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No Lin no problem for Knicks?

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No Lin no problem for Knicks?

In probably one of the more surprising moves of the off-season, the New York Knicks stopped the Linsanity and opted to let last season's wonder kid Jeremy Lin go to Houston after the Rockets offered the guard a 3-year, 25 million dollar deal which the Knicks did not match.

Lin literally came out of nowhere to be the poster boy of the sports world last winter as he exploded onto the scene, leading the Knicks back to prominence in what had been a sluggish start for the team. Lin averaged 18 points a game in 25 starts and had several memorable moments, including a game-winning three-pointer at Toronto in January and a 38-points spree in a home win over the L.A. Lakers.

Undrafted out of Harvard, Lin was just trying to hang on to an NBA roster in his second season in the league and he made the most of his opportunity in New York with the point-guard-starved Knicks. Lin scored 25 points in his first-ever NBA start last February and helped the Knicks reel off seven straight wins. Lin broke defenders down off the dribble, stepped out and hit jumpers, and was also able to dish the ball,averaging6 assists in 35 games.

Lin missed the final month of the season and the playoffs with a knee injury but it was thought management would re-sign the restricted free agent to play for New York after bringing back the buzz to Madison Square Garden, even with starsCarmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire already in the fold. The Knicks, though, decided to let Lin walk after the Rockets offered a back-loadedguaranteedcontract that New York was not willing to match.

Without Lin, the Knicks will rely on veteran guards Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton next season. Despite being 39 years old, Kidd got a three-year contract with the Knicks while Felton also received a three-year deal. Kidd is coming off a season in which he averaged only 6 points and 5 assists in Dallas. Felton, who has struggled with his fitness, put up 11 points and 6 assists for the Blazers last season.

Going forward and with Lin out of the picture, this team is clearly Carmelo Anthony's. The all-star forward will be entering his second full season in New York and it's expected that he would guide the Knicks past the first round of the playoffs, a place they bowed out of the last two years. Anthony averaged 22 points a game in 2011-12 but he will need forward Amare Stoudemire also to be a big contributor.

Stoudemire, the 100-million man, averaged 17 points and 8 rebounds this past season but his slicing of his hand punching a fire extinguisher after a playoff loss to Miami last spring will hang over him until he can help the Knicks go farther in the post-season.

The defensive player of the year in the NBA, Tyson Chandler, returns at center for the Knicks. Chandler posted 11 points and 10 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a game last year. The Knicks brought back veteran Marcus Camby to back up Chandler.

The Knicks said goodbye to energy forward Landry Fields, but also added Corey Brewer who comes over from Chicago. New York also re-signed long-range specialist Steve Novak.

We shall see if the Knicks' decision to let Lin go pays off or backfires but a lot will depend on whether Anthony and Stoudemire can take their games and the team to the next level in the playoffs.

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John Wall badly wants to win and is sick of perception he cares more about his own stats

John Wall badly wants to win and is sick of perception he cares more about his own stats

John Wall is ready to put the 2017-18 season behind him, behind him like a hapless defender staring at the back of his No. 2 jersey on a fastbreak. 

After missing 41 games due to injuries and falling in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in his career, the Wizards' All-Star point guard is taking nothing for granted. The 28-year-old believes he's about to lead the most talented team he's ever played on.

Wall has made five All-Star teams and one All-NBA selection. After playing for two seasons without one, he signed a reportedly five-year shoe deal with Adidas in 2018. He has a supermax contract, one that kicks in next season and begins at a projected $37.8 million.

What Wall doesn't have is what he's always wanted most. He wants to win.

The Wizards have made the playoffs four times in his career and reached the second round three times. The Eastern Conference Finals, however, have been elusive.

"I'm the type of guy that wants to have a statue out front. I want to bring a championship here. Those are all the things that I care about," Wall told NBC Sports Washington. "If you're not winning as a group and doing things as a team, then you don't get individual success. That's something that I learned a long time ago."

There was a lot about the 2017-18 season that bothered Wall. In particular, he detested the perception that grew that he was unhappy with the team's success while he was injured. 

During Wall's second injury absence, from late January to late March, the Wizards won five straight games and 10 of 13 with him watching from the sidelines.

Though it ultimately proved to be a mirage, as the Wizards lost 12 of their next 17 that he didn’t play, there were numbers early on that suggested their success was because they passed the ball more frequently without him. Comments from his teammates Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat to reporters and on social media were viewed by some as slights to their point guard.

Wall remained silent at first and a lack of communication between the sides allowed it all to bottle up. He did several interviews, including one with NBC Sports Washington, to give his side of the story and to say it was ridiculous he could be criticized for not being a team player.

That narrative still bothers him.

"Some people mistake me that all I care about is individual stats but that's never been my game," he said. "I don't think a lot of people really get that."

"I love to get assists. I love to get 10 assists before I score 30 points. It's just that I have the ability to do both. A lot of guys never had the ability to be able to do both. It's great to do that, but I feel like if I ain't winning then it don't mean s*** to me."

Wall's numbers are historically good for his age and he is aware of the company he's in. He is one of only four players to average at least 18 points, nine assists and four rebounds per game through their first eight NBA seasons. The other three were Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson and Chris Paul. Johnson and Robertson are Hall of Famers and Paul will be there someday. 

Statistically, Wall is on a Hall of Fame track, but he wants much more than a plaque in Springfield, Massachusetts.

"I think about all of that. Everybody thinks about the Hall of Fame and being the franchise scoring leader and all that," he said. "I have all of those goals, but it don't mean s*** if you don't win at the end of the day. You can be a loser and have all of these records, but what does that stand for?"

Wall has been relatively fortunate throughout his career when it comes to his health, but his worst injuries have come at inopportune times. In 2015, his Wizards were up 1-0 on the Hawks in the second round of the playoffs when he suffered five non-displaced fractures in his left wrist and hand. That may have cost him a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Last year, Wall's months-long injury saga began when he banged his knee with a Mavericks player in just the 10th game of the season. 

It was a down year for him and the Wizards in a season in which the Cavaliers were vulnerable, the Celtics had major injuries and the Sixers were still learning how to win. If Washington was at full-strength, perhaps they could have taken advantage.

Now, after an offseason that brought newcomers Dwight Howard, Austin Rivers and Jeff Green to Washington, and that saw LeBron James leave the Eastern Conference, Wall feels he has a serious opportunity to win.

He just wants to get back to the postseason and take another shot at a deep playoff run he believes he is destined for.

"We had a great chance [in 2017]," he said. "We just s***ed the bed. That's how it goes. I don't think [time is] running out, but teams are getting better."

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Trading Jodie Meeks gives Washington Wizards much-needed salary cap relief

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Trading Jodie Meeks gives Washington Wizards much-needed salary cap relief

With a luxury tax bill of approximately $19 million on the way, the Washington Wizards gave themselves some salary relief on Monday by trading veteran guard Jodie Meeks to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Wizards attached a future second round pick and cash to the deal and in exchange received a future second round pick of their own, NBC Sports Washington has confirmed. ESPN first reported the news.

Though Meeks, 31, was due to make $3.45 million this season, his departure saves the Wizards about $7 million because of projected tax penalties. That's a lot of savings in a deal that got rid of a player who had become expendable.

Meeks had fallen out of favor with the Wizards for a variety of reasons. He was due to serve a 19-game suspension to begin the season due to performance-enhancing drugs. The ban was announced the day before their first round playoff series against the Raptors was set to begin in April.

Meeks also underperformed last season in the first year of his contract with the Wizards and requested a trade in February. This summer, Meeks exercised his player option to remain with the team.

The Wizards were not likely to count on Meeks much at all this season because they traded for Austin Rivers in June to add depth at the shooting guard position. Meeks' role was made clear by the fact he did not appear in any of the Wizards' four preseason games against NBA opponents.

Meeks' tenure in Washington was a significant disappointment. The Wizards signed him last summer in hopes he could shore up the shooting guard spot on their bench. 

Though he stayed healthy for the first time in years, he never earned the trust of his coaching staff. The Wizards opted to rely more heavily on starter Bradley Beal, who logged the fourth-most minutes of any NBA player last season.

Now, they are moving on.

Meeks leaving the organization should have little effect on the Wizards, though it does leave them with a hole on their roster that needs to be filled. They currently have 13 players, one below the league minimum. The Wizards now have 14 days to add a 14th player.

They could sign a free agent, convert one of their players on two-way contracts (Devin Robinson and Jordan McRae) or make a trade. The Meeks deal gives them a $3.45 million trade exception.

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