Posted on: February 17, 2012 11:56 pm
NEW YORK -- Linsanity was going to end some time. For the Knicks, this was the ideal script.
After seven straight wins over nearly two weeks, fueled by outlandish statistical production, a 38-point performance against the Lakers, a Hollywood buzzer-beater in Toronto and a team-wide revival of chemistry and good times, there had to be an ending. A return to normalcy.
All of those things arrived Friday night for Lin and the Knicks, who lost to the previously six-win New Orleans Hornets 89-85. Lin provided glimpses of his lead-guard artistry, but also coughed up nine turnovers to go with his 26 points and five assists. The Knicks committed 21 turnovers resulting in 28 points, shot 4-for-24 from 3-point range and 19-for-29 from the foul line and trailed by as many as 14 points and held the opponent under 20 points.
So why is his good, that only one game after climbing all the way back to .500 after being 8-15 when Lin first got significant floor time on Feb. 4 against the Nets?
Because Carmelo Anthony, in all likelihood, returns Sunday afternoon at home against the Mavericks. And thus, the end of this magical ride with the undrafted, Asian-American point guard from Harvard can't be his fault.
"I don't think this is good because I hate losing," Lin said. "But I know what you're saying in terms of everything dying down a little bit. It may help me, it may help the team a little bit in terms of having everything off the court cool down."
Lin blamed himself for the loss, saying, "If everyone wants to credit me for the last seven games, then I definitely deserve this one on my shoulders. That's fine with me. ... Just a lackluster effort on my part. Nine turnovers is obviously not going to get it done from your primary ballhandler."
The teammate who will need broad shoulders once he's back was the guy warming up hours earlier before the game on the Madison Square Garden court, testing his strained groin and launching jumpers with his iPod playing in his ears. Anthony, who will try to practice Saturday with the goal of returning to the lineup Sunday, has heard day after day of pre-emptive criticism that his ball-stopping, isolation-oriented offensive style would derail the chemistry Lin has inspired and bog down the Knicks' offense.
So maybe it will be prudent to allow Anthony to actually come back and play with his new point guard before deciding that it can't work.
"I don't think it'll change from my standpoint, my approach to the game," Lin said. "I think I'm going to come in with the same mentality, to attack and be aggressive, maybe run (fewer) pick-and-rolls and hopefully be more efficient. Obviously, it's always a good thing when you have more weapons, more play-makers -- not that we don't have enough right now. But somebody with Melo's capabilities, you don't get that every day from anybody."
Also coming on board soon will be newly signed shooting guard J.R. Smith, who is expected to arrive in New York Saturday night -- though he's unlikely to play Sunday without having practiced with the team. Smith brings some baggage with him, but presumably he will put it down long enough to knock down 3-pointers in bunches, something the Knicks could not do Friday night.
Before all the changes and adjustments that will come with them, the end of Linsanity -- or at least, the return to normalcy -- is out of the way. And for the Knicks, that might just be for the best.
Posted on: December 21, 2010 8:14 pm
The Dallas Mavericks are plotting an aggressive push to acquire Carmelo Anthony, even if they don’t get assurances that the three-time All-Star would agree to a contract extension as part of the trade, league sources told CBSSports.com.
Despite his team’s emergence as one of the powers of the Western Conference -- and, as Dallas proved Monday night in Miami, the whole league -- owner Mark Cuban is said to be not only willing to take a chance on Anthony, but eager to steal him from the Nets, who are owned by his billionaire rival, Mikhail Prokhorov. In a deal that would provide Denver with little more than future savings, the Mavs are planning what one rival executive described as a “hard” push.
The Mavs’ interest has yet to take the form of a concrete offer, as one person connected to the Anthony drama told CBSSports.com Tuesday that Dallas had yet to present one. Any prospects the Mavs might have to pull off such a coup would be contingent on Anthony declining to sign an extension with New Jersey. With a signed extension as part of the deal, the Nets still possess by far the most attractive assets to Denver -- Derrick Favors, the expiring contract of Troy Murphy, and multiple first-round picks.
But that is the question that the Anthony saga has hinged on for months. Part of Dallas’ strategy, according to sources, is to shift the Anthony discussions to what Cuban recently called the “rent-a-player” phase, which would drive down the price and encourage other teams to present offers without assurances that Anthony would stay put for five years -- the two he has remaining (including the early-termination option for 2011-12) plus the extension.
Such potential suitors, including the Mavs, do not have enough of what Denver is looking for to compete with New Jersey’s best offer. But if Dallas is successful in shifting Denver’s focus to “rental” deals, the Nets would then have to decide how much they are willing to give up to acquire a franchise cornerstone for their move to Brooklyn -- even if Anthony could leave them in the dust as a free agent before the team even got there.
Meanwhile, the Nuggets remain in a patient posture and are not in any apparent rush to push a New Jersey trade to fruition. And after acquiring two more first-round picks in a three-team trade with the Lakers and Rockets last week, Nets executives are continuing their ongoing efforts to sweeten the deal for Anthony by acquiring a veteran he’d want to play with in Newark, N.J., for a year-and-a-half. Such inducements could come in the form of Al Harrington and/or Chauncey Billups, whom Anthony might be comfortable having on board. The other scenarios, according to one executive familiar with them, are numerous and “beyond challenging” because multiple teams would be needed.
Among the contending teams with the deep pockets and championship core to take a risk like trading for Anthony without a signed extension as part of the deal, Dallas has the most expiring money to make it worth the Nuggets’ while. Any Dallas proposal would have to include the expiring contracts of Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson. More money would need to be added -- Tyson Chandler? -- or a third team would need to be recruited in order to take Harrington and/or Billups off Denver’s hands.
The notion of Anthony going to a contender -- or to the Nets, for that matter -- without signing his three-year, $65 million extension is exactly what New York Knicks officials are hoping for. Sources say the Knicks continue to believe that the longer the Anthony situation plays out, the better their chances of landing him through a trade, or more likely, as a free agent after the season and anticipated lockout. New York has been Anthony’s preferred destination since his operatives began pushing for a trade in September, and a person directly involved in Anthony’s decision-making process told CBSSports.com earlier this month that he’d become more entrenched in his desire to agree to an extend-and-trade only if he would up with the Knicks. CBSSports.com also reported that Anthony has not shared his position with Nuggets officials, and that Nets officials have been told differently by Anthony’s camp.
Another team that various team executives believe is very much in the mix -- either to make a push to land Melo as a rental or become involved as a third-team facilitator -- is the Rockets. Houston fully expects to receive a disabled-player exception for Yao Ming totaling $5.8 million and already has a $6.3 million exception from the Trevor Ariza trade. Such exceptions can’t be combined, but individually they could be used to absorb a contract -- such as, for example, the Nuggets’ J.R. Smith’s or Harrington’s -- without sending equal money back. In return, the Rockets would either have to get a player they want or be compensated accordingly with draft picks or other assets. The Rockets also are flush with the expiring contracts of Shane Battier, Jared Jeffries, and even Yao, whose contract is insured due to his season-ending foot injury.
Rockets owner Leslie Alexander has a history of bold moves, and has placed few restrictions on his front office, led by GM Daryl Morey, to spend money in order to win. The Rockets, for example, are currently a tax-paying team and are under no mandate from ownership to shed salary even though they are off to a slow start and have lost Yao for the season -- and maybe for good.
A dark horse in all of this? The Mavs’ opponent Tuesday night, Orlando. The Magic have a little more than two months before the Feb. 24 trade deadline to see if their revamped roster will be good enough to contend for a title after this week’s blockbuster trades with Phoenix and Washington. But the only piece that is likely to be available and enticing to Denver is Jason Richardson, whose $14.4 million contract expires after the season. Richardson cannot be combined with other players in a trade for 60 days, which would leave just enough time before the trade deadline to involve him in the Anthony discussions.
If -- and this is a big if -- Anthony is still a Nugget by then.
Posted on: September 28, 2010 4:22 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2010 11:24 pm
The Carmelo Anthony saga moved to the next phase Tuesday, with the Nets trying to provide more cap relief to the Nuggets by finding a new home for Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith, CBSSports.com has learned.
It was a futile effort to revive this excruciatingly slow-moving blockbuster, which died Tuesday in its current form involving the Bobcats and Jazz. Sources say discussions will continue, however, on other fronts amid mixed priorities within the Denver front office and some lingering doubts about whether Melo will ultimately give his thumbs-up on a trade to New Jersey.
“I think he’s thumbs-sideways on it,” said one source familiar with Anthony’s stance. “He’s not 100 percent sold on it.”
Martin, whose $16.5 million expiring contract would be a valuable asset at the trade deadline, and Smith, who has a $6.8 million expiring deal and controversy wherever he goes, could be the final pieces that eventually compel the Nuggets to sign off on a divorce with Anthony. But that divorce isn't happening with the structure of the exhaustively reported four-way deal involving Utah and Charlotte. That framework, a person involved in the discussions said, is "dead." The Melo talks as a whole, however, will trudge forward.
If more cap savings is what the Nuggets want, they'd only have to take back $17.5 million under NBA trade rules for Martin and Smith, a savings of $5.8 million – twice that when you factor in luxury tax. Numerous scenarios have been explored to allow the Nuggets to send out both Martin and Smith, sources say. But despite a growing belief that the Nuggets finally are ready to acknowledge that a truce with Anthony is unattainable, conflicting priorities among Denver decision-makers have put a chill in the discussions for now.
“Denver keeps moving the goal posts,” said one person connected to the talks. “They say, ‘We want this,’ and New Jersey says, ‘We got it.’ And then Denver says, ‘Wait a minute, we want this and this.’”
Around and around they went, several weeks after the basic framework of the deal was hatched by old friends Kevin O’Connor, Larry Brown and Billy King. Sources say those three did the legwork on the four-team possibility involving New Jersey, Denver, Charlotte and Utah and brought it to the Nuggets as a potentially attractive way for them to part ways with their disgruntled superstar. O’Connor, the Jazz GM, is a former assistant coach under Brown at UCLA. Brown, the Bobcats’ coach, has known King, the Nets’ news president, since his college days at Duke – and the two worked together in Philadelphia.
Ironically, one person familiar with the negotiations said the deal probably would’ve been done by now if Charlotte hadn’t waived center Erick Dampier and his non-guaranteed $13 million contract – which would’ve been a home-run for Denver in an exchange for Martin. Including Dampier in the deal would’ve provided what a source described as “ridiculous savings” for the Nuggets – about $33 million when factoring in the tax, making the deal “a no-brainer.”
UPDATE: In the absence of that asset, the Nuggets – led by newly hired GM Masai Ujiri, 30-year-old executive Josh Kroenke and adviser Bret Bearup – insisted on trying to squeeze more out of the deal while also exploring offers from other teams. In addition to Martin and Smith, Denver officials eventually were trying to dump Renaldo Balkman in the trade. Ultimately, one executive involved in the talks said, Denver's never-ending efforts to make the deal better for them was what wound up killing it.
The other part of their protracted strategy – sitting down face-to-face with Anthony before media day Monday – may have backfired on them, too.
Ujiri, trying to take the high road in the Anthony matter, insisted on meeting with him in person before signing off on the deal – as any new GM would. Unfortunately for Ujiri, Anthony’s discontent with the direction of the organization pre-dates the new GM’s arrival – and also runs deeper than Ujiri was aware. One reason Ujiri declined to give any details of his face-to-face encounter with Anthony Monday, according to two people familiar with the exchange, was simply that there were no details. Anthony, not wanting to rehash old wounds with his new boss, politely declined to engage Ujiri in any substantive conversation about his future.
“He said, ‘I’m cool,’ and, ‘You’re going to have to talk to my reps about that,’” said one of the people familiar with the meeting. In addition, multiple reports indicated that Anthony did not participate in the promotional activities players typically perform on media day, and the Denver Post noted that his image was removed from a prominent ad on the Nuggets’ website – replaced by Ty Lawson.
As a result, one source maintained Tuesday that the Nuggets were “going to move him, like now, ASAP.” But after all the delays and frustration on all sides, that may be an optimistic take.
"The Nuggets are going to look at every single trade and they’re going to have to work with [Anthony]," another person familiar with the talks said. "And that’s really going to slow the whole process down.”
Further complicating matters, sources say Karl is not going to be as influential in trying to keep Anthony in Denver as first believed. With the departure of Karl’s biggest supporter, former GM Mark Warkentien, and his top assistant, Tim Grgurich, Karl is unsure where he stands in the organization as he returns from his heroic cancer fight with one year left on his contract. The result has been tension – or at least uneasiness – among Karl, his staff and the newly formed front office. Plus, while Karl knows that he has a 50-win playoff team with Anthony and a rebuilding team without him, sources say the 59-year-old coach is growing tired of the MeloDrama and isn’t relishing the strain that it could place on him and the team.
Posted on: August 28, 2009 2:14 pm
In the course of getting caught up on my NBA reading after a few days off, it has come to my attention that quite a few words have been written about Ricky Rubio recently. Wake me up when that saga is over. Instead, I'll jump back into the fray with some news on two players who actually have a good chance of playing in the NBA next season.
Posted on: May 26, 2009 2:57 am
DENVER -- A photo in the Denver Post Monday sparked my curiosity. It showed the Nuggets' J.R. Smith waiting out a rain delay on a golf course Sunday, the off-day between Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference finals.
This was hardly news, as NBA players are spotted on golf courses all over the Western Hemisphere this time of year. But they're usually NBA players whose teams are getting ready to exercise a lottery pick, not compete in the conference finals.
Smith, one of the stars of Denver's Game 4 victory with 24 points off the bench -- including 4-of-9 shooting from 3-point range -- walked down the hallway toward the arena exit after the game cradling his infant daughter in one hand and a sleeve of golf balls in the other. He'd just met with a few military service men and women outside the Nuggets' locker room, a nod to the Memorial Day holiday. They'd given him the golf balls, which were inscribed with the U.S. Army logo.
"I play golf before every game," Smith said. "You get out there and focus on something else for a second, relax, and then come in here at night and go to work. I think it helps me focus more because I'm not really thinking about it throughout the whole day and then by the time I’m here, I’m well rested and the game is the only thing that’s on my mind."
Wait a minute, I said. You played golf yesterday and today?
"Yup," Smith said. "I got rained out on the second hole yesterday. I played 15 today."
Michael Jordan was perhaps the most avid NBA golfer of his generation, but to my knowledge, he never played on a game day -- especially during the playoffs. Blackjack the night before, perhaps, but not even M.J. could squeeze a round of golf in between shootaround and Game 4 of the conference finals. I don't know what this means, except that J.R. Smith is A) A better golfer than I am (his handicap is 10); and B) Makes much better use of his time.
Posted on: January 16, 2009 7:04 pm
When the NBA decided to fine Mark Cuban $25,000 and not discipline J.R. Smith from Tuesday night's festivities(see link), you knew there had to be a reaction forthcoming from Cubes. So when I contacted him to ask for one and he replied, "C my blog," I knew it was going to be good.
It is. Check it out.
Posted on: January 15, 2009 5:32 pm
A week wouldn't be complete without Mark Cuban hitting the headlines. Welcome back to the news, Cubes. Congrats on the rare on-court, off-court, in-court trifecta. Not many guys in this league can do that.
On the court, Cuban is the subject of a league investigation stemming from a verbal confrontation he had with the Nuggets' J.R. Smith Tuesday night. Cuban was none too pleased with Smith's liberal use of elbows during the Nuggets' 99-97 victory over Cuban's Mavs. Cuban also was seen mouthing obscenities after Denver's Chauncey Billups made the deciding free throws with 2.2 seconds left following a questionable call against Dallas' Jason Terry. In the interest of fairness, evidently there is some question as to whether Cuban's expletives were directed at the officials -- as if there's any doubt.
Your humble bloghost interrupts this post to ask the following question: What, obcenities aren't allowed in the NBA anymore? Rasheed Wallace would've been banned from the league years ago ...
OK, I'm back. No story about an in-game screed by Cuban would be complete without video.
As for the off-court/in-court portion of Cuban's accomplishments, the billionaire owner's attorneys filed a motion to dismiss insider trading charges against him. The lawyers plan to argue that Cuban had no fiduciary responsibility to shareholders in the Canadian internet search company Mamma.com, in which he sold his ownership stake after learning that it would be diluted by a discounted public offering.
Read Cuban's thoughts on why he isn't buying the Cubs, why newspapers are irrelevant, the federal banking bailout, and maybe even basketball here.