Carmelo Anthony

Northwest Notes: Anthony, Crawford, Plumlee, Mitrou-Long

Carmelo Anthonys struggles this season have mirrored that of the Thunder: struggling to find consistency. Anthony has been primarily a ball-dominant player in his career but he has changed that approach recently, helping the Thunder in the process, Royce Young of ESPN writes.

In recent games, Anthony has hovered around the perimeter, waiting for catch-and-shoot situations. In Oklahoma City’s win over the Hawks on Friday, Anthony netted seven three-pointers, allowing Russell Westbrook to facilitate plays. Anthony admitted that he can find sustained success in that role once he gets adjusted.

“I think for me it’s just a matter of accepting that role. That’s all it is,” Anthony said. “Realizing that’s what it’s going to be, these are the type of shots I’m going to get, this is the type of offense we’re going to be running and accepting that, and working on that role. That’s something that I’ve kind of been doing over the past week, is allowing myself to accept that role and do whatever I gotta do to make this team win.”

Anthony, 33, is averaging a career-worst 17.5 PPG this season through 32 games. With Westbrook and fellow All-Star Paul George, Anthony is not required to shoulder the load the way he did in New York the past six seasons. Head coach Billy Donovan said he and the team appreciate Anthony’s willingness to change his style for the betterment of the team.

Read up on other news out of the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves signed three-time Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford to be instant offense off the bench and to be a veteran presence on a young, promising team. While his minutes and production were down through the first third of the season, he is still capable of putting up points in a hurry for Minnesota, Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune writes.
  • Injuries to Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic have allowed Mason Plumlee to receive more playing time and the Nuggets’ center is becoming a trusted vocal leader for the team, Gina Mizell of The Denver Post writes.
  • Naz Mitrou-Long finished up a game in the G League and after a long flight home learned the Jazz were signing him to a two-way deal. As he gets the chance to suit up for Utah in the NBA, Mitrou-Long is appreciative of the opportunity, Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News writes. “I obviously don’t presume to come in here and play a substantial amount of minutes or even play at all,” he said. “If I get any opportunity, it’s going to be to learn and take advantage of it.”

Knicks Rumors: Carmelo, P. Jackson, Porzingis

After a year of non-stop drama, there’s an air of optimism and hopefulness surrounding the Knicks that was noticeably absent during last season’s Phil Jackson vs. Carmelo Anthony standoff, writes Ian Begley of ESPN. While the Knicks have had played well, with a 16-14 record so far, their on-court success isn’t the only thing contributing to the positive mood within the organization, as one team source tells Begley.

“Everyone just seems a little lighter,” the source said. “The drama Phil created with Carmelo really affected the team and the joy factor.”

In an in-depth piece for ESPN, Begley revisits that Jackson-and-Anthony saga, highlighting some of the incidents and confrontations that ultimately led to both men leaving the franchise. Begley’s feature is worth checking out in full, especially for Knicks fans, but here are a few highlights:

  • Some members of the organization knew back in summer 2015 that they wanted to trade Anthony, and by the following year, that sentiment was shared by virtually all of the Knicks‘ top decision-makers, says Begley. “The feeling in meetings was almost unanimous: They felt he just wasn’t a winning player,” one source said. “They thought they could turn everything around if they just moved him.” Anthony was aware of this stance, despite some of those execs insisting they were still on his side, which was a big reason why he soured on the organization.
  • Jackson regularly interrupted Knicks practices and overrode Jeff Hornacek‘s instructions to ensure that the triangle offense was being implemented properly, despite two veteran players telling him directly that the system wasn’t working, per Begley.
  • Jackson presided over mindfulness meditation training with the Knicks during his last year in New York, as he had done with his previous teams. However, some Knicks players didn’t take it seriously — during the final sessions, Anthony would sometimes pretend to be asleep when Jackson told the players to open their eyes, witnesses told Begley.
  • During a March 12 loss to the Nets last season, Anthony and assistant Kurt Rambis blew up at each other during halftime. Anthony told Rambis that “this place is a f—ing joke,” and Rambis questioned Carmelo’s effort (in equally colorful language), according to Begley.
  • After Kristaps Porzingis skipped his exit meeting in the spring, Jackson discussed possible trades involving the young big man. While those discussions were framed by some as Jackson teaching Porzingis a lesson, there were members of the front office in favor of moving the Latvian at the time, sources tell Begley.
  • For a portion of the summer, Anthony strongly believed that he’d end up in Houston, expressing a belief that LeBron James would eventually join him and Chris Paul on the Rockets. Although the Rockets tried to make a deal, discussing one three-team iteration that would’ve involved Jabari Parker and the Bucks, it ultimately didn’t work out, resulting in the trade that sent Carmelo to the Thunder.

Thunder Notes: Patterson, Anthony, Westbrook

The Thunder may be better off sending Carmelo Anthony to the bench unit, Erik Horne of The Oklahoman contends. Horne notes that the offense often becomes stagnant with the team’s stars holding onto the ball too long and inserting Patrick Patterson in the starting lineup could be the solution to the team’s problems.

Patterson, who joined OKC during the offseason on a three-year, $16.4MM deal, prides himself on making quick decisions with the rock.

“Being able to decide as soon as I catch the ball if I want to drive or pass is something I’ve been carrying along for years,” Patterson said.

The power forward is averaging 1.29 seconds per touch this season, which is the second-lowest mark on the team, according to Horne.

In theory, adding Patterson in the starting five makes sense, though there isn’t much data on the potential new starting lineup. The Russell WestbrookAndre RobersonPaul GeorgeSteven Adams-Patterson lineup has only played eight minutes this season and while it yielded a slight positive in net rating, it’s unclear how successful the lineup could be over the long-term. Factor in the potential negative chemistry consequences from changing a future Hall of Famer’s role and the potential retooling of the rotation appears even riskier.

Coach Billy Donovan wouldn’t rule out making that kind of move, but said that Patterson is “in a pretty good routine and role right now.”

Here’s more from Oklahoma City:

  • Donovan believes the Thunder’s chemistry is just fine but he acknowledges that the offense will require more ball movement if they are going to climb up in the standings, as Ken Berger of Bleacher Report relays. “They’re willing to work and they’re willing to sacrifice and they know that they have to change,” Donovan said of the team’s three stars. “And I think that change sometimes is difficult. It’s difficult, it’s challenging, it’s new. … But I think for the way we need to play to maximize our team, we’re going to have to move the ball, share the ball, and that’s been a little bit different for most of these guys.”
  • GM Sam Presti may have felt pressure to surround Westbrook with stars so that he would be more likely to ink an extension. While it worked, as Westbrook agreed to add five years to his pact, one anonymous league executive believes the team did more than it had to, as Berger passes along in the same piece.“I think they messed with the chemistry too much,” the Western Conference executive said. “They probably would’ve been fine with just George and Westbrook and some role players.”

Knicks Notes: Anthony, Kanter, Hardaway

Returning to New York Saturday for the first time since being traded to Oklahoma City in September brought back a lot of memories for Carmelo Anthony, relays Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Anthony addressed the six-and-a-half years he spent with the Knicks, along with several other topics, in a post-game press conference.

“I like what I see, I like the potential that they have,” Anthony said of the Knicks. “I like what they having going on over here. For me, just to see those guys having fun again knowing that it wasn’t fun. The fun was lost over the past couple seasons, so to see those guys having fun again, bringing that energy, bringing that love back to the game, back to the Garden, is something that I’m happy for those guys when it comes to that.”

Anthony brushed aside a question about his feud with former team president Phil Jackson that eventually drove both men out of New York. Anthony was a frequent target of Jackson for not adapting his game to fit into the triangle offense, but he declined to speculate how the night may have been different if Jackson were still with the team.

“I don’t know what would’ve happened, to be honest with you,” Anthony said. “I try not to think about the past. I put that chapter behind me.”

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Anthony got a mixed reaction from the crowd in his first game back at Madison Square Garden, with overwhelming cheers during introductions but consistent boos when he touched the ball during the game. The team helped smooth things over with a pre-game video that highlighted Anthony’s best moments with the organization. “The video montage caught me by surprise,” Anthony said. “… I’d like to thank [GM] Scott Perry, [team president] Steve Mills, and the organization for doing that and making that gesture. That was big time and, for me, that goes a long way for myself, and it’s much appreciated.” (Twitter link from Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders).
  • The spotlight was on Anthony, but Knicks center Enes Kanter also faced his former team, notes Brian Heyman of Newsday. Kanter, who spent the past two-and-half seasons in Oklahoma City, was part of the return New York received in the Anthony trade. “Whenever I play my old team, it always feels special,” Kanter said. “I get a little emotional, especially jacked up. I’ve battled with them. We went to the Western Conference finals together. So it feels really special.”
  • Injured guard Tim Hardaway Jr. is helping the coaching staff while recovering from a stress reaction in his left leg, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Out for the past two weeks, Hardaway is slated to be re-evaluated this week by the Knicks’ medical staff. “It’s tough — like I had something taken away from me,’’ Hardaway said.

Anthony Reportedly Advised Free Agent Not To Sign With Knicks

Carmelo Anthony, who returns to Madison Square Garden for the first time tonight since a September trade to the Thunder, was open about his plans to leave New York throughout the summer, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.

While the Knicks and his agents were working out Anthony’s future, he isolated himself from the process, spending the offseason in intense workouts and star-studded pickup games that featured some of the NBA’s top players.

Privately, Anthony was telling friends that he didn’t plan to return to New York, even though he was under contract for this season. He also delivered that message to at least one unidentified free agent who was part of the pickup games, Begley relays, recommending that he not sign with the Knicks on the assumption that Anthony would be there.

Anthony was still stinging from the year-long feud with former team president Phil Jackson, who launched a public crusade to get his star player to waive his no-trade clause. Jackson called Anthony a poor fit for the triangle offense and insinuated that the franchise would be in better shape without his hefty salary taking up cap room.

The Knicks made several attempts to unload Anthony before the deal with the Thunder came together, according to Begley. Anthony’s representatives negotiated a buyout agreement that owner James Dolan rejected, trade scenarios with the Rockets dragged through most of the summer and the Knicks discussed Anthony with the Trail Blazers and several other teams.

With Jackson now gone, much of the animosity between Anthony and the Knicks seems to have subsided. Former teammates remain supportive, especially Kristaps Porzingis, who has inherited Anthony’s role as the franchise player.

“He was trying to do the right things to win, but it was just not clicking,” Porzingis said. “It was not the right pieces around him to make that happen. I’m grateful that I had a player like that on my team that I could learn from. Not only on-the-court stuff, but also off the court, a lot. So I can’t say a bad thing about Melo.”

Community Shootaround: Carmelo Anthony’s MSG Return

Carmelo Anthony will play his first game at Madison Square Garden since he was traded to the Thunder in September, ending a near seven-year stint with the Knicks. To add to the drama, the Thunder enters MSG one night after defeating the Sixers 119-117 in triple overtime, a game in which Anthony played a season-high 47 minutes.

Anthony’s tenure with the Knicks included historic scoring performances, playoff appearances, and a tumultuous conclusion. Despite everything, Anthony admits that he misses New York, given how long he donned a Knicks uniform and his roots in the city.

“How could I not miss New York?” Anthony said (via ESPN’s Royce Young). “I became entrenched into not just the Knicks, but the city as a whole. Those are my roots, the people there, I became one of them. I’ve embraced New York City, I embraced the culture, embraced everything about the city, so yeah, definitely.”

In an ironic twist, Oklahoma City and New York both enter Saturday night’s contest holding eighth place in their respective conferences — but the Knicks have the better record (15-13 vs. 14-14). The Thunder acquired Anthony and Paul George before training camp, joining the reigning Most Valuable Player, Russell Westbrook, with two All-Stars. However, the Knicks, led by Kristaps Porzingis, have surprised many with their strong start.

Anthony said that if he stayed with the Knicks — something he discussed as a possibility with several former teammates during the offseason — the team would likely be playing just as well. Anthony spent most of the summer at a Manhattan gym building the legend of Hoodie Melo, an internet phenomenon of a rejuvenated Anthony playing pickup games in a hooded sweatshirt. ESPN’s Ian Begley writes that that gym overlooking the Hudson River was Anthony’s safe haven while trade negotiations were ongoing.

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated compiled a list of memorable return games, including LeBron James‘ first game in Cleveland with the Heat, Shaquille O’Neals first game in Los Angeles with the Heat, and even Anthony’s first game in Denver with the Knicks. All of those games were memorable and Saturday’s return will likely make lists for years to come. For now, Anthony remains focused on the Thunder as he embraces Saturday night’s pageantry.

“It’s always a show. Coming back to the Garden is always a show,” Anthony said. “Of course I want to win. I want to win for many reasons. I want to win because I’m on the opposite team now. I want to win because we have a chance to sweep this road trip. And then I just want to win. It’ll be fun to win back in the Garden now that I’m on another team and knowing the things we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to create and where we’re trying to go as a team.”

It’s time for your input: Did Carmelo Anthony make the right decision to force his way out of New York? Would he, the Knicks or both be better off if he had stayed? Do you consider Anthony’s career with the Knicks a success despite the inconsistency and messy breakup?

Atlantic Notes: Wright, Okafor, Whitehead

Nearly a month after dislocating his shoulder injury, Delon Wright will make his return to the Raptors lineup, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun tweets. Wright last saw action on November 16.

Prior to the injury, Wright had been enjoying a solid season serving as a vital part of a Raptors second-unit that has yielded plenty of credit this season. While his absence was noticeable, third-string guard Fred VanVleet filled in admirably as the primary backup.

Wright, who had averaged 7.6 points and 2.6 assists in just over 20 minutes per game this season, is expected to be on somewhat of a minute restriction, Josh Lewenberg of TSN tweets.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Tonight is the night that recent Nets acquisitions Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas make their debut, Michael Grange of Sportsnet tweets. The pair, he adds, are expected to get a “healthy dose of playing time” in their first Brooklyn appearance.
  • The Celtics will be without Marcus Morris for at least a week. Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets that the forward who has missed four of the past five games with a lingering knee injury isn’t expected to be back until, perhaps, December 23 or Christmas Day.
  • Second-year Nets guard Isaiah Whitehead has changed his representation, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal tweets. The point guard and former Andy Miller client will now be represented by Sam Permut of Roc Nation.
  • The Knicks have thrived without Carmelo Anthony on board but veteran guard Courtney Lee doesn’t think that his absence is why the team is winning. “If Melo was here, we would’ve made that adjustment with him,” he told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “So you can’t just pinpoint it at him and say, ‘Well he left and we made these adjustments.’ The style of play was going to be different from last year regardless.

Northwest Notes: Anthony, Bjelica, Hill

It’s been an emotional week for the Thunder and that’s only going to continue through the weekend as Carmelo Anthony makes his return to New York for a battle with the Knicks. As Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports writes, the week could help give the new-look Oklahoma City squad much-needed closure.

We can focus on what’s ahead of us. We can focus on being [the] Thunder. It’s no more Pacers. It’s no more Knicks,” Anthony’s newest superstar teammate Paul George said, having narrowly defeated his own former squad in his first game back in Indiana on Wednesday. “We can focus on what we have to do, to get better as a team and get better as Thunder players. That story, that chapter, and that book is over with.

One difference between Anthony’s exit and George’s exit is that there was somewhat of an understanding between all parties that his tenure in the Big Apple had run its course. George’s hasty departure, the trade request that triggered his deal to the Thunder, left plenty of Pacers fans betrayed.

At the end of the day, it’s business to me. But I’d be lying if I said I’m not ecstatic to be going back and playing there,” Anthony, who has averaged 17.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game for the Thunder, said. “Like I said, I got a different feeling with New York. A different relationship, different bond with the city, with the fans, with the people. It’s a little bit special for me.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

Northwest Notes: Timberwolves, Anthony, Nurkic

The Timberwolves are in the middle of the playoff pack and enjoying their best campaign in years but there have been several concerning elements at play through the first two months of the regular season, which Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype has discussed in a recent feature.

Four Timberwolves fall on the league’s top-ten list for minutes played. That inevitably comes at the cost of bench player minutes and potentially even team chemistry.

Another potentially problematic trend is how little involvement Karl-Anthony Towns is getting within the Timberwolves’ set offense. While Towns has quickly established himself as one of the league’s prized young stars, he’s running all over the court and getting little opportunity to score in the paint to show for it.

The 22-year-old Timberwolves center, Kalbrosky writes, has logged more miles than any other five in the league but gets the 23rd-most touches in the paint among big men.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Among Timberwolves players who’ve seen their playing time shrivel under the tutelage of head coach Tom Thibodeau is Jamal Crawford, Sam Amick and Michael Singer of USA Today write. The three-time Sixth Man of the Year has played just 17.5 minutes per night this season versus the 26.3 he saw last year with the Clippers.
  • The Thunder haven’t exactly hit the ground running since pairing Carmelo Anthony and Paul George with Russell Westbrook. Now Anthony, the elderstatesman of the trio, has started coming to terms with the fact that his days of being the undisputed No. 1 option may be behind him. “For the most part, it’s just accepting the fact that you’re not going to be the man every single night or have to be the man every single night,” Anthony told Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “So for me, I’ve accepted that.”
  • Big man Jusuf Nurkic has been out of action for the Trail Blazers since injuring his ankle on Tuesday but X-rays have come back negative, an ESPN report says. There is currently no timetable for his return.

And-Ones: Ayton, Thunder Trades, Wagering, Ball

Arizona freshman center DeAndre Ayton could be the No. 1 overall pick in June, according to Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders. The 7’1” Ayton has proven to be a highly productive for the otherwise disappointing Wildcats, averaging 20.4 PPG, 11.4 RPG and 1.4 BPG in his first eight college games. He has a 7-foot-5 wingspan and has shown a high basketball IQ, Brigham continues. At worst, Ayton should be a top-three lock, Brigham adds.

In other news involving the league:

  • The trade packages the Knicks and Pacers received from the Thunder in blockbuster deals this offseason have proven to be far better than expected, as ESPN’s Kevin Pelton notes. Center Enes Kanter, the best player the Knicks got back in the Carmelo Anthony trade, is a good fit as Kristaps Porzingis frontcourt partner, while Porzingis has thrived as a No. 1 option in Pelton’s analysis. Victor Oladipo has actually outperformed Paul George in his expanded role with Indiana, according to Pelton’s metrics. The other player the Pacers received in the deal, center Domantas Sabonis, has improved sharply while playing more often in the post than he did in Oklahoma City, Pelton adds.
  • The league and several owners have positioned themselves to cash in on expanded betting on its games, as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst examines in an in-depth piece. The league would prefer changes in current federal laws and the creation of a unified commission to oversee the expanded betting operations, Windhorst continues. The Hornets’ Michael Jordan, the Wizards’ Ted Leonsis and the Mavs’ Mark Cuban have recently invested in a company focused on real-time data distribution, which would facilitate in-game wagering, Windhorst adds.
  • Lonzo Ball‘s younger brother LiAngelo Ball has no chance of being selected if he declares for next June’s draft, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. LiAngelo Ball would have trouble finding a spot in any professional league, including the G-League, Wojnarowski adds (Twitter links). UCLA announced on Monday that the younger Ball intends to leave the program, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic tweets. The freshman was arrested along with two teammates in China on shoplifting charges and suspended by the school after being allowed to return to the United States.
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