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Carmelo Anthony on Bulls in 2014 free agency: ‘I was going to Chicago’

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LeBron James has won three championships in 15 years.

Dwyane Wade has won three championships in 15 years.

Carmelo Anthony has won three playoff series in 15 years.

Anthony is painfully aware of his lack of team success relative to his friends/peers. He’ll also point out: He never had the teammates LeBron and Wade did.

But is that partially Anthony’s fault?

Appearing on ESPN, Anthony discussed potential opportunities to join LeBron and Wade on the Heat in 2010, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah on the Bulls in 2014.

LeBron (Cavaliers) and Wade (Heat) signed shorter rookie-scale extensions in 2006, allowing them to become free agents in 2010. Anthony said they urged him to do the same. Instead, Anthony locked in longer with the Nuggets. While LeBron and Wade were uniting with Chris Bosh in free agency, Anthony was stuck in Denver. Had Anthony taken the three-year extension, it could have been him – not Chris Bosh – on Miami’s big three.

Anthony:

We didn’t know that that was going to happen. It was just conversations at that point in time. We always said we wanted to play with each other – USA teams, world championships. We always said that, coming into the NBA as well. We don’t know that was going to come into fruition. We didn’t know even how that was going to happen. At that point in time when they brought that to me, it was just an idea.

The Miami situation, that was just an idea. That was just at the idea stages. And I was about to sign shortly after that conversation.

This is spot on. Stars talk about teaming up far more than it actually happens. Anthony could have left guaranteed money on the table, but four years in advance, he had no way of knowing how it’d turn out. Players sometimes sacrifice money for winning and get neither. Anthony took the safe option, and that was totally fine.

There’s also no guarantee the Heat would’ve been as good with Anthony instead of Bosh. Bosh proved excellent as supporting traditional stars. His defense was essential to Miami. Anthony probably wouldn’t have developed those complementary skills.

Anthony eventually engineered a trade to the Knicks. New York was mediocre, and Anthony had a chance to leave in 2014 unrestricted free agency. He reportedly nearly chose the Bulls.

Anthony:

I was going to Chicago. Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah. I was there, right? I was there. And then I started getting whispers behind the scenes. “Yo, look, this person ain’t gonna be there. It ain’t really right. This and that.” And it was all of that started to come up in the midst of my decision-making. I wasn’t going to let anything cloud that. I met with New York last. They was the last team I met with, because I knew that I was ready to move on from that situation because of what I was dealing with and going through in New York. After that, I met with New York the last meeting and said, “Tell me what you’re going to do for the organization, for us to put a team together to go compete and try to win. That was my conversation with them. There was a lot of things that was promised, a lot of things that was said. And I said, “You know what? Because I belong in New York, I’m going to roll with you. I’m going to roll with you.”

It sounds like Anthony is talking about Tom Thibodeau. The coach and management were already experiencing tension that led to Thibodeau getting fired the next year. Once again, Anthony had sound reason to pick the lesser team. He rightfully snuffed out that Chicago was soon in for major change.

However, also once again, Anthony took the bigger contract. He keeps glossing over that.

There’s nothing wrong with that. He’d look better by just admitting it. By saying he trusted the Knicks – the Knicks! – to build a winner, Anthony looks foolish. That’s a shame-on-him situation. Just say he took the money.

Anthony was a very good player whose main skill, scoring, draws the largest paychecks. He also didn’t contribute much as a defender and passer. His high salary and narrow skill set made it difficult for his teams to build a winner around him.

He could have have put himself in different situations. But many of the same people who say Anthony didn’t win enough also criticize Kevin Durant for taking an easy route to the title. It’s so hard to please that crowd.

Anthony sounds generally satisfied with his career (at least until this last stretch). He played the role he wanted and made a lot of money. That matters.

It’s easy to second-guess his contracts. But with different moves, we’d probably just be second-guessing a different set of circumstances.

Eight-year NBA veteran Jon Leuer announces retirement

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Jon Leuer is only age 31, but the big man has battled ankle and other injuries in recent seasons, playing in only 49 games over the past three seasons. Last July, the Pistons traded him to the Bucks in a salary dump, and Milwaukee quickly waived him. Leuer struggled to get healthy and did not catch on with another team.

Sunday he took to Instagram to announce his retirement.

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I love the game of basketball. I still want to play, but I know deep down it’s not the right decision for my health anymore. The past 3 years I’ve dealt with a number of injuries, including 2 that kept me out this whole season. It’s taken me a while to come to grips with this, but I’m truly at peace with my decision to officially retire. As disappointing as these injuries have been, I’m still thankful for every moment I spent playing the game. Basketball has been the most amazing journey of my life. It’s taken me places I only could’ve dreamed about as a kid. The relationships it brought me mean more than anything. I’ve been able to connect with people from all walks of life and forged lifelong bonds with many of them. What this game has brought me stretches way beyond basketball. I’m grateful for this incredible ride and everyone who helped me along the way. 🙏🏼🙌🏼✌🏼

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Leuer — a second-round pick out of Wisconsin for the Bucks in 2011 — averaged 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds a game for the Pistons in the 2016-17 season, and for the years at the peak of his career he was a quality rotational big man teams could trust, either off the bench or as a spot starter.

Over the course of his career he played for the Bucks, Cavaliers, Grizzlies, Suns, and Pistons. He earned more than $37 million in salary, most of it from a three-year contract the Pistons gave him in 2016. It was not long after his body started to betray him.

Leuer has been riding out the quarantine in Minnesota is wife Keegan (NFL coach Brian Billick’s daughter) and the couple is donating thousands of meals a week to the needy in that community.

 

New York Governor clears path for Knicks, Nets to open facilities for workouts

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As of today, 19 NBA teams have their practice facilities open for players to come in for individual workouts, but 11 have yet to open the doors. Some it’s the decision of the team, some it’s that the municipality or state had not allowed it.

The Knicks and Nets — in the heart of New York, the part of the nation hardest hit by COVID-19 — are two of those teams whose facilities are closed. However, on Sunday New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said they could open the door for practice.

“I believe that sports that can come back without having people in the stadium, without having people in the arena — do it! Do it!” Cuomo said at his press conference. “Work out the economics, if you can. We want you up. We want people to be able to watch sports. To the extent people are still staying home, it gives people something to do. It’s a return to normalcy. So we are working and encouraging all sports teams to start their training camps as soon as possible. And we’ll work with them to make sure that can happen.”

While the teams have not formally announced anything yet, it is likely at least the Nets will open soon for the players still in market to workout (the majority of players from the New York teams went home to other parts of the country). The Knicks, well out of the playoff picture, may be much slower to open their facilities back up.

When they happen, the workouts come with considerable restrictions: one player and one coach at each basket, the coach is wearing gloves and masks, the balls and gym equipment are sanitized, and much more.

One part of a potential plan for the NBA to return to play called for a couple of weeks of a training camp at the team facilities, followed by 14 days of a quarantined training camp in Orlando at the bubble site. Multiple teams reached out to the league about doing their entire training camp in Orlando to avoid having players quarantine twice (once when the player reports back to market, once when the team goes to the bubble city).

Warriors’ Bob Myers says he would ‘consider’ trading draft pick

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Even if the NBA decides to play a handful more regular season games upon return, the Golden State Warriors are going to finish the season with the worst record in the NBA (they have a 4.5 game “lead” for the worst record). That means they have a 14% chance at the No. 1 pick, a 40.1% chance of a top-three pick, and a 47.9% chance of having the No. 5 pick.

Those same Warriors are returning next season with a healthy Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, a team with title aspirations.

That’s led to a lot of speculation the Warriors would try to trade down, something Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob confirmed. Warriors president Bob Myers, speaking to NBC Sports’ Bay Area’s Monte Poole, said as much as any executive in his shoes would: He’d consider trading the pick.

“Yeah, we’re going to consider all that,” the Warriors president of basketball operations told NBC Sports Bay Area over the phone, before pausing for a moment. “Now, I don’t know if the headline is going to be that we’re trading our pick. So, be clear that I said ‘consider.’”

On the ProBasketballTalk podcast, NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster said if he were in Myers’ shoes he would try to trade down, get a veteran, and land in picks four through six. There he can likely land a player such as Obi Toppin, Isaac Okoro, or Deni Avdija — players who should not go No. 1 but are better poised to help immediately. The problem for the Warriors, or whoever lands the top pick, is this is a weak draft at the top, depressing the value. Dauster described it this way: the top three picks in this draft would go 6-10 most years.

The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery and Draft Combine have been postponed, and the draft itself will get the same treatment soon (it has yet to be officially changed, but everyone expects it).

Until there is a lottery and the Warriors know where they land, it’s tough for Myers to do much more than plan. Just like the rest of us.

Hall of Fame could push back induction of Kobe, Duncan, Garnett due to coronavirus

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It’s the deepest and (arguably) greatest Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class in its history: Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett lead it.

Enshrinement is scheduled for Aug. 29, but the Hall of Fame in Massachusets is looking at potentially pushing back that date if large gatherings are not yet allowed, reports Gary Washburn at the Boston Globe. They are considering pushing the date back to mid-October or potentially into next spring if necessary.

Hall of Fame CEO John Doleva emphasized they are not just going to roll this class into the 2021 class (which has yet to be elected).

“I do want to make it very clear we will have a separate event for the class of 2020 because of the notoriety of that class and, frankly, every class deserves its own recognition,” Doleva said. “There is a potential next calendar year that we could have two enshrinements.”

It’s possible that the enshrinement can take place Aug. 29, but like every big event planned for the fall nobody knows exactly what the situation will be. So, the Hall of Fame is coming up with a backup plan, just in case. As they should.