super duper dope for myself to be even in that conversation.”

Abdul-Jabbar has been more of a public persona in recent years, both around the game of basketball and discussing social justice issues through his writings. The NBA named its new social justice award after him. With that has come new relationships around the league.

One of those is not with LeBron. Will Abdul-Jabbar be in the building when LeBron does break the record?

We’ve got months for this relationship to evolve — if it does — before that big day.

 

Watch Zion Williamson score 13 in return to court for Pelicans

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Zion Williamson is back.

He certainly looked in better shape and flashed his insane explosiveness on his way to 13 points and four rebounds in 15 minutes Tuesday night against the Bulls, his first game after missing all of last season following foot surgery.

There was some rust, and the Pelicans are wisely bringing him along slowly and not breaking out the entire playbook for a preseason game, but in the moments we saw Zion looked like he was all the way back.

The questions now are can he sustain it, and how to the Pelicans mesh him with other scoring options in CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram.

And maybe we shouldn’t leave rookie Dyson Daniels off that list, he looked good in his first NBA preseason game.

The Pelicans are one of the most intriguing teams this season, a team that made the playoffs last season with a push after McCollum arrived, and now they add the elite interior scoring and athleticism of Zion to Ingram’s outside shot and slashing, not to mention and a solid core of role players. This team has top six potential if it can get stops. But in a deep West, nothing will be easy.

Wembanyama scores 37, Scoot Henderson 28, as both make case to go No.1

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The NBA league office hates tanking — the action, the word, the mere suggestion of it.

But there is going to be some serious tanking in the NBA this season, and anybody who watched the Victor Wembanyama vs. Scoot Henderson game Tuesday (also known as the G-league Ignite vs.  Metropolitans 92 from France) knows exactly why.

What. A. Show.

Victor Wembanyama, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, showed why he is a true 7’4″ unicorn who can do seemingly anything. He finished the game with 37 points, hitting 7-of-11 from 3, with five blocks, showed off some handles and even brought the ball up court a couple of times.

This play sums him up well: at 7’4″ Wembanyama is the ball handler in a pick-and-roll, looks smooth, and when the defender goes under the pick casually drains a 3.

Scoot Henderson, expected to go No.2 in the next draft, flashed his explosive athleticism to the tune of 28 points, nine assists, and five rebounds.

Ja Morant was impressed.

There was a lot for fans, scouts, and GMs to be impressed with.

For all his shooting an offensive game, Wembanyama was just as impressive on defense. His length and mobility forces players to change their driving angles to the rim. He also showed a fearlessness in going after the big block.

Henderson showed high-level athleticism and an ability to get to the rim at will, but he also set up teammates and an improving shot. Henderson is a dynamic athlete and a season playing against the men of the G League is only going to sharpen his skills.

Henderson made his case Tuesday to be the No.1 pick — scouts say he has the potential to be a franchise cornerstone point guard, a top-10 player in the league, and he looked it in this game. He showed no fear, even going at Wembanyama a few times.

However, Wembanyama will go No.1 because he just breaks the mold, there is nobody like him. Anywhere. He looks like a generational talent, even if there is some work to do to realize it. Wembanyama started to show that Tuesday night.

These two teams face off again on Thursday night in Henderson, Nevada.

Royce O’Neal on Durant, Irving trade rumors: ‘That was the summer’

Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets
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The Brooklyn Nets are trying to move on from a turbulent, awkward summer where their two best players tried to get tradedone throwing down a “me or the coach and GM” ultimatum — and they are tired of talking about it.

It sounds like they have moved on from the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving drama in the locker room, at least based on what Royce O’Neal told Michael Scotto of Hoopshype.

“That was the summer. Nobody cares about it now. We’re all here, and we’re going to make it work. We have a lot of work to do to get to where we want to go. That’s what we’re focusing on.”

No doubt that is the mantra in the locker room, and it’s easy to do during the carefree, optimistic days of training camp or even the first preseason games. The players believe they have moved on.

The real question about these Nets is what happens when adversity hits? And it will hit, it does every team. How will Ben Simmons handle the stress? Irving? Can coach Steve Nash keep the Nets all on task, or will the finger-pointing start, and will the locker room get split?

Those questions are why everyone is finding it hard to predict these Nets — they could win a ring, they could have Durant demanding a trade again by Christmas. Most likely they land in the middle somewhere, but every possibility is on the table.

Speaking of teams being broken up, Scotto also asked about O’Neal’s former team, the Utah Jazz, and Danny Ainge’s decision to trade Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell this summer. Ainge said “this team didn’t believe in each other,” but that’s not how O’Neal saw it. He was surprised the team was blown up.

“I was definitely shocked. I had been there for five years. The team we had for a couple of years fell short. I thought we were going to build on it. Things happened, so keep it moving.”

The question is will the Nets keep moving when things get hard?