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NBA PM: Carmelo’s Decision Coming Soon?

His camp is denying it, but the New York Daily News is reporting Carmelo Anthony is staying in the Big Apple long-term.

Yannis Koutroupis



Carmelo’s Decision Coming Soon?

According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, citing a close friend of Carmelo Anthony who is with him in Los Angeles, Anthony is staying in the Big Apple.

“I believe in Phil Jackson,” Anthony said to the close friend of his, which was relayed to Isola.

The Knicks have long been viewed as the heavy favorites to retain Anthony. They have a max contract offer on the table of five years and $129 million, and Knicks president Phil Jackson has sold him on his vision, which apparently is centered around trying to compete immediately. It was believed at first that Jackson wanted to keep the status quo of the previous regime, ride things out through 2014-15 in order to have basically a clear salary cap outside of Anthony’s contract to work with in free agency 2015. However, Jackson has been shopping the trade market aggressively, trying to shed the expiring contracts of Amare’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani to get under the salary cap and try to get help in immediately. His top target is Pau Gasol, who has been waiting to see what Anthony does while strongly considering following him wherever he goes. Isola states that Anthony will make his decision known Thursday.

Anthony and his camp refuted the report, with his agent Leon Rose telling ESPN that no decision has been made and that it is still up in the air whether he will choose the Knicks or Los Angeles Lakers. This is somewhat typical, though, as players prefer to put the message out themselves and always refute leaks. Isola is one of longest-tenured beat reporters in the business and wouldn’t put his credibility and reputation on the line without feeling extremely confident about his report.

Assuming Isola’s report is true, the Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets will be forced to move onto their Plan Bs, which our Joel Brigham went over in detail last week. Meanwhile, the Knicks will be able to move full steam ahead with their rebuilding plan, which becomes much more promising with their star player locked up.

With Anthony’s decision close to being made and LeBron James not far behind him, free agency is going to pick up significantly over the next couple of days. James and Anthony have been holding up the market, but business will start to proceed as normal very shortly. The league’s moratorium will be lifted at midnight eastern and agreements and trades will start to become official early Thursday.

Spurs, Popovich Agree to Extension

In an unsurprising development, the reigning champion San Antonio Spurs have agreed to a contract extension with head coach Gregg Popovich. This follows suit with the rest of their offseason so far, as the Spurs have gotten a commitment from Tim Duncan to return next year and re-signed their own free agents Boris Diaw and Patty Mills.

While the rest of the league is looking to make wholesale changes, in typical Spurs fashion they’re staying intact and gearing up for another run. The terms of Popovich’s extension were not released, but Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that he was making it known that he’d like to coach another four-to-five years.

The Spurs have made it clear that they’ll have him for as long as he wants, so the terms of the agreement could possibly for that length, and likely include a raise as a reward for his fifth championship.

Cavaliers’ Blatt Wins Euroleague Coach of the Year Honors

After leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to a surprising Euroleague Basketball Championship in May, newly appointed Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt was voted by his peers as the Euroleague Coach of the Year.

“I will be forever grateful to my staff, players, Maccabi management, and the great fans of Maccabi for helping me to achieve the wonderful accomplishments that we had together,” Blatt said in a statement. “I am so honored by this award. I am particularly proud of the great people I have worked with, and the legacy we have left in the special tradition of Maccabi Tel Aviv.”

Maccabi entered the Euroleague Final Four as a tremendous underdog. Not only did they endure late-season injuries to key starters, Maccabi was the only team in Milan without a player on the All-Euroleague First Team, and was the only qualifier that had lacked home-court advantage in the playoffs. Despite all of this, Maccabi was victorious against all odds, in large part due to Blatt’s ability to get the most out of his role players, reinvent the team’s playing style to take advantage of mismatches and inspire dramatic comebacks throughout the playoff run.

Maccabi managing director Danny Federman believes that Blatt will have similar success in the NBA.

“He certainly deserves this award,” Federman said. “David’s innovative style, insight into opponents and ability to maximize his players’ talents will serve him well in the NBA. This will definitely not be his last Coach of the Year award. I look forward to celebrating this with him in Cleveland this October.”

Federman was referring to the highly anticipated matchup between Maccabi Tel Aviv and the Cavaliers, which will kick off Maccabi’s Euroleague US Tour on Oct. 5. As the Cavs’ preseason opener, this will be Blatt’s first game as an NBA coach – against a very familiar foe. Maccabi will then go on to play against the Brooklyn Nets on Oct. 7 as part of the Euroleague US Tour.

For more on Blatt, including comments from his former players, and his transition to the NBA, check out this profile that Alex Kennedy wrote about him when Cleveland first announced the hire.

Andrew Wiggins Officially Joins adidas: The adidas hoops family added another big name on Wednesday, when Cleveland Cavaliers No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins inked an endorsement deal with the company.

While official terms of the agreement weren’t released, the deal is reportedly a five-year pact that will pay him $12-13 million over the length of the contract. It’s the largest deal that adidas has ever signed with a rookie, according to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports.

The 19-year-old expressed his excitement in a statement released by adidas this afternoon.
“Joining the adidas family is a blessing and an honor and I am extremely excited for what lies ahead,” Wiggins said. “Knowing that this elite brand is welcoming me into the family with such esteem gives me a great deal of pride. Our collaboration couldn’t be more organic both personally and professionally and I look forward to moving to the next level with the brand.”

Wiggins, who is a Toronto native, racked up an impressive list of accolades during his freshman campaign at Kansas. The highly anticipated NBA prospect was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year, first-team All-Conference and second-team All-American. During the 2013-14 season, Wiggins averaged 17.1 points per game, the highest scoring average ever for a Jayhawk freshman. Prior to his career at Kansas, Wiggins earned 2013 Naismith Prep Player of the Year, Gatorade National Player of the Year and McDonald’s All-American honors.

“Partnering with an elite talent of Andrew’s caliber continues our momentum and investment to the future of adidas,” said Chris Grancio, adidas’ head of global basketball sports marketing. “With our recent partnership success with first-time NBA All-Stars Damian Lillard and John Wall, and cultural icons Kanye West and Pharrell Williams joining the brand, we’re excited to welcome Andrew to the adidas family and we look forward to him contributing to our brand’s success for years to come.”
Wiggins is the second member of the 2014 draft class to join the adidas team alongside Danté Exum, who was drafted by the Utah Jazz as the No. 5 overall pick.

Wiggins and Exum join a group that already includes athletes Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets, Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, John Wall of the Washington Wizards, Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Jeremy Lin of the Houston Rockets, WNBA MVP Candace Parker of the LA. Sparks and four-time FIFA World Player of the Year Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona.. Recently, adidas has also inked deals with celebrities like Kanye West and Pharrell Williams too.

Wiggins will be featured in a variety of upcoming adidas initiatives and will play a critical role in the development of basketball footwear and apparel, according to the release.

adidas is the official uniform and apparel provider for the NBA, the WNBA and the NBA Development League (D-League) after inking an 11-year global merchandising partnership with the NBA back on April 11, 2006.

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.


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Is Kyrie Irving’s Second Opinion a Cause for Concern?

Shane Rhodes breaks down the tough situation the Celtics are in with Kyrie Irving.

Shane Rhodes



The Boston Celtics are in one awful predicament.

With a third of the roster out due to injury, Brad Stevens has been forced into the impossible task of maintaining Boston’s championship aspirations with some subpar talent; while they have performed admirably, the likes of Abdel Nader and Semi Ojeleye wouldn’t see the same run they are currently on with most contenders. Gordon Hayward has missed the entire season, save a few minutes on opening night. Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis are all currently out, some for the year and others not. Key contributors Al Horford, Marcus Morris and others have missed time as well.

It couldn’t get worse, could it?

Well, it may just have. Reports surfaced Tuesday that Irving, who had missed time this season — including the last four games — with left knee soreness, is seeking a second opinion after a lack of progress in his recovery.

In the wake of the Isaiah Thomas fiasco and his ailing hip last Summer, an injury that lingered deep into this season, the Celtics will likely be more than cautious with Irving, whom they gave up a haul (the rights to the 2018 Brooklyn Nets first round pick, most notably), to acquire. But one can only wonder if these persistent issues — Irving’s left knee was surgically repaired after he sustained a fractured kneecap in 2015, and he reportedly threatened the Cleveland Cavaliers with surgery this offseason before his trade to Boston — are a cause for concern for general manager Danny Ainge and the Celtics.

The situation presents the Celtics with a quandary, to say the least.

Knee injuries aren’t exactly a death-knell, but fans need not look far for to see the devastating effect they can have on NBA players (e.g. Derrick Rose). They can snowball and, over time, even the best players will break down. Regardless of the severity, Irving’s knee issue presents problems both now and in the future.

The problems now are obvious: the Celtics, already down Gordon Hayward, cannot afford to lose Irving if they are at all interested in making a Finals run this season. Boston struggles mightily on the offensive end when Irving and his 24.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists aren’t on the court. In a playoff atmosphere, especially, the team would sorely miss his scoring prowess.

Looking ahead, if Irving is dealing with these problems at the age of 25, what could the future hold for the All-Star guard? Knee issues, most lower body issues in general, are often of the chronic variety, and constant maintenance can wear on people, both mentally and physically.

Just a season separated from a likely super-max payday, will the Celtics want to commit big-money long-term to potentially damaged goods?

If there is a silver lining in it all, it is the fact that 20-year-old rookie Jayson Tatum must now shoulder the scoring load, something that should go a long way in building on the potential that made him the No. 3 overall pick last June. And, should Irving miss the remainder of this season, exposure to the fires of the playoffs should only temper the Celtics’ young roster. In the event that Irving’s absence isn’t prolonged, time like this could only serve to strengthen the roster around him.

Still, Ainge brought Irving to Boston for a reason: he was meant to lead the Celtics into battle, alongside Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, in their quest for a title. Obviously, he can’t do that from the bench. Without Irving at 100 percent, the Celtics are not a championship caliber squad, healthy Gordon Hayward or not. That fact alone will make Irving’s situation one to monitor going forward and for the foreseeable future.

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NBA Daily: Houston Has It All

Deciphering whether Houston is a contender or pretender is tough, but they’re making it easy.

Lang Greene



It is very easy to get caught up in the NBA regular-season hyperbole. The past is littered with a plethora of NBA teams that looked like world-beaters in the regular season only to pull up lame in the playoffs and emerge as a bunch of pretenders.

So when it comes to the Houston Rockets, it’s no surprise many pundits and fans of the game fall heavily on one side or the other. The 2017-18 Rockets are a polarizing squad in that respect. On one side of the fence, you have the folks that are struggling to get behind Houston until they see how the franchise performs in the playoffs under the brightest of lights and on the biggest of stages. On the other, folks that place a great deal of weight on the 82-game regular season and the ability to sustain consistency throughout the marathon.

As always, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

At the top of Houston’s lineup are two future Hall of Famers in James Harden and Chris Paul. The latter was a perennial star in his heyday and is still a top-tier talent in the league. Harden, on the other hand, is closing in on his first MVP award and had serious cases for winning the honors in prior seasons, as well. Both Harden and Paul are criticized for their past playoff failures.

Paul entered the league during the 2006 season and has been dogged by the ever looming fact that he’s never reached a Conference Finals. Harden has been to the NBA Finals but has been dogged for multiple playoff missteps and shaky performances that remain etched in everyone’s memory. But something about this season’s Rockets team (57-14) seems different as the duo closes in on 60 wins.

One way to measure the true greatness of a NBA team is evaluating how many ways the roster can win playing a variety of styles. From the eyeball test, Houston checks the boxes in this category. The team sustains leads during blowouts. They have an offense built to erase large deficits quickly. The team possesses the talent to employ an array of versatile lineups to withstand top heat from opposing teams. Head coach Mike D’Antoni has shown the ability to adjust on the fly during certain situations. Houston is seemingly comprised of a bunch of guys that are selfless and ready to sacrifice at this stage of their respective careers.

Time will tell on all of those aforementioned aspects, but the Rockets are built to compete and win now. On paper at least, the team fits the criteria.

Floor Generalship

Paul has a chance to go down as a top five point guard in NBA history .His court vision is unquestioned and his big men always seem to end up being in the top five of field goal percentage each season (i.e. Tyson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan and now Clint Capela). In years past, the Rockets faltered down the stretch of games because the entire system ran through Harden. But this year’s club has the luxury of taking some of the on-ball expectation away from Harden and by giving the rock to Paul who naturally thrives in this role the squad doesn’t take a step back on the floor.

This is going to be big for Houston which has seen Harden gassed late in playoff games from carrying the entire load.

Small Ball Ready

Presumably standing between the Rockets and an appearance in the NBA Finals are the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors turned the NBA upside down with their free-flowing offense, long range accuracy and the successful ability to push the pace while playing small ball.

At the height of Golden State’s success they employed the “death lineup” which places All-Star forward Draymond Green at center. In different variations this gives the Warriors five guys on the court who can dribble, drive, pass and shoot. Versatility is important and if you look at this year’s Rockets team they have the ability to match the death lineup with their own version. Veteran forward P.J. Tucker would be able to guard Green in this scenario at center or Houston could just rely on the athleticism of Capela.


When it comes to defense, the Rockets will never be confused for the bad boy Detroit Pistons of yesteryear, however, the team has an assortment of individually capable defenders on the roster. Paul has all defensive team honors hanging on his mantle during his time in the league. Small forward Trevor Ariza made his bones in the league by placing an emphasis on defense. Before Capela emerged as a double-digit scorer, he was relied on as a defensive spark off the bench. Luc Mbah a Moute has a reputation and consistent track record of being a very willing defender.

Shooting, Versatility and Experience

All of this success, leads to the variation D’Antoni can put out onto the floor. The versatility to go with a small ball lineup or a lineup heavily skewed toward defenders is a luxury amenity. Houston also features five guys with 125 or more three-pointers made this season with Harden, Eric Gordon, Ariza, Paul and Ryan Anderson leading the way. A sixth, Tucker, should join the +100 club before season’s end. Veteran Gerald Green has only played 30 games with the franchise but has already knocked down 76 attempts from distance.

Experience is key as well. This year’s Rockets team features only one player under 25, receiving 25 or more minutes per night in the rotation. Look at NBA history, title winning teams are full of veterans not second or third year players.


Again, the Rockets will never be confused with the late 80s or early 90s Pistons but the team has more than a few guys that don’t shy away from contact or physical play. The collection of Nene, Tucker, Green and Ariza have had more than their share of shoving matches when things get heated on the floor.

With the start of the NBA playoffs (April 14) under a month away, the Rockets continue to build momentum toward a title run. Will Harden and Paul’s playoff demons from the past emerge or is their first true shot at greatness with a complete team? These questions will soon be answered.

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Insiders Podcast

PODCAST: Breaking Down The Western Conference Playoff Race

Basketball Insiders



Basketball Insiders Deputy Editor Jesse Blancarte and Writer James Blancarte break down the Western Conference playoff race and check in on the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers.

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The Strictly Speaking Podcast


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