Carmelo Anthony

Atlantic Notes: Anthony, Hayward, Ojeleye, Bayless

In a wide-ranging interview with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Thunder superstar Carmelo Anthony discussed his activism, his trade to Oklahoma City, missing his family in New York, and more. The interview is worth a read, but Anthony once again discussed his tumultuous exit from New York. The 1o-time NBA All-Star said multiple times before the trade that he wanted to win in New York — and even admitted in the interview that he was prepared to come to media day with the Knicks before a trade was consummated.

“It was bittersweet. That’s my city. I didn’t want to leave like that,” Anthony said. “I didn’t want it to end like that. But it’s just a reoccurring thing that happens in New York. It happened in the past. It happened to other people. It happens all the time. Nobody ever goes out the right way in New York. I wanted to have an opportunity now to go somewhere else rather than wait and dealing with that. It’s at the end. It’s over with.”

The Thunder have played well with Anthony, Russell Westbrook, and Paul George as part of a revamped roster. However, as Anthony touched upon in the interview, being away from his son — who convinced him to join the Thunder — and his wife has been the most challenging part of the process.

Check out other news from the Atlantic Division:

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Beasley, Thunder

The new Nuggets frontcourt has gotten off to a slow start this season but that doesn’t mean Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap won’t figure it out eventually. As Buddy Grizzard of Basketball Insiders writes in a feature exploring the duo’s production thus far, the club is committed to building something special.

It initially seemed inevitable that Jokic’s passing abilities would make Millsap’s life easier scoring in the post. A boost in efficiency down low, however, hasn’t yet materialized.

Over the course of his first 10 games with the Nuggets, Millsap has averaged 15.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest. That’s down from his last year averages of 17.1 and 7.7, respectively, with the Hawks.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Trail Blazers will host the Thunder in a Sunday tilt, the first appearance either Carmelo Anthony and Paul George will make in Portland this season. As Mike Richman of The Oregonian writes, the franchise actively pursued both over the course of the summer, to no avail.
  • The Nuggets are starting to incorporate sophomore Malik Beasley into their rotation. Dennis Chambers of Basketball Insiders spoke with the 20-year-old about vying for a consistent role.
  • The Thunder have struggled in the clutch, Erik Horne of The Oklahoman writes, thanks in no small part to the 6.3 rebounds per game the club allows its opponents to pull down in the final five minutes. That mark sits dead last in the league and the club is 29th in opponent’s field-goal percentage during that stretch, too.

Porzingis’ Brother: Knicks Need To Keep KP Happy

The brother of big man Kristaps Porzingis has suggested that the talented Latvian eventually re-signing with the Knicks is not at all a foregone conclusion, writes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

Janis Porzingis, who serves as an agent and mentor for his younger brother, said that the Knicks’ ability to offer the most money and long-term security is of little consequence. He also stated that Kristaps’ decision to skip last season’s exit interview was a calculated one.

“(Skipping the exit interview) wasn’t an emotional decision,” Janis told Latvian publication Sports Avize, as translated by Eurohoops.net. “It wasn’t a spontaneous action. We had been thinking about it for a long time and it was considered an honest, well-thought decision we came up with together.”

Janis went on to lob grenades in the direction of former Knick and current Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony, taking issue with the fact that Melo was seemingly complacent with the Knicks’ lack of direction. And lest the team take solace in the notion that jettisoning Anthony would secure Porzingis’ loyalty, his brother flatly implies that the franchise needs Kristaps more than he needs the Knicks.

From their point of view, Kristaps is the focal point at the moment so you cannot upset him much or otherwise, at the end of the season, he will say, ‘It’s not so cool here,'” the older Porzingis brother said. “The second question is: Who is the New York audience coming to watch now? To a large extent, it’s Kristaps. So the organization has to take that into account.”

Things could continue to get dicey next summer, with Porzingis eligible for a five-year maximum extension valued somewhere around $150MM. It seems likely the team will offer such an extension, but whether or not it is signed by Porzingis appears far less certain. If his goal is to reach unrestricted free agency as soon as possible, Porzingis could sign his qualifying offer when he becomes an RFA in 2019, then hit the open market as a UFA in 2020.

Clippers Notes: Offseason Moves, Jordan, Redick

When Chris Paul was set to leave the Clippers this offseason, letting Blake Griffin walk as well and bottoming out as part of a rebuild would have been one option for the club, but it wasn’t one that management seriously considered, writes Zach Lowe of ESPN. Without all their future draft picks in hand, the Clippers weren’t well positioned for a rebuild, and the idea went against owner Steve Ballmer‘s philosophy for the franchise.

“You consider all your options,” Ballmer said. “But I don’t want to lose. I like winning. Winning is good. Losing is bad. We think we have a unique opportunity to be a free-agent destination. If you want that, you have to be doing your best every year.”

Lowe’s deep dive into the Clippers includes several more noteworthy tidbits and is worth reading in full. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • DeAndre Jordan‘s future looms large for the Clippers, since he’s eligible for free agency next summer. According to Lowe, Los Angeles has explored trading Jordan, but the only time the team “gained semiserious traction” on anything was at the 2017 deadline. That proposed deal would have sent Jordan to the Rockets in exchange for Clint Capela, players, and picks.
  • The Clippers have discussed a possible contract extension with Jordan, but those talks have stalled for now, says Lowe. Jordan, who is currently negotiating without an agent, remains extension-eligible all the way up until June 30, but would be eligible for a bigger payday if he becomes a free agent next July.
  • Although the Clippers weren’t looking to part ways with Paul this offseason, they embraced the opportunity for a “fresh start” when he decided to leave. Players say the culture wasn’t as toxic as it may have seemed, but Doc Rivers acknowledges – without referring specifically to CP3 – “don’t want to be coached by you anymore.”
  • Rivers suggests that J.J. Redick was “begging to come back” to the Clippers as a free agent, a claim that Redick disputes. “There was never any indication from my agent that I wanted to go back,” Redick said to Lowe. “I didn’t beg to come back. I didn’t want to come back.”
  • Rivers also disputed reports that the Clippers could have traded Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford for Carmelo Anthony earlier this year, calling that idea a “complete joke.” However, Lowe suggests that Rivers may be playing a “game of semantics,” noting that such a package could have been viable if Crawford was sent to a third team instead of New York.

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Bledsoe, Kanter

Frank Ntilikina, who remains out of the lineup with a sprained ankle hears his name in the Eric Bledsoe trade rumors, but it’s not something he’s worried about, as Al Iannazzone of News Day relays. The No. 8 overall pick said it was “nice” that the Suns have interest in him, but his focus remains on getting healthy.

The Knicks spoke to the Suns about Bledsoe after Phoenix made it clear that it was shopping the point guard. GM Ryan McDonough apparently wants Ntilikina and Willy Hernangomez for the Kentucky product, but Iannazzone hears that neither player is on the table at the moment in a Bledsoe talks. While whispers of Ntilikina being off-limits are circulating, the team hasn’t told the French point guard that he won’t be dealt.

“Not really. No,” Ntilikina said. “I’m focused on basketball and on how I can make my ankle be better and my game be better so I can be back on the court.”

There’s more the New York:

  • The Knicks have “gone out of their way” to include Ntilikina and Hernagomez when discussing their cornerstone players Iannazzone notes (same piece). The scribe can’t envision the team dealing either player away for Bledsoe unless Phoenix is willing to take on long-term money, like the contracts of Joakim Noah or Courtney Lee.
  • New York will have to address its surplus of centers at some point in the future, Iannazzone adds. Hernangomez is currently out of the rotation as he watched Kyle O’Quinn and Enes Kanter gobble up the minutes at the five. Joakim Noah will only be suspended nine more games after tonight’s tilt against the Nets and Kristaps Porzingis could use additional minutes at the center position.
  • Kanter, who arrived in New York via the Carmelo Anthony deal, has played well in his first two games with the club, scoring a total of 27 points in 46 minutes. The big man has also developed on-court chemistry with Porzingiz. However, Fred Kerber of the New York Post wonders if Kanter’s presence is hurting the team long-term, as the franchise may be better served to give Hernangomez more opportunities.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Westbrook, Hood, Nelson

In a conversation with The New York Times’ Marc Stein, Carmelo Anthony explained that his decision not to waive his no-trade clause for the Trail Blazers was rooted in logistics, not basketball, reports John Canzano of The The Oregonian/OregonLive.

“We had a fair bit of discussion about Portland…,” Stein said of his talk with Anthony. “… He did say that it meant a lot to him how badly those guys wanted him. I think it really was the distance (that caused him to not be interested). I don’t think it was about Portland, the place… I don’t think it was about Portland, I think it was about family… presumably his wife and son are going to stay in New York for the bulk of the year. He was in constant contact with (Damian) Lillard and (C.J.) McCollum.”

Here’s more news from the Northwest:

  • The Thunder’s Russell Westbrook scored only six points on 2-of-11 shooting to go along with seven turnovers in Saturday night’s 96-87 loss to the Utah Jazz.  As reported by ESPN’s Royce Young, Westbrook appears to still be adjusting and adapting to the acquisitions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony; however, Westbrook insists that this season is no different than any other. “It’s the same thing [as last season],” Westbrook said. “Basketball’s been the same for years. It’s still the same game. Obviously different players, but the game still tells you what to do. If you need to score, you score, if not, you don’t. It’s very simple.”
  • Despite not playing Saturday night against Oklahoma City as the result of a calf injury, Rodney Hood of the Jazz is primed to make his return to the court sooner than originally feared, as reported by Jody Genessy of The Deseret News.  Despite the initial concern after Hood had to be helped off the court by teammates, Jazz coach Quin Snyder was apparently never too worried. “I’ve kind of conditioned myself to not jump to conclusions about those things one way or the other,” Snyder said when asked about being relieved the injury wasn’t worse. “Sometimes when they don’t look as bad, you kind of feel like, ‘Oh, it’s not that bad,’ and then it ends up to be worse.”
  • Jameer Nelson tweeted out a thank you to the City of Denver and the Nuggets early Friday morning after being released by the team on Wednesday. The Nuggets would have been on the hook for the entirety of Nelson’s $4.74MM salary if he had remained on the free agent market. However, as noted by Bobby Marks of ESPN, Denver will have the right to set-off approximately $470K at season’s end as a result of Nelson signing a pro-rated minimum salary contract with the Pelicans on Saturday.

Knicks Notes: Melo, Porzingis, Hernangomez, PGs

While some fans in New York may have been happy to see the Carmelo Anthony era come to an end last month, Anthony’s Knicks teammates weren’t among those that wanted to see him go. As Ian Begley of ESPN details, Anthony was the Knicks’ recipient of the Teammate of The Year award in 2017, an award voted on by his peers.

Begley passes along quotes from several of Anthony’s former teammates in New York, all of whom had nothing but praise for the veteran forward. Mindaugas Kuzminskas, for instance, wasn’t sure Anthony would know who he was when he arrived in New York last season, and was surprised when his All-Star teammate approached him with questions about his Olympic experience.

“Probably the biggest thing that I learned from ‘Melo is that even being a huge star, huge player, you can be still a great person, great teammate,” Kuzminskas said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie or a veteran. He’s going to treat you the same way.”

While Anthony received plenty of questions about his time in New York and his recent departure from the Knicks in the days leading up to Thursday’s Thunder/Knicks showdown, the newest member of the Thunder is eager to move on, telling reporters after OKC’s opening-night win that it’s time to close that chapter. “No more Knicks talk,” Anthony said, according to ESPN’s Royce Young.

Stop reading now, ‘Melo, because we’ve got more Knicks talk below…

  • While there weren’t a ton of positives for the Knicks in Thursday’s loss to the Thunder, the play of Kristaps Porzingis was a bright spot. Porzingis is showing that he can be a worthy successor to Anthony, according to Ian Begley, who has the details in a story for ESPN.com.
  • Another one of the Knicks’ young building blocks, Willy Hernangomez, barely saw any action in the Knicks’ opener. It was a surprising decision, but Jeff Hornacek defended the call by pointing out that Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn earned playing time with their preseason performances, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. I think the coach wants to see my effort on defense,” Hernangomez said. “That’s why I have to keep working hard everyday.”
  • The Knicks’ point guard situation was viewed as perhaps the worst in the league entering the season, and the club’s play on Thursday didn’t do much to change that perception. One NBA scout who spoke to Marc Berman of The New York Post suggests that the Knicks might as well throw rookie Frank Ntilikina “to the wolves” and let him play major minutes.

Carmelo Anthony Talks Phil Jackson, Trade, OKC

In advance of a Thursday night matchup against his old team, Carmelo Anthony spoke this week about the trade that sent him from the Knicks to the Thunder, with both Marc Stein of The New York Times and Fred Kerber of The New York Post passing along the forward’s thoughts. While Anthony says he holds “no grudge” against the Knicks, he acknowledges he wasn’t thrilled with the way Phil Jackson handled his situation earlier this year, calling Jackson’s behavior “hurtful.”

“I was always … going to put my trust in Phil,” Anthony said, per Kerber. “That diminished after a while. I’m out here doing everything I can, and I’m still getting stabbed in the back. I’m not trusting in that anymore. I’m trusting in these guys (teammates) that are out here. Whoever’s out here, this is who I’m dealing with.”

As Anthony explains to Stein, he had a nagging sense that Jackson was trying to force him out of New York, which dampened his devotion to the Knicks. Jackson – who was willing “to trade me for a bag of chips,” according to Carmelo – was eventually ousted as the club’s president of basketball operations. At that point, the Knicks went, in Anthony’s words, “from asking for peanuts to asking for steak” in trade talks.

With Jackson gone and Steve Mills and Scott Perry taking a harder line in trade negotiations, the odds of a deal with the Rockets declined. Still, Anthony felt that bridges had been burned in New York, and remained committed to finding a trade that worked.

“I think at that point it was too far gone,” Anthony said. “I already had in my mind that I wanted to win, that I wanted to move on. We didn’t think it would take as long as it did, but my mind was already made up.”

As for his eventual destination, Anthony admits to Stein that his 10-year-old son Kiran was among those who sold him on Oklahoma City as his new NBA home.

“My son has a basketball mind,” Anthony said. “So I will always throw little topics at him. He was like, ‘Dad, where you getting traded to?’ I told him, ‘I don’t know, where do you think I should go?’ He said: ‘You really want me to give you my opinion? I think you should go to OKC.'”

Northwest Notes: Thunder, Harris, Dudley

The Thunder have three players who’ve grown used to getting the final shot over the course of long, impressive careers. Now, Royce Young of ESPN writes, they’ll have to figure out who gets the ball when the game is on the line.

While Russell Westbrook was the painfully obvious choice last season, he’s joined on the Thunder by Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. Both Anthony and George have traditionally been the focal point of their teams’ offenses and were often the go-to options down the stretch, the latter even going so far as to lambaste former teammate C.J. Miles for taking a last-second shot in the playoffs last spring.

Carmelo’s been a closeout guy the places he’s been, the same thing with Paul. But any time you have a team you have to do it by finding the open man,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said. “Clearly for us last year, somebody creating and generating a shot for himself or someone else, it was Russell. But obviously now with Carmelo and Paul being here, I think it’s about making the right play and right decision.

One knock on the Thunder in the past has been their reliance on isolation basketball when the game is on the long. Considering the roster balance last season, that style of play was more or less expected. With a number of legitimate offensive threats in 2017/18, however, the expectations for ball movement – and making sound decisions – should rise.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Details on Gary Harris‘ contract have emerged, Bobby Marks of ESPN writes. The cap hit for the Nuggets guard in 2018/19 will be $16.5MM and that mark will rise annually until the deal terminates at $20.5MM in 2021/22. There are also $2.5MM of additional, unlikely, bonuses each year.
  • There’s no clear frontrunner to fill the primary backup power forward role for the Nuggets this offseason. Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports writes about how the changing NBA could impact Denver’s frontcourt depth chart in 2017/18.
  • A prediction that the Timberwolves could send Cole Aldrich and a second-round pick to the Suns for Jared Dudley has legs, Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News tweets. Minnesota has been particularly interested in Dudley’s recovery from offseason toe surgery.

Texas Notes: Curry, Parker, Anthony, Paul

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is leaning toward Seth Curry as his opening-night starter at shooting guard, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Curry is competing for the position with Yogi Ferrell, who has been working with the first team in practice alongside rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. Regardless, Carlisle says Curry “probably” has the edge for the starting position. “I’ve just been real impressed with him the first week and right now, it makes sense,” the coach said. “I’m not saying it’s 100 percent. But we need a consistent scorer and a guy who can guard that position and he’s continued to make strides.”

Curry started 42 of his 70 games a year ago in his first season with Dallas, averaging 12.8 points and 2.7 assists per game. He led the team on a second-half surge after joining the starting lineup in January. Dirk Nowitzki, Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews are expected to join Curry and Smith as the opening-night starting five.

There’s more NBA news out of Texas:

  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich offered a health update on Tony Parker, saying the injured point guard could be ready to return in December, relays Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Parker received partial medical clearance last week for training camp and expressed hope that he could return in November from the torn quadriceps tendon that knocked him out of the playoffs. Parker has been approved for weight work, running and shooting, but not for any contact drills. “I think he’s going to be ahead of schedule,” Popovich said. “I kept thinking he might be ready in January or something. He might be ready in December. He’s come along really well.”
  • After listening to Carmelo Anthony trade rumors all summer, the Rockets are ready to move on, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Houston was considered the likely landing spot for Anthony right up until he was traded to Oklahoma City. However, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, who once coached Anthony in New York, said talks never got far enough that he expected him to join the team. “We’re human. We think about possibilities,” D’Antoni said. “If we can get that guy, look at this. Then reality sets in. I found out if I go play a little bit more golf and quit thinking about it, I’m better off.”
  • Chris Paul has no doubt that he and James Harden can be an effective backcourt combination for the Rockets, relays Michael Lee of The Vertical. Paul forced a trade from the Clippers over the summer, telling the team he planned to opt out and sign with Houston if it didn’t deal him. “It was definitely time for a change,” Paul said.
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