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Carmelo Anthony’s camp reportedly “aggressively” pushing back on idea he’s not a team player

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Joe Johnson was out of the NBA last season after a stint in Houston where things did not go as he or the Rockets envisioned. However, after an impressive summer in the Big3, Johnson is getting another look from teams — he’s already worked out for the Sixers and the Bucks, Nets, and Pistons reportedly are bringing him in for workouts.

Carmelo Anthony is not getting that break. While he has worked out hard this summer and campaigned for a spot — and had friends such as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving campaign for him — teams have not brought him in for formal workouts.

The difference: The perception of willingness to play a role. Teams think that Johnson would be willing to accept a smaller role, happily come off the bench for limited minutes (with the odd DNP being possible), mentor young players, and contribute positively to the team culture. Sources around the league have said teams are not convinced Anthony would accept that role after his time in Oklahoma City and Houston (where he didn’t do so willingly).

Anthony’s camp is pushing back hard against this perception, reports Sean Deveney, writing for Heavy.com.

His representatives are fighting the perception that Anthony can no longer be a functional team player, that his scorer’s mentality and past complaints about his roles make him a net negative for any team with high aspirations. According to league sources, his representatives are fighting that perception, “aggressively.”…

The case is two-fold, the sources said. First, there is the idea that Anthony was used as a scapegoat, which began in New York after the 2016-17 season, then for the Oklahoma City Thunder the following year. Last season, it was Anthony who took the fall for the 4-6 start in Houston. He was let go after 13 games and no other team re-signed him. But Anthony’s camp has been pushing the line that he got more blame than he deserves in each case…

The second leg of the pitch Anthony is making to teams could prove to be appealing when it comes to those concerned that Anthony would be a locker-room distraction: He’s a good distraction.

The pitch is that he’s a guy liked by fellow teammates — very true, ‘Melo is one of the most respected and popular veterans in the league — and that he would draw media attention but be a positive on that front.

Anthony made a media tour this summer saying he would willingly play whatever role a team wanted from him. His camp is now apparently working that angle behind the scenes. However, the narrative that he has been a scapegoat with three teams — if he’s not accepting responsibility for part of what went on — will not necessarily help his cause with other teams. (To be clear, maybe Anthony taking some responsibility is part of the pitch, I’m simply saying it needs to be.)

Nobody question’s ‘Melo the player — he’s a future Hall of Famer. First ballot. Anthony, at age 35, can still get buckets but in recent years has worked (and wanted the ball) more in isolation (something that really started with the Knicks). He’s long been a guy who thrived that way because he’s a difficult matchup and he was one of the best tough shot makers in the league. However, as age has eroded his skills, his efficiency has dropped and teams want him in a different role. Anthony has not slid seamlessly into that role.

At some point, maybe before training camp or maybe after the season starts, an NBA team is going to give Anthony a shot. There are teams that need bench scoring, and Anthony should be able to provide that. Whether we will see that again with a contending team or not, some team will make an offer.

Then we’ll see if Anthony will accept a role.

LeBron James says Daryl Morey was “not educated on the situation” with China Tweet

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When Stephen Curry was asked about how the NBA moves forward in its relationship with China, he gave an answer backing Commissioner Adam Silver’s second position and playing it straight down the middle.

LeBron James was a little more aggressive, saying he didn’t have the necessary information to comment, and suggesting Rockets GM Daryl Morey had no idea what he was getting into. Via Marc Spears of ESPN and Ben Golliver of the Washington Post.

LeBron’s comments quickly blew up on Twitter, and soon after he clarified what he meant, saying he was referring to the backlash from the Tweet.

This issue will not die.

Both the NBA and China would like it to, and both are working on relaxing tensions, including NBA preseason games being shown in China again. Both sides want to move on. It’s not good for the NBA’s bottom line, and in China the NBA is incredibly popular with younger generations.

But the questions about relations between the NBA and China are not going away, and issues are going to flare up again.

 

 

Rookie Tyler Herro scored 14 straight points for Heat Monday night (VIDEO)

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Tyler Herro is having himself an impressive preseason.

He already dropped 18 points in a preseason game last week and throughout the preseason has shown he’s ready to knock down shots at the NBA level.

Monday night he went 5-of-5 — 4-of-4 from three — to score 14 straight points for the Heat.

He’s also showing he can do more than just shoot, crowd him at the arc and he can put the ball on the court and make a play.

Herro’s fellow rookies voted him the best shooter in this draft class and he’s looked every bit of that. The No. 13 pick out of Kentucky started to show that in the Las Vegas Summer League, where he scored on catch-and-shoot chances, pull-ups, step-backs, running off screens, and he could get out in transition as well. Doing that in Summer League is one thing, doing in the NBA preseason is a step up from that — but the real test, the NBA season, is a whole different level.

In Miami, they love the production but what fans really like is Herro plays with swagger.

We’ll see how his rookie season goes, but put that shooting and hustle next to Jimmy Butler for stretches and Miami becomes a lot more interesting.

CJ McCollum, others talk NBA sleep issue: “Lack of sleep… messes up how you play”

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The NBA season is a too-long, marathon of a grind. It’s 82 regular games spread across six months — and that’s before things get intense in the playoffs. Players wear down physically, making injuries (and shorter careers) more likely. It’s also why we all know the phrase “load management.” Sixers coach Brett Brown was the first person I have heard put it this way, but it’s nearly a mantra around the NBA now:

“This is a recovery league.”

At the heart of that recovery is sleep — and players simply do not get enough of it.  Playing games that go into the night, followed by travel and strange hotel rooms, then a shootaround the next day, is not conducive to getting eight or more hours of sleep. Or seven. Or often six. That lack of sleep — particularly good, deep REM sleep — has a physical toll on players, and the league is just starting to understand the science of it all.

In a must-read article by Baxter Holmes at ESPN, he gets into the “dirty little secret” of NBA players’ lack of sleep, and the impact that has.

Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum began taking naps in high school and seeking nine hours of sleep a night. And in the NBA, he gets into bed as early as possible. “Lack of sleep messes up your recovery, messes up how you play, your cognitive function, your mindset, how you’re moving on the court,” McCollum says. “Sleep is everything.”…

So how much sleep do NBA players get per night during the season? Ballparking a figure is tricky, but Czeisler, who has worked with three NBA teams, says five hours per night is not an uncommon answer from players… That said, one former and four current NBA athletic training staff members all separately say that six hours of sleep per 24-hour cycle is common among players, an estimate that combines the nightly sleep and the pregame nap that is typical for many NBA players…

By January, just three months into the 2012-13 NBA season, the testosterone [which decreases with lack of sleep] of one player in his 20s had dropped to that of a 50-year-old man. (Those reductions in testosterone, it’s worth noting, are not permanent, but they do require multiple days of recovery to offset.) And as testosterone levels fell for more players, the injuries seemed to correspondingly accumulate.

It’s worth reading the entire article to see the science and impact. For example, multiple trainers suggest most players get five to six hours of sleep a day, and that includes afternoon naps (and science shows those naps are not as beneficial as sleep at night.

Fixing this sleep deficit issue is not simple, it taps into the scheduling issues — and the number of games — that is a topic around the league without a clean and easy solution. There’s a growing consensus there should be fewer games total and they should be spread out more to get players more recovery time, but doing so likely impacts revenue — through gate receipts, television deals, and more — and nobody wants to give up some cash.

Players recognizing the issue is a start, they can take charge of their own health. Just keep your eye on the sleep issue over the coming years, because the lack of sleep issue is going to move more front and center with teams and players.

Stephen Curry on how NBA goes forward in China: “Staying true to who we are a league”

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With LeBron James and Kyrie Irving leading the way, the Nets’ and Lakers’ players in China for exhibition games didn’t want to be the face of the NBA’s suddenly-fraught relationship with China. The players rightfully wanted the league to speak first.

That doesn’t mean the questions are going away.

Stephen Curry — who is the face of Under Armor’s basketball shoe and clothing line, and who helps sell a lot of apparel in China — was asked on Monday how he and the league move forward in their relationship with China. Nick Friedell of ESPN had the answer.

This basically echos Adam Silver’s second statement, one where he talked about the league’s commitment to free speech, just phrased a to make it more of a “who we are as a league” comment.

For now, tensions between the NBA and China seem to be relaxing, including NBA preseason games being shown in China again. Both sides would like this story to fade from the headlines. It’s not good business for the NBA — who came off poorly from a PR perspective in the exchange — and in China the NBA is incredibly popular with youth and cutting that off starts could lead to a backlash.

However, the underlying issues, the trade concerns, the differences in cultures and how they view free speech, none of that is going away. It’s going to flare up again at some point.

Whenever that is, expect the league and the players to be better prepared with how to handle it.