Tag:Sacramento Kings
Posted on: September 20, 2010 9:28 am
Edited on: September 20, 2010 4:52 pm
 

Shootaround 9.20: TV killed the basketball star

Posted by Royce Young
  • The NY Daily News on Melo the reality star: "For the past week, Melo has been promoting the show and partying in NYC and elsewhere, telling the Daily News that he’s more focused on fashion week than basketball. One night he was hanging with R&B singer Chris Brown, another night he was checking out the Jay-Z/Eminem concert. You can’t knock the man for enjoying his offseason, but you can assume he won’t be in a Denver uniform for much longer, if at all.  Now that the promotional tour is over - and now that we’ve realized Anthony’s level of commitment to his wife’s work - there is one question the Nets should be asking themselves: How badly do you want this player?"
  • Dan Gilbert told the Detroit Free Press he doesn't have regrets about his letter: "I just expressed what the Cleveland people were feeling. Unless you're from Cleveland and experienced what they have experienced since 1964, it's hard for the rest of the country to grasp."
  • Ira Winderman says he can see Miami eating Patrick Beverley's contract: "From the start, I have viewed the Heat’s payment to Beverley as a thank you for agreeing to spend last season in Europe when the Heat was into the luxury tax (and therefore would have had to take a one-season hit for Beverley with the money it now will pay him over two seasons). With Butler, the Heat seems to be going to great lengths with a player who still has a long way to go in his rehab. Butler could be something special. Based on summer league, even in such a small sample, I’m not sure the same can be said for Beverley."
  • Alan Hahn of Newsday on the youth of the Knicks: "But the 2010-11 team will mark the youngest group the franchise has assembled to open a season in 30 years and fifth-youngest in franchise history. According to research compiled by the Elias Sports Bureau, you have to go back to Red Holzman's second stint as coach in the early 1980s, when the 1980-81 team, comprised of phenoms such as third-year star Michael Ray Richardson, supersophs Bill Cartwright and Sly Williams and three rookies, including Mike Woodson, averaged 24.5794 years of age."
  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio News-Express with a pretty terrific James Anderson profile: "On March 14, 2007, nearly all the 700 some-odd souls who call this flyspeck town straddling the Arkansas-Louisiana border home gathered in a small park near the high school football stadium. There, over plates of hot dogs and potato salad, they honored one of their most distinguished citizens. Junction City's inaugural James Anderson Day was equal parts church picnic and civic celebration. Unofficially, it would not be the last."
Posted on: September 13, 2010 12:06 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2010 12:08 pm
 

Pop Quiz: Who's ready to break out?

Posted by Royce Young

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

What player makes a Durant-like leap into a new stratosphere?

Everyone wants to crown the next great NBA player. But going from solid star player on your team, to recognized NBA wide superstar is a different story.

Kevin Durant won the Rookie of the Year award, then followed that season up with a quality second season. Most folks thought he'd be the next big thing, they just weren't sure when. But his third season was a leap of another kind.

Durant became the NBA's youngest scoring champion at 21 years old, took his previous 23-win team to 50, got his group to the playoffs, pushed the eventual champions as hard as anyone and also finished second in the MVP voting. Durant in 2009-10 appeared on national TV only four times (not including the playoffs). Going into this season, he's rapidly becoming one of the faces of the league as he's slated to be on the big stage 26 times.

And after this summer's performance in Turkey, well, some are even elevating Durant to the top of the heap. But that's a whole other story.

We're asking what player could be next. Not the next Durant, but the next player to go from borderline star to the next level. Maybe he's already an All-Star. But is he a superstar? Who could be the next guy mentioned along with the top players in the league? Five candidates:

Tyreke Evans, Kings
- Last season's Rookie of the Year definitely had his moments. He averaged 20.1 ppg (odd, that's exactly what Durant averaged when he won Rookie of the Year...), shot 46 percent from the floor and dished out nearly six assists a game. Evans blew people away with his ability to get to the rim and with a reportedly improved jumper, he might be unguardable .

Now his hangup is that he doesn't officially have a position. Most can't figure out if he's a point guard, a shooting guard or something that we don't even know about. No bother though, because Evans is going to get points wherever he plays.

Now can he get to the next level? He absolutely has the ability to. But what really began to take Durant up was how his elevated play improved his team. That will be crucial for Evans. If the Kings are in the basement again this year, it doesn't really matter what Evans is doing. But if he plays well and the Kings win, he could certainly be an All-Star.

Derrick Rose, Bulls - The world is waiting. Waiting on Derrick Rose to become what we know he can be. He's the kind of player that reveals glimpses, flashes, small tastes of just how ridiculously good he can be.

But he hasn't been able to put it together for a consistent period of time.

Now however, Rose has the best supporting cast he's had yet. He no longer has to be point guard, creator and scorer all wrapped into one. He can relax and pass off to Carlos Boozer. He can penetrate and kick to Kyle Korver . Or his still can take games over all by himself.

Greatness awaits Derrick Rose. It's just a matter of when he breaks out. And I'm guessing this year.

Russell Westbrook, Thunder
- Before you dismiss, consider Westbrook's stats: 16.1 ppg , 8.0 apg and 4.9 rpg . Only one other player in the league averaged at least 16-8-5. His name? LeBron James.

Westbrook had a case to make the All-Star team last season with Chris Paul out and Deron Williams pulling out at the last minute. Jason Kidd got the hometown bid, but Westbrook was right there. His game has steadily improved since he came into the league two seasons ago without a position. He has a jumpshot that's improved, he handles the game like a legit point man and he's probably the fastest end-to-end player in the league.

No matter what, Westbrook will be overshadowed by Durant, but with Durant's high profile, his teammates' rise as well. Durant's not the only guy getting all those appearances on national TV. Westbrook impressed people that hadn't seen him much in Turkey with his athletic ability and his lack of fear. The more people see him, the more blown away they'll be.

Rudy Gay, Grizzlies - Sometimes big money can make a guy complacent. Sometimes though, it can motivate him to prove people wrong.

A lot of fans, media and heck, even Rudy Gay himself, were shocked with his massive contract extension. And Gay has had to hear how he wasn't worthy of the big payday. Either he can be satisfied and just cash his checks and put up 19 and 8, or he can use it as a little extra to push him and his Memphis squad to a different level.

The Grizzlies weren't far off last season. Behind Gay's improved play, Memphis made a small playoff push for a time. The talent is there for Rudy. Actually, he's got more than enough talent. His issue is that on some nights, he disappears. He goes from dropping 25 on Tuesday to 10 on Wednesday. When he starts to put it all together, he has the makings of a star. It's easy to forget that he's just 24.

Danny Granger, Pacers - Over the past two seasons, Granger has averaged 25.8 ppg and 24.1 ppg . He shot over 44 percent from the field and over 36 percent from 3. He also averaged over five rebounds just as an extra.

Yet in the world of small forward talk, Granger gets left out. He's one of the top scorers in the league, yet most forget about him. That to me, is the definition of a breakout player waiting to happen.

Much like these other guys, Granger has been playing for a team that's not winning. Tough to be a recognized star when your team stinks. The Pacers might not be good this year, but they certainly should be better. And if Granger is the man leading that charge, maybe he starts to get a bit more recognition. The points are there. He scores at basically the same clip Carmelo Anthony has during his career. Now it's just about people seeing it.
Posted on: September 10, 2010 11:43 am
Edited on: September 10, 2010 11:44 am
 

Pop Quiz: Who's the Rookie of the Year favorite?

Posted by Royce Young

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

Who is winning Rookie of the Year? John Wall, Blake Griffin or someone else?

There's the Madden Curse, the Curse of the Billy Goat and the the Curse of the Sacred Buffalo. And for the past couple years, there's been the Curse of the No. 1 Overall Pick.

Of course there's Greg Oden who missed his entire 2007-08 rookie season because of microfracture surgery on his knee. Derrick Rose escaped and had a nice 2008-09 rookie campaign, but then Blake Griffin fractured his patella and sat out all of 2009-10.

Maybe it's a trend. Or maybe like the other "curses," it's just a combination of coincidence and bad luck.

But not often do you have a season with two No. 1 overall picks playing their rookie seasons together. John Wall and Blake Griffin are the last two top picks in the NBA and they are both entering their official rookie seasons. Griffin was the clear-cut favorite for Rookie of the Year last season before he got hurt, but his injury opened the door for Tyreke Evans to snatch the award. But with how electric Evans was last season, who knows, he might've won the award anyway.

So coming into 2010-11, we have two obvious favorites. But will one of them win it? If so, which one? Or if not, who else could slip in and grab the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy? Here are the favorites and then two sleepers:

THE FAVORITES

Blake Griffin, Clippers - It's easy to forget what a freak of nature Griffin is. It's easy to forget his non-stop motor, his talent, his ridiculous ability and his awesome athleticism. He sat out last season so it's easy to forget that he was pretty much a consistent 20-20 threat at the University of Oklahoma and that he averaged almost 30 points and 15 rebounds in the NCAA tournament. It's easy to forget that he was the most dominant college big man since Tim Duncan.

But he's healthy and he's hungry. Those are two very, very scary things for those that dare challenge him head-to-head. Griffin has an other-worldly work ethic and he's spent the last 15 months waiting to get a crack at the NBA. He's ready to go and the Clippers need his services. He'll get big minutes and he'll likely put up big numbers.

John Wall, Wizards
- In terms of pure flash, skill and NBA talent, it's hard to top John Wall. He just has some sort of allure to him that makes him must-see. And that sort of thing goes a long way in determining Rookie of the Year. Wall has "it," whatever "it" is.

He's going to struggle some though, especially early on. He's being put in charge of a fairly bad Wizards team from the get-go. He's going to have to manage being a scorer and a distributor, something really good point guards don't figure out most times until their third year. He will struggle at times. He'll turn the ball over. He'll miss open shots. And he'll likely get frustrated. But Wall will have flashy games, good numbers and most of all, that Derrick Rose like draw that just makes him fun to watch.

DeMarcus Cousins, Kings
- A lot of really smart analysts agreed in June, DeMarcus Cousins was the most talented overall player in the draft. He's the most NBA ready player and most capable of stepping on the floor and contributing this second.

But for Cousins, it was a between-the-ears thing.

Assuming his head is on straight and he's focused, Cousins is an absolute force on the post. In the first three games of Vegas summer league, he was nearly unguardable. He was a walking double-double. But then he got tired, lost interest and his numbers dipped severely. If we see the good Cousins consistently, he's a legit contender. If he wavers, he might not even make an All-Rookie team.

Evan Turner, 76ers - During summer league, Turner looked lost. He looked confused. He looked as if he wasn't sure of himself, his abilities or how he was supposed to fit in.

But remember, summer league.

Turner nearly averaged a triple-double at Ohio State last season. His issue will be something he doesn't really control. New 76ers coach Doug Collins will have to figure out where he's supposed to play. Is it point? At the 2? At the 3? Once that gets settled and Turner fits into his role, he should be a guy that finishes with quality numbers on a team that likely won't be very good.

Greg Monroe, Pistons - Maybe Monroe would be better suited in the "sleeper" category. He was drafted seventh overall and isn't set up to garner a ton of attention or playing time early on in Detroit.

But Monroe's skills are unignorable. He passing beautifully out of the post, has terrific footwork and rebounds better than people give him credit for. Right now, he's a little low on the depth chart, but the Pistons are likely planning on moving some pieces around. So Monroe will probably get plenty of playing time in a rebuilding situation.

TWO DARK HORSES
Patrick Patterson, Rockets - Daryl Morey traded Carl Landry away to Sacramento last season at the deadline. And he replaced him with, basically another Carl Landry.

Patterson is a machine on the post. He never stops working, never stops fighting. He's pretty much a perfect Houston Rocket at this point. The traditional box score may say he's not great, the measurables may say he's not super talented, but he just gets it done. Given the chance, he might slip in and average quality numbers playing in a bench role for Houston. And if so, he might also slip into the ROY discussion.

James Anderson, Spurs - With the oft-injured and aging Manu Ginobili playing in front of him, James Anderson might be called upon at some point to step up in a big way for the Spurs. And since he plays for San Antonio, obviously Anderson will be up to the task, because that's the just the way the Spurs work.

He was an elite scorer in college that was questioned at the next level because he's not overly athletic and doesn't score at the rim. But does it matter when you can just plain score? He shoots an open 3 beautifully, he gets to the free throw line and he's not a bad defender. If he gets opportunities, he could potentially average double-digits and play a big role in keeping the Spurs going. And that might be enough to at least get him in the conversation.

THE PICK
This is a weird year. On one hand, there are the obvious favorites as in, two No. 1 overall picks. But on the other, it's a wide open race because there's a lot of uncertainty surrounding those guys. Can Wall settle in with Washington? Is Griffin completely healthy? How good is DeMarcus Cousins and can he jump other candidates?

After Blake Griffin's injury last season, the ROY race opened up completely. Basically everyone had a shot. This season, it's pretty much a two-man showdown, with a couple dark horses hanging around. Writers are just waiting to hand the award to either Wall or Griffin, so in order for someone else to get into the conversation, they'll have to have a big time year.

So it comes down to the two No. 1s. Griffin has the advantage of going through an NBA season already, even if he didn't play. He's had a year of practices, a year of meetings, a year of travel. And most importantly, a year away from home in a big city with a lot of money in his pocket. He knows how to handle it. Wall on the other hand, is coming in like a traditional rookie - fresh.

Basically in my mind, it comes down to Griffin's health. If he doesn't sustain anymore injuries and is able to play the bulk of the season, he's going to have seriously good numbers. Probably something in the 17-10 range or maybe even better. He's a statistical machine. Wall will have a nice year no doubt, but Griffin will likely put up numbers that can be ignored. And that's why, in his second rookie year, Blake Griffin gets the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy.
Posted on: September 10, 2010 9:11 am
 

Shootaround 9.10.10: An extension for Noah?

Posted by Royce Young
  • Before we get too carried away with Joakim Noah for Carmelo Anthony talk, Marc Stein of ESPN says that the Bulls are actually working on something else Noah related: an extension. Which adds a potentially interesting twist to the trade rumors. Right now, Noah's salary is nowhere close to being enough to get a deal done with Denver for Anthony. Luol Deng would have to be included in the trade, but Denver is lukewarm on Deng. So if the Bulls extend Noah to say, $10 million a year, that would make a swap much easier. Just a thought.
  • Kevin Durant wrote "1972" on his sneakers yesterday for the game against Russia. Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie: "Not only does it remind me of how proud I am to be an American, but it should remind followers from all nations in this tournament that being part of a team can be a pretty special thing. Whether you're a member of Team USA at one point, CCCP, the Russian team, or a squad that didn't even exist in the 1988 Olympics (which took place the month Kevin Durant was born), it hardly matters. You're a teammate for life, and I appreciated Durant's little message to his teammates."
  • Ailene Voison of the Sac Bee on the reprehensible situation with Omri Casspi: "Kings forward Omri Casspi said Thursday he was 'hurt' after learning that a mural featuring his likeness was defaced with a swastika. The incident at 16th and R streets in midtown Sacramento is being investigated as a possible hate crime by local authorities. 'It's been all over the news over here,' said Casspi by phone at his family home in Yavne, Israel. 'Everybody's talking about it. It's hurtful to think that this is 2010, and there are still people like that out there. I almost don't know what to say. It's probably just some idiot who wants some publicity. But I know the people in Sacramento, and they have been wonderful to me. I know they must feel bad about this. Same thing with the Kings. I'll just let the police handle this and focus on having a great season.' Casspi, the first Israeli to play in the NBA, returns to Sacramento on Monday to begin preparing for his second training camp."
  • What does the old show "The White Shadow" and Turkey's 12 Giant Men have in common? Pete Thamel of the NY Times: "Turkey’s rapid rise as a basketball power can be traced, in part, to 'The White Shadow,' whose 54 episodes appeared on black-and-white TV here from 1980 to 1982. 'It made people aware of basketball in Turkey,' said Alper Yilmaz, a former national team player who works in the front office of Efes Pilsen, a club in Istanbul that has won 13 Turkish League titles since its founding in 1976. 'There was already basketball in Turkey,' Yilmaz added, 'but after that show, everyone started playing.'"
  • Chris Sheridan of ESPN on what gets lost in translation in international basketball: "The inclination for a player in foul trouble is to hold back, even just a little. Not so for Andre Iguodala , who played with so much energy and passion right when the Americans needed it that one of the Russian players actually thought he was swearing at him -- in Russian. "He say in Russian a bad word. I don't know how he know this. I won't even translate it. It's bad," said Russian forward Andrey Vorontsevich, who got yelled at by Iguodala after being a little too physical with Lamar Odom . "All I said was, 'watch it, watch it,'" Iguodala said, bewildered. "I don't speak any Russian."Apparently (according to bilingual Russian journalist Vladimir Gomelsky of NTV+, the Russian all-sports cable network), if you say, "watch it, watch it" fast enough, it can be misconstrued as the Russian euphemism for a female canine."
Posted on: September 9, 2010 9:15 am
Edited on: September 9, 2010 11:42 am
 

Shootaround 9.9.10: Dwight grants a big wish

Rodman's overheard orgy, Artest's ring on the market, and Bogut's MRI.
Posted by Matt Moore
Get your Kleenex ready. The Orlando Sentinel  reports of a visit from Dwight Howard to a woman dying of Stage 3 Multiple Myeloma. The one wish from a dying woman? A visit from the Orlando All-Star. It's a touching story, one that wound up with Howard being the one changed by the visit. Howard is in a unique position for these types of life-changing events. His relationship with his faith may come under constant scrutiny because of his fame, but it also equips him for times like these, comforting a woman on her way out with laughter and compassion.

Ron Artest is selling his championship ring , for charity, before he even has a chance to wear it. NBA.com reports that Artest will sell the ring without putting it on in a fundraiser to help put more mental health professionals in school. This comes on the heels of Artest working in schools to promote good mental health. It's indicative of a drastic reversal in public perception, with Artest going from being considered crazy in the negative, non-serious sense to really putting himself forward as a champion for the cause of mental health intervention. Standing "O" for Crazy Pills.

Dwyane Wade is in court this week for the custody case of his children. His lawyer is recommending custody for Wade, obviously, and there's a lawyer for the boys with three recommendations in play. All three recommendations feature Wade in a custody position to some degree. It would appear the talk of family being important for Wade is talk that's being walked, in this instance.

Depressing news out of Sacramento , as police are investigating vandalism of a Kings mural with a swastika that may be related to Kings' Israeli player Omri Casspi. Seriously, folks. We can move past this, right? The vandals really should watch the kid pass in transition. It's hard to hate him after that.

Andrew Bogut is seeing a hand specialist and having an MRI done . Nothing to worry about, really. After all, there's still like, two weeks before training camp...wait, that's not much time at all. Dang.

So Dennis Rodman? Yeah, he went to a party, and was MC'ing, and then left his microphone on when he went upstairs. That's embarrassing. Wait, what's that you say? He was upstairs having sex with six women? What's the word I'm looking for here? Oh, yeah. Icky. But hey, good to know that just like his playing days, Rodman is hyper-efficient. At least those guests that overheard him on the microphone downstairs can cross "eavesdrop on Dennis Rodman in an orgy" off their bucket list.

Spain fell to Serbia yesterday, in a minor upset. Here's how Spain unraveled . It was a shocking loss for Spain, and for those that believe that Ricky Rubio can actually walk on water, part the seas, and hit a jumpshot.

A look back at Dwight Howard's career nights . It's posts like this that make you think twice before criticizing his play too much.

If you have Raptor fan friends, prepare for them to be a grumpy bunch next season . They're gaining a great scorer (as he's shown in World play) in Linas Kleiza, but they're worried about his usage. They have a dynamic scorer in Andrea Bargnani, who, quite honestly, they hate because he doesn't rebound. There's just a lot of bad blood there right now.

I can answer this question . Does Luke Harangody have a role with the Celtics? Sure. Someone's gotta be mascot.

Jared Dudley is resigned to a good-faith situation with the Suns. That rarely works out well in the A. 
Posted on: September 6, 2010 2:22 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2010 3:30 pm
 

Pop Quiz: When does Carmelo Anthony get moved?

Posted by Royce Young

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

When does Carmelo Anthony get traded?

First, a different question: Does Carmelo Anthony get traded? Based on multiple reports from Ken Berger, Ric Bucher and Adrian Wojnarowski, all signs point to yes. New Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri is trying to convince Anthony to stay, but unless he plans on using some Jedi mind tricks, it sounds like Melo is taking off. Chauncey Billups plans on having a conversation with Anthony once he returns from Turkey, but it's not likely to work.

So we're going on the assumption he does get moved. The Nuggets need to trade Anthony, otherwise they're facing the same situation the Raptors and Cavaliers faced this past offseason. They don't want their superstar to walk without getting anything in return. And the longer they wait, they less they can get in return. So the Nuggets have the most leverage now.

I don't know if you realize this, but training camp starts in about three weeks. So if the Nuggets are going to get Anthony traded, they've got to get moving. There really isn't a pro to waiting until the trade deadline to deal Anthony, other than hopefully during that time you can convince him to sign that three-year extension. Other than that, there's nothing that is to be gained. Other teams know the Nuggets hand is being forced, so they know they can offer less and get more. If Denver trades Anthony sooner than later, there's more potential for a better return.

As Ken Berger said, the Nuggets are likely set to unravel, with or without Melo. The window is closing on Denver, so getting something done to try and look ahead to the future is pretty necessary.

So when does Carmelo get traded, since I think we've settled on the fact he will be? If you have an office pool going, I'm not going to give you a specific date, but here are the odds for four different time periods.

Before the season (2/1)
Nothing makes more sense for both parties involved. The sooner Denver trades him, the more they get. But I think I've been over that. Probably like 15 times. And Carmelo would be wise to push for a deal sooner than later. A big hangup could be the looming CBA coming next summer, so Anthony wants to get into his new digs and get started hammering out a new contract extension before that hits.

Plus, the market is broader the earlier you trade. A team that might not be a contender to re-sign Anthony could have a shot at using this season to convince him their franchise is the right fit. Maybe he's lukewarm on Sacramento and the Kings makes a deal to get him. Not only do they have a fun 2010-11 campaign, but potentially this is an audition to get him inked long term. More than likely Carmelo goes somewhere he is ready to sign, but the point is, the earlier the trade, the wider the opportunity.

By Christmas (4/1)
Waiting two months and then dealing Anthony? Not the best choice, but it's better than waiting any longer. Maybe Denver waits in order to try and convince Carmelo to stay. It's a little risky, but other teams might want to wait to see if not only Anthony would fit in well with whatever kind of push they're making, but also to try and give up less to get the Nuggets' star.

At the deadline (10/1)
What's the pro to waiting until the deadline? Well, I guess Denver might be able to get half a season of winning in their pocket and with the trade, still try and make the playoffs. But this scenario is just unlikely. If Denver is going to deal Anthony, trading at the February deadline probably makes the least amount of sense. You get less, you don't get a full season with Anthony and you limit your trade market to only the teams that know they can get Anthony re-signed.

After the season via sign-and-trade (25/1)
For Denver, this makes more sense than waiting until the deadline simply because you just bought yourself 82 more games with Carmelo (and maybe more than that). Plus, you get a season to try and win Anthony back, and then a little bit of the offseason to bring in new players with the cap room the Nuggets will have to hammer the point home.

But this is the highest risk scenario. If you don't convince Anthony to re-sign, you're faced with the LeBron/Bosh situation. Your star is leaving and all you're getting back is a second-round pick and maybe a trade exception. You get the least in return because your hand has been forced. In some ways, I see this as the most likely situation because things tend to play out this way, but in another, the Nuggets just watched an offseason where the Raptors and Cavs got burned. They don't want to be the next victim.

And just for fun, let's rank the teams he might be headed to. So far, about half the league has been tossed out as a potential landing zone. We've heard the Timberwolves, the Kings, the Warriors, the Clippers, the Knicks, the Magic, the Rockets and the Nets. Here are my top five contenders:

1. Houston Rockets
The Rockets are the favorite in my mind, because it makes the most sense all the way around. Houston is a contender with Anthony, something he wants. Houston is still a large TV market, something he wants. The Rockets can trade back quality pieces to Denver, something the Nuggets want. And Daryl Morey gets the star bedrock piece, something he desperately wants.

Anthony likely wants bigger lights for him and his celebrity wife to head to, but a lot of it comes down to what Denver can get back. I'm sure Anthony prefers New York or Los Angeles to anywhere else, but it's about finding a proper trade partner for the Nuggets. And the Rockets can give a quality return while Anthony gets a good city and good franchise.

2. New Jersey Nets
Carmelo was birthed in Brooklyn. The Nets are moving to Brooklyn. Hey, I'm just putting it all together here.

Of course there's the Jay-Z connection which seems to be a draw to pretty much every young star player. But not only that, new owner Mikhail Prokhorov has a stupid amount of money and toys that could entice Anthony. The Nets have a new arena coming, new ownership and potentially even a new name on the way. Anthony could be The Face of the rebuilt New Jersey franchise, which has to be intriguing. Plus, he would basically be in New York, somewhere that he wants to be.

The Nets have the necessary assets to reel in the Nuggets. Brook Lopez is probably out of the question, but there's Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Terrence Williams and Troy Murphy. All of those could be something that Denver would want to pull the trigger on.

3. New York  Knicks
It's not just that Carmelo wants to be in the Big Apple, it's that he wants to be the face of basketball in the basketball holy land. Save the Knicks, save basketball in New York and you're hoops royalty. What player would want to do that? Well, other than LeBron James I guess.

The issue with the Knicks is having the pieces to get a deal done. Whatever New York offers, it won't be as good as what New Jersey, Houston or a number of other teams can do. And the Nuggets aren't going to be in the thinking to do Anthony a favor and just trade him somewhere he wants. They want pieces or at least assets back, two things the Knicks don't have a lot of. But if Carmelo wants to be there bad enough and the Knicks know it, Donnie Walsh would have to put together some kind of package to get it done, even if that means he has to part with some of his prime young players.

4. Los Angeles Clippers
There isn't a team in the running that has available trade pieces that can compete with the Clippers. Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin, Baron Davis, Al Farouq-Aminu - any combination there would be almost impossible to turn away. Now Griffin is likely not going to be part of any trade, but Kaman, Aminu and Gordon would make for a fairly equal trade. So of Anthony's potential suitors, I would bet Denver prefers to talk to the Clippers first.

Obviously Melo would like to be in L.A., but he probably wants to be part of the other Los Angeles franchise. Playing for owner Donald Sterling and the hapless Clipper franchise isn't something basketball players dream of. But at the same time, going to the Clippers, building that franchise into a winner and competing for L.A. against the purple and gold would be something a real competitor would relish.

5. Denver Nuggets
They might be a major sleeper, but don't rule out the Nuggets. Most agree Anthony has already mentally left Denver, but people change their minds. Chris Paul already did it after Dell Demps sold him on a plan. Maybe Ujiri can do the same. Or maybe the Nuggets can't find a good trade buddy early on and in the first two months, Denver is winning and Carmelo is having a great time. Now that three-year extension doesn't look so bad anymore. You know how it goes, everybody can change.

Posted on: September 2, 2010 1:17 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2010 1:22 pm
 

Pop Quiz: What teams are flying under the radar?

Posted by Royce Young

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question.. .

What teams might people be sleeping on?

When the season starts, everyone is in first place. And when the season starts, everyone has the hopes of being that sleeper team that comes out of nowhere to shock the basketball world. Everyone thinks their team could be the next Oklahoma City Thunder, the next Tampa Bay Rays, the next New Orleans Saints. Even the most pessimistic fan has that small bone in their body that thinks, "What if?"

But for some squads, it's just not realistic. Just like there has to be a best team, there also has to be a worst team. We've already tried to focus in on that really, really bad team. But what about the squads maybe flying under the radar? Not just teams that might come out of nowhere and make a playoff run, but teams like last season's Memphis Grizzlies who were simply just better than expected. Or teams that people simply aren't giving enough credence to. So, who are this season's sleeper candidates?

Sacramento Kings
The Kings are almost approaching "trendy pick" territory, which is extremely dangerous. That's the area the Clippers were in last season and where teams like the Houston Texans have perpetually been stationed. It's like sports purgatory. You're better than terrible, probably mediocre, but because of elevated expecations, you're set up to be a disappointment. It's a really odd place. And the Kings might be in that category.

But the reality is, there's a ton of talent on that roster. Tyreke Evans is obviously waiting to break out into superstardom, smart moves brought in Carl Landry and Samuel Dalembert, two players that help a lot and of course drafting maybe the most talented player last June in DeMarcus Cousins helps. The roster has talent, and lots of it, but it's about overcoming youth and learning to win. The Thunder figured those things out last season as they put together an unexpected 50-win season. That expectation might be a little high for this young Sacramento squad, but seeing them as a potential .500 team or maybe even pushing for the postseason in March isn't too hard to picture. 

Indiana Pacers
By playing much better basketball and finishing the last two months of the season 12-10, the Pacers played themselves out of a higher lottery pick. But what they might have done, is played themselves into a better 2010-11 campaign. Momentum heading into an offseason is always a good thing and even with a rag-tag roster that didn't feature a real point guard, the Pacers were able to compete. Now with Darren Collison, a proven point man, Indiana has something to get a little more excited about.

Of course losing Troy Murphy stings. Stings a lot in fact. Indiana is desperately searching for an interior replacement for Murphy, but for now, the Pacers will try and survive on Danny Granger's scoring, Collison's creating and the continued development of Roy Hibbert. The Eastern Conference is looking at a changing of the guard with teams like Cleveland falling down the line a bit. The eighth spot is wide open in the East, and the Pacers might just have enough to get there.

New Jersey Nets
Don't laugh. Seriously, don't. Everyone knows the Nets weren't truly as bad as their record indicated last season. It was a snowball effect that started in training camp and eventually led to the team flirting with the worst record ever. Simply put, that roster was just too good to win only 14 games last year.

But with the additions of Jordan Farmar, Travis Outlaw and Troy Murphy, there has definitely been a talent upgrade. An interior duo of Brook Lopez and Murphy is definitely one of the best combos in the East. Add in rookie Derrick Favors whose ceiling is so high even he can't touch it and the Nets are a lock to be better. Will they be a playoff team? Probably not. But can they be a vastly improved squad that at least can talk a little postseason around February and March? Definitely.

Portland Trail Blazers
What are they doing on here? Well, hear me out. Most aren't considering the Blazers a true Western contender this season. Most don't think Portland has what it takes to get to the Western finals. Playoff team? Certainly. But a team to be reckoned with? Hardly.

And that's where I think people might be wrong.

Everyone knows the well chronicled injury issues the Blazers faced last year. Starters missed lots of games, bench players missed lots of games, everyone missed lots of games. The team was ripped apart with injuries, but yet somehow, someway, made it into the playoffs and won over 50 games. So imagine that Blazer roster at full tilt. Of course that's a big if, because assuming Greg Oden will be healthy for a full season is like assuming Gary Busey won't say something crazy on TV. But even just having Brandon Roy, Joel Pryzbilla, Andre Miller and Nicolas Batum all together for a full 82 means that's a pretty scary roster. Is this your traditional sleeper? Not really because everyone already knows they're good. But the question is, just how good?

Posted on: September 1, 2010 8:06 am
Edited on: September 1, 2010 8:07 am
 

Shootaround 9.1.10: Evans putting the J back in

Evans' J, Love's weird way, and the James kiddos' first day, today in the Shootaround.
Posted by Matt Moore


The Hawks aren't planning on taking their time with Al Horford's extension. They're planning on offering him a near-max extension before the October 31st deadline, meaning they'll have given up $190 million in salary for two players the year before the CBA dramatically shifts. Horford is an All-Star center, young, versatile, and extremely aware on both sides of the ball. Kelly Dwyer pointed out that the Hawks have some options with Horford. Unfortunately, they seem ready to rush into the breach with wallets wide open. You have to wonder how they're going to find salary room for any of the other players, let alone Jamal Crawford, who also wants an extension... or a trade.

Tyreke Evans has reinvested himself in his jump shot. What's interesting is that he was a terrible shooter (32%) from midrange, 16-23 feet last season, but a very decent one from 10-15 feet (43.2%). As Sam Amick's profile reveals, Evans used to be a tremendous shooter, he just needs to reacquaint himself with his shot. It could be a significant leap forward in his offensive development. Which is terrifying, considering how good he was last year.

A Wolf Among Wolves discusses Kevin Love's Team USA summer, and the fact that he's best suited for a third option role. Which makes sense, since the Wolves have buried him in the past for Darko Milicic and just traded for Michael Beasley who most scouts agree is best suited for the power forward role. You know. Third best option.

It's kind of a shame that Shaq's teams didn't end up meeting the Spurs over the years. Because the Duncan-Shaq rivalry is prett good.

George Karl was surprised at the firing of Mark Warkentien. He speaks highly of Warkentien, as well as Masai Ujiri. You have to wonder just how spread to the four corners the entire Nuggets organization is at this point.

LeBron James is a human . No one really seems to think so at this point, but it's true.

Ersan Ilyasova is tearing up FIBA play . Which could be a good thing for the Bucks as he develops and takes on more of a leadership role. Or it could cause him to wonder why he's been shoved to the back of the line in the Bucks' forward feeding trough with the additions of Drew Gooden, Larry Sanders, and others.

A fascinating look at roster balance on the wings for the Knicks, not in terms of skillset, but shot performance on the right versus the left side of the floor. Interesting note: Ramond Felton took exactly as many shots from the right side as the left, and hit the same percentage.

The numerous discussions of Marquis Daniels have overlooked one aspect: Doc Rivers completely took him out of the rotation in the playoffs, despite him having recovered from injury. The trust is simply not there on a team that depends on it so much.

The Bucks hope and expect Andrew Bogut to be back for the season opener. It's close, but don't hold your breath.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com