Jim Calhoun joining ESPN’s NCAAB coverage

Former UConn coach will provide regular analysis in the Bristol studio.

      
 

 

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ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith: Carmelo Anthony Is Leaving NY Knicks in Free Agency

The New York Knicks are banking $60 million on Phil Jackson’s magic touch, but Carmelo Anthony is reportedly unwilling to give the Zen Master his own vote of confidence.

That’s the reality in the world of ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith’s sources, at least.

During Monday’s episode of First Take, Smith said all the chatter around Anthony continues to point toward an exit in free agency over the offseason (h/t HoopsHype.com):

I was told this last week, I was told a few days ago, I had it reiterated to me by somebody I trust yet again this morning, that Carmelo Anthony is gone, he is leaving New York city. There are those like myself who still hold up the possibility that that may not be true (…) but for what I’m being told, he is gone. And he is gone because he’s at the mindset that in order to achieve any amount of success he would had to sacrifice not just this this year but next year as well, because of this current roster.

Anthony has already made his intention of testing the free-agent waters known. If When he opts out of his deal, he’ll have the option of choosing his next destination—but he’ll lose a contracted year and nearly $30 million if that franchise is anyone other than the Knicks.

It would take a sizable leap of faith to walk away from that type of cake, but not an unprecedented one.

Dwight Howard bolted from a similar situation last summer, throwing himself back in the championship race with the Houston Rockets while the Los Angeles Lakers‘ tire fire has shown no signs of letting up.

Of course, Howard never handpicked the Lakers the way Anthony forced his way to the Knicks. Melo has more than just a financial attachment to the Empire State.

What he might not have, though, are championship pieces around him. The Knicks are currently riding a season-high six-game winning streak, but they still find themselves four games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth (and final) playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

With no draft help or financial relief on the way this summer, it’s that all-too-real possibility of another wasted season that has reportedly given Anthony cold feet.

I’m hearing that Anthony’s camp is interested only in the summer of 2014,” wrote Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. ”They don’t want to hear about 2015. And they’re right. Anthony will be 31 with a lot of NBA miles on his legs before reinforcements arrive.”

The Knicks made as big of a splash as they can luring Jackson into their president’s chair. But it remains unclear what, if any, impact that will have on Anthony. Judging by his recent responses, he seems to be still processing the news.

I don’t think it’ll have any effect on me, just as far as what I’m thinking or my decision or anything like that,” Anthony said earlier this month, via Peter Botte of the New York Daily News.

Yet, his tune seemed to change just a few days after that comment.

The big picture, absolutely, for the big picture this is definitely more attractive,” Anthony said, via Fred Kerber of the New York Post.

What we’re hearing from Anthony are the gears grinding in his head.

By all accounts, he hasn’t made up his decision. He’s nearly four months away from (potentially) reaching free agency and even further removed from putting his signature on the dotted line.

Jackson is a masterful personality manager, something that could help him through his first front office foray. He’s stumbled into a massive mess, but that ghastly picture cleans up quite well in the salary-shedding summer of 2015.

If he can sell Anthony on the image of superstar reinforcements coming to his side, then maybe Melo will be back in the orange and blue next season.

For now, that’s a recruiting pitch that Jackson will need to fine-tune. Even amid the rattling cages from the next report claiming that Anthony has reached his decision.

 

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How ESPN’s Joe Lunardi made bracketology famous

It all started 12 years ago.

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ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith: Mike D’Antoni Will Be Fired After 2013-14 Season

Mike’ D’Antoni should start practicing his “I was just fired” strut.

Speaking on ESPN’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith suggested that D’Antoni‘s first full season as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers could also be his last.

“I had a source tell me last night [that] Mike D’Antoni is gone at the end of the season,” Smith said (h/t Lakers Nation’s Corey Hansford). “He won’t be there [...] I’m just telling you, that’s the word coming out of L.A.”

Though Mr. Smith does have a taste for theatrics, his latest claim falls well short of blasphemous and lands somewhere between believable and inevitable.

Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher actually brings word that some Lakers players have already been assured D’Antoni won’t be back next season:

Those “sporting considerations,” a team source says, include who the Lakers head coach is, since much of Gasol’s frustration stems from coach Mike D’Antoni and a system that utilizes Gasol largely away from the basket. At least two other players frustrated with their current roles were told to be patient because the Lakers will have a new head coach next season, sources said, but that could’ve been simply to mollify them for the time being.

All of this comes after general manager Mitch Kupchak held a sit-down with D’Antoni following the team’s 48-point loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Per ESPN Los Angeles’ Ramona Shelburne and Dave McMenamin, however, the meeting was characterized as “normal” by D’Antoni himself.

“I don’t remember, to be honest with you,” D’Antoni said of the powwow, per Shelburne and McMenamin. “It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary other than just talking about different performances, and that’s about it.”

With only 18 games left to play this season, it’s more than unlikely the Lakers show D’Antoni the door before this summer. But over the offseason, all bets are off.

While no one had 2013-14 pegged as a championship year for the Lakers, it has been especially disastrous. Injuries to Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, among others, have left the team little more than a forum on which one-year rentals are attempting to secure their next contract.

Under the circumstances, it’s no surprise Los Angeles is tied with the Sacramento Kings for the Western Conference’s worst record.

The Lakers defense has been especially problematic, checking in at 26th in efficiency, per Basketball-Reference. Their offense has also been middling at best; they rank 22nd in efficiency.

Scapegoats are usually necessities for a season like this. And when teams like the Lakers are struggling mightily on both sides of the floor, coaches make great patsies.

Smith, however, believes D’Antoni will be canned for a different reason: Carmelo Anthony.

“It’s not coming from the Lakers themselves, but people close to the organization say that Mike D’Antoni is gone because there’s no way that [Carmelo Anthony] would elect to go there if D’Antoni is there,” he said on First Take (h/t Hansford). ”If D’Antoni is gone, with the cap room they have coming up and Kobe’s imminent return, [L.A.] is a viable option [for Anthony].”

The reasoning there is curious.

Bleacher Report’s own Kevin Ding previously reported that Los Angeles is ”not planning a free-agent spending spree this summer.” Pursuing Anthony would qualify as a spending spree.

If the Lakers have changed their mind and are prepared to sacrifice the ability to sign Kevin Love or Rajon Rondo, among other free agents in 2015, then Smith has a point.

Anthony and D’Antoni didn’t mesh well during their brief stint together with the New York Knicks. Before resigning, D’Antoni had actually advocated moving him for Deron Williams. To say the chances of Anthony playing under him outside of Olympics basketball again are slim would be a gross understatement.

Whatever the reason, D’Antoni appears to be walking a fine line between keeping his job and unemployment. 

Change is in demand in Los Angeles, where the Lakers are in need of a quick turnaround after this season. Driven to distance themselves from this year and start fresh, be it through free-agency spending binges this summer or next, there’s a good chance D’Antoni finds himself among the collateral damage.

 

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ESPN’s Bob Ley Delivers Ultimate Shot to LeBron James on Twitter

ESPN was good enough to help LeBron James with The Decision, but the superstar thinks that it’s better if fellow athletes don’t watch the network.

The Miami Heat star offered Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo some advice, via ESPNDallas.com’s Calvin Watkins:

Just don’t care what everybody thinks. If you care about your craft and at the end of the day if you went out there and you gave it everything you had and you laid it out on the line for your teammates, you can sleep comfortably at night. Don’t watch ESPN and all these so-called ‘everyone knows what to do that ain’t never put on a uniform, trying to tell you what to do’ [shows].

Don’t watch ESPN? That seems a bit strange given James’ television special a few years ago.

ESPN’s Bob Ley wasn’t going to let James get away with that comment:

And boom goes the dynamite!

Obviously James just meant that don’t listen to all of the critics. For Romo, he is the No. 1 target for football fans. It’s good advice, but it probably could have been said in a different way.

[Bob Ley, h/t Guyism]

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ESPN’s Chad Ford: Anthony Bennett ‘Looking Like’ Worst No. 1 Pick in 20 Years

Anthony Bennett has been terrible.

How terrible? He’s apparently the worst top pick in two decades.

Or so cautions ESPN’s Chad Ford.

“It’s very early, but right now, he’s looking like the worst in the past 20 years,” Ford explains, via The Plain Dealer‘s Jodie Valade. ”That includes Greg Oden. Oden was injured all the time, but when he played, he at least looked like a No. 1 pick.”

Band-Aids can be found down Aisle 2, Mr. Bennett. You’re going to need a dozen industrial-sized boxes to dress the wounds Ford inflicts.

Stock up on some Mad Libs while you’re at checkout, too. You’ll need a distraction for when you realize Ford is totally serious and completely justified.

Bennett is averaging 2.2 points and two rebounds on 27.7 percent shooting in 20 games this season. He’s only logging 10 minutes a night, but that’s because he hasn’t given the Cleveland Cavaliers any reasons to play him more.

It took Bennett five games to nail his first shot of the year. That’s about the level of play Jason Kidd demonstrated near the end of his career. 

In those four previous games, Bennett’s stat line looked a little something like this:

Those are some pretty depressing numbers. 

They also make his continued struggles far from surprising. There was an initial shock, but if he was off to a historically bad start, then it’s only fitting that he should find himself the subject of notorious draft busts now.

“Still early” isn’t a good enough excuse anymore. “Bust” may be a strong label, but Bennett is well on his way to deserving such a tag.

The last rookie to average under three points and 2.1 rebounds while connecting on fewer than 30 percent of his shots in at least 10 minutes per game for an entire season was Craig Brackins in 2010-11. He’s no longer in the NBA.

Before him, there was Will Blalock, drafted 60th overall in 2006. He fizzled out after just one season. 

See where I’m going with this?

“Hopeless” isn’t an adequate word to describe Bennett. There is still time for him to turn things around. He had shoulder surgery over the offseason, and any lingering effects could be negatively impacting his play. But hope is waning.

“I’m just as surprised as everyone else,” Bennett said of being drafted first overall, per the New York Times‘ Benjamin Hoffman.

Something tells me Bennett’s surprise, then, will be surpassed by this one—the realization that he could be the worst No. 1 pick in 20 years.

 

All stats used courtesy of Basketball-Refence unless otherwise noted.

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Why ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy won’t call Knicks-Bulls game

Jeff Van Gundy and ESPN executives decided to avoid controversy about a coaching job.

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich mocks ESPN’s J.A. Adande during interview

“You’re an incisive man.”

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Guess Where The Sixers Ended Up in ESPN’s Power Rankings

Today ESPN released their power rankings of all the NBA teams. You can see the full list here. Here in Philadelphia, we’re only concerned with the end of the list. The very, very end of the list. Not surprisingly, ESPN has officially proclaimed that the Sixers are the worst of all 30 of the NBA teams. Here’s their paragraph on the rational for the decision: Worse than the nine-win Sixers of 1972-73? Worse than the seven-win Bobcats of 2011-12? Extreme as either outcome sounds, Philly’s skeletal roster is such that you give it a decent shot at living all the way down to expectations, even though the bottom half of the East is filled with beatable teams. The good news is, the Sixers are primed to be awful in time for one of the deepest drafts in living memory. Should Philadelphia be the worst team in the NBA – as it seems they will be – and win the draft lottery, they’ll in all likelihood be able to pick up Andrew Wiggins. The Sixers also own the Pelicans’ first round draft pick, as l…

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ESPN’s Chris Broussard Responds to Twitter Hater: ‘Come See Me Chump’

Twitter can be a great place for public figures to engage with fans, as long as you do it the right way. ESPN’s Chris Broussard’s recent exchange with a fan is an example of what not to do. 

“Come see me, chump” is the Broussard equivalent of “Come at me, bro.”

Thanks to BSO for the find. 

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