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NBA AM: Who Could Make A Play For Carmelo Anthony?

If the Knicks are making calls on a Carmelo Anthony trade, there are some teams that make sense.

Steve Kyler

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Can The Knicks Move Carmelo Anthony?

Yesterday, ESPN’s Chris Haynes and Marc Stein dropped a report suggesting that the New York Knicks had reached out to the Cleveland Cavaliers to try and start a dialogue on a trade. The idea was centered on Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony heading to Cleveland in exchange for forward Kevin Love. The report says the talks never got anywhere and that Anthony was never consulted on the idea, but it brings the question front and center: can the Knicks trade Anthony?

Over the past few weeks, Anthony has repeatedly been asked if he would agree to waive the no-trade clause in his contract. His response was always that he hadn’t thought about it seriously, but if the Knicks told him they felt the current team needed to be broken up, he’d listen.

The report from Charley Rosen of FanRag Sports that started all of the Anthony trade talk listed two teams as destinations agreeable to Anthony: the Los Angeles Clippers and the Cleveland Cavaliers, with the notion being that Anthony would perhaps consider the Lakers.

So, let’s look at each situation that makes sense and what it would take if Anthony indeed decided to waive his no-trade clause:

The Cleveland Cavaliers

As the ESPN reports suggested, the Cavaliers had no interest in doing an Anthony deal, mainly because they do not have the assets to make a deal that would not involve a core player from last season’s championship team. As a tax team, the Cavs would incur a huge penalty in taking on more cash than they send out in a trade and they are restricted in how much they can add to the payroll in trade.

While the idea of Melo joining the Cavs seems interesting on the surface, making a Melo trade work in-season would be very tough for the Cavaliers. That is before you factor in all of the issues with Melo’s game and how the Cavaliers want to play.

The Cavaliers have a depth problem now. Adding another large salary is not the answer the Cavaliers are looking for, although it is a fun headline for the situation.

The Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers are interesting for a few reasons. The window for the Clippers is not going to get any more open than it is, and despite the injuries, if the Clippers were healthy, they’d still be a little short of the Golden State Warriors in the West. Adding Anthony would be a big move for the team and they could do it financially without giving up one of their three core players. The problem for the Clippers is they are hard-capped, so they must send out at least what they take back in a trade. While it’s possible to work something out, the Clippers wouldn’t be giving the Knicks great value for Anthony, an All-Star. That is, unless a third team with assets got involved.

Let’s say the Clippers put Austin Rivers ($11 million), J.J. Redick ($7.37 million) and Wes Johnson ($5.62 million) on the table. That’s enough to get the deal done under the cap. The problem is that’s there’s no great value for the Knicks in this scenario. While it would get the Knicks out of Anthony, both Rivers and Johnson have years remaining on their deals. While both could be complimentary additions, they do not represent a future for the Knicks, which would probably be a requisite in any deal.

Could the Clippers find a third team willing to give up draft picks or rookie scale player for the ending contract of Redick? That would be the art of the deal.

There is little doubt that landing Anthony would be a huge get for the Clippers; the problem is they don’t have much outside of their core three players to offer, and it’s not likely the Clippers consider that for Anthony.

The Los Angeles Lakers

If Anthony would genuinely consider the Lakers, they do have the pieces to make an interesting play for the Knicks.

The Lakers have the salary to send. Some combination of Lou Williams ($7 million), Nick Young ($5.44 million), Jordan Clarkson ($12 million) and Luol Deng ($18 million) would likely be involved. A few combinations of those players makes the math work under the cap. One should also consider that the Lakers could, in theory, offer a promising young guy in Brandon Ingram ($5.332 million). He does, after all, play the same position as Anthony. A deal with the Lakers may yield the best package the Knicks could hope for. It also gets the Lakers a star player to pair with D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance.

There are a couple of other factors to consider. There is pressure for the Lakers to the right the ship. While the Lakers have talked about being okay with the slow rebuild, there is a growing sense in NBA circles that the franchise might pull off a deal to jump start the team that’s currently 16-33 and in last place in the Western Conference.

There has been a long-running dialogue that if the Lakers don’t turn the corner, big changes could be coming to the front office, including the ouster of Jim Buss as vice president of basketball operations. Mitch Kupchak could also possibly be out as general manager. With the proverbial clock ticking in the background, do both make the dare-to-be-great play on Anthony? Would he agree to join a Laker team with such a young core?

The Lakers could make a compelling trade offer; the question is would they and would the Knicks and Anthony seriously consider it?

The Boston Celtics

The Celtics do not seem as interested in Anthony as you would think. Sources close to the situation were non-committal about whether the Celtics have been engaged in the Anthony situation but did point out some things about the Celtics team that signaled maybe Anthony was not the right fit.

The Celtics are a defense first team that has been built around the idea of a defensive mindset. All of the players the Celtics have collected, especially in the draft, have been known for their athleticism and defense. The Celtics want to run and they want to attack defensively. That’s not Anthony.

The Celtics pride themselves in high basketball I.Q. players who play smart. That’s probably not Anthony, either.

There is no question adding Anthony would make the Celtics a bona fide contender in the Eastern Conference, especially if they did not have to give up their core talents. The beauty of the Celtics roster is they have plenty of guys.

The Celtics could build a package centered around Amir Johnson ($12 million), Jonas Jerebko ($5 million) and James Young ($1.85 million) and get most of the way to Anthony’s $24.55 million salary. Each of the aforementioned contracts are also in their final year, that’s also important. The Celtics could sprinkle in some upside youth in Terry Rozier ($1.9 million), Jaylen Brown ($4.743 million) and Demetrius Jackson ($1.45 million) and still not touch a core player. To top it off, there is the pocketful of future draft picks that the franchise owns that could sweeten any deal, including the rights to swap picks with Brooklyn this year.

The Celtics have the pieces to make a deal and give the Knicks future cap flexibility, some youth and potentially a promising draft pick. The problem is it does not seem like Anthony is what the Celtics want and it’s also not clear whether Anthony would even agree to join the Celtics.

The Celtics are legitimately one player away, but is Anthony the right player for how they want to play? The answer there might be “No.”

The Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic desperately need a star player. The Magic have a lot of things they could trade, and Anthony is exactly what the Magic franchise is missing – a “go-to guy.”

There are big issues with Orlando being a serious consideration for Anthony. The biggest is that he wouldn’t likely agree to a trade there. The Orlando market is as far from New York’s glitz and glamor as any city in the NBA, and the team is dreadfully bad in many phases of the game. One league source said Anthony would be better suited staying in New York than agreeing to the Magic, but let’s play the game anyway.

The Magic do have the salaries to send in a deal, Jeff Green ($15 million), Serge Ibaka ($12.25 million), Nikola Vucevic ($11.75 million) and Jodie Meeks ($6.54 million) would work, and all but Vucevic are ending contracts.

The Magic have some youth they could package in like Aaron Gordon ($4.35 million), Elfrid Payton ($2.613 million) and Mario Hezonja ($3.909 million). The Magic also have draft picks they could send.

Like the Celtics, the Magic could make a deal without compromising what’s truly their core. They do have a known quantity in head coach Frank Vogel. The question circles back to whether Anthony agree to a move to Central Florida.

The Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls got awfully close to landing Anthony when he was a free agent in 2014. The Knicks won out with their checkbook, but given where the Bulls are right now, is making a play for Anthony in a trade smart? It might be.

The Bulls have never been a “tear it down and rebuild” kind of franchise. In fact, ownership has had a “playoffs or else” mindset for some time, which is why the Bulls are stuck where they are.

The Bulls do have the pieces to make a trade work under the cap, and they do have some guys they could send New York that have some upside.

Regarding contract money, the Bulls have Rajon Rondo ($14 million), Taj Gibson ($8.95 million) and Nikola Mirotic ($5.782 million). Rondo and Mirotic almost get the math done, and both are ending contracts.

Factor in the fact that the Bulls have young guys like Denzel Valentine ($2.09 million), Bobby Portis ($1.45 million) and Michael Carter-Williams ($3.183 million) who have not exactly had big roles in Chicago and the Bulls have the pieces to make a very interesting offer.

If Anthony still feels the same way about the Chicago market as he did in 2014, there is a chance that the Bulls and Knicks could solve each other’s problems.

There would be some duplication problems for the Bulls to sort out, but the Bulls would all of a sudden have a respectable big three in Dwayne Wade, Jimmy Butler, and Anthony. That might not win a championship, but it would be a far scarier playoff team than currently constructed.

The Field

Let’s talk about the rest of the league for a minute. There are some outliers to consider. Anthony likely does not agree to a trade with a team clearly on the decline. He also isn’t going to agree mid-season to something unfavorable to his lifestyle and his family. That’s something people close to Anthony have been saying for a while.

All of that said, wouldn’t Anthony be an interesting fit in New Orleans? The Phoenix Suns have all the parts to make a play for Anthony, and he’d fit in nicely with all of the young guys they have. The Miami HEAT would be interesting. They are looking to fast-track a rebuild, and everyone loves South Beach. The “dare to be great” move for the Sacramento Kings would be an Anthony and Cousins duo. The Kings also have the pieces to make a trade workable for the Knicks, but does Anthony agree to Sacramento?

Keep in mind that no matter what the Knicks may want to happen in this equation Anthony controls the process. He can determine where he lands and has tremendous influence on what’s on the roster when he gets there. If Anthony does not feel like the new team offers a better shot than the Knicks, he can simply say “No” and ride out the situation.

Proponents of a trade often say the Knicks could force Anthony’s hand by refusing to play him or reducing his minutes or touches. While that is certainly true, the Knicks do have to rebuild after Anthony is gone and treating him poorly to force him out the door could have lasting and damaging repercussions as players and agents around the league will be watching how the Knicks treat Anthony, so it’s important the Knicks play this thing correctly.

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NBA Daily: Spurs Enter New Territory After Moving Parker To Reserve Role

The San Antonio Spurs are seemingly entering a new phase as Tony Parker has been moved to a reserve role.

James Blancarte

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San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg made a significant change to his rotation earlier this week. On Sunday, January 21 Popovich placed guard Dejounte Murray into the starting lineup in place of Tony Parker. The Spurs went on to lose the game at home to the Indiana Pacers. The result was the same as a losing effort in Friday’s matchup against the Toronto Raptors in Toronto.

The San Antonio Spurs came into the 2017-18 hoping to bounce back from last year’s playoffs where the team suffered injuries to Kawhi Leonard and Parker and eventually lost to the Golden State Warriors. This season started off with the Spurs surviving without Leonard and Parker as the two continued to rehab from lingering injuries. As of now, Leonard is once again taking time off to rehabilitate after playing in nine games while Parker has been able to stay healthy so far. Unfortunately, being healthy enough to play doesn’t make up for the inevitable decline that comes with age and injuries.

On the season, Parker is averaging a career low in minutes (21.6), assists (4.0) and points (8.2), as well as free throws made and attempted per game. His usage rate, player efficiency rating (PER) and shooting percentages are also all at or around career lows. It’s hard to argue against the notion that Parker, at 35 years old with 17 years of pro basketball under his belt, is in the twilight of his impressive career.

Parker has acknowledged his demotion but seems to be handling it like a true professional.

“[Popovich] told me he thought it was time, and I was like, ‘no problem.’ Just like Manu [Ginobili], just like Pau [Gasol], you know that day is going to come,” Parker said recently. .

Before Sunday’s game, Parker had started 1151 of 1164 games played, all with the Spurs of course.

Popovich was asked specifically if the plan was either to start Murray at point guard moving forward or if this switch in the lineup was a part of some kind of injury management program for Parker. Never known for being overly loquacious, Popovich responded with little detail or insight.

“We’ll see,” Popovich stated.

In the starting lineup, Murray logged eight points, four assists, seven rebounds, three steals and one block in nearly 28 minutes of action. Murray had previously started before Parker returned from injury earlier this season but eventually relinquished that spot to career reserve guard Patty Mills.

Parker also spoke of the benefit of coming off the bench and potentially mentoring Murray’s growth in his new presumed role as the starter.

“If Pop [Coach Popovich] sees something that is good for the team, I will try to do my best,” Parker said. “I will support Pop’s decision and I will try to help DJ [Murray] as best as I can and try to be the best I can in the second unit with Manu [Ginobili] and Patty [Mills].”

If nothing else, this move will allow the Spurs to see if Parker can be more effective in limited minutes against opposing bench units. Additionally, Parker will hopefully benefit from playing alongside his longtime running mate, Ginobli.

Parker’s willingness to mentor Murray may come as a relief to Spurs fans watching the ongoing dismantling of San Antonio’s former Big-3, which began with the retirement of future Hall-of-Famer, Tim Duncan. At 6-foot-5, Murray benefits from greater size and athleticism than Parker, although Murray failed to keep the starting job when given an opportunity earlier this season. Coach Popovich gave another straightforward answer when asked which areas he thinks Murray can improve in.

“He’s 21-years-old,” Popovich declared. “He can improve in all areas.”

After asking for a trade in the offseason, the Spurs have benefited from focusing their offense around LaMarcus Aldridge, who is having a bounce-back campaign. However, Leonard is now out indefinitely and the Minnesota Timberwolves have now caught the Spurs in the standings. The pressure is on for this resilient Spurs team, which has again managed to beat the odds despite an injured and aging roster.

Parker became a starter for the Spurs at age 19 and never looked back. Now all eyes are on Murray to see how well he performs in his second stint with the starters at a crucial point in the season.

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Sources: Milwaukee Bucks Fire Coach Jason Kidd

Basketball Insiders

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The Milwaukee Bucks have fired coach Jason Kidd, sources ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Source: Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN

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Defensive Player Of The Year Watch – 1/22/17

Spencer Davies checks into the DPOY race with his latest list of candidates.

Spencer Davies

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It’s a new year and Basketball Insiders is continuing its Defensive Player of the Year watch with sample sizes widening and new players emerging in the conversation.

There were a couple of names knocked out of the list, but that gives more of a spotlight to those who have really stepped up since our last edition ran on December 29. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

 6. Hassan Whiteside

After missing nearly a month of action with a knee injury, Whiteside has returned with a vengeance. The Miami HEAT were already a good defensive team before he came back, but he’s really bolstered that reputation even further. Since Dec. 26, the 7-foot center has recorded eight multi-block games. In five of those, he had at least four swats, including a six-rejection performance in a win at Milwaukee. Overall in ESPN’s Defensive Real-Plus Minus, Whiteside owns by far the best rating at 4.73. “Agent Block” is back and daring all comers to try him.

5. Anthony Davis

Slowly but surely, the New Orleans Pelicans are creeping away from the bottom of the league in defensive rating. Once ranked in the bottom five a few weeks ago, they’ve shot up to 18th in the league (108.4) rather quickly. While that’s not the most impressive statistic to provide, the obvious reason for their improved standing on that end of the floor is Davis. He’s been an absolute workhorse for Alvin Gentry in the restricted area as an elite rim protector, with a heavy responsibility and a ton of minutes. Without him on the floor, the Pels are allowing 8.9 more points per 100 possessions, which puts Davis in the 96th percentile according to Cleaning The Glass.

4. Josh Richardson

Notice there are two members of the HEAT on this list. It’s because they are on fire right now, no pun intended, so it’s about time they received some love in the conversation for DPOY. Whiteside was addressed first, but if we’re talking about a greater sample size with consistent evidence, Richardson fits the bill. Opponents are attempting over 11 shots per game against him, yet are only making 38.9 percent of those tries. That’s the lowest conversion rate in the league with a minimum of 10 attempts.

Battling injuries a season ago, Richardson has played in all 46 games for Miami this year. While it’s been a team effort, he is the heart and soul of Erik Spoelstra’s defense, taking on the most difficult assignments each game. For that reason, he deserves long overdue recognition on this list.

3. Kevin Durant

This isn’t a case where Durant is slipping because of his performances. He’s only ranked third this time around because of the job others have done outside of him. The Golden State Warriors are still a juggernaut on both sides of the court. He’s still a top-notch individual defender. The numbers don’t suggest otherwise and the eye test certainly confirms it.

In isolation situations, Durant is allowing only 0.53 points per possession, which is second in the NBA to only Tony Snell. When it comes to crunch time, he’s always locking up. In fourth quarters, he is limiting the competition to shooting less than 30 percent—and his defended field goal percentage and field goal percentage discrepancy is the best in the league at -17.2. He’s got as good of a chance as anybody to take home DPOY.

2. Joel Embiid

Everybody loves to focus on the off-court antics and hilarities that come with Embiid, but the man deserves his due when it comes to his reputation in the NBA as a truly dominant big. The Philadelphia 76ers have won seven out of their last eight games and it has started on the defensive end of the floor.

Take the games against Boston, for example. Al Horford is a crucial part of the Celtics offense and has had problems getting going against the 23-year-old. In the 22 minutes per game, he’s been on the floor along with him, Horford has been held to below 30 percent from the field on an average of nine attempts. With Embiid off, he’s converted nearly 73 percent of his tries.

Another matchup you can examine is with Andre Drummond. The two have had their fair share of words with each other, but Embiid’s had the edge one-on-one. Similar to Horford, the Detroit Pistons big man has had a rough time against him. Embiid has limited Drummond to under 38 percent on five attempts per game in an average of over 23 minutes on the floor together. When he’s not playing, Drummond has had close to a 78 percent success rate.

Regarding centers, Embiid ranks second in ESPN’s DRPM and fifth in Basketball Reference’s Defensive Box Plus-Minus. Citing Cleaning The Glass, the Sixers are allowing 10 more points per 100 possessions when he’s sitting, which slots Embiid into the 97th percentile.

He’s altering shots. He’s blocking shots. He’s forcing kick outs. And that’s a big reason why the NBA gave Embiid its Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors. Trust The Process.

1. Paul George

Basketball Insiders was well represented this past Saturday in Cleveland when the Oklahoma City Thunder decimated the Cavaliers in their own building. The focus was on the “OK3” exposing a terrible defense, but the real story in this game was how in-tune and sound George was on both ends of the court. He was sizzling shooting the basketball, but perhaps more defining was shutting down LeBron James on a day that was supposed to belong to him.

Any time 23 got the ball to try and get the Cavs going, George was there. He suffocated him with pressure, forcing James into bad decisions and contested shots. The talk of the day was the 30,000-point mark, but PG-13 had other ideas.

“I was hopeful that it took two games for him to get to that,” George said after the 148-124 win at Quicken Loans Arena. “I actually didn’t know that stat until right before coming into [Saturday]. They told me he needed 25 to go to 30,000. I’ve been a part of a lot of those baskets that he’s had, so that’s an achievement or milestone I didn’t want to be a part of.”

Thunder teammate Steven Adams spoke to his prowess on that end of the floor.

“He’s a really good defender man,” Adams said. “It was like a perfect matchup, honestly. He played LeBron really well in terms of our system and what we want him doing. He did an amazing job there.”

Oklahoma City head coach Billy Donovan is a huge fan as well.

“He really I think puts forth good effort,” Donovan said pre-game. “He’s long, smart. He’s disruptive. He’s got good feet. He’s a physical defender. He’s hard to shoot over. Certainly, with he and Andre [Roberson] on the wings, that’s certainly bolstered our defense.”

That was one performance, but it’s obvious how much George brings to the table as one of the toughest guys to score on in this league. He’s got a league-leading 188 deflections and is tied with Eric Bledsoe at the top of the NBA with 2.2 steals per game.

Recently, the Thunder have allowed 91 points at most in three of their last four games. They are also in the top three allowing just 104.7 points per 100 possessions and George has been a huge part of that.

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