Carmelo Anthony

Injury/Coronavirus Updates: Craig, Butler, Okongwu, Snell, Caruso, Anthony

Bucks swingman Torrey Craig suffered a nasal fracture on Sunday against the Knicks and won’t play against the Heat on Tuesday, the team’s PR department tweets. Craig signed with Milwaukee last month after the Nuggets failed to extend a qualifying offer.

We have more injury and COVID-19 news:

  • Heat star Jimmy Butler is doubtful to play against the Bucks on Tuesday, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets. Butler sprained an ankle during the team’s game on Friday.
  • Hawks rookie big man Onyeka Okongwu (left foot inflammation) and guard Tony Snell (right foot inflammation) have been cleared to progress to live contact workouts, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic tweets.
  • Alex Caruso became the first Lakers player to miss a game due to COVID-19 protocols. Caruso sat out against Portland on Monday. Coach Frank Vogel said no other players or staff members were held out due to contact tracing, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony wasn’t with his team due to the same reason, as Casey Holdahl tweets.

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Randle, Anthony, Robinson

The Knicks have 15 days to decide whether to extend Frank Ntilikina‘s rookie contract, but the 22-year-old guard still doesn’t have an established role with the team, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Given Ntilikina’s uneven NBA career so far and the logjam in the team’s backcourt, Berman believes a trade before the March deadline is more likely than an extension.

Ntilikina brushed off questions about a possible new deal, saying, “The business part is going to take care of itself. I’m here to get better every day, to get this team better.’’

Ntilikina’s chances to prove himself to new coach Tom Thibodeau might be limited. Elfrid Payton, who started the most games at point guard for the Knicks last year, re-signed during the offseason. Dennis Smith Jr. is also back, and New York added Austin Rivers in free agency.

“We have a lot of guards on this team, a lot of competitors, which is going to bring the best out of the team,’’ Ntilikina said. “We’re going to compete hard for minutes and the coach is going to decide what he wants to do. We have trust in him. He knows what he’s doing. He knows his job. So he’s going to put the best players together on the court.’’

There’s more from New York:

  • Julius Randle isn’t concerned that the Knicks used their lottery pick to add Obi Toppin, a player with similar skills who may eventually replace him at power forward, Berman adds in a separate story. Many observers don’t think Randle and Toppin can be effective playing together, but Randle insists they’ll find a way. “He’s an athletic player from what I know,’’ he said. “I haven’t seen much of him. But he can shoot it and run the floor. So I think we’ll be able to complement each other very well. The game is position-less now. To have many guys be versatile and do many things is great.’’ 
  • Team president Leon Rose reportedly had interest in bringing Carmelo Anthony, one of his former CAA clients, back to New York, but Anthony didn’t consider the move once it became clear the Knicks were going to continue with their youth movement, Berman writes in another piece“They are rebuilding and figuring out what’s in their near future,” Anthony said. “It was me personally wanting to be part of a situation I was already comfortable with (in Portland). I just finished playing with these guys two, three months ago. I felt it was the right fit at this point of time where I’m at right now this particular year.’’
  • Mitchell Robinson is moving on to his sixth agent as he enters his third year in the league, according to Berman. Robinson is leaving Klutch Sports to sign with the Wasserman Group.

Northwest Notes: Conley, Anthony, Barton, Miller

Mike Conley is one of two Jazz players in the COVID-19 protocol, though he has tested negative for the virus. He had close contact with a family member who tested positive, which has forced him to the sidelines. He has to produce seven consecutive negative tests before he can exit quarantine, according to the Salt Lake Tribune’s Eric Walden (Twitter links). The other player who is not currently allowed to practice has yet to be named publicly.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Carmelo Anthony realizes he’ll probably be coming off the bench this season with the Trail Blazers but he admits it’s a difficult adjustment for a longtime All-Star, ESPN’s Royce Young tweets. “I tried it in Houston but it was only seven or eight games,” he said. “This is new for me. … I had to take a deep breath and figure it out. We’ll make it work.”
  • Swingman Will Barton believes he should be part of the Nuggets’ starting five, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. “I’m a starter in this league. … I think it’s clear cut,” he said. “I’m a starter. At the end of the day, (it’s up to Coach (Michael) Malone).” Barton missed all of the restart, including Denver’s playoff run, with a knee injury. Barton could wind up competing with Michael Porter Jr. for the small forward spot, though Porter will also see action at power forward.
  • Darius Miller expects to be fully recovered from his Achilles injury by the start of the season, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes. “I’m feeling pretty good,” Miller said. “Unfortunately with COVID I haven’t had a chance to play a lot, but the team’s working with me, and they’ve got me going at a pretty good pace.” Miller, who was on the Pelicans roster, missed all of last season due to the injury. He was dealt to the Thunder in the four-team deal that sent Steven Adams to New Orleans.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Knicks, Bembry, T. Davis

In his first public comments this week after leaving Boston for Charlotte, veteran forward Gordon Hayward said he holds no “ill will” toward the Celtics, as Nick Friedell of ESPN writes.

Addressing Hayward’s departure during an appearance on Boston radio show Toucher & Rich on Tuesday, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said the team wanted to bring back Hayward, but that the forward preferred the Hornets due to an opportunity to take on more of a featured role — the fact that Charlotte made the largest contract offer probably didn’t hurt either.

Hayward’s exit did allow the Celtics to create a massive $28.5MM traded player exception that can be used during the season or in the 2021 offseason. As Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston relays, Ainge said on Tuesday that he doesn’t expect to utilize that exception right away.

“We could use it to get three players or four players to strengthen our bench at different times,” Ainge said. “We’re not going to go do anything right now, just because it’s that time of year where people love their teams. Everybody has gotten better in the offseason.

“We’ll see how this season goes and see where we are. We’ll have the ability to improve our team at the trade deadline, and improve our team next offseason if not. It just gives us another vehicle to acquire players that we would not have had.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Within a recap of the Knicks‘ offseason moves, Marc Berman of The New York Post suggests that Leon Rose‘s Plan A involved trading for Chris Paul and then signing Carmelo Anthony. When Paul, who reportedly wasn’t interested in joining the Knicks, was instead sent to Phoenix, Rose pivoted and completed a handful of minor signings and trades to fill out the roster.
  • In a separate story for The New York Post, Berman examines how new head coach Tom Thibodeau plans to balance the Knicks‘ player development goals with a desire to be competitive in 2020/21.
  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse told reporters today that Toronto’s front office has liked DeAndre’ Bembry for a while and was happy to have the chance to sign him this offseason (Twitter link via Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca). Nurse praised Bembry’s toughness, defense, and play-making, referring to him as a “high-IQ guy.”
  • Having guaranteed Terence Davis‘ salary for 2020/21, the Raptors continue to wait for the NBA to complete its investigation into the allegations of domestic violence against the second-year guard, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “I think sometimes that may feel a bit unsatisfying but I think that we need to be respectful of that process as well,” general manager Bobby Webster said on Tuesday.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Bogdanovic, Green, Nuggets

The Trail Blazers were aggressive about seeking out roster upgrades this offseason, trading for Robert Covington and Enes Kanter while signing Derrick Jones in free agency and bringing back Rodney Hood on a new deal.

According to Jason Quick of The Athletic, a push from Damian Lillard provided president of basketball operations Neil Olshey with some extra motivation as he completed those transactions. Lillard said he’s been “transparent” with Olshey about wanting the team to make roster moves that give the Trail Blazers a “real shot” at winning a title.

“That’s just what I’ve been communicating to him: ‘Come on man, let’s really make a run for it. Let’s go for it,'” the Trail Blazers’ star point guard said. “Let’s not be the organization that says, ‘Oh, we’ve made the playoffs this many years in a row. We’ve got a good culture, we’ve got this …’ Let’s put ourselves out there and try to do whatever we can do to give ourselves a real shot. Let’s try to bring the glory back to Portland.”

Covington and Jones will likely open the regular season as the Trail Blazers’ starting forwards, head coach Terry Stotts said on Tuesday, per Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com. That would mean Carmelo Anthony coming off the bench, which is something the team discussed with him before he re-signed.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic, who is coming off of wrist surgery, said on Tuesday that he’s “really happy” with where he’s at in his recovery process, though he admitted he’s not sure whether or not he’ll be ready for the start of the season. Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune has the details.
  • The Clippers, Lakers, Spurs, Sixers, and Bucks were among the teams that had interest in JaMychal Green in free agency, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post, but the veteran forward ultimately chose the Nuggets. Green cited the Nuggets’ unselfish play, young talent, and tenacity in explaining his decision. “Blowing a 3-1 lead, they just fought,” Green said, referring to Denver’s Western Conference Semifinals win over his Clippers. “It just showed you the type of heart they had.”
  • The Nuggets experienced more roster turnover than usual this fall. Now, facing an unorthodox training camp and preseason schedule, head coach Michael Malone says it’ll be a challenge to get everyone integrated and comfortable before the regular season begins. “Continuity has been one of our greatest strengths for the last few years, and this is probably the first time in my five going on six years we’ve had this much of a turnover,” Malone said, according to Kendra Andrews of The Athletic. “So that will be the biggest challenge.”

Blazers Notes: Jones, Carmelo, Covington, Elleby

Before he committed to the Trail Blazers, Derrick Jones had free agency meetings with the Kings and Timberwolves, as Jonathan Abrams of The New York Times details in an interesting blow-by-blow account of Jones’ night on November 20.

According to Abrams, Jones mostly listened and nodded during Sacramento’s eight-minute pitch, but was more engaged and asked questions on a call with Portland that lasted nearly an hour. Jones seemed ready to commit to the Blazers on the spot, but his agent Aaron Turner said they’d let the team know by the end of the night.

Jones was also impressed by the Timberwolves’ pitch that came next, but was still leaning toward Portland’s offer. The Blazers had said they’d be talking to other free agents over the course of the night and would sign the first one that called back to agree to their offer, so Jones had to make a fairly quick decision, Abrams writes.

After Turner called back the Wolves to see if they could increase their offer at all, he told them Jones would be signing elsewhere, and contacted the Blazers to accept their two-year offer worth the full mid-level.

“Getting a guy like Derrick — an elite athlete, protects the rim, great finisher, rates in the 80th percentile in blocks and steals — was a big win for us,” president of basketball operations Neil Olshey said of the signing this week, per Jason Quick of The Athletic.

Here’s more on the Blazers:

  • Before Carmelo Anthony agreed to re-sign with Portland, he and Olshey talked about his potential role, discussing the possibility that the 10-time All-Star could come off the bench this season. “Ideally, for him, he would still start. I think that’s where his mindset is — he’s never come off the bench,” Olshey told reporters this week, per Quick. “Obviously, that will be (coach Terry Stotts‘) call. But I think the conversation was, ‘Make the decision to come back based on the reality that you will likely come off the bench.'”
  • Olshey added that he believes it makes more sense to have Anthony as part of the second unit, since he can be a featured scorer off the bench, whereas newly-added forward Robert Covington doesn’t need the ball much, making him a “perfect complement” to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
  • One of the Blazers’ top offseason goals was to find someone who can be their fourth-best player behind Lillard, McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic. As Quick writes, the Blazers believes Covington will be that player. “Now we know we have a fourth guy every night that can make a high enough impact that can give us a chance to win,” Olshey said.
  • Olshey expressed excitement about CJ Elleby, the No. 46 overall pick in the draft who has signed a guaranteed two-year, minimum-salary contract with the club. “I think he is a really good basketball player,” Olshey said, according to Quick. “I think we will all probably anticipate that this year will be an apprenticeship for him, but he will have a chance to compete every day with our younger players. He has a chance to have a very long career.”

Trail Blazers Sign Carmelo Anthony To One-Year Contract

NOVEMBER 22, 8:32pm: The signing is official, according to a team press release.


NOVEMBER 21, 4:15pm: Carmelo Anthony is returning to Portland, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the veteran forward is finalizing a new deal with the Trail Blazers. It’ll be for one year, Charania adds (via Twitter). It’ll be another minimum-salary contract, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

The Knicks were among the teams believed to have interest in signing Anthony in free agency this fall. However, as Charania explains (via Twitter), Anthony wanted to show loyalty to the Blazers after they gave him an opportunity to return to the NBA last season, and he knows what sort of role to expect in Portland.

Anthony, who signed with the Blazers almost exactly a year ago, averaged 15.4 PPG and 6.3 RPG on .430/.385/.845 in 58 games (all starts) for the club in 2019/20.

It has been an active offseason so far for the Blazers, who agreed to re-sign Rodney Hood, struck a deal with free agent wing Derrick Jones, and reached trade agreements to acquire Robert Covington and Enes Kanter.

Although the Blazers barely squeaked into the Western Conference playoff picture this year, injuries played a major part in the club’s season-long struggles, and Portland looked like a different team during the restart when Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins returned. The Blazers will be looking to re-establish themselves as one of the West’s top teams in 2020/21.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Western Rumors: Howard, Lakers, Carmelo, Cousins, Kanter, More

Before he agreed to a deal with the Sixers on Friday night, Dwight Howard posted a message on his Twitter account indicating that he would be re-signing with the Lakers.

“I’m staying right where I belong,” Howard wrote. “Laker nation I love y’all. Purple and gold never gets old.”

A few minutes later, the tweet had been deleted, and a little later in the evening, Howard was set to join the 76ers. So what happened?

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, sources within the Lakers’ organization are adamant that they never put a formal offer on the table for Howard and that they discussed a “deal concept.” Howard, on the other hand, believe that if he agreed to the “deal concept,” the two sides had a deal.

As Haynes writes, Lakers management told Howard’s agent they had to consult with team ownership and get approval before making an official offer. The veteran center waited for almost an hour without hearing back, sources tell Haynes. Ultimately, the communication breakdown resulted in Howard preparing to head east for the 2020/21 season.

Here are a few more free agency notes and rumors from around the Western Conference:

  • The Trail Blazers haven’t ruled out the possibility of re-signing Carmelo Anthony, even after lining up deals to acquire Robert Covington and Derrick Jones, tweets David Aldridge of The Athletic.
  • The Rockets touched base with DeMarcus Cousins‘ camp today, a source told Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). Iko’s report came before the team reached a deal with Christian Wood, so it’s not clear whether or not signing Cousins remains an option for Houston.
  • Now that the Lakers aren’t an option for Tristan Thompson, the Clippers could emerge as a real possibility, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, who notes (via Twitter) that it’d be a chance for Thompson to reunite with Tyronn Lue.
  • The Lakers and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope remain interested in getting a deal done, but will have to reach a compromise on salary, tweets Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Caldwell-Pope is seeking a raise, while the Lakers won’t have a ton of wiggle room below their hard cap.
  • The Celtics gave Enes Kanter a choice of being traded to either the Grizzlies or Trail Blazers in the deal that was completed earlier today, and Kanter chose Portland, a source tells Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Count the Timberwolves among the teams with interest in free agent big man Paul Millsap, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link).

Blazers Expected To Pursue Millsap In Free Agency

The Trail Blazers had some success with an aging former All-Star forward last season. It appears they’ll be looking to sign another one in free agency.

Portland is expected to pursue Paul Millsap, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer tweets. Millsap, 35, is an unrestricted free agent.

Millsap is highly respected for his toughness, leadership and shooting. He averaged 11.6 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 24.3 MPG and made a career-best 43.5% of his 3-point tries last season.

The Blazers are looking for another big body who can match up with power forwards like Anthony Davis, O’Connor notes.

Millsap could essentially replace Carmelo Anthony, who is also an unrestricted free agent. Anthony saw extensive action at both forward spots after Portland signed him last winter. There’s been no indication whether the Blazers are committed to trying to re-sign him.

With a healthy Zach Collins on the roster, Millsap would figure to have a second-unit role if he joined the Blazers. Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said in late September that he would “love” to see Millsap finish out his career in Denver.

And-Ones: Social Justice Board, Boatright, Jazz, Moore

Carmelo Anthony, Avery Bradley, Sterling Brown, Donovan Mitchell and Karl-Anthony Towns are the players chosen to serve on the league’s Social Justice Coalition Board, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania (Twitter links).

The NBA and NBPA agreed to create the group to advance equality and social justice after teams walked out of games in late August to protest a police shooting. Commissioner Adam Silver, deputy commissioner Mark Tatum and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, as well as owners Micky Arison, Steve Ballmer, Clay Bennett, Marc Lasry and Vivek Randadive and coaches Lloyd Pierce and Doc Rivers.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Ryan Boatright has signed with Lithuanian club team BC Rytas Vilnius, the team tweets. Boatright, 28, played in Europe last season after spending time in the G League during the 2018/19 season. The former University of Connecticut guard also played in Italy, China and Turkey.
  • The sale price of the Jazz bodes well for the league’s franchise valuations, Bill Shea of The Athletic notes. The team, along with an arena and a couple of minor-league teams, were sold to Qualtrics founder Ryan Smith for $1.66 billion, and the league’s owners are expected to approve the sale. The valuation falls in line with expectations and doesn’t reflect any pandemic discount, Shea continues. It also reinforces the notion that team values keep going up.
  • Former Pacers forward Ben Moore has signed with South East Melbourne Phoenix of Australia’s NBL, according to the team. Moore is expected to join the club for preseason training next month. Moore, who also spent time in the Spurs organization, logged two games with Indiana during the 2017/18 season.