Posted on: September 24, 2010 7:19 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2010 10:46 am
The Knicks didn't get LeBron James. Or Dwyane Wade. Or Chris Bosh. Was the offseason a failure? Hardly. The Knicks are relevant again, with superstar Amar'e Stoudemire and supporting players Mike D'Antoni actually wants to coach. Playoffs? Let's not get carried away, but they have a shot. Which is more than the Knicks have been able to say for a long time. The buzz is back at Madison Square Garden. Now, all Donnie Walsh has to do is get Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul or Tony Parker. Maybe then he'd get some of the credit he's due. But even if Walsh never signs or trades for another player, he's already restored respectability and competitivenss to what was a lost franchise when he took over.
Training camp site: Greenburgh, N.Y.
Training camp starts: Sept. 25
Key additions: Amar’e Stoudemire (sign-and-trade), Raymond Felton (free agent), Anthony Randolph (trade), Kelenna Azubuike (trade), Ronny Turiaf (trade), Roger Mason Jr. (free agent), Landry Fields (draft).
Key subtractions: The stench of a decade of irrelevance. And David Lee (sign-and-trade)
Likely starting lineup: Felton, PG; Wilson Chandler, SG; Danilo Gallinari, SF; Stoudemire, PF; Ronny Turiaf, C.
Player to watch: Eddy Curry. Once again, all eyes are on the Knicks’ troubled center, who was on the verge of being an All-Star a few short years ago and now is hanging onto his career by a thread. Curry hasn’t made it through the first day of training camp for the past two years, so progress will be measured in baby steps. The best thing that could happen for all concerned is that Curry somehow stays healthy, keeps his weight in check, and shows enough in preseason to coax someone into taking on his $11.3 million expiring contract in a scenario that makes the Knicks better. For now, making it through a practice will do.
Chemistry check: Although the Knicks inexplicably flirted with past demons with the ill-fated attempt to bring Isiah Thomas back as a consultant, this is as clean as the slate has been at Madison Square Garden in years. With athletes like Stoudemire and Randolph, shooters like Gallinari and Mason, and a serviceable point guard in Felton, Mike D’Antoni finally will get to fully implement his offensive philosophy. Just as important, Stoudemire’s star power will bring the buzz back to the Garden.
Injury watch: Azubuike is still recovering from last season’s knee injury, and when he’s ready, he’ll be the starting shooting guard. That will give D’Antoni the flexibility to slide Chandler to the three or four, making him interchangeable with Gallinari and Randolph depending on matchups. Curry should be the starting center on paper, and the Knicks would like for him to be productive to increase his trade value. But if Curry falters – a good bet, given his track record – the Knicks are extremely high on Russian rookie Timofey Mozgov. D’Antoni is a huge fan of the 7-1 center, who figures to pass Curry on the depth chart by the start of the regular season.
Camp battles: Aside from Curry-Mozgov, D’Antoni has a pretty good idea of what the rotation will be. Mason, Bill Walker, Randolph and Turiaf give D’Antoni the most bench flexibility that he’s had since he came to New York. Fields, a sleeper in the draft who impressed with his length, athleticism and intelligent play during Summer League and in offseason workouts, figures to be a regular part of the rotation.
Biggest strength: The Knicks have been so bad, irrelevant and mismanaged for so long that the fact that team president Donnie Walsh has them under the cap with a superstar big man and young talent around him has gone overlooked. Such is the hangover from the pursuit of LeBron James. But remember: If Walsh hadn’t created cap space for two max players, James wasn’t coming to New York anyway. If Walsh hadn’t landed Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony wouldn’t want to come, either.
Glaring weakness: Aside from needing one more star to compete with the elite teams in the East, the Knicks need something D’Antoni isn’t known for: defense. They definitely have the athletes to defend better than their reputation under D’Antoni would suggest. Now they have to add the commitment and prioritize it, which will be one of the most important goals in training camp.
Posted on: September 24, 2010 2:20 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2010 11:02 am
A proposed four-team trade that would send Carmelo Anthony to the Nets gained momentum Friday night, with sources telling CBSSports.com that New Jersey officials have grown confident that Anthony wouldn't block such a deal.
Two executives involved in the complicated discussions among the Nuggets, Nets, Bobcats and Jazz dismissed a published report saying Anthony had already given his approval. That aspect of the transaction, necessary because the Nets won't trade for Anthony unless he agrees to a contract extension, is "the easy part," one of the execs said. The hard part is the structure of the deal, which ran into a couple of roadblocks over the past 48 hours.
One impediment, sources say, is the Bobcats' refusal to include point guard D.J. Augustin in the trade. The Nets, who will be left without a starting point guard with Devin Harris going to Charlotte in the four-team scenario, don't necessarily view that as a deal-breaker. But sources say the Nets, the team that has been most aggressive in its pursuit of Anthony since it became known six weeks ago he wanted out of Denver, are concerned enough that they are continuing their attempts to pry Augustin from the Bobcats. If they're unsuccessful, another option would be to try to bring in another team.
"It could expand," one of the sources said.
UPDATE: As the Nets began two-a-day practices in New Jersey and the Nuggets prepared for media day in 48 hours, one executive involved in the process said he was "not optimistic" the deal would be finalized Saturday. A second executive with knowledge of the negotiations said the transaction was "still developing," adding that Augustin was still not included in the deal.
"There’s a lot of moving parts in there that could cause it to fall apart," said an executive not involved in the negotiations. "There’s no deal breakers in there, though. If that’s what Denver wants for Carmelo -- I don’t think it's much -- but if that's what they want, they can get it done."
That executive, whose team tried without success to get into the Melo sweepstakes, added, "I'm not sure Melo's sold on Jersey. I think he's worried about going there by himself." If that's the case, one of the road blocks could be determining the likelihood that Chris Paul -- who like Anthony has made noise about wanting to be traded this summer and is represented by Creative Artists Agency -- would be inclined to join him as a free agent in 2012, just in time for the Nets' move to Brooklyn.
"That could very well be the sticking point," the executive said.
The execs involved in the trade discussions were not aware of Anthony signing off on being sent to New Jersey, as reported by the New York Daily News, but would not be surprised given the vibes they've gotten previously from Anthony's team of advisers at CAA, including agents Leon Rose and William Wesley.
The Nuggets, Nets, Bobcats and Jazz began discussing the four-way deal "weeks ago," according to one of the people with knowledge of the talks. The Nuggets, trying to take control of the message and the leverage, accelerated matters in the past 48 hours when GM Masai Ujiri and executive Josh Kroenke -- son of owner Stan Kroenke -- flew to the New York area to meet with Nets officials, sources told CBSSports.com. Ujiri and Kroenke left the city Friday without finalizing details of the trade, sources said, but all parties agreed to "keep working on it."
Yahoo! Sports reported that Denver was giving Anthony 48 hours to decide whether he'd agree to an extension and be traded to the Nets or stay in Denver.
The Nuggets would get No. 3 overall pick Derrick Favors from the Nets, who would send Harris to the Bobcats and Quinton Ross to the Jazz. Charlotte, in turn, would send Boris Diaw to Utah, which would send Andrei Kirilenko to the Nuggets. Denver also would get a 2012 first-round pick from the Nets, who got the pick from Golden State. The selection is top-seven protected in 2012 and '13 and top-six protected in '14.
With the framework of the deal now public, the Nuggets can use it to solicit better offers from other teams. The Knicks, for example, have taken a patient approach, believing that Anthony wouldn't find a better situation than waiting until after the season and signing as a free agent with New York -- his first choice. Now, the Knicks may be compelled to reignite previous efforts to locate an attractive first-round pick to send to Denver. Newsday reported that Knicks president Donnie Walsh was taking a wait-and-see approach and was not willing to gut his revamped roster to get Anthony.
At the same time, Anthony has something to think about besides simply wanting out of Denver. He has the possibility of a consolation prize -- playing in the New York market, but doing it in New Jersey for the next two years. Given Anthony's displeasure with the instability in Denver -- including the ousting of GM Mark Warkentien and the resulting departure of George Karl's trusted assistant, Tim Grgurich -- that may be a more attractive option. If nothing else, the Nuggets are forcing him to make that call now, before even stepping foot on the court for training camp. If the tactic works, offers will come flooding in from other teams who are looking to get in the sweepstakes.
Posted on: September 23, 2010 4:44 pm
Let the Melodrama begin. A little more than a year after a trip to the Western Conference finals, the Nuggets are on the verge of implosion. Superstar Carmelo Anthony wants a trade, but first he's going to have to show up at training camp Monday and answer questions about it for days on end. George Karl is back from his valiant cancer fight -- without trusted assistant Tim Grgurich and with a long list of issues. Karl, perhaps, is the Nuggets last, best hope to talk Melo out of wanting out.
Training camp site: Pepsi Center, Denver
Training camp starts: Sept. 28
Key additions: Al Harrington (free agent), Shelden Williams (free agent).
Key subtractions: Johan Petro (free agent), Joey Graham (free agent), Malik Allen (free agent).
Likely starting lineup: Chauncey Billups, PG; Arron Afflalo, SG; Carmelo Anthony, SF; Al Harrington, PF; Nene, C.
Player to watch: All eyes are on Melo. If he’s not traded by the time camp opens Monday – and all signs point to not –then the Melodrama will only get thicker and thicker. There’s zero chance Anthony refuses to show up for camp; he is an image-conscious superstar who is going about his trade request professionally, as opposed to the Rudy Fernandez scorched-Earth approach in Portland, for example. (Plus, Melo doesn’t want to be fined, nor would he disrespect George Karl that way.) But how Anthony responds to the media attention, how he interacts with his teammates after weeks of news reports, and ultimately whether he’s able to reconnect with Karl will be the three biggest stories of camp for Denver.
Chemistry check: This should be a happy time, with Karl returning to the bench after missing much of last season due to cancer treatments. As usual, Karl has a restless locker room to deal with – and Melo isn’t the only problem. Kenyon Martin openly questioned whether the Nuggets got better this summer. J.R. Smith needs to go. The Nuggets cleaned out their front office, too, jettisoning 2008-09 executive of the year Mark Warkentien and Rex Chapman and hiring Toronto assistant Masai Ujiri while giving more power to adviser Bret Bearup and executive Josh Kroenke. Oh, and Karl’s longtime assistant, Tim Grgurich, isn’t coming back. That’s all – so far.
Injury watch: Martin and Chris Andersen are expected to miss the early part of the season as they recover from knee injuries.
On the spot: Ujiri. While he technically won’t have final say on whether to trade Anthony, where to trade him, or for what, dealing the franchise cornerstone will be on his resume one way or another.
Camp battles: Harrington, Williams and Renaldo Balkman are in the mix for playing time in the frontcourt while Martin and Andersen are out.
Biggest strength: Well, that depends on whether you’re talking with Melo or without. With Melo, they have one of the top five or six players in the NBA paired with Billups, a savvy floor leader who probably has one more season of championship-caliber play in him. Without Melo, it depends on what they get for him.
Glaring weakness: Stability. In a few short weeks, or at most, months, the momentum of seven straight playoff appearances (including one conference finals appearance) and three consecutive 50-win seasons could go up in smoke if and when they have to move Melo. In the short term, Denver’s weakness will be up front with Martin and Andersen out – which explains their pursuit of Erick Dampier, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and other bigs this summer.
Posted on: September 15, 2010 8:26 pm
One month after Carmelo Anthony’s high-powered team of advisers first began pressuring the Denver Nuggets to trade him, the superstar scorer has not wavered in his desire to be dealt, multiple sources told CBSSports.com.
“There’s no sign of reconsideration on Carmelo’s part, despite what [Denver] has publicly said,” said one of the people involved in the process.
The two sides remain locked in a stalemate over Anthony’s future while a three-year, $65 million extension offer sits untouched in front of him. While Nuggets officials – including influential adviser Bret Bearup and executive Josh Kroenke – continue to rebuff trade inquiries while hoping to repair the franchise’s relationship with Anthony, privately the team is beginning to examine which teams would have the most attractive combination of young players, draft picks and expiring contracts to complete a deal. And the team currently viewed by people close to the situation as having the most realistic chance of putting together a blockbuster, perhaps multi-team deal for Anthony is the New Jersey Nets.
“They’re working the hardest to get a deal done,” one of the sources said.
With No. 3 overall pick Derrick Favors, multiple extra draft picks, and Devin Harris, whose $8.98 million contract could be parlayed into a serviceable replacement for Anthony in a three-team trade, New Jersey has the makings of a package that would appeal to Nuggets officials, one of the people with knowledge of Denver’s strategy said. The key, according to the person, would be involving a third team to convert Harris into something the Nuggets would view as “decent replacement value” for Anthony.
That is where another team equipped with attractive assets could enter the picture, multiple sources said: the Philadelphia 76ers. New team president Rod Thorn and GM Ed Stefanski – who formerly worked together in New Jersey – could be central to constructing a deal that would compel the Nuggets to move Anthony rather than endure a season-long distraction that ends with Anthony leaving as a free agent after the season. The key pieces of the Philadelphia equation would be the expiring contracts of Jason Kapono ($6.64 million) and Willie Green ($3.98 million), a young talent such as Thaddeus Young, and Andre Iguodala, who is coming off a solid contribution to Team USA’s gold-medal performance at the FIBA World Championships. Some executives believe the Sixers would at least discuss including No. 2 overall pick Evan Turner if it meant getting Anthony, but that would defeat the purpose of going over the luxury tax to get Anthony in the first place.
Thorn drafted Favors, so that is one piece that is expected to be integral to the discussion once the Nuggets officially begin seeking trade packages for Anthony. The dropoff in talent from Anthony to Iguodala is considerable, but so is the savings; Iguodala is due $44 million over the next three seasons, compared to the $65 million Anthony would command. Two people familiar with Denver’s strategy confirmed the Nuggets would be intrigued by a deal centered around Iguodala. The Nets could sweeten any such offer with Golden State’s 2012 first-round pick and two extra second-round picks they own in the same draft.
A package sending Anthony to the Nets, Favors to Philadelphia and Iguodala to Denver is one way all of these moving parts could come together. But Thorn is said to have reservations about such a deal, which has yet to rise to the level of discussion among the teams.
The situation is complicated by the difficulty in putting enough assets in the deal to satisfy the Nuggets, who don’t want the first move of GM Masai Ujiri’s regime to be trading the team’s cornerstone. Even more crucial is the need for Anthony to indicate he’d be willing to sign an extension with the team that acquires him. It is believed that Anthony, a Brooklyn native whose wife, LaLa Vasquez, also is from there, would sign off on a deal to the Nets, who move to the New York City borough in two years. It is not clear how Anthony would feel about signing an extension with Philadelphia, a city that is halfway between his New York birthplace and the Washington, D.C., area where he grew up. The Sixers were not on Anthony’s initial list of preferred destinations, which included the Knicks, Magic, Bulls and Nets. Anthony, who is good friends with former Sixers star Allen Iverson, also is aware of how harshly Philadelphia treats its sports stars, a person with knowledge of his thinking said.
The Bulls are viewed by one source as “not a realistic candidate” due to the team’s unwillingness at this point to include Joakim Noah in the deal. The Bulls and Noah are currently negotiating an extension. The Knicks, Anthony’s first choice, are viewed by rival executives as not having enough assets to entice the Nuggets. New York has Eddy Curry’s $11.3 million expiring contract, promising big man Anthony Randolph, and swingman Wilson Chandler, but the team’s draft-pick cupboard is bare. Adding to the frustration among Nuggets officials, sources say, is that Anthony’s team has been slow to offer a comprehensive list of trade possibilities.
As the Nuggets walk the tightrope between getting value for Anthony and trying to compel him to reconsider and sign the extension, other factors are in play. Ujiri, a former Nuggets scout who was with the organization when Anthony was drafted, just lived through the nightmare of losing star Chris Bosh in Toronto. Ujiri was part of the management team that decided not to trade Bosh at the February 2010 trade deadline, and Bosh bolted to join Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in Miami. The Raptors got a trade exception and two first-round picks – small consolation for the loss of the team’s franchise player.
Which is exactly what the Nuggets are trying to avoid, one way or another.
Posted on: September 12, 2010 5:13 pm
The revelation of the world championships, quite obviously, was Kevin Durant. He did everything for Team USA -- did exactly what was required of a blossoming superstar who was asked to put his imprint on the world basketball stage.
So without a doubt, Durant will be suiting up for the 2012 Olympics in London, when some of the divas who passed on Turkey will be back to defend the gold medal attained by the Redeem Team in Beijing two years ago. But what became plainly apparent Sunday, as the United States ended a 16-year drought in the FIBA worlds by beating Turkey 81-64 for the gold medal, is that not all of those '08 Olympians will be assured of getting their spots back.
Far from it.
It's widely assumed that three spots will be available: those belonging to Jason Kidd, Tayshaun Prince and Michael Redd. So as I plan out Mike Krzyzewski's Olympic roster before Team USA even gets to the airport, I say those spots should go to Durant, Lamar Odom and Chauncey Billups.
When the Americans left U.S. soil as underdogs to Spain in the eyes of many, I felt that however this tournament played out, Odom and Billups deserved spots on the team for London. As good as Durant was, it's impossible to dismiss the championship pedigree Odom and Billups brought to this otherwise woefully inexperienced team. If nothing else, Odom and Billups deserve a spot as a reward for taking one for the country this summer. They stepped up and gave Jerry Colangelo and Coach K their commitments at a time when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were too busy working on their Twitter accounts, and while Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony were occupied with trying to get traded.
As far as tangible contributions, Billups didn't shine during the tournament. But no one should have a problem with him getting the Jason Kidd memorial roster spot in London for his experience and for his trouble this summer. As for Odom, who was brilliant in the gold-medal game with 15 points and 11 rebounds -- including a flurry of putbacks, 3-pointers and work-ethic baskets in the fourth quarter -- he earned a spot regardless. My pal Gregg Doyel still thinks Odom is a lackadaisical yo-yo ; I've always thought he was wrong about that, and that much was proven beyond any doubt in this tournament. Odom was huge for the U.S. It was no coincidence that the Naismith Trophy was handed first to Odom and Billups Sunday in Istanbul. They earned it. American basketball is all about pecking order, and they were right at the top of it, where they belonged.
But this so-called "B-Team" so far exceeded expectations from spots 1-12 that there will be precious little room for sentimentality when Colangelo and Krzyzewski assemble the Olympic roster in two years. Let's say I'm right and you start with Durant, Odom and Billups joining '08 Olympians James, Wade, Anthony, Paul, Kobe Bryant, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams. How do you make room for Derrick Rose (which Colangelo must)? How do you ignore the versatility and defensive intangibles offered by Russell Westbrook (which Colangelo shouldn't)? How do you snub Blake Griffin and Tyreke Evans (you probably can't)? What if John Wall is as good as we think he is (which he is)? What if Rajon Rondo wants to play (which he should)?
As the adage goes, these are some good problems for the Americans to have. A few short years after the embarrassment of bronze medals at the 2006 world championships and 2004 Olympics, USA Basketball is back. It was back in Beijing two summers ago with the Redeem Team. But really, this B-Team should be -- and will be -- remembered for driving home the point.
At a time when reputations and gold medals were on the line, the biggest American stars in the sport took a pass. Those who showed up and got the job done should be rewarded. More than a few, I predict, will be.
Posted on: August 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2010 4:49 pm
NEW YORK – NBA owners and players met for 3 1-2 hours Thursday in a bargaining session that didn’t result in any progress toward a deal but did help change the tenor of the debate: The star players did show up, and they’re engaged.
In a surprise development, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Joe Johnson and Chauncey Billups joined the players’ executive committee in the bargaining session – a reprisal of their appearance at the most recent meeting at All-Star weekend in Dallas.
“I think it’s important for all of us, as the faces of the NBA, to be involved in the negotiations and what’s going on,” Anthony said as he exited the Omni Berkshire Place Hotel on 52nd Street, to waves and cheers from passersby. “Our future’s in jeopardy if we can’t come to a mutual agreement.”
According to sources familiar with the players’ strategy, the stars decided to take a break from their appearance schedule associated with the World Basketball Festival, a four-day event in conjunction with Team USA training camp, to avoid the perception that they aren’t going to be involved in the bargaining process for the long haul. Some observers believed that the players’ appearance at the All-Star bargaining table in February would be a one-time deal, something that the stars of the league wanted to dispel, sources said. Wade and Billups were the first to commit, followed by James, Anthony and Johnson.
“It’s important to have representation of all the guys in the NBA and not just ourselves,” said Hawks guard Mo Evans, a member of the executive committee. “It was great to have those guys interested in what’s going on in the league. We’re all involved. We’re going to leave this game to someone else – whether it’s two years from now, five years from now, or 10 years from now. We want to leave this game in a better place than when we got it.”
According to people in the bargaining session, there was far less rancor and rhetoric than in the session at All-Star weekend, when the players rejected the owners’ initial proposal. The word “lockout” was thrown around less frequently, too.
UPDATE: But both sides acknowledge that there's much ground to be covered. According to one person present, commissioner David Stern proclaimed at one point during the meeting, “There’s a gulf, not a gap.”
However, in an encouraging sign, the league and union issued a joint statement after the bargaining session, as opposed to individual missives: "The NBA and NBPA held a four-hour bargaining meeting today that included constructive dialogue and a productive exchange of information. While we still have much work to do, it was encouraging how many players and owners participated in the process and all pledged to continue to work together. We all agreed to meet again before training camp.”
Still, while the tenor of the dialogue improved, there was virtually no progress on the issues that keep both sides far apart on a new deal to replace the current CBA, which expires on June 30, 2011. The owners and players continue to disagree on the extent of the NBA’s stated losses – the latest figure the league used Thursday, according to a source, was $380 million during the 2009-10 season – and how the pie should be divided. Under the current agreement, players get 57 percent of overall revenues, known as basketball-related income (BRI).
It was the first bargaining session since All-Star weekend, and the first time owners and players discussed face-to-face the players’ proposal that was submitted to the owners last month. There was little concrete discussion of specific issues, such as the owners’ desire to institute a hard salary cap with shorter contracts and less guaranteed money. Both sides agreed to meet again before the start of training camp, and then break into smaller groups to tackle specific bargaining issues.
“They generally objected to the entire proposal,” Hunter said. “They said they didn’t agree with it. We kind of anticipated that. But at the same time, it lends itself to more discussion so they all felt as though we did make progress in terms of our willingness to talk to one another as opposed to at one another. And so to that extent, things felt a lot better in the room – the atmosphere, the environment, the nature of the discussions – more so than in February. Things have thawed a lot.”
In addition to the stars, the players were represented by the members of their executive committee: president Derek Fisher, treasurer James Jones, and vice presidents Adonal Foyle, Keyon Dooling, Roger Mason, Theo Ratliff, Etan Thomas, Chris Paul and Evans. The owners were represented by Peter Holt (Spurs), Glen Taylor (Timberwolves), Wyc Grousbeck (Celtics), Jeanie Buss (Lakers), James Dolan (Knicks), George Shinn (Hornets), Stan Kroenke (Nuggets) and Larry Miller (Trail Blazers). Suns owner Robert Sarver, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and Magic CEO Bob Vander Weide canceled at the last minute to address personal business.
“It was great conversation, great dialogue going back and forth, great communication,” Anthony said. “So hopefully we can come to an agreement soon.”
Posted on: August 10, 2010 7:02 pm
NEW YORK -- We're barely a month removed from the biggest free-agent feeding frenzy in NBA history, and already the next wave has begun.
The Knicks' controversial attempt to hire Isiah Thomas as a consultant hasn't dissuaded candidates from pitching themselves as the right man for a job that team president Donnie Walsh has left vacant since he was hired two years ago -- a day-to-day GM who eventually would succeed him. The latest twist, according to sources familiar with the situation, has potential candidates angling to present themselves to Walsh and Garden chairman James Dolan as the man who is capable of delivering Carmelo Anthony as a free agent next summer.
The overtures have fallen on deaf ears with Walsh for two reasons, sources say: 1) Walsh has yet to receive clearance to hire a general manager to handle the day-to-day basketball operations, and 2) The respected, 69-year-old executive has grown tired of the free-agent recruitment game and the dishonest pitches that invariably come with it.
Walsh's desire to decompress from the untoward free-agent hysteria, however, didn't stop Dolan from hiring Thomas -- who was ousted and replaced by Walsh and coach Mike D'Antoni in 2008 -- as a consultant whose primary duty will be to recruit free agents. Sources say the hiring may very well be struck down by the NBA, which has strict rules against team employees having contact with high school, college and international players not yet eligible for the NBA draft.
Thomas positioned himself to return to the Knicks by convincing Dolan that he played an important role in the team landing free-agent power forward Amar'e Stoudemire this summer. The Knicks struck out on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and decided they needed someone with Thomas' clout to ensure it wouldn't happen again.
But Thomas isn't the only current or former NBA executive trying to tout himself as the man who can persuade Anthony, a free agent next summer, to join Stoudemire with the Knicks. Part of that strategy, sources say, includes efforts on the part of at least one candidate to pitch himself to Creative Artists Agency -- the firm that represents Anthony -- as an addition to the Knicks' front office who could bring Anthony with him.
Walsh has had it on the back burner for some time to hire a lead assistant with a big enough profile -- and substantial enough resume -- to replace him when he retires. Such a move would create a rare spasm of continuity for an organization that had known nothing but change and turmoil prior to Walsh's hiring two years ago. Strong indications within the organization this summer have pointed to former player Allan Houston being groomed as Walsh's successor. Houston impressed Dolan and other team officials with his performance in an expanded role during the free-agency period this summer.
Walsh is two years into a four-year contract, and the Knicks must decide by March 31, 2011 whether to guarantee the final year of the deal.
Anthony, an ideal fit for the Knicks, already has told confidants this summer that he's eager to explore playing in New York. His dilemma is whether to turn down a three-year, $65 million extension offer from the Nuggets with only 10 months left in the current collective bargaining agreement. The new deal is expected to be much less lucrative for players. Sources say owners who were rattled by this summer's free-agent frenzy -- orchestrated by CAA, which represented James, Wade and Chris Bosh -- are determined to clamp down not only on player salaries in the new agreement, but also player movement.
Anthony's desire to play in New York is so strong, sources say, that those close to the three-time All-Star have scoffed at the efforts of executives touting themselves as being able to deliver him.
"Carmelo already wants to play in New York," one person with knowledge of his plans told CBSSports.com. "He doesn't need anybody to bring him there. He's a gunslinger. That situation is perfect for him."
Anthony's teammate, Chauncey Billups, said after Team USA practice Tuesday that he still doesn't know whether Anthony will sign the extension or test the free-agent waters next summer.
"If I was a betting man? I don’t know," Billups said. "Of course, I'm biased because I'm playing on the team that he’s playing on. But I'm optimistic that he’s going to come back and play for the Nuggets. I know he loves the city. Shoot, he’s been there since he was 20 years old. So I'm optimistic, but I don’t know. I wish I did, but I don’t."
Posted on: August 3, 2010 6:54 pm
The Nuggets decided Tuesday not to renew the contracts of front office executives Mark Warkentien and Rex Chapman, a shakeup that has been expected for months.
Paul Andrews, executive vice president of Kroenke Sports Enterprises, announced the changes in a news release in which he said, "We decided that it would be best for all parties to go their separate ways."
The real question is how the front-office shakeup will affect Carmelo Anthony's posture on a three-year, $65 million extension that he has yet to sign. Anthony's indecision has fueled speculation that he wants to test the free-agent market next summer -- barring a lockout -- and that he wants to see the direction the Nuggets are headed before signing it. As of Tuesday, there were more questions than ever about that direction.
Warkentien, the 2008-09 NBA executive of the year, never received a formal extension offer even though his contract was set to expire this month, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Seeing the shakeup on the horizon, Warkentien obtained permission to speak with other teams about various GM openings. He got permission to speak with the Knicks about a potential front-office vacancy as team president Donnie Walsh's day-to-day GM, but that opening never materialized. It now appears that the Knicks will not add a person to the front office and will instead expand the duties of former player Allan Houston, who has been training under Walsh and played an important role during free agency.
Warkentien also received permission to interview for the Suns' GM position vacated by Steve Kerr's departure, and interviewed over the phone for the job, which went to former player agent Lon Babby.
Chapman, rumored to be on the way out with Warkentien since CBSSports.com reported in March that owner Stan Kroenke was planning sweeping front-office changes, recently interviewed for the Hornets' GM job that went to former Spurs executive Dell Demps. Josh Kroenke, Stan's son and the eventual owner of the Nuggets, is expected to take on an expanded role in Denver's new front-office structure.
Coach George Karl said recently he is committed to returning to the sideline next season after recovering from cancer treatments, but added, "It's not a guarantee."