Carmelo Anthony

Northwest Notes: Thibodeau, Rose, Anthony, Lyles

The Timberwolves broke their 14-year playoff drought because coach/executive Tom Thibodeau was willing to trade away the future to get better now, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. Thibodeau signaled a new direction for the franchise last June when he shipped Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the seventh pick in the draft to Chicago in exchange for Jimmy Butler. He followed that up by signing veteran free agents Taj Gibson, Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford, Aaron Brooks and more recently, Derrick Rose.

“Look, when you’re trying to erase 14 years of losing, you have to bring in some people who have won before,” Thibodeau explained. “That was a big factor in that. These guys have won in the playoffs, and I knew the hole we had to get out of. When you looked at the number, the numbers said we had to do a lot of improving and I think we’ve done that.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Rose’s overlooked defensive abilities could be important in the playoff matchup with Houston, Zgoda notes in a separate story. Defense was one of the areas Thibodeau considered when he decided to sign the former MVP in March. Rose, who had a frustrating start to the season in Cleveland before being acquired and then waived by Utah, is happy with where he has landed. “Going through free agency, it’s all about being strategic,” Rose said. “I wanted to go to a contender. I wanted to go somewhere where I was familiar with the coach, and being here was the perfect situation.”
  • Carmelo Anthony is preparing for his first playoff appearance in five years, but he’s headed there in a much different role, writes Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. Anthony was an MVP candidate when the Knicks last reached the postseason in 2013. Now he’s a complementary player after an offseason trade to the Thunder. “My approach is not any different,” he said. “My situation is different. My team is different.”

Central Notes: Bullock, Griffin, Van Gundy, Cavs

Pistons‘ starting swingman Reggie Bullock suffered minor injuries after being involved in a two-car motor vehicle accident this morning on his way to practice, reports Rod Beard of The Detroit News. He wasn’t seriously injured but was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Bullock, who was on his way to the Pistons’ practice facility in Auburn Hills, was also apparently the victim of a hit-and-run, as head coach Stan Van Gundy tells Beard that “the other driver took off” after the collision. Bullock did not practice, but will travel with the team on their upcoming six-game road trip.

Bullock, 26, has had somewhat of a breakthrough season for the underachieving Pistons, averaging 10.7 points per game and shooting 43% from long range in 41 starts.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN worries that the Pistons‘ newly-acquired Blake Griffin may be the league’s new version of Carmelo Anthony – a player paid like a superstar but not producing at a level high enough to build a consistently successful team around. And as Pelton points out, paying a player who is not quite a superstar like one of the league’s best players makes it difficult to win because it takes away the financial flexibility necessary to build a team around the overpaid player.
  • In more Pistons‘ news, team owner Tom Gores ambiguously hinted that Van Gundy make not be back next season, reports Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News. Speaking at halftime of Detroit’s win over Chicago on Friday, Gores said, “Stan and I have not discussed (whether he will be the coach next season). I believe in Stan, but he’s a team player, so we’re gonna see. He’ll do exactly the right thing for this franchise. But right now he’s busy coaching this team. We’ll go from there.”
  • In a wide-ranging piece on the Cavaliers, Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer discusses the rumored timetable for the return of Kevin Love from injury, the importance of a starting role for newly-acquired swingman Rodney Hood, and more details on the trade that brought Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. from Los Angeles to Cleveland.

Northwest Notes: Butler, Anthony, Millsap, Jazz

In the wake of Jimmy Butler‘s meniscus injury, the Timberwolves find themselves in a worse position than their Western Conference rivals who have lost star players, writes Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated. With the trade deadline already passed, Minnesota has few options to replace Butler if he is sidelined for several weeks or the rest of the season.

The Grizzlies lost Mike Conley early in the season and started pointing toward next year before Christmas arrived. Rudy Gobert of the Jazz and Paul Millsap of the Nuggets both had time to heal before the stretch run. The Pelicans were able to deal for Nikola Mirotic when DeMarcus Cousins got injured. The Spurs have a successful foundation to fall back on without Kawhi Leonard.

None of those benefits are available to the Wolves, who are trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Coach Tom Thibodeau has relied heavily on Butler on both ends of the court since acquiring him from the Bulls in an offseason trade. Butler ranks second in the league in minutes per game at 37.1 and is the key to a defense that becomes the NBA’s worst without him on the court.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Some tears can’t be fixed surgically, meaning the meniscus has to be removed, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. That leads to a faster recovery, adds Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), but it has become less popular since Dwyane Wade had it done and blames it for his ongoing knee pain.
  • Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony is enjoying himself away from the stress that marked most of his time in New York, relays Tim Keown of ESPN. Anthony’s tenure with the Knicks was marked by disappointing results and a long public feud with team president Phil Jackson. “In New York, there was so much going on with the organization and the city,” Anthony said. “It was very tense up there, and you never really get a chance to have stability there. Here, man, I’m having fun with the game again. The joy of it — that’s what guys know me as: laughing and smiling and enjoying the game. I think over the past couple of years I’ve lost that, and I think guys around the league have seen it.”
  • After climbing to sixth in the Western standings, the Nuggets face the challenge of incorporating two injured players back into their rotation, writes Nick Kosmider of The Denver Post. Mason Plumlee returned to the lineup Friday, and Millsap is expected back soon. “It’s just great to have those guys back,” said coach Michael Malone. “We’ll figure out who plays and when they play, but being healthy with 24 games to go [is] a good thing to be.”
  • The Jazz, who haven’t hosted an All-Star Game in 25 years, have submitted a formal bid to bring the game to Utah in 2022 or 2023, according to Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News.

Rockets Explore Market For Ryan Anderson

The Rockets are exploring the market for power forward Ryan Anderson, ESPN Rockets Insider Kelly Iko tweets. This comes as no surprise, since Houston has been open to moving Anderson’s big contract since last summer. Anderson is making $19.6MM in the second year of his four-year contract and is owed $20.4MM and $21.3MM over the next two seasons.

Anderson was a hot commodity during the summer of 2016 in a league that covets stretch fours. But Houston seemingly experienced buyer’s remorse just months after signing him.

Anderson appeared in 72 games last season, averaging 13.6 PPG and 4.6 RPG. He has started 49 of 50 games this season but has seen his role in the offense shrink. He’s averaging 10.2 PPG, his lowest output since the 2009/10 season when he played for the Magic. He has been a bigger factor on the boards at 5.4 RPG.

He’s still shooting a solid 37.9% from long range and a majority of his shots have come from beyond the arc. He averages 5.6 3-point attempts per game, compared to 2.4 attempts inside the 3-point line.

Anderson’s name was prominently mentioned in trade talks this summer involving the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony. One of the reasons New York turned down offers from Houston is that it wasn’t interested in taking on Anderson’s deal.

In order to move Anderson’s contract, the Rockets would likely have to part with at least one first-round pick. Last summer, teams were reportedly asking for two first-rounders from Houston in order to acquire his hefty contract.

Thunder Notes: Roberson, George, Abrines

A top-five ranked defense took a major hit Saturday evening when Thunder swingman and 2017 NBA All-Defensive Second Team member Andre Roberson had his season end abruptly after rupturing his left patellar tendon. Erik Horne of The Oklahoman opines that the team has two good options: make a trade, or seek a difference maker on the buyout market later this month.

A trade may be difficult, as the Thunder don’t have a first-round pick to trade until 2024, and not many attractive assets with whom the team would be willing to part. The Thunder do have two trade exceptions acquired in the Paul George trade, but the larger of the two exceptions is only worth $2.5MM – an amount unlikely to fit a salary equal to Roberson’s value.

Should the team test the buyout market, Horne mentions Andrew Bogut as a potential option to maintain the team’s defensive prowess, with more names to materialize after the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

Here’s more on the Thunder:

  • George initially being omitted as an All-Star ending up working out in the Thunder’s favor, writes Royce Young of ESPN. George, who will make his fifth All-Star Game appearance in his hometown of Los Angeles on Feb. 18, received an outpouring of support from teammate Russell Westbrook after being overlooked for this year’s event, and George clearly noticed. Now, the two L.A. natives will be teammates on Team LeBron, and it stands to reason that the closer the two become, the more likely it is that George will remain in Oklahoma City.
  • If the Thunder are unable and/or opt not to replace Roberson via trade or free agent acquisition, look for second-year player Alex Abrines to step up his role for the team, reports Brett Dawson of the The Oklahoman. Head coach Billy Donovan stated before yesterday’s game that he “definitely” wants to find more minutes for Abrines, saying of the Spaniard, “I’ve got to find ways to get him on the floor and help him because I think he can help our team.”
  • In his latest piece for Bleacher Report, NBA Capologist Eric Pincus analyzes whether the Thunder will dole out the cash necessary to keep George in Oklahoma City should he wish to stay. Facing the repeater tax and Carmelo Anthony‘s all-but-assured decision to opt in next season, the Thunder could be faced with a roster costing somewhere between $250MM and $300MM.

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 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.”