Carmelo Anthony admits the warm weather and the lack of a state income tax in Texas were factors he considered as he thought about signing with the Rockets this summer, but he has no regrets about his decision to return to the Knicks, as he told reporters today. Marc Berman of the New York Post has the details, including Anthony’s acknowledgment of a conversation with Dwight Howard.
“We had some great dialogue back and forth,’’ Anthony said. “I talked to him. We talked about some things. Ultimately it came down to what I really felt and really wanted at that moment. We had some contact and conversations. He tried. He tried extremely hard. It didn’t have anything to do with Dwight or James [Harden]. It came down to my own personal decision.’’
The Rockets appear none the worse for losing out on ‘Melo, having started 10-3, while the Knicks are but 4-10. Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- Jeff Green stressed to reporters Sunday that he didn’t mean to imply that he wanted the Celtics to trade him when he expressed his frustration with the team’s losing, notes Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com. “I want to stay here,” said Green, who can opt out of his contract this coming summer “I love this team. I love being here.”
- The Raptors rejected a draft-night offer from the Suns that would have given Toronto the draft rights to Tyler Ennis, whom the Raptors coveted, in return for 2014’s 20th overall pick and the 2016 first-rounder that the Knicks owe Toronto, according to Sportsnet’s Michael Grange.
- The Celtics have recalled James Young from the D-League, the team announced. It was a one-day excursion for this year’s 17th overall pick, who put up 22 points and eight rebounds Sunday for Boston’s affiliate.
- Rookie JaKarr Sampson is back from his three-day D-League assignment, the Sixers announced. The undrafted small forward averaged 15.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in two D-League games.
The Celtics‘ Brandon Bass may have increased his trade chances with a strong start to the season, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Bass is earning $6.9MM in the final season of his contract, and should be appealing to a contending team between now and the trade deadline. “If there’s a team competing for a championship and they could steal him, that’d be big,” said Rajon Rondo. “He’s one of the best mid-range shooters in the league.”
There’s more from around the Atlantic Division:
- Bulpett also reports that Vitor Faverani is holding out hope of playing for the Celtics this season after two surgical procedures to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. Faverani originally had the knee worked on in March, then went through a second procedure five weeks ago. “The bad thing is that I worked really hard all summer, and I got injured one more time,” he said. “I just have to recover. That’s my life. That’s all I can do right now.”
- The Celtics assigned James Young to the Maine Red Claws of the D-League, the team announced via press release. This is his second stint with the Red Claws, after appearing in one game last week. He has played in three games for the Celtics, averaging 3.0 points in 3.9 minutes.
- Carmelo Anthony expects the Knicks to improve now that Jose Calderon is back on the court, according to Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. Anthony praised Calderon’s understanding of the game, and said scorers always love playing with skilled point guards. “His IQ out there on the basketball court, I think is very high,” Anthony said. “That’s something that, at that position, we’ve been missing.” Calderon, who came to the Knicks in an offseason trade with the Mavericks, missed the first 13 games of the season with a strained calf.
- Fans of the winless Sixers shouldn’t expect a turnaround any time soon, opines Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. He said Philadelphia is committed to its strategy of trying to improve by getting high draft picks, even though it hasn’t landed the team an obvious franchise player so far.
Greg Oden attended the Cavaliers game Saturday, but has no immediate plans for an NBA comeback, tweets Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal. Oden, the first player selected in the 2007 NBA draft, said he has other priorities. “I have to deal with other stuff first,” he said. “Life stuff.” Oden allegedly punched his ex-girlfriend in the face during a recent fight and was charged with felony battery, misdemeanor domestic battery and misdemeanor battery resulting in serious bodily injury.
Other players were on the move this weekend:
- Free agent Rashad McCants will continue his career in Lebanon, notes Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. McCants, a college star at North Carolina, played four years in the NBA with the Timberwolves and Kings. He has not been in the league since the 2008/09 season. He played last season in Brazil.
- J.R. Giddens, a first-round pick by the Celtics in the 2008 NBA draft, has landed a free agent deal in Argentina, tweets David Pick of Basketball Insiders and Eurobasket. Giddens spent two seasons in the NBA with the Celtics and Knicks. He has also played in Poland, Greece, Italy and Puerto Rico.
- The Spurs announced that rookie Kyle Anderson has been assigned to the Austin Spurs of the D-League. A first-round pick out of UCLA in this year’s draft, Anderson has seen limited playing time in San Antonio, averaging 1.0 points and 2.8 rebounds in six games.
Earlier in the month, Hoops Rumors’ own Chuck Myron broke down the Celtics’ offseason moves. While Boston added some nice pieces, no acquisition moved the needle in the win column as the team started the season with a 4-7 record. It hasn’t been all bad this season as the team owns the fourth best offense in the league, scoring 106.2 points per game.
Here’s more from Boston:
- Jeff Green‘s frustration with the Celtics’ losing is at an all-time high, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. “I’m tired of losing,” Green said. “[Friday] we let them get whatever they wanted, so we deserved to lose.” The forward can opt out of his current deal at season’s end and become a free agent. Blakely adds that the market for Green is as strong “if not stronger” than it is for fellow teammate Rajon Rondo, according to talks with a league executive. Green is averaging 18.4 points per game and is sporting a player efficiency rating of 16.5.
- Courtney Lee liked playing for the Celtics but understood why he was traded to the Grizzlies, writes Blakely in a separate piece. “I enjoyed my time in Boston,” Lee said. “The organization, my teammates, coaching staff; everybody was top-notch. It just didn’t work.” Lee signed in Boston while the team had title aspirations but a year later, the Celtics traded Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets to begin their rebuilding efforts. Lee, who most would describe as a complementary player, is thriving as a catch-and-shoot wing in the Grizzlies offense. “Just square up, lick my fingers and knock down shots,” Lee said. “It works for me.”
- Brandon Bass is still familiarizing himself with his new role of coming off the bench for the Celtics, writes Blakely in another piece. “I’m adjusting,” Bass told Comcast SportsNet’s Abby Chin. “I’ve been a starter and I’ve come off the bench in the past … I’m adjusting.” Although he would love to start, he understands the importance of making a positive impact when he gets in the game. “It’s important for the guys off the bench to lift the starters each and every night; try to contribute in a major way each and every night,” Bass said. The power forward has begun the season on a positive note, averaging 8.4 PPG and with a player efficiency rating of 16.35.
Eric Bledsoe says he never worried about the Suns‘ acquisition of yet more high-level point guards in the offseason, but staying healthy was a concern as his contract negotiations dragged on, as he tells Chris Mannix of SI.com, who writes in his Open Floor column.
“I stayed in the gym working out. I just had to make sure I didn’t get hurt,” Bledsoe said. “My agent was calling me, telling me not to go play with everybody. I pretty much wrapped my body in bubble wrap.”
Bledsoe’s numbers are off a bit this year after the summer hiatus, so while we wait to see if he can regain his form once he shakes off the rust, here’s more from around the league:
- Union executive director Michele Roberts has made an effort to forge a relationship with several top agents, in contrast to predecessor Billy Hunter, who kept agents at arm’s length, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News examines. Still, some agents are miffed about her choice of of Roger Mason, who supported her candidacy for the executive director job, to conduct a review of agent regulations, as Ken Berger of CBSSports.com wrote earlier this week.
- Rajon Rondo doesn’t see this season as a rebuilding year for the Celtics, notes Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe (Twitter link).
- The Mavs have been paying greater attention to scouting talent for their D-League club as the connection between Dallas and its affiliate grows, as Eduardo Najera, the coach of the Mavs D-League affiliate, tells Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News.
- The Sixers have a plan to return to contention eventually, but they are taking a risk that their players will learn to accept losing in the meantime, Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News believes.
The Raptors are the best team in the Eastern Conference at 9-2, but the rest of the Atlantic Division is off to a rough start. The four other teams are all below .500, and the Sixers haven’t won in 11 tries. They’ll visit the 3-10 Knicks on Saturday in a game with early 2015 draft lottery implications. Here’s more from the struggling Atlantic:
- Sixers coach Brett Brown and GM Sam Hinkie didn’t realize when they took their respective jobs in 2013 that the team’s roster this season would be so devoid of immediate contributors, Brown admitted Thursday, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Brown said the expectation had been that the Sixers would use their pair of lottery picks this year to bring in players who would be on the floor now instead of the injured Joel Embiid and Euroleaguer Dario Saric. “We put our big-boy pants on and made a decision that is best for the club long-term,” Brown said. “Time will tell. But the year that we are all now living in is a result of those types of decisions. That’s why you look on the floor and see a roster like you do and resumés like you do.”
- Boston acquired Brandon Bass to be a complementary piece on a contending team, making his value to this version of the Celtics hard to divine, as Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com writes in his mailbag column. If the Celtics make a trade, Bass is among the most likely candidates to go, Forsberg opines.
- Much hinges on the return of Jose Calderon as the most significant offseason addition for the Knicks is poised to make his regular season debut for New York, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post.
Executives from around the league tell Howard Beck of Bleacher Report that Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has remained resolute with them that he won’t trade Rajon Rondo at this point. Still, many of those execs think the Celtics are in a position in which they simply must trade the point guard to avoid seeing him walk in free agency this coming summer. Ainge nonetheless continues to look for upgrades around Rondo, as he tells Beck. “Philosophically, we know who the players are, we know who the guys are that we would love to get,” Ainge said. “But we also know that certain players don’t make as much of a difference. We can’t sell our stockpile of assets just to appease one player. We’ve got to be smart in rebuilding. And we do have to remain patient. And yet at the same time, be ready to jump into the fray and pay a high price for special players, transcendent players.”
Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
- The Bucks’ roster features two starters who are 19 years old, a stark contrast to head coach Jason Kidd‘s Nets team of a year ago, which featured seven players 32 or older, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News writes. Kidd says it’s still just basketball to him, adding, “It’s just the age difference. They’re basketball players. This is a younger team, the team I had last year was vets. They knew how to play, a couple of them won championships so they knew what it took to win. We won a Game 7 on the road, so experience, time and minutes are probably the only thing that’s different.” The other difference for Kidd in Milwaukee is that he’s now coaching a team on the upswing rather than one constructed to contend for a single year like Brooklyn was last season, notes Deveney.
- Jimmy Butler‘s decision to bypass a contract extension from the Bulls that would have netted him roughly $11MM per season could pay off handsomely if he continues his excellent play, Michael Lee of The Washington Post opines.
- Former Sixer Evan Turner believes he can speak for those players unfortunate enough to be stuck in the middle of GM Sam Hinkie‘s rebuilding plan, writes Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. Turner said of Hinkie’s approach, “It’s different. It goes the right way, or not. That kind of trend can make or break certain situations. Hopefully they don’t get penalized for what they’re doing, but if they do put the right guys on the team they can be really successful thanks to the leadership of coach [Brett] Brown. The biggest thing is having the unity. That’s all you have and you have to stay focused on going to battle with who you have.”
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
The Celtics probably didn’t imagine they’d end up with a player who’d make 25 of his first 29 shots from the field when they traded for Tyler Zeller this summer, but the No. 17 pick from 2012 is excelling in his first weeks in green, observes Jimmy Toscano of CSNNE.com. Zeller surely won’t keep up an 86.2% field goal percentage, but the 24-year-old is emerging as a viable option for minutes. There’s more on another 17th overall pick amid the latest from Boston:
- Isaiah Thomas received his first call in free agency from Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, and Thomas acknowledged that he reciprocated that interest to some degree before opting to join the Suns instead, notes Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com. “I was interested in whoever was interested in me,” Thomas said, “so he was definitely a little interested if he was the first one to call me, but they went their ways and I went mine.”
- Swingman James Young spent a couple of days on D-League assignment this past weekend, and he suspects that won’t be the last time he’s sent down, tweets A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. If so, this year’s 17th overall pick is on board with it, Blakely adds.
- The Celtics are just 3-6 and appear headed for another season as an also-ran, but soon-to-be free agent Rajon Rondo isn’t losing faith in the team, as Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com examines. “We have a lot of young talented guys that listen very well and play hard,” Rondo said. “What more could you ask for?”
The D-League began its season this past weekend, and no one’s off to a hotter start than Wolves camp invitee Brady Heslip, who’s playing for the affiliate of the Kings. He’s scoring a league-leading 39.0 points per game after two contests, and while it’s early, he’s making a case to appear on an NBA roster before too long. In the meantime, several players who are already on NBA contracts spent the weekend on D-League assignment, and we’ll round up their latest comings and goings here:
- A pair of 2014 first-round picks are back with Phoenix, as the Suns have recalled No. 14 selection T.J. Warren and No. 18 pick Tyler Ennis from the D-League, the team announced. Warren put up a sizzling 36 PPG in two appearances for the Bakersfield Jam this weekend, while Ennis averaged 22.0 PPG and 7.5 assists per contest. The Suns assigned the pair to Bakersfield on Thursday.
- The Cavs have recalled Alex Kirk from the D-League, the team announced. Kirk didn’t appear in the only game the Canton Charge played during his three-day assignment, a three-overtime loss to the Sixers affiliate.
- Rookies James Young and Dwight Powell are back with Boston after a two-day D-League assignment, the Celtics announced (Twitter link). The duo scored 21 points a piece and Powell came down with 17 rebounds in a win Sunday for the Maine Red Claws.
The Wizards’ Bradley Beal is expected to practice Monday and could be back in the lineup by Friday, reports Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. The high-scoring guard, who hasn’t played since fracturing his left wrist October 10th, went through a dribbling and shooting drill on Saturday. Last month, the Wizards exercised Beal’s fourth-year contract option worth $5.7MM. Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:
- Even though Kevin Love is likely to become a free agent this summer, the Cavaliers don’t believe he will leave Cleveland, writes Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal. A rumor emerged last week that Love would consider opting out of his current contract at season’s end and to sign with the Lakers. Lloyd cautioned that many more rumors are likely regarding the six-year veteran before the season ends, but the Cavs are confident in his commitment to Cleveland.
- The Celtics‘ Rajon Rondo cites improved health as the reason for his fast start, according to Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. ACL surgery limited Rondo to just 29 games last season, and the eight-year veteran said he never felt comfortable after his return. “I can get to the paint a lot easier now,” said Rondo, who will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer. “Last year I was pretty slow, and now I’m a step faster.”
- The Knicks‘ J.R. Smith remains on the trading block, tweets Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. Begley notes that the team is having ongoing internal discussions about dealing Smith, and has been since July. The 10-year veteran is being paid close to $6MM this year and has a player option for nearly $6.4MM next season.