Carl Landry

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Sixers waive both Carl Landry, just acquired Tibor Pleiss

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Carl Landry and Tibor Pleiss are going to get paid this year — they both had fully guaranteed contracts for this season.

But they are not going to be playing for the Philadelphia 76ers this season — both were waived by the team on Thursday. This was not unexpected. Both players salaries will count against the cap for the Sixers (they are still $16 million below the league salary floor).

Once they clear waivers, both players will be unrestricted free agents (Landry likely will latch on with another team for the league minimum, Pleiss may as well or could head overseas).

Landry will still make $6.5 million (fourth highest on the Sixers) but would have been battling for minutes in crowded and young frontcourt with Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Nerlens Noel, and Jahlil Okafor (among other potential players, for example the Sixers are high on Anthony Barber).

Pleiss is in the same boat in terms of minutes, he was acquired from the Jazz along with a couple of second round draft picks just a few days back (the Sixers sent Utah Kendall Marshall, who was promptly waived). That trade was really about getting the picks — a very Sam Hinkie move by Bryan Colangelo.

This didn’t move the needle much on the Sixers season.

Knicks’ biggest issue: Reconciling Carmelo Anthony-Kristaps Porzingis age gap

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Carmelo Anthony doesn’t avoid the question.

He snickers at it.

Is he concerned his prime and Kristaps Porzingis‘ prime won’t overlap?

“Well, obviously,” Melo said, breaking into laughter.

This – not whether Porzingis plays again this season, not whether Kurt Rambis will remain coach, not whether Phil Jackson has one foot out the door – is the Knicks’ fundamental issue. Their two most important players differ wildly in age, which creates major dilemmas in team-building.

Porzingis is just a 20-year-old rookie still learning the NBA. Melo, 31, sees the last of his best years passing him by.

That’s why it was believable when a report emerged last summer that Melo felt “betrayed” by Jackson drafting Porzingis No. 4 overall. Melo denied it, and Porzingis said the anonymously sourced report didn’t bother him.

“I didn’t take it seriously,” Porzingis said. “Somebody could’ve said that. Whenever I met Melo, that’s the impression I had of him, and I think that’s the impression he had of me.”

Whatever the initial impression, it must be much easier for Melo to appreciate Porzingis now.

Porzingis isn’t nearly the project many predicted. He has been the second- or third-best rookie (depending what you think of Nikola Jokic) behind only Karl-Anthony Towns, who’s having a historically good first year.

Not only is Porzingis productive, he fits well with Melo. Porzingis spaces the floor, giving Melo room to operate in the paint and mid-range. Porzingis’ offensive rebounding becomes more valuable with Melo, who gets up shots (sometimes bad ones) rather than committing turnovers. And Porzingis’ rim protection covers for Melo’s defensive deficiencies. Plus, Melo’s ability to carry the offensive load allows Porzingis to be patient with his shot selection and keep his confidence up.

New York, outscored by 2.7 points per 100 possessions overall, has topped opponents by 0.9 points per 100 possessions with Melo and Porzingis on the court. Great? No. But it’s a start for a team that badly needs one.

Porzingis has three years remaining on his rookie-scale contract, and then he’ll become a restricted free agent (if he hasn’t signed a contract extension first). Melo has three more seasons on his deal, a no-trade clause and a trade kicker that gives him financial incentive to get dealt. The Knicks have their two most important pieces locked up – at least if Melo doesn’t get antsy. And even then, New York retains control on a trade.

The Knicks can meander forward and ignore the age issue, keeping both Melo and Porzingis. But that’d be a disservice to both. They should confront the big questions:

Can they get good enough to win with Melo and Porzingis before Melo declines? And can they do it without sabotaging a post-Melo future with Porzingis? If forced to choose on direction, which will they pick?

First, they must recognize their unusual position.

Among teach team’s three win-share leaders this season, none faces a wider age* range than New York, which features a top three of Melo, Robin Lopez and Porzingis.

*Using a player’s age on Feb. 1

Here’s the spread for each team’s top three:

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Team Oldest Middle Youngest Age range (years)
NYK Carmelo Anthony (31) Robin Lopez (27) Kristaps Porzingis (20) 11
PHI Carl Landry (32) Jerami Grant (21) Nerlens Noel (21) 11
DAL Dirk Nowitzki (37) Zaza Pachulia (31) Chandler Parsons (27) 10
CHI Pau Gasol (35) Taj Gibson (30) Jimmy Butler (26) 9
SAS Tony Parker (33) LaMarcus Aldridge (30) Kawhi Leonard (24) 9
WAS Marcin Gortat (31) John Wall (25) Otto Porter (22) 9
CLE LeBron James (31) Kevin Love (27) Tristan Thompson (24) 7
DEN Danilo Gallinari (27) Kenneth Faried (26) Nikola Jokic (20) 7
LAL Brandon Bass (30) Lou Williams (29) Larry Nance Jr. (23) 7
CHA Marvin Williams (29) Kemba Walker (25) Cody Zeller (23) 6
MEM Zach Randolph (34) Marc Gasol (31) Mike Conley (28) 6
MIN Gorgui Dieng (26) Ricky Rubio (25) Karl-Anthony Towns (20) 6
TOR Kyle Lowry (29) DeMar DeRozan (26) Jonas Valanciunas (23) 6
MIA Chris Bosh (31) Luol Deng (30) Hassan Whiteside (26) 5
NOP Ryan Anderson (27) Jrue Holiday (25) Anthony Davis (22) 5
ORL Nikola Vucevic (25) Evan Fournier (23) Aaron Gordon (20) 5
DET Marcus Morris (26) Reggie Jackson (25) Andre Drummond (22) 4
HOU Trevor Ariza (30) Dwight Howard (30) James Harden (26) 4
IND George Hill (29) Ian Mahinmi (29) Paul George (25) 4
LAC J.J. Redick (31) Chris Paul (30) DeAndre Jordan (27) 4
MIL Greg Monroe (25) Khris Middleton (24) Giannis Antetokounmpo (21) 4
OKC Kevin Durant (27) Russell Westbrook (27) Enes Kanter (23) 4
SAC Rajon Rondo (29) Darren Collison (28) DeMarcus Cousins (25) 4
ATL Paul Millsap (30) Al Horford (29) Jeff Teague (27) 3
BOS Amir Johnson (28) Isaiah Thomas (26) Jae Crowder (25) 3
PHO Tyson Chandler (33) P.J. Tucker (30) Mirza Teletovic (30) 3
GSW Stephen Curry (27) Klay Thompson (25) Draymond Green (25) 2
UTA Gordon Hayward (25) Derrick Favors (24) Rudy Gobert (23) 2
BRK Donald Sloan (28) Brook Lopez (27) Thaddeus Young (27) 1
POR Ed Davis (26) Mason Plumlee (25) Damian Lillard (25) 1

Porzingis spent much of the season second to Melo on the Knicks in win shares, but a late-season slump allowed Lopez to pass him. Over the rookie wall next season (and maybe over Rambis), Porzingis figures to be even better next year.

Plus, Porzingis projects as a center long-term, and Melo has thrived at power forward. If the Knicks are committed to those two, Lopez could be moved.

That all adds up to the likelihood of Melo and Porzingis ranking 1-2 on the team in win shares.

Here are the other teams in the previous 10 years with a top two in win shares who are at least 10 years apart in age:

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Team Older Younger Age range (years)
2016 NYK? Carmelo Anthony (32) Kristaps Porzingis (21) 11
2015 SAS Tim Duncan (38) Kawhi Leonard (23) 15
2014 SAS Tim Duncan (37) Kawhi Leonard (22) 15
2014 IND David West (33) Paul George (23) 10
2013 DAL Vince Carter (36) Darren Collison (25) 11
2012 PHO Steve Nash (37) Marcin Gortat (27) 10
2012 CLE Antawn Jamison (35) Kyrie Irving (19) 16
2011 PHO Steve Nash (36) Jared Dudley (25) 11
2011 CLE Antawn Jamison (34) Ramon Sessions (24) 10
2010 DET Ben Wallace (35) Jonas Jerebko (22) 13
2009 LAC Marcus Camby (34) Eric Gordon (20) 14
2007 ORL Grant Hill (34) Dwight Howard (21) 13
2007 DEN Marcus Camby (32) Carmelo Anthony (22) 10

History is not on the side of Porzingis and Melo lasting together.

Of the above pairings, just two lasted more than one additional season together: Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard (who are still going) and Ben Wallace and Jonas Jerebko (who played two more seasons with the Pistons).

The Knicks don’t want to emulate that directionless Detroit era, and they probably can’t copy the Spurs. Duncan is historic in his longevity, just as Leonard is in his development.

For now, Melo and Porzingis have mostly said the right things about their potentially awkward partnership.

“He’s been like a big brother to me,” Porzingis said. “…Learning from him and having him at my side – what better situation can you ask for as a rookie?”

But is this the situation Melo seeks as a veteran? Teaching a youngster who’s not ready to play a prominent role on a contender?

Porzingis won’t talk about how quickly he can reach that level, and Melo is loathe to discuss how much longer he can produce like a star.

“If my prime would overlap with him, I would love that,” Melo said. “But…”

Melo trails off, no clear answer to this difficult question.

Five takeaways from NBA Tuesday: Should Warriors think rest not record?

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What you missed from a night around the NBA while cooking breakfast for yourself and 10,000 of your closest friends….

1) Warriors blow lead at home and lose to Timberwolves, should Steve Kerr start thinking rest over record?
I know that Steve Kerr said the Warriors are not pushing for 73 wins. I know after Tuesday’s loss Kerr denied that fatigue was an issue and part of the reason they have lost two-of-three at home. But the reality is the Warriors have been sloppy with the ball of late — 23 against the Timberwolves Tuesday — and if Stephen Curry‘s shooting can’t bail them out (21 points on 25 shots Tuesday, 0-of-8 in the first half) they are vulnerable. Curry looks tired to me, and that’s why the shots aren’t falling. Which brings us to the issue of rest.

It’s not necessarily physical, but Draymond Green admitted the team has seemingly been distracted by the chase for 73 wins — a number that will be hard to reach after the Warriors blew a 17-point lead and fell to Minnesota in overtime 124-117 Tuesday. Golden State is now 69-9 and would need to go 4-0 the rest of the way to break the record. They have two games left against beat up Memphis, and two left against the Spurs. But if they are serious about winning a title, a little mental break and some rest before the playoffs start may be what the team needs.

The Warriors finally got healthy Tuesday — Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut were back — but the bench had its worst outing in recent memory. The Warriors defense was not sharp all night, allowing open looks and space for drives — particularly by Andrew Wiggins, who had 32 points on 11-of-19 shooting. Curry and the offense could not cover up that play one more time, not against an improving Timberwolves team. The Warriors need to get right before the games get more serious in a couple of weeks, and if rest is part of that it should come as a higher priority than a regular season wins record.

2) Bulls playoff dreams on life support after loss to Grizzlies (while Memphis’ look solid again). Let’s be honest: The Chicago Bulls are not making the playoffs. Chicago is two games back of Detroit with four to play — and the Pistons have the tiebreaker. Chicago would need to win out — including beating Cleveland and Miami the rest of this week — and hope the Pistons lose three out of four so Chicago can get in the postseason. While technically not impossible, that’s not happening.

That’s the reality of Chicago’s 108-92 loss to Memphis Tuesday. Jimmy Butler is trying to play through pain but is clearly not right (2-of-8 shooting for 5 points), Derrick Rose is never going to be the guy who can carry a team again, Pau Gasol is solid but at age 35 is past his prime, and the Bulls defense is terrible. That’s not a playoff team.

The win ends Memphis’ six-game losing streak and should stop talk of them falling out of the playoffs — the Grizzlies are 3.5 games up on nine-seed Houston with four to play. Zach Randolph‘s 27 points and 10 boards secured the crucial win. That said, the banged up Grizzlies are the team everyone in the top half of the West would prefer to play in the first round of the playoffs, this team is a shell of its former self.

3) Kawhi Leonard hits the game winner as Spurs edge Jazz. Utah is a feisty team that will not go quietly, something the Spurs — the full complement of Spurs, the big names all played — learned the hard way Tuesday night. Utah fought from 16 back to make it a game, but in the end, there was Leonard hitting the contested shot to win the game. This could be a first round series preview, and if so I’ll take it — this would be a fun matchup.

4) This year’s Sixers will not be the worst team in NBA history, win 10th game. The Sixers are bad — 10-68 on the season — but they are not historically bad. Which is something, I guess. Tuesday the Sixers beat what’s left of the injury-ravaged Pelican’s roster 107-93 thanks to 22 points from Carl Landry. That gives the Sixers 10 wins on the season, better than the all-time low for an 82-game season (9-73 by the 1972-73 76ers). Not sure that’s a reason to throw a party, but avoiding ignominy is a good thing.

5) Another day, another Russell Westbrook triple double. Westbrook now has 17 triple doubles on the season, after grabbing another — 13 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists — in the Thunder’s 124-102 win against Denver. As I noted in the last PBT Podcast, Westbrook would be second on my MVP ballot, he’s been that special this season.

76ers avoid NBA record for losses in a season

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PHILADELPHIA — These 76ers are relieved not to be part of history.

Carl Landry scored 22 points to lead Philadelphia to a 107-93 victory over the injury-depleted New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night, ensuring that the 76ers won’t tie their own league record for fewest victories in an 82-game season.

“We didn’t want to be a part of that,” Landry said. “We tried to do whatever it took to lock in, in practice, in film sessions and just have a carryover to each and every game.”

Philadelphia improved to 10-68 and now is one win clear of the 1972-73 76ers, who set an NBA mark for futility with a 9-73 mark. The 76ers have four games remaining.

“We hope to get a few more before our season ends,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said, adding he was happy for his players.

“They’re good people, they genuinely care (and) they put in a fantastic day’s work,” he said. “Our record wouldn’t indicate that, but they do. And so to get a win and just move on, they deserve that.”

Isaiah Canaan added 16 points for the 76ers, who snapped a 12-game losing streak while winning for just the second time in the last 27 contests.

Landry made his first nine shots before finishing 9 for 10 from the field, including tying a career high with two 3-pointers.

Dante Cunningham led the Pelicans with 19 points and Alexis Ajinca chipped in 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Data curated by PointAfter

The game had more of a D-League feel to it.

The Pelicans started five players who have combined to start just 76 games this season. And only Tim Frazier, whom the Pelicans signed on March 16, entered averaging more than 7.6 points. Joining Frazier in New Orleans’ starting five were Luke Babbitt, Toney Douglas, Ajinca and Cunningham.

The Pelicans were missing nearly 100 points of scoring without injured players Anthony Davis (left knee), Ryan Anderson (sports hernia), Tyreke Evans (right knee), Eric Gordon (fractured right ring finger), Jrue Holiday (right inferior orbital wall fracture) and Norris Cole (lower back).

“We don’t have any excuses,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “You have to make do with what you have. There’s no sympathy in this league.”

Helped by Landry’s 10 third-quarter points in just 4 1/2 minutes, Philadelphia took an 88-73 lead into the final period.

The 76ers used a 10-3 run to open the final quarter to go in front 98-78 with 9 minutes remaining. T.J. McConnell capped the spurt with a spinning, driving layup that drew fans in the crowd of 10,978 to their feet.

“I didn’t see it tonight,” Gentry said. “I thought we were trying, but we just didn’t have that energy we usually have.”

M-V-P! M-V-P!

The fans serenaded Landry with chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P” late in the game, something not heard on Philadelphia’s home court since the days of recent Hall of Fame inductee Allen Iverson.

Even Landry was surprised by the crowd’s reaction.

“I was like, `What? MVP? Me?”‘ he said. “It was funny. It definitely put a smile on my face, and it makes me feel good.

“It definitely made me feel good that the fans of Philly, blue-collar people, the majority of them, appreciate the effort that I put in, each and every day.”

VILLANOVA PROUD

Cunningham, a member of Villanova’s 2009 Final Four team, wore his Final Four jersey and a Wildcats hat in the visiting locker room after the game.

He’s been connecting with former teammates and coach Jay Wright over the last 24 hours.

“I haven’t been able to keep my phone charged,” he said. “I’ve been texting the whole time. It’s been awesome.”

Along with his Pelicans teammates, Cunningham watched the championship game from a private room in a Philadelphia steakhouse.

“I was screaming the whole time,” he said. “It was good.”

He hoped to catch up with Wright and the Wildcats upon their return to Philadelphia on Tuesday, but their arrival didn’t match the Pelicans’ schedule.

Cunningham received cheers during pregame introductions.

TIP-INS

Pelicans: The Pelicans beat the 76ers 121-114 on Feb. 19 in New Orleans. … The Pelicans, who entered on a two-game winning streak, last won three straight games Jan. 19-23. … Frazier averaged 5.7 points and 7.2 assists in six games with the 76ers last season. He finished with 12 points.

76ers: The crowd erupted in loud cheers in the first quarter when the 76ers replayed Kris Jenkins’ game-winning shot from Villanova’s national championship victory over North Carolina on Monday night. … Canaan strained his left shoulder in the third quarter but later returned. … Elton Brand made his first start in his 15th game for the 76ers. Brand finished with two points.

UP NEXT

Pelicans: At Boston on Wednesday night.

76ers: Host Knicks on Friday night.

76ers got too young. Then, they got Elton Brand

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The 76ers signed Elton Brand in January to mentor a young roster and provide veteran perspective. The organization wanted someone to guide the team’s numerous millennial players, including the one who one day asked Brand:

How did you talk talk to girls before social media?

“We went outside,” Brand said with a chuckle, declining to name the teammate.

The 37-year-old Brand – nine years older than all but one of his teammates and 13 years older than most of them – has proved an intriguing fit in Philadelphia. The 76ers have an average age – weight by playing time, holding a player’s age constant on Feb. 1 – of 23.3. That’s the youngest in the NBA:

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Philadelphia was the NBA’s youngest team two years ago, got even younger last season and was headed toward record-setting youth this season. Even 76ers coach Brett Brown acknowledged the team might have gotten too young, calling a pre-Christmas stretch – including Jahlil Okafor‘s off-court problems – the team’s “dark days.”

“There was six games maybe where you really scratch your head, and you worry, because we got punched hard in the stomach and the wind was taken out of us,” Brown said.

The 76ers hired Jerry Colangelo, traded for 27-year-old Ish Smith and signed Brand. Carl Landry – who, at 32, is easily the team’s second-oldest player – got healthy. Philadelphia’s youngest player, 20-year-old Okafor, got hurt.

Gradually the 76ers’ average age climbed out of record-breaking territory. With just five games left, Philadelphia appears set to finish with the fifth-youngest team of all time – ahead of only the 2005-06 Hawks, 2000-01 Bulls, 2009-10 Thunder and 2015-16 76ers. Here’s how this year’s Philadelphia team’s average evolved through the season:

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The 76ers are so young, 21-year-old Nerlens Noel – in only his second season of playing – is expected to lead. Though he’s in his third NBA season after missing the first due to injury, Noel is still Philadelphia’s third-youngest player (ahead of only Okafor and Christian Wood).

“Honestly, I feel a veteran right now,” Noel said. “I try to help all the younger guys.”

Brown could use the help.

“The magnitude, the volume of that task is significant beyond anything you could’ve sort of guessed,” said Brown, who previously worked as a Spurs assistant coach. “I was spoiled with Ginobili and Parker and Duncan and veterans and gold medalists and NBA All-Stars and MVPs. And it’s a whole different planet that I’m on right now. And I love it. I love it.”

Just because Brown loves it doesn’t mean it’s never challenging.

The 76ers will become just the third team to stand as the NBA’s youngest three straight seasons, joining the 1965-67 Pistons and 1984-86 Pacers. That means three straight seasons of teaching basics. And re-teaching… and re-teaching…

“It happens – and I mean this – it’ll happen 20 times a day,” Brown said.

That’s why Brown is so happy to have Brand around.

Brown can handle practices and games, but he worries about times coaches aren’t around – in the locker room, on the bus, on the road. In those moments, Brand’s voice is key.

The 76ers were 1-24 when word leaked they were interested in Brand, and they bottomed out at 1-30. Brand did his best to shut down any petty griping.

“When I first got here, I kind of felt a little bit of that, ‘Oh, they’re picking on us,” Brand said. “One of my quotes, I told them, I said, ‘Man, we’re last place in the world.’ I was like, ‘We’re last place in the whole world.'”

Though Brand went two months without playing in a game after signing, Brown praised his contributions.

“The power that he wields now, the power that he shares information with the team, is an A-plus,” Brown said before Brand made his season debut. “And if you said that’s all you’re going to get for the rest of the year, I’d give him a big hug and say thank you.”

Brand initially focused on playing hard in practice. As part of Team USA for the 1999 Tournament of the Americas, Brand watched NBA veteran teammates Tim Duncan, Gary Payton, Tom Gugliotta and Jason Kidd. When Brand finished practice, he’d leave to get a sandwich. They stayed for extra workouts.

That made an impression on Brand, who was just drafted No. 1 by the Bulls.

A year later, Chicago would be the second-youngest team of all time. Brand laughs about how he’s come full circle, though he’s quick to note how much veteran leadership he received as a rookie before the Bulls committed more fully to rebuilding.

Brand wants to pass on the lessons he learned, including training hard between games – even when his 37-year-old body isn’t the most cooperative.

“I kind of have to. That’s my role,” Brand said. “Extra treadmill, extra – when we play full court, I’m trying to kick ass. Some days, I am. Some days, eh. But I’m going hard – took a charge in pickup, dove for a loose ball in pick up.”

Brand differs from most veterans, because he’s not worried about a younger player taking his job. He already announced his semi-retirement once. He doesn’t sound like someone who’d mind his career ending here and returning to picking and dropping off his children at school.

This is not the same Brand who became an All-Star with the Clippers.

“Whoever was behind me wanted my spot,” Brand said. “He wanted my spot. If he didn’t play, he was sulking kind of. That guy would be like, ‘I should be playing.’

“I don’t want to take an opportunity from the young guys to grow. Me playing 12, 15 minutes, Richaun Holmes could’ve had that 12 or 15 – you know what I mean? – and really got NBA action.

With the 76ers facing frontcourt injuries, Brand has moved in the rotation. But his mission remains similar: Helping the team’s young players grow. He beams when talking about the progress of Okafor and Holmes.

Brand might be a positive influence, but he alone has not changed Philadelphia’s identity. This team is too young for one player to do that.

The 76ers know who they are, and they embrace it.

“It’s a great experience, being able to have so many guys around the same age, very common goals and common understandings. We all listen to the same music and all that,” Noel said. “So, it’s great. We get a long great.”