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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.

Stephen Curry cleared for contact, goes through full scrimmage with Warriors

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Stephen Curry is not sitting out the rest of the season. He wants back on the court — he’s targeting the first week of March — and the Warriors are not holding him out.

That got a step closer on Saturday when Curry went through a full scrimmage with the Warriors. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said this after practice, via NBC Sports Bay Area.

“Yeah he scrimmaged today, first day of scrimmaging,” Kerr told reporters at the Chase Center practice facility. “We only had seven other healthy players, so there were two coaches out there scrimmaging too, it was not pretty, but Steph looked great.”

The March return for Curry seems on track. Klay Thompson will not return to the court this season.

The Warriors are not playoff bound, but there is no reason to sit out Curry and tank, either.

First, that’s not the kind of culture the Warriors have built, coming off three titles in five years. Second, the fan base could use the boost of watching Curry drain deep threes after a disheartening season to this point. Third, and maybe most important, what exactly would they need to tank for, better draft position? This is a down draft to begin with, so anyone the Warriors select likely can’t help them much next season anyway (which is why there’s a lot of speculation the Warriors may try to trade the pick). Also, with the flattened out lottery odds, they don’t gain much anyway. The Warriors have the worst record in the NBA, but the three worst teams all have a 14 percent chance at the top pick, and the fourth worst is at 12.5 percent, fifth is 10.5 percent. Curry’s return for a month isn’t lifting the Warriors to the point teams will not want the pick.

We could all use to be reminded just how special Curry is as a player. Hopefully, we get to see that in a couple of weeks.

Kings return to Staples Center, beat Clippers for second time in a month

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kent Bazemore scored a season-high 23 points, Bogdan Bogdanovic added 20 and the Sacramento Kings beat the Los Angeles Clippers on the road for the second time in less than a month, winning 112-103 on Saturday.

De’Aaron Fox had 20 points and eight assists for the surging Kings. They have won two straight out of the All-Star break and eight of 12 overall.

Sacramento blew a 14-point lead in the second half to a Clippers lineup missing injured stars Paul George and Patrick Beverley. But the Kings then shut out Kawhi Leonard and the Clips for more than five straight minutes down the stretch, making a decisive 10-0 run capped by Harry Giles’ percussive dunk with 58 seconds left.

Leonard scored 31 points in his return from his MVP performance in Chicago, but the Clippers returned from the All-Star break with their first three-game losing streak of the season. Lou Williams added 24 points, and Montrezl Harrell had 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Sacramento had a big lead late in the third quarter, but the Clippers took their first lead of the day on Harrell’s leap-and-lean bucket with 8:30 to play.

The Kings reclaimed the lead on Harry Giles’ putback score with 4:17 left, and Bogdanovic hit a clutch 3-pointer two minutes later.

With the Clippers comfortably in third place in the Western Conference, George and Beverley are both getting extra time off to rest persistent injuries.

Reggie Jackson scored eight points in his Clippers debut two days after the Pistons bought him out, while Marcus Morris had six points and five turnovers in 32 minutes in his home debut nearly two weeks after the Clippers acquired him in a three-way trade.

With George and Beverley sidelined, Clippers coach Doc Rivers used his 28th starting lineup in 56 games, putting newcomers Morris and Jackson in the mix. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these unfamiliar Clippers returned from eight days off and missed 13 of their first 14 shots on their way to a 4-for-24 first quarter with five turnovers.

Sacramento wasn’t much better, but Bazemore scored 15 points in the first half. Los Angeles had more turnovers than field goals until late in the half, but Jackson’s first basket for the Clippers was a 3-pointer in the final second before halftime.

Tonight Miami retires Dwyane Wade’s number, time to watch some career highlights

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Next stop: The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

But first, the Miami Heat will retire Dwyane Wade’s No. 3 jersey tonight, the highlight of a weekend-long celebration.

That seems like a good reason to sit back and watch some vintage Wade highlights. His best play from every one of his NBA seasons is above.

Or, here are the top 35 plays of his career.

Also, just a reminder that Wade’s influence in Miami goes well beyond the court.

Miami’s No. 3 deserves every bit of love he will get from the Miami crowd.

No tanking for Wolves, Karl-Anthony Towns wants to return to court this season

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Karl-Anthony Towns will be sidelined a couple of weeks, at least, with a fractured left wrist. When he returns, there will be 15-17 games left in the season, at most (and the Timberwolves are not headed to the playoffs).

Time to shut him down and tank for a lottery spot?

Not in Minnesota. Towns wants back on the court when healthy,  sources told Jon Krawczynski at The Athletic, plus it’s the right move for the franchise.

“When he’s healthy enough, we’ll be able to make those decisions, but make no mistake, we’re a group that is competing,” coach Ryan Saunders said before a 127-117 loss to the Boston Celtics on Friday night. “You get better and you grow by doing the right things. That’s by, (no matter what) your record is, you’re not looking at the record.”

The translation: The Wolves don’t plan to let their place in the standings dictate their decision with Towns. League sources told The Athletic that Towns desperately wants to return to the court this season to play with Russell, Malik Beasley and the rest of a completely revamped Wolves roster.

There are a few reasons this is the right move for Minnesota.

• It has been a frustrating season for Towns, he is the franchise player, he wants to play, it’s best to keep him happy (and not dreaming of greener pastures elsewhere).

This is not a draft with elite talent at the top of it, so what exactly are the Timberwolves tanking for?

• Towns and Russell could use the time on the court to become more accustomed to each other’s games.

• The coaching staff and front office could use the time to evaluate the fit of players they have around Towns and Russell.

There are times that tanking makes sense, although the viability of that as a strategy has decreased some with the flattened out lottery odds. However, considering this draft and the value of having Towns and Russell on the court together, it doesn’t make sense for Minnesota.