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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

Trae Young Believes He’s NBA Ready

Trae Young has exceeded expectations since his freshman year of college, and he believes he will continue to do so in the NBA

Matt John

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Before the collegiate season started, many believed that the best players in the upcoming NBA draft were going to be bigs. DeAndre Ayton, Mo Bamba, and Michael Porter Jr., all of whom were 6’10’’ or taller, were considered to be among the top prospects coming out of the NCAA, but Trae Young had something to say about that.

Coming out of high school, Young was regarded as one of the better incoming freshmen, but not among the best of the best. Young ranked no. 23 in ESPN’s top 100 in 2017 and was ranked third among point guards, behind Collin Sexton and Jaylen Hands, which led to low expectations for him. Young proved right out of the gate that he was much better than the scouts had rated him.

Young tore up college ball as an Oklahoma Sooner, as he averaged 27.2 points and 8.7 assists while shooting 42 percent from the field including 36 percent from three. While Young’s play made him stand out among his peers, it didn’t translate into much success on the court. The Sooners went 18-14 on the season and were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Now that the season is over, Young is shifting his focus to his next stop: the NBA. With the draft coming up in just a little over a month, only one word comes to mind when describing Young’s current mindset: Confidence.

“I bring a lot of things to the next level. I think I would bring an immediate impact off the court as much as I do on the court,” Young said at the NBA combine. “I can space out the defense. I can attack defenders in multiple ways, get my teammates involved. I think I can pretty much do it all for a team and I’m looking forward to whichever team I go to and making a huge impact.”

While Young is not expected to be picked in the top five, he should be picked between the six to ten range. Any player who is selected in that range has to work his absolute hardest to live up to the lengthy expectations that he will certainly face once he enters the NBA. Young luckily sounds like he is up to the task.

“I prepared extremely hard coming into the college season and making a huge impact right away, and I’m working two times as hard this summer preparing to get into the NBA level,” Young said. “I want to make a huge impact right away.”

Young is expected to be a high lottery pick, but he doesn’t care much for where he is selected as much as he cares about going to the team that suits him best.

“My main focus is going to the right team. It’s not about going one, two, three or 30. You see a lot of guys going in the second round in certain years that make big impacts for teams,” Young said. “It’s all about the fit for me. Whether that’s one or whether that’s whatever it is, I’m going to be happy and I’m going to be ready to make an impact.”

Young’s expected high draft position stems from his electrifying play as a scorer in college. Young’s performance for Oklahoma his freshman year was impressive enough to draw comparisons to NBA megastar Stephen Curry. While Young is flattered to be mentioned in the same breath as Curry, he takes pride in being his own player.

“He’s a two-time MVP and a champion. I mean, I love the comparison but I feel like I bring a lot of different things from different players’ games to the table,” Young said. “I’m just trying to be the best version of Trae Young. That’s all that matters to me. I’m just getting started in this thing so hopefully I can achieve some of those things.”

Young’s skillset may remind fans of Curry, but Young prides himself on modeling his game after his favorite player of all time: Steve Nash.

“With his size and my size, we’re pretty similar,” Young said. “He is very cerebral. He can score on all three levels and he knows how to get his teammates involved. He’s a winner so I feel like a lot of his characteristics match with mine.”

Those who have watched Young know of his offensive repertoire, but skeptics have pointed to his defensive shortcomings as a red flag. Young, however, believes his play at the combine will show that he can be a positive on the other side of the ball.

“I’m excited about having the opportunity to show people that I can play defense, and I’m excited to show that from day one,”

When all is said and done, Young may very well wind up being the most prolific scorer to come out of what many believe is a loaded draft, but Young has much bigger ambitions in mind for his career.

“I think I’m the best overall player in this draft, but my main focus isn’t necessarily to be the best player in this draft,” Young said. “My goal is to be the best player in the NBA. That’s what I’m focusing on each and every day.”

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NBA Daily: Jaylen Hands Makes Good Showing at the NBA Combine

Jaylen Hands made a good showing at the NBA Combine by displaying his offensive skills and defensive intensity.

Jesse Blancarte

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UCLA has produced a few of the NBA’s top point guards over the last decade or so, including Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday. Jrue’s younger brother, Aaron Holiday, has declared for this year’s draft and is projected by several NBA insiders to be selected with a first-round pick (likely in the 20-30 range). But Aaron Holiday isn’t the only UCLA point guard who may end up taking his talents to the NBA this offseason. Jaylen Hands, who is still just 19 years old and finished his freshman season, has also entered his name into this year’s draft.

While Hands has entered his name into the draft and participated in the NBA Combine, he has not hired an agent, which preserves his ability to return to college (Hands has until June 11 to make a final decision). Considering Hands’ young age and raw skill set, he isn’t projected by many insiders to hear his name called on draft night. But he certainly helped his cause in the Combine, showcasing his offensive talents, the muscle he has added to his slight frame since the end of his freshman season and aggressiveness on defense.

Basketball Insiders spoke with Hands at the Combine about his development, going through the pre-draft process, competing against familiar faces and more.

“It’s crazy, it’s crazy because when we were younger, they said the exact thing: ‘You guys are going to see each other forever.’” Hands said when asked about competing against many of the same players over the years and now at the Combine. “And you don’t really believe what they’re saying. But now you go through high school, you’re a senior, All-Star activities and you go to the Combine, you see the same people. It’s crazy.”

Hands has a notable skill set but is a raw prospect that many believe would be better served spending another year in college. While Hands needs to continue filling out his frame, he did register decent measurements at the Combine in relation to a top guard prospect – Trae Young of Oklahoma. Hands weighed in at 1.2 lbs heavier than Young, and outmatched Young in height (with and without shoes), standing reach and wingspan. Ironically, Hands has the smallest hands of all players that participated in the Combine. While these measurements don’t mean that he is currently a comparable prospect to Young, they could address some concerns about his current physical profile and how it may ultimately translate to the NBA.

Hands proved himself to be a confident and aggressive player in his freshman season at UCLA – something that he believes has led to misconceptions about his game.

“I’m not a point guard,” Hands said when asked about what misconceptions people have about his game.

I wouldn’t say it’s common, like it’s the main thing. But I’ve heard that I shoot first or something like that. I just feel like I attack a lot. I think I attack a lot and I’m of size to being a [two guard], so I think some people get it misconstrued. I just think I’m attack first, set my teammates up, get what I get.”

Hands is clearly aware of the common perceptions and current shortcomings in his game, which is why he is working hard to improve his overall skill set and is testing the NBA waters to get feedback from teams.

“Before I came here, just being more steady working on my shot, making good reads out of the pick and roll, finishing.” Hands said when asked about what parts of his game he was working on before coming to the Combine.

Hands was asked to clarify what he believes is his best strength at this point. Hands didn’t hesitate and pointed toward his ability to make plays off the dribble.

“My best strength is getting in the paint. So I get in the paint and make plays,” Hands said.

Hands is also clearly aware of UCLA’s history of producing quality point guards and has a chance to one day develop into a quality guard at the NBA level. However, with Holiday heading to the NBA and no major competition for the starting point guard position at UCLA next season, it may benefit Hands to hold off on turning pro for at least another year.

Whether he stays at UCLA or commits to this year’s draft, there’s no doubt that Hands is going to keep pushing to develop into a quality NBA player.

“I want to be the best player I can in the league,” Hands said. “That’s my goal.”

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: 2018 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft – 5/22/18

The final 2018 NBA Draft order is set and Basketball Insiders’ publisher Steve Kyler offers up his latest 60-pick NBA Mock Draft.

Steve Kyler

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Lots of Draft Movement

With the draft order now set for the 2018 NBA Draft, there is some sense of how the draft might play out.

The buzz coming out of the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago is that a number of picks could be had in trade include all three of the top selections. Word is the initial asking price is very high and more of an indication to the San Antonio Spurs that if they do want to part with disgruntled star Kawhi Leonard, they are open for business.

It’s also worth noting that there is a growing sense that both the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawk may be far higher on some of the domestic bigs in the draft more so than euro sensation Luka Dončić. Both teams are expected to take a long look at Dončić, so their views on him could change as we get closer to the draft, but for now, Dončić may go lower.

Here is the latest 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft, reflecting the final draft order and the latest buzz, rumors, and intel from in and around the NBA:

Dates To Know:

The NCAA requires all players wishing to maintain their college eligibility, without penalty, to withdraw from the NBA Draft by 11:59 pm on May 30. That is an NCAA mandated date, not related to anything involving the NBA, and that notice must be delivered in writing.

The NBA’s draft withdrawal date is June 11 by 5:00 pm ET. The NBA’s date allows a prospect to remain NBA draft eligible for future NBA drafts and is not related to any NCAA rule or date. There are ways for college players that did not accept benefits to return to college. However, they may be subject to NCAA penalties.

The 2018 NBA Draft is June 21.

The Pick Swaps:

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer. The Brooklyn Nets traded several unprotected picks to Boston as part of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trades in 2015.

The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers’ 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015. The 76ers traded that pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the draft pick trade that became Markelle Fultz before the draft; it has 2 through 5 protections. This pick will convey.

The LA Clippers are owed the Detroit Pistons first-round pick in 2018 as a result of the Blake Griffin trade.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the final NBA standings.

The Phoenix Suns were owed the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick would only convey if the Bucks pick landed between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the final NBA standings did not convey. The Suns will now receive the Bucks 2019 first-round pick assuming it falls between the fourth and 16th pick.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick was lottery protected and would convey to Atlanta based on the final NBA standings.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Jazz/Wolves Ricky Rubio trade this past summer. The Jazz acquired the pick as part of the Thunder’s deal to obtain Enes Kanter in 2015. The pick was lottery protected and would convey based on the final NBA standings.

The Chicago Bulls are owed the New Orleans Pelicans first-round pick as a result of the Nikola Mirotic trade. The pick was top-five protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey

The LA Lakers are owed the Cleveland Cavaliers first-round pick as a result of Jordan Clarkson/Larry Nance Jr. trade. The pick was top-three protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors’ first-round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick was lottery protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets’ first-round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick was top-three protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey

Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects – http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, @mike_yaffe, @MattJohnNBA, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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