Cole Anthony says getting drafted by Knicks ‘would be pretty cool’

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Cole Anthony, the son of former NBA player — and New York Knick — Greg Anthony, moved with his family to New York City after his father retired from the NBA. He grew up there, learning his game in the city (at least until he transferred to a basketball powerhouse in Virginia as a high school senior).

Now an expected lottery pick in the NBA Draft, Anthony would love to play for the Knicks just a handful of subway stops away from where he grew up. Here is what he told Zach Braziller of the New York Post.

“It would be pretty cool,” the Upper West Side native and one-and-done former North Carolina star told The Post in an exclusive interview. “I was a fan for a good amount of time. I do like the Knicks. I think they definitely can use a guard, a good scoring point guard. If that happens, it would be pretty cool to play in front of my little brother.”

Part of the reason Anthony likes the Knicks is what he sees as a fit: They need a ball-handling lead guard, and that’s Anthony’s role.

“What pick you’re drafted at doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “I’d rather be drafted 17th in a really good situation for myself, then go seventh in a terrible situation for myself where I’m behind two other lead guards. It’s really all about fit.”

Would Anthony be a good fit?

Anthony put up counting stats at North Carolina, averaging 18.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists a game last season. He shot 34.8 percent from three and had a good but not great PER of 17.5.

However, Anthony has been more of an aggressive scoring, attacking guard and not a facilitator through his career, and the Knicks will want more of a distributor. That is unless the guy they draft is an elite scorer. Anthony is not. The challenge for Anthony is the things that worked in high school and college he does not have the NBA-level athleticism to make work for him at the next level, NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster said on our recent podcast looking at the draft.

Dauster is not alone in this thinking. Anthony came into college as one of the top recruits in this draft and has generally slid down draft boards the more teams got a look at him. He’s got an excellent work ethic and a good feel for the game, he will figure it out and be an NBA player, but is he a future starter or reserve?

The Knicks have a 37.2 percent chance of landing in the top four in the Draft Lottery (based on the standings when play was suspended), but a 50.4 percent chance of having picks seven or eight. Anthony is not a top-four pick in this draft, and even eight might be a little high to take him. Unless new team president Leon Rose and the staff in New York sees something they really like in him.

Technically the Draft is still scheduled for June 25, and teams are preparing for it, but nobody expects it will happen on that date. It is anticipated the Draft will be pushed back until August or later, depending on if and when the NBA plays out the rest of its season.

Watch Kawhi Leonard score two clutch buckets, including game-winner, in his return

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Kawhi Leonard looked rusty in his return for the first 47 minutes Monday night: 5-of-13 shooting, 0-3 from beyond the arc.

But that final minute was special.

First, there was a great hustle play from Paul George — also making his return — that got the ball to Leonard to tie it up.

Then, after a stop, the Clippers got the switch they wanted, cleared out the side and let Leonard go to work on the game-winner.

Los Angeles picked up the 119-117 win on the road. Not exactly pretty, but for a team just starting to get healthy and build some chemistry, they showed resilience and got the win. Leonard finished with 16 points on 7-of-15 shooting, and George looked sharp on his way to 19 points on 8-of-15 from the floor. It was a balanced Clippers attack, which is what Tyronn Lue is trying to build.

Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 28 and P.J. Washington added 26 for the shorthanded Hornets.

James Harden returns to 76ers Monday night, is on minutes restriction

Minnesota Timberwolves v Philadelphia 76ers
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The 76ers were able to keep their heads above water. For 14 games, James Harden was out with a right foot tendon sprain — both Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey missed games in that stretch as well (Maxey remains out) — and Philadelphia went 8-6 with a +2.9 net rating and the best defense in the NBA over that stretch.

Monday night in Houston, Harden returns.

This wasn’t a surprise, nor is the fact Doc Rivers confirmed Harden will be on a minutes restriction at first.

Harden averaged 22 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds a game before his injury, and while his 3-point shooting percentage was down (33.3%) he was still efficient and finding his footing as more of a facilitator than scorer.

The 76ers are 12-11 on the season and sit in a three-way tie for fifth in the East (with the Pacers and Raptors). If Harden can spark the Philadephia offense there is plenty of time for them to climb into the top four, host a first-round playoff game and position themselves for a deep playoff run. But it starts with getting their starting guards healthy again.

Harden is ready to take that on.

Trae Young frustrated ‘private conversations get out to the public’ about missed game

Atlanta Hawks v Philadelphia 76ers
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Rumors and chatter of tension in Atlanta — about how Trae Young was adapting to playing with Dejonte Murray, and his pushback on coach Nate McMillan and his efforts to get the ball moving more — have been all over the league since the start of the season. Over the weekend, a little of that leaked out, with reports Young chose not to come to the arena Friday after McMillan gave him a choice of participating in shootaround or missing the game.

Young addressed the report and seemed more concerned that it got out than the report’s content.

“I mean, it was just a situation. I mean, we’re all grown men here and there’s sometimes we don’t always agree. And it’s unfortunate that private situations and private conversations get out to the public, but I guess that’s the world we live in now. Yeah, I’m just gonna just focus on basketball and focus on helping my team win. And that’s what I got to be focusing on…

“Like I said, it’s a private matter, again, made public, which is unfortunate. And if it was to stay private, it probably wouldn’t have been as big of a deal. But like I said, it’s unfortunate in my job, and my goal is to win championships. And that’s what I focus on.”

Young went through shootaround  Monday and is set to play against the Thunder.

Murray has been professional throughout this situation, saying he didn’t see anything at the shootaround Friday and backing Young and McMillan when asked.

Bringing in Murray was supposed to take some pressure off Young and spread the wealth more on offense, ideally allowing Young to be more efficient. Instead, Young’s usage rate is nearly identical to last season, he is shooting just 30.3% from 3 and his true shooting percentage has fallen below league average. The Hawks as a team make the fewest passes per game of any team in the league (stat via NBA.com). The Hawks’ offense is still a lot of Young, but it’s not as efficient as it has been in years past.

Atlanta is still 13-10 on the season, has a top-10 defense and sits fourth in the East — they are not struggling. But neither have they made the leap to become a team that could threaten Boston or Milwaukee atop the conference, and that’s what the Hawks expected.

There could be personnel moves coming in Atlanta — John Collins is available via trade, again — but if the Hawks can’t smooth out their internal, existing concerns (and get Collins and DeAndre Hunter healthy) other roster moves will be just cosmetic.

Nike, Kyrie Irving part ways, making him a sneaker free agent

Toronto Raptors v Brooklyn Nets
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Here’s the positive spin for Kyrie Irving: He will have the chance to remake his situation into something he’s more comfortable with during 2023. As a player, he will be an unrestricted free agent and can choose where he wants to play in coming seasons (how many teams are interested and for how many years will be interesting to see).

Irving also is a sneaker free agent — Nike has cut ties with him, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Irving is happy with this.

The separation is not a surprise. Nike suspended its relationship with Irving after he Tweeted out support for an antisemitic film, did not apologize (at first), and was suspended by the Nets. Here was the company’s statement at that time:

“At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism. To that end, we’ve made the decision to suspend our relationship with Kyrie Irving effective immediately and will no longer launch the Kyrie 8. We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone.”

Nike founder Phil Knight said it was likely the end of the company’s relationship with Irving.

That’s not a small thing by Nike, Irving has had a signature shoe line since 2014 and is reported to have a deal with Nike worth more than $10 million a season because his shoes are popular. However, his contract with the shoe giant was set to end in October 2023, and there had been reports Nike did not plan to extend that deal before this current controversy started.

Nike is already looking in a new direction, at Ja Morant.

Irving now has the chance to choose his new direction.