Lance Thomas

Atlantic Notes: Carmelo, Sixers, Raptors

Knicks president Phil Jackson has made it clear that his preference is to move Carmelo Anthony to another team this offseason, but if it were up to Lance Thomas, Anthony would be staying in New York. As Marc Berman of The New York Post writes, Thomas called Carmelo one of his “best friends” and a great teammate.

“I love him here,” Thomas said. “I love him as a teammate, love him as a competitor, love him as a person. Everything else is out of my control, but his approach has always been great. He’s an amazing professional. I’m not going to comment on what’s happening with him and the [Knicks] and trade rumors. I just know I love him as a teammate. I want it to work out.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic division:

Knicks Notes: Rose, Anthony, Hornacek, Porzingis

Following brash remarks from Derrick Rose, the Knicks announced Carmelo Anthony (sore lower back), Lance Thomas (hip), and Rose would sit out tonight’s game against the Heat. Leading into Friday’s road match-up, D-Rose described the Knicks as a superior team to Miami.

“We’re more talented,” Rose told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. “It shows basketball is a team sport. Any year in the league is about whoever catches a rhythm. No matter how your season is going… you can always catch a rhythm, they caught theirs at the right time, winning [13 in a row]. They have been playing great basketball ever since then. So we never caught that luck this year.”

More from The Mecca…

  • Jeff Hornacek sung a different tune than Rose, saying the Knicks have much to learn from Erik Spoelstra‘s Heat. “Use Miami as an example,’’ Hornacek told Marc Berman of the New York Post. “It’s old-school basketball. Bump and grab, and the referees are not going to call all of those. As long as they stay that aggressiveness all game long, they get away with those things. They have good stretches – get five, six, seven stops in a row and take the lead on you.’’
  • Kristaps Porzingis discussed the Knicks’ shortcomings in 2016/17, citing “consistency” as a major issue for the team. “We didn’t do it from the beginning the right way,” Porzingis told Fred Kerber of the New York Post“We didn’t have real fundamentals as a team and I think from the beginning it worked for us because we played based off our talent and based off good energy. Once things got a little tougher, we just didn’t have the fundamentals as a team.” Porzingis went on to say he had the team tabbed for a “six, seven, eight seed” finish.
  • Scottie Pippen aimed pointed criticism at Phil Jackson, saying his former coach should be pushed out of his job. “I just think he [Jackson] hasn’t put the right pieces on the floor,” Pippen said on ESPN program The Jump. “I give a lot of credit to Carmelo, who has been very professional in getting through this 82-game season, and now he’s being benched to some degree, they’ve taken a lot of his minutes away. This team really just hasn’t had it. They haven’t had it since Phil Jackson landed there. I’m sure the fans will love to see Carmelo in New York and Phil out.”
  • Stefan Bondy of the Daily News outlined ‘Melo’s dilemma: being too young for a mentor role, yet too old to be on a tanking team. “Anthony is only 32 years old, too young to serve as a mentor player/coach to the likes of Ron Baker, Maurice Ndour and Chasson Randle,” Bondy writes. “He knows that. There’s too much basketball left in his legs to take on a reduced role for the sake of a rebuild — for more losing and better lottery odds. To use Anthony’s words from Wednesday, “I see the writing on the wall.”

Atlantic Notes: Brown, Anderson, Nader

Now a vital part of a competitive Celtics rotation, Jaylen Brown is making a case for the Rookie of the Year award, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England. The 20-year-old swingman has gradually improved over the course of his first campaign making modifications to his game along the way.

It’s hard because most rookies who get Rookie of the Year are playing for bad teams,” Brown’s teammate Isaiah Thomas told reporters recently. “They play 35 minutes a game, take any shot [they] want. Bigger picture, it’s better for him to be on a playoff team, understand how to win games and he knows what he brings to the table. He’s a big part of what we got going. He definitely wants to win Rookie of the Year, but it’s hard going up against guys not really playing for nothing.”

Blakely adds that the media will have a refreshing choice when it comes time to submit their votes for the award. Rather than just choose which rookie is the most productive when it comes to filling the stat sheet, they’ll be able to factor in Brown’s impact on his team’s success.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • More than just a “throw in” in last months Nerlens Noel trade, Justin Anderson is a piece that could stick around in Philadelphia. In a recent podcast, Devon Given and Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer discuss, among other things, Anderson’s ability to play defense on the perimeter for the Sixers.
  • The Raptors bench is starting to take shape, Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun writes, and Delon Wright has done an admirable job filling in as the backup point guard while Cory Joseph shifts into Kyle Lowry‘s starting position.
  • The trade that sent him from the Suns to the Celtics back in 2015 was “a Christmas gift”, says Isaiah Thomas. A. Sherrod Blakeley of CSN New England spoke with the point guard upon his return to Phoenix. Thomas performed well with the Suns but wasn’t even close to the MVP discussion that he now finds himself in with Boston.
  • Despite being recently released by the Sixers, Knicks guard Chasson Randle understands that Philadelphia’s decision to let him go was based on numbers, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Randle was released so that Philly could take on Andrew Bogut and Justin Anderson in the Nerlens Noel trade.
  • When Knicks guard Lance Thomas sat for 14 games nursing a fractured orbital bone, it allowed a lingering foot injury to heal, Fred Kerber of the New York Post writes. “Indirectly, this fracture in my face has been a blessing to help give me time to get my feet back under me,” Thomas said.
  • Second-round draft pick Abdel Nader could land a spot with the Celtics next season, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe speculates. Nader has flourished in the D-League and is being touted as the third best prospect in the league.

Knicks Notes: Point Guard Search, Rose, Thomas

The Knicks will have a hard time finding their next point guard either through the draft or free agency, writes Fred Kerber of The New York Post. With Derrick Rose unlikely to return next season, getting a replacement will be an offseason priority. However, Kerber notes that New York’s draft pick won’t be high enough to snag one of the elite point guards available, and the top free agents are likely to stay where they are.

The Knicks are currently in a three-way tie for eighth in our latest Reverse Standings, giving them just a remote shot at a top two pick that will probably be necessary to draft Washington’s Markelle Fultz or UCLA’s Lonzo Ball. That leaves lower-tier options such as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky or international standout Frank Ntilikina.

The problem is similar in free agency, where the Knicks will have about $25MM to spend, but the best available players — Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry and George Hill — are all expected to remain with their current teams. Kerber says the Knicks might target Jrue Holiday or Jeff Teague, but the Pelicans and Pacers with both have Bird rights and the advantages of being able to offer more money and more years.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Rose is optimistic about reaching the playoffs despite the Knicks’ 25-36 record, and says he plans to unleash his 3-point shot in the postseason, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. “I’m trying to put pieces of my game together,” Rose said. “I’m not shooting 3s yet. Hopefully I’ll start shooting them in the playoffs. It’s going to take a lot of sacrifice and dedication to get there. I’m just adding pieces to my game throughout the season.”
  • One positive for Rose this season has been his health, Berman notes in the same piece. Rose has appeared in 52 of the team’s 61 games, and if he plays 15 more it will be the most in a season since his ACL tear in 2012. “Two times, three times a day, the entire summer,” Rose said of his offseason workout schedule. “I worked on my game and body. That’s one of the reasons my body is holding up.”
  • The Knicks’ defense has improved significantly since Lance Thomas returned six games ago, Berman writes in a separate story. Thomas missed about a month after taking an elbow to the face in a January game and breaking the orbital bone. The time off also allowed Thomas to overcome plantar fasciitis that had been affecting him since training camp.

Atlantic Notes: Anthony, Simmons, Thomas

The Knicks suffered a disappointing loss in Toronto on Sunday, at one point down 38 points. It was a fitting end to a chaotic week. To the chagrin of those looking for a drastic roster moves in the Big Apple, New York Daily News writer Frank Isola confirmed that Carmelo Anthony has not considered waiving his no-trade clause.

Anthony spoke to the media following the game. Per Isola: “If [the Knicks] feel like my time in New York is over, I guess that’s a conversation we should have.”

Earlier this weekend, Isola wrote about a reported tirade that Anthony is said to have gone on following a Wednesday night loss to the Sixers. At the time Isola reported that it wasn’t expected that Anthony would waive the clause either.

With three years left on his contract, Anthony could technically remain with the Knicks until he’s 35 years old. Whether recent events could change things, remains to be seen. If one thing is known, it’s that Anthony won’t be hastily moved without his permission.

There’s plenty more out of the Atlantic Division today:

  • Injured rookie Ben Simmons has been traveling with the Sixers, writes Brian Seltzer of the Sixers’ official website, and Brett Brown is a firm believer in the impact that can have on a young player. “It’s feeling the gyms, it’s feeling the preparation, it’s being a part of a scout tape as you go through game preparation, it’s being on a bench, and seeing referees, and seeing players, and watching how the different flow of the game is real.
  • After suffering a foot injury in October, Jared Sullinger has recently returned to practice for the Raptors. The forward is well aware of the long road ahead of him before he’s in game shape. “It feels great, but horrible at the same time,” Sullinger tells Ryan Wolstat of the National Post of his first week of on-court action, “I have no lungs.”
  • The Sixers are starting to win basketball games and play with confidence, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “This is the first time that we’ve had, no disrespect to other teams, but we have an actual team,” said big man Nerlens Noel, the most tenured player on the roster.
  • After leaving New York’s Sunday matchup, Knicks forward Lance Thomas is said to have suffered a “fracture to a bone in his cheek,” says ESPN’s Ian Begley over Twitter.

Injury Roundup: Mahinmi, Noel, Thomas, Ezeli

Wizards center Ian Mahinmi could return to practice on a limited basis next week, J. Michael of reports. Mahinmi underwent left knee surgery on October 15th to repair cartilage. The initial recovery period for his return to action was 4-6 weeks, according to Michael. The former Pacers big man signed a four-year, $64MM contract with Washington over the summer despite the presence of Marcin Gortat.

In other injury-related news around the league:

  • Sixers big man Nerlens Noel could return to Philadelphia this week to continue his rehabilitation from a left knee injury, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Noel underwent surgery during training camp to repair inflamed tissue above the knee after appearing in just one preseason game.
  • Knicks forward Lance Thomas has a bone bruise in his left ankle and is out indefinitely, Marc Berman of the New York Post tweets. Thomas has played in eight games off the bench, averaging 3.9 points and 2.4 rebounds in 17.5 minutes. Justin Holiday will likely pick up most of his minutes.
  • Bulls small forward Doug McDermott could miss the team’s entire six-game road trip because of a concussion, Nick Friedell of relays. McDermott entered the concussion protocol for the second time this season after a hard fall on Saturday. McDermott has appeared in nine games this season, averaging 10.6 points. Nikola Mirotic will need to be a bigger factor with McDermott sidelined.
  • Trail Blazers center Festus Ezeli is receiving another medical opinion on his left knee injury, according to Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. The former Warriors reserve, who signed a two-year, $16MM contract to join Portland, hasn’t appeared in a game this season since undergoing a knee procedure this summer.
  • Jazz power forward Derrick Favors will be sidelined “for a while,” coach Quin Snyder told Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link). Favors was diagnosed with a bone contusion in his left knee on Wednesday. Trey Lyles will likely take Favors’ starting spot while he mends.

Injury Notes: Horford, Crowder, Thomas, Beal

Al Horford is still dealing with the lingering effects of a concussion and the big man isn’t sure when he will play again, Mike Petraglia of Green Street writes. “I’m just not where I want to be right now, but trying to work through it,” Horford said. “This is something very new to me, so it’s just trying to get used to this.” Horford added that he is eager to return to the court in order to help the Celtics win games, but doesn’t want to risk a setback. “We’re trying to be as smart as we can about this. I just want to make sure that when I’m ready to go, I’m good to go,” he said.

Here’s more injury notes from around the league:

  • Jae Crowder took part in shooting drills today, something he hasn’t done since spraining his ankle earlier this month, Petraglia passes along in the same piece. Crowder will remain sidelined for the Celtics match-up with the Mavericks on Wednesday night.
  • Lance Thomas has plantar fasciitis in both of his feet, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reports. “It’s been hard to move at the speed that I’m used to and the speed that my teammates are used to me moving, especially defensively,” Thomas said. The forward remains sidelined because of a bone bruise in his left ankle and it has limited his impact on court. The Knicks signed Thomas to a four-year, $27MM deal during the offseason and expected him to be a solid contributor off the bench, but the 28-year-old has only scored a total of 31 points during the eight games he has played this season.
  • Bradley Beal‘s status for Wednesday’s game against the Sixers remains up in the air, but if he is able to play, he’ll be on a minute restriction the following night against the Knicks, J Michael of Comcast Sportsnet writes. Beal is dealing with a hamstring injury this year and it has caused him to miss the last two games.  The shooting guard has struggled with an injuries to his leg during his four years in the league, but coach Scott Brooks said that the two injuries are “totally unrelated.”

Eastern Notes: Drummond, Knicks, Wizards

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy wants to increase Andre Drummond‘s workload but he’s willing to sit his All-Star center if he’s not playing well. Van Gundy said this week that he plans to rest Drummond in shorter bursts this season. “He’s capable of playing big minutes,” Van Gundy said. “We want him out there a lot. Barring foul trouble, we’re trying to get him to where his rests are shorter.” Drummond took a long rest on Wednesday, when the Pistons lost to the Nets. He was benched most of the second half after being outplayed by Brook Lopez. “He was just, in my opinion, bringing absolutely nothing to the game,” Van Gundy told the assembled media in his postgame press conference. “I don’t know if he was tired or what the deal was, but he didn’t bring any energy to the game.”
In other news around the Eastern Conference:
  • Forward Lance Thomas is off to a rough start after being re-signed this offseason to a four-year, $27MM deal by the Knicks, Marc Berman of the New York Post points out. He is averaging 3.3 points on 33% shooting in 20.6 minutes and his defense hasn’t been good enough to make up for his offensive woes, Berman continues. New coach Jeff Hornacek has stuck with Thomas in the rotation even though European rookie Mindaugas Kuzminskas might be a better option, Berman adds.
  • Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue admits he wasn’t paying much attention during the free agency period, Chris Fedor of reports. Lue was impressed when he found out about the Celtics’ signing of Al Horford, making Boston of one the main threats to Cleveland in the Eastern Conference, Fedor adds. “Whenever you are able to acquire another All-Star automatically you are going to get better,” Lue told Fedor. “That’s a great piece in going in the right direction.”
  • Wizards rookie point guard Tomas Satoransky may have already moved ahead of Trey Burke in the rotation behind starter John Wall, according to Candace Buckner of the Washington Post. Satoransky played 10 second-half minutes against the Raptors on Wednesday in place of Burke, who was acquired in a trade with the Jazz this offseason, Buckner adds. “It’s definitely something that’s going to be considered,” new coach Scott Brooks told Buckner. “Tomas brings a lot of energy and brings some toughness and has good size and athleticism. He’s played that position his entire life.”

Eastern Notes: Anthony, Wade, Meeks, Reed

Carmelo Anthony believes bad timing is all that prevented Dwyane Wade from joining him on the Knicks, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Wade sent shock waves throughout the NBA earlier this month when he agreed to leave the Heat and sign with the Bulls. Anthony says if Wade’s situation had become apparent earlier, the Knicks could have freed up the cap room to fit him on the roster. “There was a chance, definitely a chance,’’ Anthony said. “We would’ve had to pull a rabbit out of a hat in the 25th hour though. There was a chance. If it was two days earlier, we probably would’ve had Dwyane Wade.”

After signing free agent center Joakim Noah for $72MM over four years, New York had just enough cap room left to offer Wade the contract he wanted. However, it would have meant not signing Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings and renouncing the rights to Lance Thomas. Looking ahead, Anthony thinks the Knicks have the pieces in place to be major players in the 2017 free agent market.

There’s more tonight from the Eastern Conference:

  • Newly acquired Magic shooting guard Jodie Meeks is out indefinitely after undergoing foot surgery Tuesday, writes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Meeks needed the procedure to stabilize the fifth metatarsal in his right foot, which he fractured early last season. Doctors offered little clue as to when Meeks might be able to play again. Orlando acquired him in a June 29th trade, sending a second-round pick to the Pistons in return.
  • Former Magic guard Devyn Marble is getting interest from teams in Europe and China, according to Orazio Cauchi of Sportando. Marble, who spent two years in Orlando, was traded to the Clippers last week and subsequently waived in a cost-cutting move.
  • After passing up better offers and signing with the Heat, Willie Reed believes he’s in a perfect situation, writes Shandel Richardson of The Sun-Sentinel. After going undrafted and playing in Spain and the D-League, Reed’s future now appears secure after joining Miami on a two-year veteran’s minimum deal. He is expected to back up newly re-signed center Hassan Whiteside. After two seasons on the Heat’s summer league team, Reed knew he wanted to play for Miami. “I wanted to be able to come to the Heat [this offseason],” Reed said. “I told my agent that if I was able to get a minimum deal with the Heat, I’d take it just because what they did for me.”

Knicks Notes: Thomas, Durant, Jackson, Jennings

Lance Thomas decided to re-sign with the Knicks because he didn’t want to be known as a “loser” in New York, relays Ian Begley of Thomas, a restricted free agent, agreed to a four-year deal worth about $27.3MM. The fifth-year combo forward was born in Brooklyn and was concerned about his legacy after the Knicks finished far out of the playoff race during his two seasons with the team. “I grew up a Knicks fan; this is the team I grew up watching,” Thomas said. “Me being from the area and planning on being in the area for the majority of my life, I didn’t want my legacy as a Knick to be a loser.”

There’s more news out of New York:

  • The Knicks were hoping to meet with Kevin Durant to establish a relationship in case he tried free agency again next summer, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Durant can still opt out of his new contract with the Warriors in 2017, but he indicated this week that he expects to stay in Golden State for a long time. New York wasn’t one of the five teams that Durant met with last weekend, but GM Steve Mills said he was encouraged by the process. “We knew KD wanted to pick a team that had a chance to win a championship this upcoming season,” Mills said. “We didn’t fit that bill. We know if he made a decision to do a 1-and-1, we would’ve had a meeting with him. The idea he did a 1-and-1 with Golden State, my assumption is he’ll stay there.”
  • “Super teams” like the one created with Durant’s move to the Warriors, are an inevitable consequence of the sudden rise in the salary cap, Knicks president Phil Jackson says in the same story. “That’s the way it’s going to be for a while — players allowed this to go forward instead of smoothing it, so there’s tons of money,” Jackson said. “There’s an opportunity to do major moves in the NBA.”
  • Jackson expects newly signed guard Brandon Jennings to be Sixth Man of the Year next season, Begley writes in a separate piece. Jennings, who spent this season with the Pistons and Magic, inked a one-year deal with the Knicks this week for $5MM. He doesn’t mind taking on a reserve role and said he will try to live up to Jackson’s expectations. “I’m definitely gonna embrace that role,” Jennings said. “I don’t see why I can’t be in that conversation, and I’m fine with it. I’m definitely fine with it.”
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