Carmelo Anthony

Even if Melo waives his no-trade clause, making the deal will be a challenge

Even if Melo waives his no-trade clause, making the deal will be a challenge

While the basketball fans of New York wait for either the Knicks or Carmelo Anthony to blink, the Portland Trail Blazers are still holding out hope.

Will Anthony, at some point, waive that no-trade to include more teams? Would the Trail Blazers be one of those teams?

At this point, nobody knows. But I will tell you this, if that door ever opens, I expect Portland to make every effort to charge through it.

But it won’t be easy. In fact, it’s going to be a very big job, considering the finances involved.

The Blazers will have to come up with a trade with the Knicks that is better than anyone else’s and yet doesn't’t completely decimate the Portland roster.

And that will be a huge challenge. The Trail Blazers are going to need to stack a lot of salaries on top of each other to come up to the dollar amount needed to make the deal permissible under league rules.

And the trick is to not give up so much that Anthony’s presence can’t make up for the loss of the departed players..

Portland's side of the trade must come within 125 percent of $34 million to make the thing work. That dollar figure is based on Anthony’s 2017-18 salary of roughly $26.2 million PLUS his trade kicker, which will amount to another $8 million, given that the final year of his contract is a player option.

And you need to match that amount without ending up with your cupboard bare.

Here are the Portland contracts for next season –- feel free to play the home version of “Let’s Make A Deal” to add them up to a workable total while not giving away so much that the team is mortally wounded.

As you see, it’s going to get very tricky. But I expect the Trail Blazers to come up with a viable offer and by sheer volume it may be better than any other team is willing to give for a player who will probably play just one season for it.

I would figure the refreshed New York front office to play this thing out, hoping Anthony will loosen his no-trade a bit as training camp nears. And I expect Anthony to hold tight for as long as he can to a Houston-only demand.

But at some point, one side will budge.

And so we wait.

Can we please just forget all about that Melo/Ryan Anderson deal? It's dead

Can we please just forget all about that Melo/Ryan Anderson deal? It's dead

OK, enough is enough. Social media not only breaks stories but it perpetuates them. Ad nauseam.

Such is the case with that three-team-trade rumor that would have sent Carmelo Anthony to Houston and Ryan Anderson to Portland, among other things. It's still a topic of conversation on Twitter and elsewhere even though it's very clear that the whole thing is dead.

I've said this from the beginning -- I don't think Portland was interested in adding Anderson to its roster and I'm real certain the Trail Blazers didn't want any part of his nasty contract. And then when it became known that Portland wanted Anthony and wasn't interested in helping Houston get better, that should have ended the discussion.

Read this one more time -- the Trail Blazers are NOT interested in helping the Rockets get better. It would make sense that Neil Olshey has no interest in being the guy who helped the Rockets get to the Western Conference finals. And I don't think that's something he's going to change his mind about.

I still think Portland will make some sort of deal prior to training camp. Seems to me that moving the decision date on Pat Connaughton's contract option was a signal that there is still an opportunity for something to happen. The Trail Blazers still have a chance to use Connaughton in a deal, perhaps, or pick up his option and keep him after roster space is cleared by some other trade.

But until something else happens, can we just put the whole Houston/Ryan Anderson thing to rest?

It's over.

Carmelo Anthony to Portland? Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum make their pitch

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USA Today

Carmelo Anthony to Portland? Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum make their pitch

BEAVERTON – If Carmelo Anthony never joins the Trail Blazers, it won’t be because of a lack of effort from the Blazers’ two cornerstones – Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

Through a series of cryptic and vague comments on Wednesday at Lillard’s youth basketball camp, both Lillard and McCollum said they have been in contact with Anthony in attempts to lure him to Portland via a trade.

“I spoke to him,’’ Lillard said. “Because obviously he makes us a better team. So obviously with that being out there and being a real possibility, I don’t see why I wouldn’t reach out to him and let him know the interest is mutual if he is interested in us.’’

What was Anthony’s response?

“I’m not going to share all that,’’ Lillard said. “We had the conversation about it because it’s something we need to talk about, so he knows it’s not something that just a team (is interested) ... it was myself and CJ would love to have him, so we reached out to him, texted him, that’s it.’’

McCollum, who was making an appearance at Lillard's camp, was more cryptic, saying he has spoke to Anthony “indirectly” through the trainer they both share. He added that he is flying to New York on Thursday to train and will “say hello (to Melo) if he’s there.’’

“If we get him … when we get him … I think we could be top three in the West, easy,’’ McCollum said. “I think he’s interested. Obviously I feel he wants to play with his team – the Banana Boat friends. I know he wants to play with CP (Chris Paul) and LeBron, and those are good options, but I feel we are a good option.’’

Anthony has a no-trade clause, and it is believed he wants to steer his destination toward Houston, where he can team with Paul and James Harden. But to get to Houston, a third-team will likely need to be involved in a trade, which is where Portland has entered the conversation.

The Blazers, however, do not want to help Houston gain another star, and instead are hopeful to convince Anthony that he can win, and perhaps win big now, in Portland alongside Lillard, McCollum and blossoming center Jusuf Nurkic. However, it is unclear whether Anthony would waive his no-trade clause to come to Portland.

That's why Lillard and McCollum reached out - to change his view of Portland by assuring him he would be wanted. 

“He’s Carmelo Anthony,’’ Lillard said. “You add another guy who can score 50. Over the last decade, he’s been one of best players in the league. Playing against him he’s a cerebral player. He’s smart. He played in the triangle. I can only imagine what it would be like to have him isolating on one side, and CJ in the corner, and me in opposite wing and Nurk on the opposite …  I could only imagine how tough it would be to guard us.’’

That Lillard and McCollum reached out privately to Anthony is consistent with their public pursuit of NBA stars this offseason since the Blazers were swept in the first round of the playoffs by Golden State.

On social media, both Lillard and McCollum pushed a pursuit of former Indiana star Paul George, a desire that Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey pursued by making a trade offer centered around the team’s three draft picks on the Monday before the NBA Draft. Indiana turned down the offer and instead traded George to Oklahoma City for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Later, in July, McCollum shared a promo on social media that showed Anthony wearing a No. 7 Trail Blazers uniform.

“I mean, what’s the worst that can happen?’’ McCollum said when asked about pursuing players via social media. “If you want something you go get it, if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. But I think it’s important if you want a free agent, you let them know, you have to express that. Sometimes (a player) is just reading articles and doesn’t know what going on, but if you speak directly you can give them an idea of exactly what you are thinking.’’

For Lillard, this summer has been another step in his becoming more vocal and more active in trying to recruit players to Portland. Last summer, he visited with Dwight Howard and Chandler Parsons during free agency, and this season he has been behind pursuing George and Anthony.

“I want to win a championship. It’s that simple,’’ Lillard said. “After my rookie year I’ve been in the playoffs every year and the playoffs are fun … but at this point we need a breakthrough. I’m tired of watching … each year it bothers me more.’’

Both Lillard and McCollum said they feel Olshey is listening to them, and that he is trying to improve the roster.

“Like I said, I do my job and I’ll allow them to do their job, but there comes a point where we have to improve individually with what we have but also we have to improve as everybody else improves their roster,’’ Lillard said.

Carmelo Anthony as a Trail Blazer? It's certainly well worth a try

Carmelo Anthony as a Trail Blazer? It's certainly well worth a try

Adrian Wojnarowski at ESPN.com is reporting that the Trail Blazers are not all interested in being a third team in a deal that would facilitate a trade of Carmelo Anthony to Houston.

And that they're actually interested in going after Anthony:

One of the teams that New York and Houston had hoped would facilitate a multi-team trade for Anthony -- the Portland Trail Blazers -- only plans to participate in a deal for Anthony if he decides to expand his no-trade clause to include the Trail Blazers, league sources told ESPN.

Outside of Golden State, Portland believes the addition of a player such as Anthony would furnish it with talent and depth comparable to those of the top Western Conference contenders, league sources said. Because of that, the Blazers have little, if any, inclination to facilitate an Anthony deal that would land him with a Western Conference rival such as Houston, league sources said.

A deal for Anthony is much different than adding Ryan Anderson -- the rumored trade piece in the proposed three-team deal. Yes, Anthony has struggled in New York -- but who wouldn't? That franchise is a hot mess.

But I always liked the Melo who was one of the most reliable and unselfish players on the U.S. national team. I believe that with a stable franchise, with a coach who gives his players freedom the way Terry Stotts does, with teammates the caliber of the ones he'd have here, Carmelo Anthony would be a terrific piece on a contending team. And along with Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, that's a pretty formidable foundation for a solid team.

The Trail Blazers would immediately thrust themselves into that cluster of teams right behind the Warriors. I'd make that deal in a New York minute.

Problem is, there may be no deal to make. Anthony has a no-trade clause and he's willing to waive it for Houston or Cleveland. Could he be talked into including Portland on his list of approved destinations? I would doubt it. It simply has to be a long shot.

But I'd be all in on the effort. This is a move worth making.

Trail Blazers gain ground on Denver after easy win over Knicks

Trail Blazers gain ground on Denver after easy win over Knicks

It wasn’t as easy as they would have liked, but the Trail Blazers took care of business Thursday against short-handed New York with a 110-95 win in which they never trailed.

Playing a woeful Knicks team that was without injured starters Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose, the Blazers bolted to a 15-point lead in the first quarter and a 21-point lead at halftime. The Knicks got as close as 98-88 with four minutes left in the fourth quarter before Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum shut the door and locked Portland’s ninth win in the last 12 games.

The Blazers (33-38), who moved within one game of Denver for the eighth and final playoff spot with 11 games remaining. Denver (34-37) next plays at Indiana (36-35) on Friday.

Lillard had 30 points, the eighth consecutive game he has scored 25 or more, tying him for the third longest streak in franchise history with Geoff Petrie (1970-1971) and McCollum (this season). He scored seven points in a two minute span to lead a 10-0 Blazers run after New York cut the lead to 10. It was the ninth time in 15 games since the All-Star Break that Lillard has scored 30 or more points. 

McCollum added 20 points, Jusuf Nurkic 16 points and 10 rebounds and Noah Vonleh grabbed 11 rebounds.

"I thought we played a really good first half on both ends of the floor,'' Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "I was disappointed with the fact that New York cut it to 10. Some of that is obviously New York playing better ... but they outworked us. We finished it off, so that was a positive.''

The Knicks (27-45) started three rookies – Willy Hernangomez, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Ron Baker – and they were overmatched in every facet of the game as they trailed by as many as 23 in the second half.

If Nurkic wasn’t powering over Hernangomez for dunks, Lillard was blowing past Baker for layins. New York’s lone remaining star – Kristaps Porzingis –finished with 18 points and nine rebounds on 8-of-21 shooting.

The rout started early as Portland jumped to a 37-23 lead in the first quarter behind 15 points from Lillard and some dreadful play by the Knicks. New York shot 28.6 percent in the quarter while Portland made 14-of-23 shots (60.9 percent). Lillard scored 15 in the first quarter.

"I thought the way Damian got off in the first quarter really set the tone for the rest of the first half,'' Stotts said.

The Knicks, who beat Portland earlier in the season, lost for the fourth consecutive time and seventh time in eight games.

Evan Turner, who tried his third protective apparatus on his right hand, had his best game since returning from his broken third metacarpal, recording 10 points and six rebounds on 3-of-5 shooting.

"Evan looked much more comfortable out there,'' Stotts said.

Next up: Minnesota at Blazers, 7 p.m. Saturday (CSN).

Podcast:

CSN NBA Insiders Notebook: Is Melo on the move?

CSN NBA Insiders Notebook: Is Melo on the move?

AT AN ARENA NEAR YOU – Welcome to the latest and greatest edition of the CSN Insiders Notebook.

The rumor mill is starting to get hot and heavy with some of the game’s biggest names being talked about as being on the move.

At the top of the list these days is the New York Knicks and their star player, Carmelo Anthony.

Our CSN Philly Insider Jessica Camerato gives us the latest on how Melo is handling this latest round of trade rumors.

MELO ON THE MOVE?

Who will Carmelo Anthony be playing for after the trade deadline?

Anthony holds a no-trade clause with the Knicks, but his time in New York seems like it will be coming to a close. If the Knicks find a team that Anthony agrees to, this could mark the end of the Melo era in the Big Apple.

The Clippers have emerged as the main suitor for the 14th-year veteran who is averaging over 22 points, six rebounds and three assists this season. Now comes the challenge of finding a third team to make a deal work.

So far the Cavaliers and Celtics -- two enticing destinations for a player looking to win -- reportedly have said they are not interested. (LINK: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/18561036/report%C2%A0knic ks-clippers-discussing-trade-for%C2%A0carmelo-anthony)

This leaves Anthony waiting out his time on a losing Knicks team while he waits to see what the front office does before mid-February.

"You've got to deal with that, even though I try not to read it. And everywhere you go, even if you don't hear about it, somebody is telling you about it, somebody is saying something," Anthony said, via ESPN.com (http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/18570450/new-york-knicks-fans-boo-carmelo-anthony-calls-last-week-mentally-draining ). "It can be mentally draining, mentally fatiguing."

ATLANTIC DIVISION

SIMMONS RECOVERY ON TRACK

While there is no timetable for Ben Simmons’ return, the number one pick in last June’s NBA draft continues to make progress in his rehab from a Jones fracture in his right foot.

Simmons had a scheduled scan with the operating specialist last week in New York. The results showed his recovery is moving along as expected. As part of that recovery, Simmons began one-on-one activity at the Sixers training complex. He competed “very slow” at about “80 percent,” according to Sixers head coach Brett Brown, against Delaware 87ers forward James Webb.

“If you said it’s 20 percent, 10 percent I’d get thrilled,” Brown said. “I can’t wait to coach him. I really can’t wait to coach him.” (LINK http://www.csnphilly.com/philadelphia-76ers/brett-brown-ben-simmons-i-cant-wait-coach-him ) – by Jessica Camerato

CROWDER’S PLAY OF LATE STANDING OUT

Jae Crowder has far exceeded the expectations many had for him when he came to Boston two years ago as a throw-in to the Rajon Rondo trade with Dallas. His play of late has been really good which has only added to the reluctance on Boston’s part to include him in any trade.

In his last nine games, Crowder has averaged 18.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists while shooting 52.8 percent from the field and 45.3 percent from 3-point range.

The Celtics were contacted by the New York Knicks regarding a possible deal involving Carmelo Anthony. If Boston was open to the idea of adding Melo which at the time of this writing they were not, they would most likely have to include Crowder in the deal. He is not untradeable, but his versatility, production and extremely team-friendly contract will make it difficult for the Celtics to part ways with him. – by A. Sherrod Blakely

IS SULLINGER THE ANSWER TO RAPTORS’ BIG MAN NEEDS?

The recent skid by the Toronto Raptors only highlighted what many NBA execs have been saying all season. Toronto has a good team, but title contender? Nope.

And the Raptors know this, which is why they’re in the market for an impact power forward.

Could they already have him and not know it?

Jared Sullinger was supposed to be that guy, but foot surgery has kept him off the court until recently.

 And let’s just say the early returns have not been encouraging, which is why the Raptors are open to trying to acquire another power forward such as Atlanta’s Paul Millsap.

In his first five games, Sullinger averaged 4.0 points and 2.6 rebounds while shooting a woeful 25.8 percent from the field and 18.2 percent on 3’s. The Raptors recently announced he would do a rehab stint with their Development League affiliate, the Raptors 905.

“I tell them all the time, when I come back I’m gonna bring one thing and that’s probably rebounding right now,” Sullinger told CSN’s Abby Chin recently. “Just because everybody is in midseason form. It’s gonna take time for me to fit in, know where my shots are, kind of know the offense.” – by A. Sherrod Blakely

 NETS AMONG TEAMS TO ‘REST’ HEALTHY PLAYERS

It’s hard to imagine that the Brooklyn Nets won’t finish this season with the NBA’s worst record. And yet you will still find some nights where some of their best players – and I use the word ‘best’ very loosely – are on the bench in street clothes. 

Like San Antonio, Atlanta, Memphis and others throughout the league, the premise is to make sure players are relatively healthy as can be as they near the end of the season and prepare for the playoffs.

And then there’s the Nets who are not only going to fail to make the playoffs, but they can’t even cash in on the one benefit to being a bad team – a high pick in that upcoming year’s NBA draft.

The Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry trade in 2013 netted Boston several picks which included the right to swap this year’s pick which at this point is looking like the top overall selection.

So no playoffs and no lottery pick and guys still getting time off to rest?

Nets guard Randy Foye is among those who likes the approach taken by GM Sean Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson who came from San Antonio and Atlanta, respectively.

“I think fatigue injuries [result from] back-to-backs or three-in-four-nights where you don’t feel anything, but at the end of the day, you’ve strained a hamstring or pulled a muscle or something like that,” Foye told Newsday. ‘I think the way we’re doing it right here is pretty smart. We’re building toward something.” – by A. Sherrod Blakely

CENTRAL DIVISION

DRAMA TAKES CENTER STAGE WITH THE BULLS

Drama, thy name is the Chicago Bulls.

First it was Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler calling out their teammates for a perceived lack of commitment, then Rajon Rondo calling out Butler and Wade on Instagram for their leadership style.

Then there was a team meeting, fines, pseudo-punishments and a blowout.

Well, a blowout loss to the Miami Heat Friday night.

But in the end, there were no regrets as Wade said he’d have no issues working and playing with Rondo despite Rondo’s feelings. And Wade stuck to his sentiment even through the firestorm.

“When you’re a leader, certain things you do and say aren’t always going to be the popular thing in the locker room,” he said. “As a leader, sometimes you can’t be liked. It’s the harsh truth and harsh reality. I’m probably not liked in this locker room today. I’m OK with that.”

And with all that, the Bulls are still holding onto a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. – by Vincent Goodwill

JAMES WANTS MORE HELP IN CLEVELAND

Drama seems to carry in the Eastern Conference or even more specifically, the Midwest as LeBron James again laid down the gauntlet for what he perceives is a lack of help from the Cleveland Cavaliers management and ownership.

James, in his 14th year, is averaging a league-leading 37.5 minutes per game—not a great sign for a 32-year old who’s played deep into June every year since 2011.

After a losing streak that included a puzzling loss to a New Orleans Pelicans team playing without Anthony Davis, James said to reporters, “I just hope that we're not satisfied as an organization."

The Cavaliers have the highest payroll in the NBA and have paid the luxury tax in the two years since James’ return from Miami, in addition to losing $40 million in operating losses, according to Forbes Magazine.

And with his relationship with owner Dan Gilbert always being a point of contention, one wonders if the Cavaliers will continue to press forward with personnel moves or try to save a few bucks—if so, will James try to save his ailing body before the playoff run? – by Vincent Goodwill

DUMARS INTERESTED IN RETURN TO NBA

Hall of Famer Joe Dumars has been synonymous with the Detroit Pistons for 29 years, starting with being drafted in 1985 all the way through his playing career and run as president of basketball operations before his reign ended after the 2013-14 season.

Dumars has laid low from the public eye since but confirmed he wants to get back into the NBA in a podcast with the Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski this week.

“Actually, it’s been great,” Dumars said. “The run in Detroit was tremendous on a lot of levels -— on and off the court. I enjoyed every moment of it. Twenty-eight, twenty-nine straight years, I enjoyed every moment of it. But then sometimes, it’s time to turn the page and have someone else come in and do this and carry that load.”

Dumars led the Pistons to a championship in 2004, another Finals appearance in 2005 and was at the helm of a team that went to six straight Eastern Conference Finals from 2003-08.

His run in Detroit ended when he admitted he should’ve rebuilt instead reloaded, but his resume is as stacked as anyone not with an NBA job—and better than most who have jobs currently.

He should be back in the NBA and fairly soon. – by Vincent Goodwill

ROBINSON III TO COMPETE IN SLAM DUNK CONTEST

Indiana Pacers second-year forward Glenn Robinson III hasn’t hit the league by storm in the way his father, Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson did two decades ago as one of the league’s most deadly scorers.

But Robinson III can get up and above the rim in a way his father never could, so it’s no shock to see him enter his name into the participants of All-Star Weekend’s Slam Dunk contest in New Orleans in the middle of February.

Robinson will be the third Pacer in franchise history to enter the contest, and the small-town Pacers have had decent moments for Robinson to live up to. Paul George was part of a winning combination in the 2014 dunk contest with John Wall, and who could forget Terence Stansbury in the 1987 dunk contest with his “Statue of Liberty” dunk that’s been remembered through time.

So basically, Robinson II has more footsteps to follow, and he’s used to it by now. – by Vincent Goodwill

NBA POTENTIALLY IMPACTED BY PRESIDENT’S TEMPORARY BAN

The Milwaukee Bucks are mired in a terrible losing streak but recent world events have put that in the background as Thon Maker’s status has come into question with President Trump’s temporary ban on the entry of non-American citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Maker was born in Wau, Sudan, which became part of an independent South Sudan in 2011. Sudan is one of the seven banned countries, along with Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

With the NBA having several players who fit this description, the league has to get on top of this and league spokesman Mike Bass issued a statement Saturday saying, “"We have reached out to the State Department and are in the process of gathering information to understand how this executive order would apply to players in our league who are from one of the impacted countries. The NBA is a global league, and we are proud to attract the very best players from around the world." – by Vincent Goodwill

SOUTHEAST DIVISION

WALL-BEAL BACKCOURT CLICKING

John Wall wishes Bradley Beal could be an All-Star with him, and after an offseason in which he raised eyebrows by admitting to CSNmidatlantic.com that they had a tendency to “dislike” each other they’ve smoothed out their differences which is a big reason why the Wizards were 26-20 heading into Sunday’s game at the Pelicans.

The backcourt is having its best season together, and individually, as Wall and Beal are averaging career highs in multiple categories and defending as well as in duo in the league.

“People say we couldn’t get to this road together. Whatever dislikes we had with each other we put that to the side when we stepped between those lines because we know how much we both want to win, how competitive we are,” Wall told CSN after being selected to his fourth consecutive All-Star Game. “I know I can’t be John Wall without Bradley Beal, and Bradley Beal can’t be (himself) without John Wall.” – by J. Michael

HEAT’S WAITERS SERVING UP BETTER PLAY, WINS

With Rodney McGruder, Willie Reed and Luke Babbitt in the starting lineup – and no Hassan Whiteside – the Heat won their sixth game in a row entering the weekend to give themselves hope though they’re still mired at the bottom of the East.

Babbitt, who Tony Allen of the Grizzlies admitted he voted for as an All-Star, plays reserve minutes to score 22 points during the streak has had an impact if you believe in plus-minus ratings. With him on the floor, the Heat have been on the positive side five times.

But it’s the clutch shot-making of Dion Waiters that has keyed the hot streak as he beat the Warriors with a three and slammed the door shut with one vs. the Nets. Miami is 5-15 without him. They’re 12-15 with him.

Waiters only makes $2.9 million when he signed as a free agent and is surely going to opt out of his second year to test the market. – by J. Michael

ANOTHER REBUILD IN THE MAGIC’S FUTURE?

A team built to be defense-first is failing miserably, and the Magic lost even more offense with Jodie Meeks being knocked out indefinitely following right thumb surgery.

“It’s everybody,” Bismack Biyombo said after Orlando gave up 128 points to the Celtics which made for 100-plus in 14 of 15 games. “Our efforts are not good enough. We talk about the right thing. Everybody says the right thing but we’ve got to hold each other accountable. … It is embarrassing to be out there.”

Another restructuring seems to be in order for a roster with good pieces that don’t fit. For Meeks, he hasn’t played a full season since 2013-14 with the Lakers and he only has played 24 games after missing the start of this season with injuries. – by J. Michael

PACIFIC DIVISION

KINGS FALTER AT HOME, FALL OUT OF PLAYOFF SPOT

After a 1-6 homestand, the Sacramento Kings embarked on a season-long eight-game road trip that included three sets of back-to-backs. Six games in, the Kings are holding their own with wins over the Pistons, Cavs and Hornets. Following Tuesday’s game against the Rockets, the Kings return home where they will play 11-of-13 at Golden 1 Center. They do not leave the Pacific time zone from February 1-March 5. … Rudy Gay, 30, underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon on Monday in New York. According to Dr. Martin O’Malley, Gay is expected to make a complete recovery in time for training camp before the 2017-18 season.  … DeMarcus Cousins is an All-Star again. The 26-year-old big man will make his third straight appearance in the annual event next month as a Western Conference reserve. Cousins is posting huge numbers across the board, but over his last 18 games, he’s handing out 6.2 assists per game. Not bad for a 6-foot-11 big man.- by James Ham

DURANT THE PLAYER IS GOOD, BUT THE ACTOR …

In their fourth month as Warriors teammates, Draymond Green finally is willing to admit he is not impressed with Kevin Durant.

As an actor, that is.

Green recently re-watched “Thunderstruck,” a 2012 comedy in which Durant plays himself, a star for the Oklahoma City Thunder whose talents are switched with those of his biggest fan, a 16-year-old aspiring hoopster who previously couldn’t make a simple layup. Durant, meanwhile, becomes as hopeless as the kid once was.

“I’ve seen it multiple times,” Green said. “But that’s the first time I’ve seen it since KD was my teammate, though. I thought it was bad before. But now that we’re really close, I can really voice my opinion on it.

“It was bad, man. It was really bad. Oh, it was bad.”

Identifying “He Got Game” and “Coach Carter” as his favorite hoop movies, said his review was less a knock on Durant than on the movie, which is intended for children.

“I’m not saying KD is a bad actor, I’m saying that was a bad movie,” Green said. “Somebody else should give him another shot, though.

If somebody brought me a movie (script), I would have probably done it too. But after seeing his first movie, if somebody brought me a script like that now, I wouldn’t do it.” – by Monte Poole

DOC RIVERS WILLING TO TRADE HIS SON AUSTIN?

It could happen any day, any hour, any minute. Clippers coach/president Doc Rivers could bring Knicks star Carmelo Anthony to Los Angeles.

And Rivers’ son, Austin, the team’s backup point guard behind Chris Paul, reportedly is among the players that intrigue the folks in New York. Would Doc trade his son for a player entering his twilight years?

“Listen, I would trade anyone,” Doc Rivers told ESPN. “You have to be willing to do that, so -- and (Austin) would be one of them, and any of them would be one. But I don’t want to trade any of our guys. I like our team.”

The Knicks have essentially placed Anthony in a “for trade” ad. The veteran forward, however, has a no-trade clause in his contract. He’d have to approve any deal.

Because the Clippers one of the few teams Anthony would agree to join, there have been discussions regarding a deal. At issue is with whom, exactly, are the Clippers willing to part. Rivers and veteran guard Jamal Crawford are among the names.

Can Doc resist? – by Monte Poole

KOBE RETURN TO THE LAKERS … AS A COACH?
Coach Kobe?

Retired Lakers legend Kobe Bryant in a recent radio interview made it clear he’d be available to assist his former team, which sits in the Western Conference cellar.

“The Buss family knows I’m always one phone call away,” Bryant told ESPN Radio.

Though LA coach Luke Walton is a former Lakers teammate of Bryant and consistently expresses admiration for the future Hall of Famer, he’s not sure the timing is right for a dose of Kobe.

“It depends in what capacity he will come in and help,” Walton told reporters. “After losing by 40, he’s not the first guy I’m calling.

“Kobe is more about tough love. At that moment, I didn’t need tough love. I didn’t hear (Bryant’s comments), but it’s good to know he’s here for us.”

Insofar as Bryant, who retired after last season, is notoriously intense, the concern is that might alienate a talented young team seeking growth under a first-year head coach. – by Monte Poole

SOUTHWEST DIVISION

HARDEN CONTINUES MVP CHASE

James Harden went off for a historic 51-point, 13-rebound, 13-assist triple-double on Friday against the Sixers. With those remarkable numbers, he became the second player to record two 50-point triple-doubles in a single season, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Remember, we’re not even at the All-Star Break yet.

Of those 51 points, Harden scored 19 points in the third and 17 in the fourth. He finished with a stat line of 16-28 FG, 6-11 3PG, 13-14 FT, 13 rebounds, 13 assists, 5 turnovers, 4 fouls, 2 steals and 1 block in 39:09.

"Tonight was me just scoring the basketball, being aggressive," Harden said after the Rockets’ 123-118 win (LINK http://www.csnphilly.com/philadelphia-76ers/after-triple-double-vs-sixers-james-harden-praises-joel-embiid-calls-him-problem ). "They were doing a really good job of not leaving our shooters and so I had to make plays." – by Jessica Camerato

GASOL PLANS TO STAY WITH THE SPURS

 Pau Gasol intends to opt in to his $16 million player option for next season with the Spurs. The 36-year-old big man is currently out of action after undergoing surgery on his left hand. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with the injury.

Rookie DeJounte Murray went scoreless in two minutes of action in the Spurs loss to the Pelicans on Friday. But in the four games leading up to the contest in New Orleans, the 20-year-old guard averaged 13.3 points, including a career-high 24 against the Nuggets on Jan. 19. … Jonathon Simmons has missed three straight games with a wrist injury. – by James Ham

FERRELL MAKES THE MOST OF LAST-MINUTE OPPORTUNITY

A day after signing a 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks, Yogi Ferrell found himself in an unexpected play … the starting lineup.

“It was definitely very eye-opening for me,” Ferrell told reporters. “You know, when coach (Rick Carlisle) told me I was going to start, my mind switched and I made sure I was ready.”

He was indeed up for the moment, helping the Mavericks pull off a 105-101 upset of the San Antonio Spurs.

Ferrell had nine points along with seven assists and zero turnovers, in addition to tallying a pair of steals.

Among his nine points were a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to secure the victory.

Regardless of whether he sticks with the Mavericks or not, to get a last-second start and deliver how he did in the clutch … it’s exactly what you have to do as an undrafted player, to stick in the NBA. – by A. Sherrod Blakely

NORTHWEST DIVISION

NOT THE BREAK THAT KANTER, THUNDER WERE LOOKING FOR

Enes Kanter, the high-scoring big for the Thunder was having a nice stretch of games before deciding to punch a chair during the Thunder’s 109-98 win over the Dallas Mavericks. Kanter, 24, will miss the next two months with a broken forearm, leaving Oklahoma City without their third-leading scorer.

The Thunder have won three in a row heading into Sunday’s matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Russell Westbrook posted three straight triple-doubles early in the week to give him 23 on the season. His streak was broken against the Mavericks, but he still managed to drop in 45 points, grab eight rebounds and dish out three assists in the win. – by James Ham

TWITTER BEEF BETWEEN MCCOLLUM AND PARSONS

There was quite the Twitter war last week in Portland between the Blazers’ CJ McCollum and Memphis wing Chandler Parsons after the Trail Blazers beat Memphis.

Parsons, who was pursued by the Blazers in free agency in July and offered $94 million before he opted to sign with Memphis, air-balled a three-point attempt during the game.

After the game, the Blazers’ team authorized Twitter account sent out a video of Parsons’ air-ball, with a tweet that read, “To be fair, the NBA 3-point line is really, really far away from the basket.”

Parsons immediately retaliated, tweeting back to the Blazers, “good luck in the lottery show this year” in reference to the Blazers being 21-27 at currently out of the Western Conference playoff seeding.

McCollum then fired back at Parsons: “We hit the lottery by not signing you’’ in reference to Parsons being hobbled by knee problems this season.

Parsons tried to counter with a response aimed at McCollum: “Stop it. Technically, I hit the lottery.’’

 When McCollum arrived at Blazers practice the next morning, his exchange was quite the topic. 

“A lot of jokes being made,’’ McCollum said. “I always have a sense of humor, so when I see something that I want to respond to, I respond. I felt like that was something I wanted to respond to.’’

Teammate Evan Turner, for one, said he nearly lost himself when he first read the tweets on Friday night while dining at Departure in downtown Portland.

“I knocked like everything over at the bar,’’ Turner said. “Everybody went crazy. I went crazy … threw my cellphone. It was unreal, man. It was crazy: On Chandler’s part, on CJ’s part … very funny. Hilarious.’’

McCollum said he knows Parsons in passing from a few encounters throughout the years. He said he made the response mostly because he was defending his team.

“It’s my team. I ride with my guys,’’ McCollum said.

Turner said one of the things that made the exchange so funny is knowing the personality of the two players involved. Turner said Parsons is very sarcastic and McCollum is usually very conservative.

“I’m surprised CJ said it because he is always so politically correct like he’s trying to run for president,’’ Turner said. – by Jason Quick


HAYWARD EARNS FIRST ALL-STAR SELECTION

The Utah Jazz have been one of the surprise teams this season, and the play of Gordon Hayward has had a lot to do with that. That’s why it came as no surprise when he was selected by the Western Conference coaches as an all-star reserve this season.

He becomes the first Jazz player to be named an all-star since Deron Williams in 2011.

"My teammates, our coaching and support staff helped put me in this position," said Hayward. "We still have work to do but I'm excited about the direction we're headed. I look forward to representing Utah in New Orleans."

This season, he’s averaging 21.6 points and 5.7 rebounds – both career highs.

While the numbers are good, it’s the team’s success that certainly played a significant factor in the coaches selecting him as an all-star.

Including games played Sunday, Utah (30-19) has the best record in the Northwest Division and are currently fifth in the West overall. – by A. Sherrod Blakely

LAVINE PASSES ON SLAM DUNK CONTEST

There will be no sequel to what was one of the greatest slam dunk competitions in recent memory. Zach LaVine, who defeated Orlando’s Aaron Gordon last year in slam dunk overtime – a first – said he will not participate in the event next month in New Orleans.

“I feel like I’ve accomplished everything I could in the dunk contest,” LaVine told reporters. “I’m never saying I won’t ever do it again, but I’m focused on this (season). We’re getting close to being able to make the playoffs, and we have that on our mind. Getting the rest and I guess just focusing more on the game was a big thing.”

Gordon said he’s not sure he’ll participate in the slam dunk contest, either. And his reasons sound very similar to what ultimately led to LaVine deciding to not participate.

“I don’t know what else I have left up my sleeve or in the tank dunking-wise,” Gordon told reporters in Boston recently. “The other reason is, I’d like to focus on the Orlando Magic and game play. That’s the most important, the main priority right now.” – by A. Sherrod Blakely

Trail Blazers can't finish, lose to Knicks

Trail Blazers can't finish, lose to Knicks

NEW YORK -- When it came time to make a winning play in a back and forth game Tuesday, the Trail Blazers couldn't and the Knicks did. 

Derrick Rose hit a short jumper with 6.8 seconds left, which came after a Carmelo Anthony offenisve rebound, putting the finishing touches on New York's 107-103 victory over the Blazers at Madison Square Garden. 

Rose's game-clinching shot came after Damian Lillard and Evan Turner couldn't connect on a pass that went out of bounds with 53.1 seconds left with a chance to tie or take the lead. 

Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis led all scorers with 31 points and nine rebounds and Rose finished with 18 points and five assists. Anthony finished with 17 points but struggled to 7-of-22 shooting. 

The Blazers (8-8) looked like it was preparing to run away down the stretch after Maurice Harkless hit a mid-range jumper to give Portland a 101-98 lead with 3:59 left. But Portland would miss its final six shots and muster only two Lillard free throws the rest of the way, wasting two defensive stops that came off an Ed Davis block and a Harkless block of Anthony.

[LISTEN: Talkin' Ball Podcast]

The game-changing play came when Rose scored on an acrobatic reverse layin with 3:16 left, which came after he beat Lillard on a drive, and when Harkless didn't help in time, Rose reached the rim and scored. New York improved to 7-7.

Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points and six assists and CJ McCollum added 16 points on 6-of-17 shooting. Davis had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Harkless had 15 points and eight rebounds. 

The Blazers entered the fourth tied at 81 after New York's Mindaugas Kuzminskas hit a three-pointer with 4.6 seconds left. It was a back-and-forth quarter with neither team able to open more than a three point lead. 

The same defensive problems surfaced for the Blazers in the first half, particularly in the second quarter, when the Knicks scored 32 points on 14-of-23 shooting to take a 60-58 halftime lead. Most of the damage was done off Blazers turnovers, which translated into fast-break opportunities. The Knicks converted all five of their fast break opportunities for 13 points in the first half. 

Davis, who started his third consecutive game at power forward, was the Blazers' best offensive player in the first half, scoring 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Two of his baskets were on offensive rebound tip-ins, and the others on pick-and-roll finishes at the rim. 

Next up: Blazers at Cleveland, 4 p.m. Wednesday (CSN)

PODCAST:

U.S. Olympic basketball has some issues with selfishness

U.S. Olympic basketball has some issues with selfishness

The U.S. men's Olympic basketball team is struggling and everybody has an opinion about it.

We've probably heard all the excuses by now and there is some merit to most of them:

  • The rest of the basketball world is catching up.
  • Those other teams have the same group of guys playing together for many years.
  • The U.S. players haven't had enough time together as a unit.

Certainly there is truth in all of those things. But let's face it -- this group is playing nowhere near its potential and is way more talented than any of the teams that have come close to beating it in Rio. Seriously, that French team with Tony Parker on the sidelines comes within three points of the U.S.? That's not right. The Australian team is full of NBA players, plays hard and smart -- but come on, Aron Baynes? Yes, Patty Mills and Matthew Dellevadova are solid guards but not NBA all-stars.

Actually, most of the other teams in the field are experienced, but several of them are on the edge of being old. Yes, we've seen those Aussies together for years -- but many of them are on the downside of their career. Same with the team from France.

At the World Cup two years ago the Americans went 9-0 and nobody came within 20 points of them. Was that a better team than this one? Yes. But this team is still full of NBA all-stars.

The truth is, the best player on this U.S. team is Kevin Durant. Hands down. But he's gotten just 10 shots over the last two games. The U.S. is not moving the ball and thus not shooting well. There's been way too much hero-ball and not enough ball movement. That's obvious. My theory is that there's a degree of selfishness that may pop up when Carmelo Anthony is your team leader -- even though Anthony's play has been a bright spot.

Could you really expect Anthony to be preaching unselfish play to his teammates?

But the team's real problem is on defense. When the U.S. coaching staff added Tom Thibodau I figured he'd take care of that department. He's supposed to be the defensive guru, right? But it hasn't turned out that way. Pick-and-roll defense has been a complete disaster and I'm not seeing a lot of energy being expended at the defensive end.

Yes. it helps when your team has been together a while, but basic NBA defense is the same for just about every team. Pick-and-roll coverage is pretty basic and certainly we know that every NBA player has an idea of what is expected of him based on what type of defense his team plays.

But these players are not meeting those expectations and I don't believe it has a lot to do with how long this bunch has been together.

It appears to me the coaches are not getting through to their players. The effort level is not what it needs to be and that has to change. Oh well, the medal round is about to begin and my guess is that we will soon see an uptick in the interest level of the American players, who may not take the early round all that seriously.

It's time the coaches find a rotation of players who will bring energy and intelligence to the floor and then stick to that rotation. If you don't get it done on defense, you don't play. So far, this thing reminds me of an all-star game with the coaching staff attempting to make sure everybody gets a chance to play and everyone's happy.

All-star games don't mean much to NBA players. And when you think about it, that's the type of defense we're seeing -- the kind you see in an all-star game.

That has to change.

 

As Olympics draw near, you must read this piece on USA Basketball

As Olympics draw near, you must read this piece on USA Basketball

As another Olympics draws near and if you have any interest in basketball, I want to highly recommend you take a look at this exhaustive piece that NBC has put together -- an oral history of the rebuilding of the USA Basketball system.

You probably won't get through the whole thing in one sitting -- it's a very long read. But I'm going to tell you I think it's worth your time. It took some relatively embarrassing defeats to put this country's national team program back on track and this is the story of how it all went together, including a look at a couple of mismatched teams and coaches that caused serious changes in the way we chose our national teams.

A lot of this is inside stuff and candid commentary, including this about that disastrous, mismatched team that Larry Brown tried to coach:

(Stu) Jackson: Larry Brown was consulted on the team and I can remember in some specific situations, some concerns about certain players were expressed and about their addition to the team. But, I can tell you that those additions to the team would not be made without the understanding that a coach would support the team that he was given.

"To me, it was simple: They picked the wrong coach at the time."

Stephon Marbury

You really need to read this, if for no other reason than to get to the very end in order to find out which player has the chance this year to become the most decorated USA Olympic basketball player of all time.