As the Knicks and Lakers prepare to meet this afternoon much anticipation surrounds Carmelo Anthony‘s response to his 62-point performance Friday night. Having broken Kobe Bryant‘s Madison Square Garden point record, this matchup would have brought much more hype had Bryant been able to defend his recently broken record. Instead, Kobe sits at the end of the bench recovering from a knee injury. Bryant’s visit will not be all for naught as Marc Berman of the New York Post suspects he will spend this trip recruiting Anthony to sign with Los Angeles next summer. Berman can’t imagine Anthony having much interest in the Lakers while head coach Mike D’Antoni is still at the helm considering their differences lost D’Antoni his job in New York but “the Lakers have cap space and the Clippers and the Bulls — at the moment — don’t.”
Time will tell how effective a sales pitch Kobe makes today. In the meantime, some other notes around the Big Apple.
- As we pointed out yesterday, the Bulls are gaining traction as a destination spot for Carmelo this summer and are “much more in play than L.A.”. However, Chicago Tribune reporter K.C. Johnson cautions against those rumors as he believes Anthony in a Bulls jersey is an “extreme long shot”. Johnson points to the fact the Bulls could amnesty Carlos Boozer and still not be anywhere near the cap space needed to give Anthony the maximum contract he will be seeking. According to Johnson, the Bulls would have to also trade away either Taj Gibson or Mike Dunleavy and still hope Anthony will take a discount in order to join a coach and point guard he admires. Johnson does point out that a sign-and-trade involving Boozer and the Knicks could be more likely.
- Speaking of those Anthony-to-Bulls rumors, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times claims the Bulls aren’t letting those rumors distract them. Head coach Tom Thibodeau told Cowley “[the Bulls have] gotten used to [the media’s rumors].” Cowley adds that he doesn’t believe Anthony heading to the Bulls is impossible but “the Bulls would have to be willing to go back over the luxury-tax threshold they just escaped.” They would also have to amnesty Boozer, as Cowley reiterates.
- Turning our attention five miles south, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban relayed to Dwain Price of the Star-Telgram that he “had no doubts Jason Kidd would eventually get the Brooklyn Nets turned around.” Cuban has maintained his “great relationship” with his former point guard and believes Kidd’s close relationship with Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle “is paying dividends for the Nets right now.” Cuban believes Carlisle to be “one of the two or three best (coaches) in the game at in-game adjustments and play-calling, and I’m sure (Kidd) picked up more than a few pointers when he played for Rick.”
- Observing the Nets after beating Cuban’s Mavericks on Friday to improve to 9-1 of late, Beckley Mason of The New York Times believes the Nets have transformed since the beginning of this season, allowing them to exceed previous limitations. Mason attributes the Nets unique lineups, increase in defensive intensity, and ability for any player on the roster to take over each night as reasons for the sudden change in Brooklyn.
- Evidence of the ability of any Net to take over on a given night, Mirza Teletovic is “making the most of his chance,” as Lenn Robbins of BrooklynNets.com reports, after Teletovic scored a career-high 34 points against the Mavericks. Teletovic credits the Nets’ abundance of shooters as the reason “the guy from Europe [was left] open,” but Deron Williams believes Teletovic is “a competitor… making the most of [the opportunity].”