Carmelo Anthony

Northwest Notes: Millsap, Whiteside, Anthony, Jazz, Thunder

Paul Millsap has perked up in the conference semifinals and he’s hoping the Nuggets re-sign him, he told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Millsap will head into unrestricted free agency this offseason. After just one double-digit scoring outing in the seven-game series against Utah, he’s averaging 10.5 PPG and 5.2 RPG against the Clippers.

“My main goal coming here was to help this team and organization get over the hump and help some of these younger guys develop into superstars, which they are,” the Nuggets’ big man said. “I feel like I’ve helped through that, and we’ll see what this summer holds. … It’s going to be a tough decision and hopefully they want me back.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Trail Blazers should let backup center Hassan Whiteside and Carmelo Anthony depart in free agency, Jason Quick of The Athletic opines. Whiteside was merely a stopgap while Jusuf Nurkic recovered from a serious injury, and re-signing Anthony would take valuable minutes away from Zach Collins, in Quick’s view. Miami’s Jae Crowder would be an intriguing forward for the Blazers to pursue with their mid-level exception, Quick adds.
  • The Jazz face a very difficult offseason as they look to go from good to great, Tony Jones of The Athletic writes. Their GM, Dennis Lindsey, acknowledges that finding ways to move up in the rugged West won’t be simple. “This league is not an easy league,” Lindsey said. “The world’s best coaches and players, everyone is reaching for the same prize. Our team wasn’t as good from a point differential as our previous two teams. We were better at closing games this season, and that offense can be a little more stable in the playoffs.”
  • The Thunder have shown patience with their head coaches and that could help them in their search for a new one, according to Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman. P.J. Carlesimo, Scott Brooks and Billy Donovan are the only head coaches the franchise has employed since moving to Oklahoma City 12 years ago.

New York Notes: Carmelo, LeVert, Beal, Holiday

Is a Carmelo AnthonyKnicks reunion at all possible? Don’t count on it, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Anthony has revived his career with the Trail Blazers and would prefer to re-sign with Portland. However, Anthony has been on team president Leon Rose’s radar since he took the job in early March, Berman continues, and the Knicks have an opening at small forward.

We have more on the two New York City teams:

  • Will the Nets get a third star to join Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving? They may already have something to close to that in Caris LeVert, Brian Lewis of the New York Post opines. LeVert was the team’s best player in Orlando and the alternatives, unless they can pry Bradley Beal from the Wizards, are mostly question marks. Guards such as Jrue Holiday (potential opt-out after next season) and Victor Oladipo (knee issues) may not necessarily be an upgrade over LeVert, Lewis adds.
  • Whether to keep LeVert or trade him in a package for another star is also the topic of choice for HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto. A majority of scouts polled by Scotto believe the Nets should hold onto LeVert, though a deal that would net Beal or perhaps Holiday would change the equation.
  • In case you missed it, the Nets have formally interviewed coach Jacque Vaughn, who hopes to have the interim tag removed.

Carmelo Anthony: “I Think I’ve Found A Home In Portland”

After resurrecting his career with the Trail Blazers, Carmelo Anthony is hoping to return to the team next season, writes Jason Quick of The Athletic. Speaking with reporters after Portland was eliminated from the playoffs Saturday night, the 36-year-old free-agent-to-be talked about his desire to re-sign with the organization.

“I pray that it can be Portland, honestly,” Anthony said. “I think I’ve found a home in Portland. I got comfortable with the organization, I got comfortable with the guys on the team, they got comfortable with me, and at this point in my career, I do think that is the best fit for me.”

Anthony was out of the NBA for more than a year before the Blazers took a chance on him in November after Zach Collins suffered a dislocated shoulder. Anthony’s original contract wasn’t guaranteed until January, but his performance on the court and his role in the locker room quickly proved he was worth keeping. After two weeks, Portland guaranteed the deal for the rest of the season.

Anthony said he changed his priorities during the time he spent away from the game and the Blazers turned out to be a perfect fit for him, Quick adds. The veteran forward cited transparency from the front office, his relationship with teammates and the philosophy used by coach Terry Stotts.

“Being able to have another opportunity at this game — Portland if you want to say ‘revive’ is the word — allowed me to come in and just be myself and who I am,” Anthony said. “So I will always be appreciative of that. Being on this team, I’ve learned a lot. Being out of the game for a year, then coming back and having a different perspective on things, a different appreciation, but also a different energy. That time off forced me to tap into something else, dig deep in the well, from a mental standpoint.”

Quick notes that Anthony returning to Portland isn’t a sure thing, with money and playing time both factoring into the decision. Anthony signed this season at the league minimum for a player with 10-plus years of experience, and he may get better offers from other teams. The Blazers view Collins as part of their foundation, and small forwards Rodney Hood and Trevor Ariza are both expected back next season.

Still, there are positive feelings on both sides after one of the few feel-good stories in a difficult NBA season. Anthony has grown to love Portland, and his teammates will expect the organization to do everything it can to keep him.

“I think one of the highlights of this season was really the fact that Melo came and played for the Blazers … was special,” Stotts said. “What he meant to the team and the way he conducted himself, and the way he played. In the bubble, he made some big shots and got us into the playoffs. So I feel very honored to have been able to coach him. He’s a Hall of Fame player and a Hall of Fame guy.”

Northwest Notes: Carmelo, Lillard, Paul, Dort, Murray, Schroder

Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard received some high praise from veteran teammate Carmelo Anthony over the weekend, with Portland taking a hard-fought 126-122 victory over the Grizzlies on Saturday to cement the team’s status as the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

Anthony, who has made stops with the Nuggets, Knicks, Thunder, Rockets and Blazers across his 17-year NBA career, has naturally played with some all-time great players and leaders. At the top of Anthony’s list of great teammates, however, is none other than Lillard himself.

“Dame’s at the top for me,” Anthony told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes. “I’ve never played with someone who lifted his team on the court with his play and as a leader. He genuinely cares for his teammates. What he’s been able to do is amazing. He’s the top guy I’ve played with.”

Lillard has dominated during the NBA’s restart, being named the Player of the Seeding Games while averaging 37.6 points and 9.6 assists per contest. He also recorded 31 points and 10 assists in the team’s play-in game against Memphis.

For Lillard, his production extends past the hardwood. He’s known as a high-character leader both on the court and off, maximizing his teammates’ games and personalities to achieve success.

“If I’m showing frustration, it might spread to the team,” Lillard said. “My job is to keep everyone motivated and encouraged so that we can play to the best of our abilities. There are a lot of things that you can’t control during a season, but we can control how hard we work.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division tonight:

  • The Thunder are monitoring various injuries to Chris Paul and Luguentz Dort ahead of their first-round series against the Rockets, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes. It’s unclear whether Dort will play in Game 1 on Tuesday, with the 21-year-old missing Friday’s contest against the Clippers due to a right knee sprain. As for Paul, he missed Friday’s game due to a left hand sprain, but the injury isn’t believed to be serious. “We don’t think so, but we’re just being cautious with him,” head coach Billy Donovan said on whether Paul’s injury is significant. “He should be fine when we get around to playing Game 1. Lu’s a different situation. I have uncertainty whether or not he’ll even be available for Game 1.” 
  • Nick Kosmider of The Athletic explores how Jamal Murray used his past failures to enter the 2020 postseason as an improved player. The Nuggets lost to the Blazers in last year’s playoffs during a hard-fought seven-game series, one the team hasn’t forgotten about since. “Even though we lost to Portland in a heartbreaking Game 7, I think our players took positives out of it, learning opportunities,” head coach Mike Malone said. “Jamal, for one, has made post defense a huge point of emphasis and focus for himself.”
  • Thunder guard Dennis Schroder returned to the court for the team’s final seeding game after quarantining for four days, Ohm Youngmisuk of writes. Schroder left the Orlando campus on Aug. 3 for the birth of his second child, returning on Aug. 10 to start a mandatory four-day quarantine. He finished with 17 points and four assists in 25 minutes of work on Friday, getting some in-game action before the team’s first-round playoff series begins. “The NBA did a great job, OKC did a great job bringing me to my wife to support her,” Schroder said postgame. “Came back and had to quarantine for four days. It was pretty rough, staying in a small room was pretty tough. I’m back now. Left my room today and got a little [practice] session in at 11 [a.m.] and was able to come back tonight.”

Free Agent Stock Watch: Restart Edition

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. With the seeding games winding down at the Orlando campus, it’s time to examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors.

Carmelo Anthony, Trail Blazers, 36, PF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.16MM deal in 2019
Remember when Anthony’s reps were practically begging teams to give their client one more chance to play in the league? Carmelo took advantage of his opportunity with the Trail Blazers, finally accepting his new status as a role player instead of being the No. 1 offensive option. He’s turned it up a notch in Orlando during the Blazers’ run to the play-in round. The slimmed-down Anthony has reached the 20-point mark four times in eight games and made 46.9% of his 3s, while also being a factor on the boards (6.9 RPG). He won’t have to lobby for another contract after this season, nor will he have to accept the veteran’s minimum again.

Brandon Ingram, Pelicans, 22, SF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $23.8MM deal in 2016
It’s not that Ingram was terrible in Orlando. It’s just that the Pelicans stunk up the joint and the stench clung to everyone involved. Following a breakout season which earned him an All-Star selection, Ingram was unable to carry his team into the play-in round. New Orleans’ poor performances left everyone wondering whether the roster should be reshaped, especially with the front office owning a boatload of draft picks. And Zion Williamson isn’t going anywhere. So while Ingram will still get rewarded handsomely in restricted free agency, is he worth franchise-player type money? There’s no guarantee now the Pels will match if he gets a giant offer sheet.

Cameron Payne, Suns, 26, PG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $2.17MM deal in 2020
Payne was on the free agent market this summer and was signed to fill an open roster spot prior to the restart. Phoenix didn’t bring him in simply for insurance. He appeared in all eight seeding games as a backup point guard, averaging 10.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG and 3.0 APG in 22.9 MPG. Though he signed a two-year contract, only $25K of that money for next season is guaranteed, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks recently noted. The way Payne performed in Orlando, he should have no trouble staying on the roster and earning the rest of his $1.977MM salary for 2020/21 as a second-unit player.

Tyler Johnson, Nets, 28, PG/SG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $217K deal in 2020
Johnson signed a four-year, $50MM offer sheet with Brooklyn four summers ago but Miami chose to retain him. He finally wound up with the Nets in free agency and got just over $200K in a rest-of-the-season deal. No matter. Johnson was happy to get fresh start and it has shown during Brooklyn’s gritty performances in Orlando. He’s averaged 12.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG and 3.0 APG in 24.3 MPG and can now continue his push for another contract during the postseason. If the Nets don’t retain him, Johnson should easily find a home as a second-unit combo guard.

Jerian Grant, Wizards, 27, PG/SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $197K deal in 2020
Grant was signed as a substitute player in June after Davis Bertans opted out of the restart. Grant called it a “dream come true” to play for his hometown team, but he didn’t give the Wizards much incentive to re-sign him to an NBA contract. He appeared in six restart games, averaging 4.5 PPG and 1.5 APG in 13.3 MPG while shooting 25% from long range. Grant spent most of the season with the Wizards’ G League team and he may have to go that route again or look into overseas options.

Rockets Notes: Fertitta, House, Carmelo, Westbrook

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta doesn’t have a reputation as a free spender, but he promises money won’t stand in the way of bringing a championship to Houston, writes Jerome Solomon of The Houston Chronicle. The Rockets made moves at the trade deadline the past two years to escape the luxury tax, including a four-team deal this season that unloaded Clint Capela and brought in Robert Covington. However, Fertitta insists the tax isn’t the team’s top consideration.

“We don’t make basketball decisions of two or three million dollars based on the luxury tax,” Fertitta said. “Our whole budget this year was to be in the luxury tax.”

General manager Daryl Morey says Fertitta hasn’t ordered him to stay under the tax threshold, and the team will almost certainly exceed it next season with Russell Westbrook and James Harden each earning more than $41MM. With two former MVPs in the backcourt, Fertitta vows to spend whatever it takes to win a title.

“We want to be champions,” he said. “You win a championship, it’s probably worth $30-50 million dollars the following year to you from sponsorships, and people wanting to buy tickets and everything else. So you want to spend the money to win a championship.”

There more Rockets news to pass along:

  • Danuel House is taking advantage of his opportunity in Orlando and once again looks like the perfect small forward for the Rockets’ system, observes Rahat Huq of Forbes. Eric Gordon was supposed to move into the starting lineup after the hiatus, but a sprained ankle has prevented him from playing. Huq notes that an improvement on defense has made House more viable as a starter.
  • Carmelo Anthony‘s success in Portland has raised questions about whether the Rockets gave up on him too quickly last season, but it was an arrangement that was never going to work, contends Brian T. Smith of The Houston Chronicle. Smith argues that Anthony wasn’t willing to adapt his game and was an awkward fit with Harden, Chris Paul and coach Mike D’Antoni.
  • Westbrook and Gordon are both improving physically, but they have been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Kings, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Bruno Caboclo, who is suffering from an ankle injury, won’t play either.
  • In case you missed it, Harden has been named as a finalist for MVP honors.

Northwest Notes: Carmelo, MPJ, SGA, Wolves

Carmelo Anthony‘s NBA career appeared to be on life support after aborted stints in Oklahoma City and Houston in recent years. However, Anthony and the Trail Blazers have brought out the best in one another, Mark Medina of USA Today argues in the wake of Portland’s impressive win over Houston on Tuesday.

“He’s all about the team. He understands what we need from him in certain situations,” Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard said of Anthony. “He knows how the game is going. He knows how to put himself in place to help the team. It’s obvious for somebody like me that pays attention to everything. I find it real funny and disrespectful how people speak on him. He’s a Hall-of-Famer.”

Anthony’s NBA future was in jeopardy following his release from the Rockets due in large part to questions about his defense. Although he hasn’t exactly become a defensive stopper since joining the Trail Blazers, Carmelo hasn’t been a major liability either — the team has an identical defensive rating when he plays and when he sits. As Medina notes, the veteran forward had a key blocked shot on P.J. Tucker late in Tuesday’s game.

“I say everybody who was talking, or said something negative about him, they need to apologize, you know?” Blazers wing Gary Trent Jr. said, per Jason Quick of The Athletic. “It’s Carmelo Anthony. He went through tough times. He battled, stayed resilient and for him to come back and bounce back like it’s nothing? That’s why he’s Carmelo Anthony and why he does what he does.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. followed up a 37-point, 12-rebound performance on Monday with a 30-point, 15-rebound showing on Wednesday, prompting rave reviews from his coach and teammates. As Mike Singer of The Denver Post writes, Michael Malone referred to Porter as a “cornerstone” of the franchise. Meanwhile, injured swingman Will Barton – whom Porter is replacing in the staring lineup – tweeted that the second-year forward is “special,” adding that he “can’t be on a leash with that type (of) ability.”
  • Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is getting more of a chance to run the offense during Dennis Schröder‘s absence from the team, as Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman observes. While Schröder and Chris Paul have spent most of the time handling the point this season, Gilgeous-Alexander projects to be the team’s long-term point guard.
  • With Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor mulling a sale of the franchise, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic takes a fascinating, in-depth look at Taylor’s original purchase of the team in 1994, exploring how he helped keep the Wolves in Minnesota.

Western Notes: Carmelo, Bol, Conley, Hagedorn

Trail Blazers veteran Carmelo Anthony has slimmed down in anticipation of playing more often at small forward during the restart, according to Royce Young of ESPN. Anthony has mainly played power forward in recent seasons but with big men Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins returning from injuries, Anthony is making an adjustment by shedding weight.

“I kind of challenged myself to get down to that weight where I feel comfortable with playing the 3, comfortable running around and utilizing things I can do within our system from playing the 3,” the Trail Blazers forward said. “That was a big motivation for me to come back at that exact weight, or around that weight, 230, 235. I haven’t seen 230, 235 since early, early in my career.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets rookie center Bol Bol could make his NBA debut during the team’s seeding games, Mike Singer of The Denver Post speculates. Numerous Denver regulars have yet to practice in Orlando. Bol will participate in three upcoming scrimmages and then might see action in the seeding games, mostly out of necessity. Bol has impressed during practices in Orlando, Singer adds.
  • Mike Conley has endured some rough patches during his first season with the Jazz but the veteran point guard feels like he’s settled in, Tony Jones of The Athletic notes. “It feels like I’ve played a full season already,” Conley said. “I’ve had a chance to build chemistry with my coaches and with my teammates. I haven’t had any questions about plays or my role. I have a clear picture on what to expect.”
  • South Dakota forward Tyler Hagedorn has been interviewed by the Timberwolves, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. Hagedorn isn’t listed among ESPN’s top 100 prospects but the 6’10” Hagedorn did shoot 51.4% from long range as a senior.

Northwest Notes: Melo, Jazz, Booth, Thunder

Trail Blazers small forward Carmelo Anthony is looking forward to a return to his original small forward position now that the team’s starting power forward Zach Collins has returned to health, per Casey Holdahl of

“I’m actually very comfortable at that, I’ve been doing that my whole life,” Anthony said during a Zoom conversation yesterday. “Over the last couple years is where I started moving, transitioning toward playing the four more. You’ve got teams going small, so that was to my advantage as well.”

Anthony, a 10-time All-Star with the Nuggets and Knicks, has averaged 15.3 PPG (while shooting 37.1% from long range and 84.3% from the charity stripe), 6.3 RPG and 1.6 APG for the Blazers. The 36-year-old was inked to the club as an injury replacement for Collins in November. Portland’s 29-37 record slots the team in as the No. 9 seed in the West.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • The Jazz touched down in the NBA’s Orlando restart campus last night. Team general manager Justin Zanik indicated in a Zoom conversation today between himself, executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey and reporters that the club has not experienced any positive coronavirus tests since mandatory team testing began last month,  according to Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News. Zanik traveled with the team to Orlando, while Lindsey stayed in Utah.
  • New Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth is contemplating innovative approaches to remote scouting during the current pandemic, according to Alex Labidou of“All we’re trying to do is look for where inefficiencies are, where you can get value,” Booth said. “Even though as the years go on and as people get more and more interested in [scouting in] Europe and they are putting more resources into it, it’s still a landscape where you can find a gem.”
  • Sixteen of 17 Thunder players are traveling to Orlando for the NBA’s Orlando season restart, as Brandon Rahbar of Daily Thunder details. In case you missed it, forward Isaiah Roby had surgery on his right plantar fascia and will miss the rest of the 2019/20 season.

More Details Emerge From Friday’s Conference Call

We relayed details last night about a conference call regarding player objections to the plan to restart the NBA season in Orlando. More information on that call, which involved in excess of 80 players, has been released by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Charania confirms that Kyrie Irving was the leader of the effort to make players reconsider their support of finishing the season. He spoke first and offered a direct message to his peers, telling them, “I don’t support going into Orlando. I’m not with the systematic racism and the bull–. … Something smells a little fishy. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are targeted as black men every day we wake up.”

Avery Bradley, who was outspoken throughout the conversation, was the first player to follow Irving’s comments. He encouraged the players to take a stand and to use the opportunity to “play chess, not checkers.” Other prominent names on the call included union president Chris PaulKevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Donovan Mitchell.

Players have been involved in conversations for the past two weeks, sources tell Charania, expressing concerns about the games in Orlando and the restrictive conditions that are rumored to be part of the bubble environment. The opposition began among “rank-and-file” players, with Irving and Durant providing prominent voices.

Sources offered Charania a few more tidbits from the conference call:

  • Anthony emphasized the need for player unity and the importance of conveying a single message. He also urged all 80 players on the call to donate $25K to a cause of their choice.
  • CJ McCollum told players they have to be prepared for financial setbacks if they choose not to play and the possibility that owners will nullify the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.
  • Howard warned that resuming the season will distract from the social justice issues the country is focused on. He encouraged players to use the moment as a catalyst for change.
  • Mitchell talked about players “being behind the 8-ball” by being forced into a competitive environment after being idle for so long. “We’re taking a big injury risk,” he told his fellow players.
  • NBPA leadership doesn’t expect fans to be allowed into games at any point during the 2020/21 season, which would result in another huge revenue loss for the league.