Who Made the Bigger Mistake: Carmelo Anthony or the New York Knicks?

Even while Carmelo Anthony remains sidelined by a nagging knee injury that may require surgery, the face of the New York Knicks has problems on his hands that no scalpel can solve.

After agreeing to a five-year, $124 million contract with the organization as an unrestricted free agent this summer, his club now sits at 4-20 after Wednesday night’s 109-95 loss to a San Antonio Spurs lineup playing without its resting and injured stars. At first glance, one wonders whether the 12th-year veteran was wise to return to a franchise in so much flux.

But it’s becoming increasingly difficult to view Anthony as the victim in all this.

And while it feels sort of dirty to openly sympathize with a franchise that’s repeatedly (and expensively) shot itself in the foot so many times, one could persuasively argue that Knicks president Phil Jackson will be the one looking back on the summer of 2014 with buyer’s remorse. 

Questions have emerged about Anthony’s relationship with his teammates, adding to a long history of doubts about his defensive pedigree and decision-making. Though several public proclamations from Anthony and others have sought to refute those rumors, the timing of a players-only meeting held last weekend has fueled speculation that something’s deeply awry.

As if New York’s franchise-worst 4-20 start and 10-game losing streak weren’t evidence enough.

On Wednesday, ESPN the Magazine‘s Chris Broussard reported that Anthony became incredulous and confrontational when teammate Tim Hardaway Jr. yelled at him about getting a rebound.

Broussard wrote that “Anthony, according to sources, used another expletive in telling Hardaway he was going to beat him up when they got into the locker room after the game.”

Nobody’s taken a swing at anybody,” one source reportedly told Broussard. “But there’s a lot of arguing and cursing each other out after games.” 

In response, Hardaway told reporters on Wednesday that his exchange with Anthony was a “heat of the moment” thing, while Anthony added, “Me and Tim have no problems.”

Unfortunately, whatever happened between these two may be the tip of the iceberg, a mere microcosm of disaffection that Broussard linked both to Anthony and new head coach Derek Fisher’s widely documented triangle offense.

Several Knicks, in addition to Hardaway, are at odds with Anthony and believe he is not playing team basketball,” Broussard wrote. “Sources said players voiced their displeasure with Anthony over the weekend, telling him he shoots too much, doesn’t move or pass the ball, and plays defense only when he feels like it.”

The criticisms themselves certainly wouldn’t be anything new, but the prospect of quasi-open revolt among teammates would be a serious and potentially long-term disaster for a franchise whose fate is inextricably linked to Anthony for the foreseeable future.

It’s one thing for that franchise to rationalize some late defensive rotations and uneven effort. It’s quite another if those vices are indeed having a toxic effect on an already fragile locker room.

With much of the roster destined for relocation, The Wall Street Journal‘s Chris Herring recently noted, “The Knicks play in a regimented offense, at the NBA‘s slowest pace, that isn’t creating good looks, something that will take a financial toll on several Knick players who are set to become free agents this summer.”

To whatever extent factions of this roster perceive Anthony as a further source of offensive dysfunction, one could understand their frustrations being vented in his general direction.

According to Anthony, however, last weekend’s meeting wasn’t like that.

“Everybody had the platform to kind of speak their piece on what they felt about what’s going on and how they can better the situation,” he insisted to reporters on Wednesday. “But it wasn’t no pointing fingers or anything like that, or solely pointing me out to be the blame for what’s going on.”

Apologists will rightly point out that Anthony isn’t exactly working with an elite supporting cast. Can anyone really blame him for playing hero-ball on a team so desperately in need of salvation? And shouldn’t we withhold judgment until he actually has some help?

Unfortunately, little patience is afforded to guys making more than $20 million per season.

Even if you think the case against Anthony is overstated, the fact remains he’ll be 35 when his new contract comes to an end—and he’ll almost certainly lose some ability to carry the load between now and then. 

He may not be carrying much of anything if worse comes to worst this season. Soreness in his left knee now threatens to bury an already hopeless team.

“What I’m hearing is it won’t get any worse, but it won’t get any better,” Anthony recently told reporters. “So it’s just a matter of how much pain I can take while I’m out there playing. Some days are better than others.”

Anthony has only missed three games so far, and back spasms were responsible for two of those absences.

But if all else fails to address his ailing knee, surgery and an extended recovery period may follow.

“I’m not even looking forward to even discussing the surgery or anything like that,” Anthony added. “I’ll explore as many other options as I can before I go under the knife and get surgery. … That will always be a solution, an option, but that was the last, last option.”

While surgery isn’t imminent—and could potentially be put off until the offseason—the pain is already taking its toll, Fisher told reporters on Wednesday:

I think overall, it’s impacting him quite a bit just not in terms of doing things out there physically. I think more important than the game is non-gamedays, limiting practice time, and limiting his ability to develop and keep some rhythm and cohesion with his teammates because, really, just in the game is the most time they’re on the floor together.

Maybe it’s an outlying injury, and Anthony will finish his contract out in top form. But if this is a preview of life with the 30-something superstar, the Knicks may have another reason to regret their pricey commitment.

Still a lethal scorer who’s averaging 22.9 points per contest through 21 appearances, Anthony deserves credit for believing in an organization that’s done little to earn his trust. Jackson had a lot to do with that, and we certainly owe the Zen Master a chance to cultivate some harmony amidst the chaos he inherited.

If Anthony can stay healthy and bring this team together, perhaps he’ll be a big part of the solution. For the New York Knicks, however, that’s a $124 million “if.”

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Nick Young: Jared Sullinger made me feel like a punk

 

Nick Young apparently needs some clarification on the concept of trash talk.
 
The Los Angeles Lakers guard was miffed after his team’s loss to the Boston Celtics on Friday, leaving the visitor’s locker room at TD Garden in a huff. It wasn’t until after Sunday’s game in New Orleans, which also ended in a Lakers loss, that Young explained his issue.
“I don’t like when people talk trash and then they get the ‘W’ after and they feel like they did something,” Young told ESPN.com’s Baxter Holmes. “I don’t like that feeling.”
Who was talking trash? Celtics forward Jared Sullinger, according to Young.
“Just hitting shots, talking trash, looking at the bench,” Young said. “It made me feel like I was a punk or something. I don’t stand for that.”
Let’s make sure we have this straight. Sullinger talked some smack, hit some shots and then his team beat Young’s team. Not sure about you, but we always thought that’s how it’s supposed to work.
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Michigan Basketball: The Biggest Strides Wolverines Have Made Early in 2014-15

Michigan showed its extra gear during Tuesday night’s 68-65 ACC—Big Ten Challenge victory over Syracuse.

Although it took them a few miles to engage, the Wolverines reached another level of intensity when Spike Albrecht dropped a Magic-like dime to Ricky Doyle, who followed the dish with a raucous dunk. Albrecht also hit a three that pushed Michigan to a 66-63 edge with 26.7 seconds to play, further proving that he was far from a one-hit wonder in the 2013 Final Four.

The Wolverines crossed another developmental plane when Caris LeVert took matters into his own hands, drawing contact from Orange frosh Kaleb Joseph and hitting a pair of free throws with 4.5 seconds remaining to ice the deal for coach John Beilein, who got his second career win (2-9) over Jim Boeheim.

Nonetheless, the Wolverines made a strong impression on the legendary Syracuse coach.

“I thought we played the best game we played all year,” he said. “Michigan’s a good team, and it moves the ball as well as anyone. Overall, we played pretty well—defensively, we forced them to take some tough shots. We let them get inside a couple of times, and they got some baskets under the basket that we shouldn’t have let happen.

“But you know, they’re a good offensive team.”

For a relatively young and “good offensive team,” topping the Orange (5-2) was a step in the right direction—the widespread involvement from contributor to starter certainly bodes well, as the Wolverines prepare for the road ahead.

“Our bench really stepped up when we needed it to,” LeVert said. “It was a great atmosphere (here tonight), and we got a big win.”

Ranked No. 17 in the land, Michigan (6-1) continues to prove that it’s capable of running with anyone on any court. Despite losing 60-55 to Villanova, the Wolverines learned a lot about playing tough—ask D.J. Wilson and Zak Irvin, who were met with hearty blocks during the Legends Classic title game in Brooklyn.

Their 70-63 win over Oregon the game prior was also a test, which the Wolverines passed without much issue. The tune-ups with Detroit-Mercy, Hillsdale, Bucknell and Nicholls State also served a purpose. The picture is becoming more clear: Beilein’s got a nice group on his hands this season.

 

Physicality

Doyle and Kam Chatman, who scored 10 points and had nine boards versus Syracuse, are getting on board with the game plan—they’re throwing around their weight and learning to produce in big-time environments.

Acclimating the youth to the rough-and-tumble Big Ten as early as possible should be one of Beilein’s main objectives.  So far, he’s doing just fine. Michigan is the No. 4-ranked defensive rebounding team in the Big Ten (31.1 RPG), but it’s No. 14 with 236 total offensive boards. 

 

Long-Distance Calling

After sinking a long-range dagger Tuesday night, Irvin called himself on the 3-phone. Albrecht made three of five attempts. After drilling one in the second half, he kissed the three middle fingers on his shooting (right) hand. 

These guys are hitting them from everywhere, and they know it. Beilein’s done well with shooting teams, and the 2014-15 Wolverines are making 42.1 percent of their tries, the third-best percentage in the Big Ten. 

Of course, league play will be the real test. But converting better than 40 percent as a team has to be a beautiful thing for the Wolverines. Albrecht, Irvin and LeVert are at 40 or slightly better, while Derrick Walton rings up 39 percent from Three Land. 

Michigan’s 152 attempts are tied with Michigan State for most in the league. The Wolverines made 11 of 33 on Tuesday night, which is a trademark of a high-risk, even-higher-reward offense. 

If the Wolverines continue shooting like there’s no tomorrow, and making those shots, it’ll be a long haul for opponents. Michigan’s fast and accurate, and that combination is blowout-friendly. 

 

LeVert’s on the Verge

Stars possess takeover qualities. LeVert, a Naismith candidate, demonstrated that ability versus the Orange, but he’s flashed it several times since last year—a season in which he scored 20 or more seven times. He’s off to an incredible start this year, averaging 16.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game.

And he’s already hit 20 thrice.

After Tuesday’s win over Syracuse, the 6’7”, 200-pound junior agreed with the suggestion that his team is learning as it goes but seems to be gaining momentum. He went on to praise Albrecht’s spark and said that he was impressed by Irvin, who is averaging 17.7 points and 3.1 assists per outing.

 

Get Some Zzzs

Beilein can relax because he has a pair of go-to, takeover threats—LeVert, of course, is option A, and Irvin is option B.

Or is it the other way around?

Irvin, a 6’6”, 215-pound sophomore, appears to be in the midst of the patented Beilein freshman-to-sophomore leap year; the same leap LeVert experienced in 2013-14 as a sophomore.

If the trend continues, Irvin could join LeVert as a draft selection this spring. That’s been the case for underclassmen such as Nik Stauskas, Trey Burke, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary.

Earlier this week, Beilein said that Irvin and LeVert “have been terrific right now.” He propped Irvin’s athletic development and said that LeVert had one of his finest collegiate games versus Villanova—16 points, six rebounds, three steals and an assist.

Those are good signs, especially for early in the year. Michigan has already played a trio of March-like games, and the same was true Tuesday night versus the Orange.

“That was a heck of a basketball game for December,” said Beilein, who is correct.

Don’t look now, but it looks like Michigan is going to continue its ascent and be a real player in the race for the Big Ten title. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBigger81.

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand by the writer.

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Rutgers, Seton Hall trophy made of Asbury Park boardwalk planks

The trophy is made of boardwalk planks from the Hurricane Sandy reconstruction.

      
 

 

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Steph Curry made bet with mother due to turnover problems

It’s no secret Stephen Curry is one of the best (or maybe the best) shooters in the NBA. However, in addition to his exploits as a scorer, he was turning the ball over early in the season at a less-than-desirable rate. Needing to do a better job of taking care of the ball, Curry found…Read More

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How the Orlando Magic made the trade of the summer

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Before free agency started last June, on the day of the draft, the Denver Nuggets and the Orlando Magic made a trade. The Magic sent Arron Afflalo to Denver for his second stint with the Nuggets, and Denver sent back Frenchman Evan Fournier, entering his third season, along with a second-round pick (which would become Devyn Marble).
At the time, the Magic and their general manager, Rob Hennigan, were mocked for participating in such a clearly one-sided trade. Afflalo had just finished his seventh NBA season and, incredibly, he had improved his scoring average during each and every year: from 3.7 points per game as a rookie with the 2007–08 Detroit Pistons to a team-leading 18.2 pointers per game with last year’s Magic. Factor in Afflalo’s considerable reputation as a hard worker, plus his relatively team-friendly $7.7 million salary (plus a $7.9 million player option for 2015–16), and who wouldn’twant that guy on their team?
Fournier, meanwhile, appeared to be an unproven com…

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7 NBA Players Who Look Like They’ve Made Huge Improvements Since Last Season

If the first few weeks of the 2014-15 NBA season are any indication, this year’s Most Improved Player award field is going to be crowded.

Stars are being born, role players are becoming cornerstones and ceilings are being raised all across the basketball world.

The seven players here didn’t finish last season in the same spot. Some had already flashed superstar ability, while others had only hinted at a bright future if they could tap into their full potential.

No matter where they left off, all have since sent their stocks soaring.

In order to compile this list, a couple requirements were put in place.

One, all players had to have a player efficiency rating of at least 20 (league average is 15.0). It isn’t easy jumping from bad to mediocre, but it’s not something that should be celebrated like a guy pushing himself somewhere between good and great.

Also, players need to have seen at least 20 minutes of action a night. As incredible as Dennis Schroder and his 22.3 PER have been out of the gate, it’s hard to fully gauge the level of his improvement when he’s spending more than 60 percent of the game on the sideline.

Other than that, everyone was eligible for selection. And these are the seven who stood above the rest.

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Kevin Martin Fined $15K for Obscene Gesture Made During Bulls vs. T’Wolves

Kevin Martin is going to need to find a different celebration after making big shots. 

The Minnesota Timberwolves guard was fined by the NBA for what has been deemed to be an “obscene gesture” after hitting a shot against the Chicago Bulls. Paul Garcia of Project Spurs has more:

Michael Lee of The Washington Post adds:

Here was the shot in question:

The NBA has cracked down on players that do the dance first popularized by Sam Cassell during his playing days. Last January, Jameer Nelson of the Orlando Magic was fined, as Marc Stein of ESPN reported at the time:

One would guess Martin would steer clear of the dance going forward after being hit with such a hefty fine.

The 31-year-old has been quite good for the Timberwolves thus far, averaging 22.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in two games this season. In 68 games in 2013-14 with the T’Wolves, he averaged 19.1 points and shot 38.7 percent from three-point range.    

With Kevin Love now in Cleveland, much of the scoring onus for this team will fall on the back of Martin, and his clutch shot against the Bulls proved, at least for one night, that he’s up to the task.

Even if he’s a little lighter in the wallet. 

 

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Report: Kobe Made Smush Parker Get Dressed In Broom Closet

Grantland has gotten their hands on the NBA’s redacted scouting reports, and the Lakers report is a doozy.
According to a former Lakers staff member, Kobe Bryant was among other things, a guy who refused to learn his teammates names, and a basketball sociopath.
The tidbit from the report that is sure to cause conversation in NBA circles, is the report that Bryant disliked Smush Parker so much, that he made him get dressed in a broom closet, because “Parker would eventually have to get used to being around the things he would use when he became a janitor.”

 
Bryant’s dislike for Parker was strong, but I wonder if Smush ever had to see a therapist after the treatment he received from the ‘Black Mamba.”

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Arrest made in theft from Pacers star Paul George (Yahoo Sports)

Police have arrested a man in connection with the April burglary at the Indianapolis home of Indiana Pacers star Paul George. Indianapolis police say 43-year-old Michael Lewis of Whitestown was arrested Wednesday on burglary and theft charges for the April 28 break-in during which George’s platinum All-Star ring valued at $15,000 was taken. Police say detectives believe the burglary was random act and that Lewis didn’t specifically target George’s home, which is on the city’s northeast side. The burglary was discovered by George’s parents when they returned from a Pacers playoff game.

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