Carmelo: Leaving NY would be hard after I ‘forced my way here’

Jim Racalto The New York Knicks held media day on Monday, and as usual, the center of attention was forward Carmelo Anthony, who re-signed with the Knicks this offseason to the tune of five years, $124 million. There are several factors that went into ‘Melo deciding to stay in New York, money obviously being one of them. […] Sports-Kings – The Kings of Sports Lists – Sports bloggers that cover the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, fantasy sports, college sports and much more. From funny videos to pictures we have it all

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Conference Realignment Moves We Wish Would Happen in College Basketball

There isn’t any college basketball conference realignment scheduled for next summer, but there are a few moves we would like to see.

We certainly aren’t complaining about the lack of conference realignment on the horizon. To the contrary, it’s simply delightful to know we won’t have to spend the summer of 2015 trying to remember which teams are now in which conferences.

However, we aren’t nearly naive enough to think there won’t be more bursts of realignment at some point in the next few years.

Rather than sitting back and just watching as great rivalry after rivalry is taken away from us in the name of football revenue, we’ve decided to proactively compromise by suggesting 10 acceptable moves.

Please note that all of these suggestions are made only with men’s college basketball in mind. College football and women’s college basketball were disregarded in the interest of making the best possible men’s college basketball conferences.

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Drake: I Would Collaborate On A Song With LeBron James (Video)

Drake featuring Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James on a new hit track? It sounds crazy, but it’s a possibility. After attending the premiere of James’ new TV show “Survivor’s Remorse,” TMZ asked the rapper if he would ever make a song with the two-time NBA champion. Drake laughed and said, “Always, man. Tell him to get at me.” Maybe Drake was joking, but he didn’t seem to hate the idea. Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames. As you can see in the video below, it wouldn’t be the first time LeBron has gotten on the mic. Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames. Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@WordOnRdFiled under: Entertainment, Justin Leger, NBA, Top Stories

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Atlanta Hawks: What an NBA title would mean to the city

Few things are harder than being an Atlanta fan in any sport. Die hard “Atlantians” consistently have their hearts broken every year by their favorite local sports team. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Atlanta Falcons, the Atlanta Braves or even the Atlanta Hawks, because they all have a history of losing.
The city of Atlanta is spoiled. We take for granted the regular season success our teams have and throw it to the curb because they struggle come playoff time. Our teams build up our hope and confidence and then crush us with first round exits.
For example, look at the Braves who won 14 straight division titles from 1991-2004, but only one World Series. The Braves’ 1995 World Series victory is the ONLY championship the city has won. The Braves also haven’t won a playoff series since 2001.
The Falcons have had a history of being bad one year and good the next since the start of the 21st century. Yet the Falcons have only been to one Superbowl (1998-1999) and they lost to John Elway’s Broncos. The

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Healthy Steve Nash Would Change Grim Outlook of Los Angeles Lakers’ Season

In February, Grantland’s Bill Simmons summarized the average Los Angeles Lakers fan’s sentiments regarding Steve Nash.

He just turned 40,” Simmons wrote. “His body keeps breaking down. The Lakers need his cap money—desperately—whether it happens through trade, medical retirement, buyout, stretch provision, whatever. He’s in the way.”

Be that as it may, the organization ultimately elected to keep the iconic point guard around and pay him the hefty $9,701,000 he’s owed in the final year of his contract.  

Now the question is whether 20/20 hindsight will view that expenditure as a sunken cost or savvy investment.

After playing in just 15 games last season (and 50 in 2012-13), Nash is looking to earn his money. His legacy remains intact thanks to those transcendent years in Phoenix, but the encore performance hasn’t gone as planned.

The season ahead may be the last opportunity to change that.

Though it’s still early to make any bold predictions, early returns paint a favorable picture of Nash’s health and vitality.

And after what these Lakers—Nash included—have been through, we’ll take whatever good signs we can get. 

The latest good sign is pretty consistent with what Lakers trainer Gary Vitti intimated to NBA.com’s Mike Trudell in August.

“All my conversations with [Nash] are that he has absolutely no neural issue at this point,” Vitti said. “He’s playing full-tilt, unrestricted soccer. He’s doing all the corrective injury and performance exercises he’s supposed to be doing, and right now he’s 100 percent healthy.”

Right now things look better on July 31, 2014, than they did July 31, 2013. He was still having nerve issues last July,” Vitti added.

Nash’s 2013-14 campaign never really got off the runway thanks in large part to a fractured fibula he suffered in November of 2012. ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne described the fallout from that break as a “chain reaction in the nerves throughout Nash’s body.”

One day it’s his hamstrings and lower back that are barking,” Shelburne explained. “Then the pain spreads into his neck and up and down his spine. Another day it’s shooting down his legs again.”

“I’m still fighting things that happened because of the broken leg,” Nash told reporters early last season. “I still feel that almost every day, all over. It’s not just in that spot. The whole system in a way is different now, it’s just a little bit more sensitive.”

Shelburne refuted the notion that his ongoing struggles were attributable to age, writing, “It’s a circuitry issue, not decay—like the logic board on your computer going haywire more than wear and tear on the parts.”

The coast isn’t entirely clear, but Nash appears to have made significant progress.

As NBCSports.com’s Brett Pollakoff put it, “The problem with the nerve injury is that it’s been unpredictable, and has flared up at seemingly random times. If Nash is able to keep it in check for the bulk of the upcoming season, his consistent presence in the lineup would undoubtedly help L.A.’s chances.”

So—in theory—there’s reason to be hopeful that months of rest and recuperation could yield some dividends. It’s entirely possible the 18-year veteran goes on to have an injury-free season, riding off into the sunset without aches, pains and any lingering doubts about whether this summer’s decision to keep him around was a wise one.

To be sure, Nash will have some help running the offense this season.

General manager Mitch Kupchak acquired point guard Jeremy Lin from the Houston Rockets, adding some backcourt insurance and supplementing Nash’s minutes with a capable floor general still very much in the prime of his career.

At the moment, it remains unclear whether Nash will reclaim his starting job.

The Los Angeles Daily NewsMark Medina indicated that head coach Byron Scott was planning to start Nash, while the OC Register‘s Bill Oram subsequently noted via Twitter that decisions about the starting job haven’t been made.

Either way, meaningful contributions from the two-time MVP would go a long way toward restoring the Lakers to a respectable position in the crowded Western Conference.

Through 50 games in 2012-13, Nash averaged 12.7 points and 6.7 assists in 32.5 minutes per contest. His 49.7 field-goal percentage was consistent with a 49 percent career mark, and his long-range accuracy followed suit.

This is still a guy who can make a difference.

How much of a difference remains to be seen.

With eight All-Star appearances under his belt, some will expect $9.7 million worth of heroics. Others are—by now—dubious that Nash will ever regain consistently productive form.

The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, and that’s better than nothing.

Though the Lakers’ most damning problems haven’t been on the offensive end, their defensive struggles create little margin for error. Even if Scott turns around a defensive efficiency that ranked 28th last season (at 107.9 points per 100 possessions, according to Hollinger’s NBA Team Statistics), chances are L.A. will have to score a lot of points to win games.

Defensive cultures rarely undergo overnight course corrections.

While arguing Nash will be something of an X-factor this season, Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale suggested, “Scott will chirp about defense and the importance of accountability, but these Lakers, from top to bottom, are built to score.”

And now these Lakers need to score a little more efficiently. They averaged just 101.9 points per 100 possessions last season, the 21st-best mark in the league. The sometimes impressive scoring output had more to do with a breakneck pace that ranked second in the league than it did any kind of systemic proficiency.

Nash can help change that.

His court vision and decision-making remain uniquely dangerous at any age, so dangerous that his exceptional accuracy from the floor is often overlooked. No one expects Nash to dominate the ball like he did in his prime, but a legend’s part-time contributions are still better than most alternatives.

Nash understands how to operate the pick-and-roll far better than most of his peers, making him a force multiplier capable of getting the most from bigs like Carlos Boozer or Jordan Hill. He’s a patient and cerebral floor general who prefers facilitating a well-oiled offensive machine to any personal accolades.

But the question has never been about Nash’s ability.

It’s been whether he can remain healthy enough to put that ability on full display.

With the 2014-15 season just around the corner, all signs point toward him doing just that. 

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Cleveland Cavaliers: What an NBA title would mean to the city

Winning an NBA championship this season would mean everything to the city of Cleveland. The last major professional sports team to bring a title back to the city was in 1964 when the Cleveland Browns won the Super Bowl.
With the return of LeBron James comes the return of hope and excitement for this city. This season could be the time to put an end to the drought. The Cavaliers instantly become one of the top teams to fear in the Eastern Conference this season making title talk the new fad in Cleveland. The new big three of James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love is as legit as any other trio across the league. Indeed, the NBA has been put on notice.
Spencer Hawes Celebrates a basket in Cleveland. (photo credit factoria NBA)
Bringing home a championship would do so much for Cleveland. It would give the city a celebration they have not received since 1964 and let fans have something to be proud of. James has said this summer that he wants to win a championship in Cleveland but he knows it will not be easy.
The Cl

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2015 Committed Recruits Who Would Be Starters for Their Future Teams This Season

College basketball teams are gearing up for the start of the 2014-15 season, and barring some strange late additions, they are stuck with the rosters they have at this point.

If only it were possible to get a few of the best recruits from the 2015 class to be eligible for this season.

Looking at the top prospects who have already committed for 2015-16, we’ve identified 20 who likely would be starters in college during what would actually be their senior years of high school. Either because their future team has a hole right now at that position, or because their talent far outweighs what is currently available, these are the guys who fans would love to see on the court sooner rather than later.

Players are listed alphabetically, rather than by recruiting ranking or importance to their team. And one player you will not see on this list is top overall prospect Ben Simmons, an LSU commit who happens to play the same position as the Tigers’ best returning player.

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Los Angeles Lakers Starting Steve Nash over Jeremy Lin Would Be a Mistake

Given that training camp has yet to begin for the Los Angeles Lakers, it may be a bit early to be predicting mistakes. But a decision to start the chronically injured Steve Nash over 26-year-old Jeremy Lin could be just that.

Mark Medina for the Los Angeles Daily News recently sat down with new Lakers coach Byron Scott at the team’s El Segundo practice facility and wrote, “Scott will spend training camp figuring out his starting lineup, which he says will currently feature Nash, Bryant, Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill.”

Nash, who will turn 41 in February, played just 15 games last season due to chronic back issues compounded by nerve root irritation from a leg fracture that occurred October 31, 2012.

It has been two years of trials, tribulations and setbacks for the legendary point guard, and it’s difficult to see how he can sustain a starting role at this point in his career.

Meanwhile, the Lakers traded this summer for a much younger player who could prove to be part of a long-term plan.

Los Angeles absorbed the remainder of Lin’s salary when it acquired him from the Houston Rockets. Shouldn’t L.A. want to make the most out of this one-season test drive?

Lin will earn $15 million, of which only $8 million will count against the team’s cap. Nash will earn $9.7 million. Each player is entering the third and final season of their respective contracts. 

In other words, each comes with a substantial price tag, but youth offers a more hopeful upside for a team in the formative stages of a rebuild.

All this isn’t to say that Scott’s mind is completely made up before camp even begins.

Lin’s time in the NBA has been relatively brief— just 215 games over the course of four seasons. And despite the halcyon days of his brief Linsanity moment in the sun with the New York Knicks, the guard’s game is still a work in progress. Per his Instagram account:

This offseason I have been working really hard on my defense, footwork, and explosiveness. A huge component that I needed to work on is my core stability (having good posture, being able to stay low in my defensive stance, and being able to stay balanced while absorbing contact). Only 19 days left till training camp…can’t wait to get back on the court!

This sounds like someone who’s serious about improving. There will also be the matter of a new offense to learn. Coach Scott will meld components of both the Princeton and the triangle systems, each of which is heavily reliant on moving without the ball.

Lin has the bulk of his career ahead of him, and it would behoove his chances for a lengthy run in Los Angeles to embrace that which is new and different to him. He’ll get help from Kobe Bryant, who already knows the tricks of the triangle offense, which shares numerous principles with the Princeton.

Writing for Basketball Insiders, Alex Kennedy notes that Lin is ready for a fresh start and also eager to learn from the best:

As he continues to expand his game, he’ll have two Hall of Fame guards alongside him in the backcourt, which should do wonders for his development. Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant have been injured in recent years, but Lin is hoping to pick their brains and learn as much as he can from his legendary teammates.

And if the former wunderkind is concerned about who starts and who doesn’t, he certainly isn’t expressing it. When Kennedy asked if he believed he’d proven his worth as a starting point guard, Lin answered:

I don’t care to figure out what the answer to that question is anymore. Before I [had] kind of like a chip on my shoulder, things to prove, people to prove wrong. Now, I’m just like when I get out there I’m going to play and everyone’s going to formulate their own opinion and it’s going to change every single day. I don’t think my own opinion of myself has ever changed. I still believe I am capable of that. But that’s just me, that’s if you ask me. I’m not really worried about what everyone else is thinking anymore.

Lin is ready to become a more fundamentally sound player. That will appeal to his new coach. He’s also eager to learn from Nash, saying, per Lakers.com, “Now I have this opportunity. I can’t wait. I still remember him in Phoenix and he was 20 and 10 every night. I look forward to learning quite a few things from him.”

The future Hall of Famer can teach plenty about the most effective angles, about flawless footwork and the art of the perfect pass. And Lin, with his fresh legs and energy, would fit nicely in the starting lineup alongside veterans like Bryant and Boozer.

Nash, meanwhile, could provide a steadying influence as the senior member of the bench mob, leading a high-scoring unit that will likely include Nick “Swaggy P” Young, Xavier Henry, Julius Randle and Ed Davis.

Just imagine—the third all-time assists leader with his uncanny court vision feeding Swaggy P and Randle for easy buckets. Nash can nail his own timely shots as well—possessing one of the purest strokes in the game and a .428 career percentage from behind the arc.

The issue of who should start and who should come off the bench is not about who should or should not play. It’s a question of what most benefits the team—both now and moving forward.

Everyone who has ever been a fan of basketball wants to see Nash go out on his own terms and go out successfully.

But wouldn’t helping Lin to be a better player and bolstering an already potent bench be preferable to struggling against time and a bad back to hold onto a starter’s role and minutes?

Ultimately, youth cannot be denied in sports. To everything there is a season, and this is Jeremy Lin’s time to start and to succeed.

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What a Sign-and-Trade for Eric Bledsoe Would Have to Look Like

The differences between Eric Bledsoe and the Phoenix Suns are rapidly becoming irreconcilable, and it’s no longer crazy to ask if a divorce is the best thing for both parties.

The mechanics of pulling off such a separation, though, are only getting more complicated.

In fact, even with the latest intriguing development in the ongoing saga, we’re still left with more questions than answers.

Per Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:

With just days before the start of training camp, the Minnesota Timberwolves are making a final push to acquire restricted free-agent guard Eric Bledsoe in a sign-and-trade with the Phoenix Suns, sources told ESPN.com. 

The Wolves are offering Bledsoe the four-year, $63 million maximum-level contract that he has been seeking, sources said.

OK, great. We have what appears to be a deal.

But the Timberwolves don’t have the cap room to fit Bledsoe on a max deal, and we don’t know who they’d theoretically send back to Phoenix to make the money work. Are the Suns getting Ricky Rubio? Perhaps Nikola Pekovic?

Could the Wolves somehow foist Kevin Martin on Phoenix?

The problem here is that Bledsoe‘s situation is so complicated, we can’t really ascertain his value to another team—or the Suns, for that matter.

Thanks to restricted free agency, Phoenix can match any offer Bledsoe gets from another team. That’s likely why no suitors made such an offer over the summer. Now, most teams are too capped out to sign Bledsoe to a max offer sheet, which means a sign-and-trade swap is the only viable way to get a deal done.

From the Suns’ perspective, that might beat the alternative of dealing with a disgruntled Bledsoe (who turned down a four-year, $48 million offer from Phoenix) for another season and then losing him for nothing.

Then again, Phoenix might prefer to do that instead of taking back a costly asset just to make the money work in a sign-and-trade.

Tricky stuff, huh?

There are plenty of other options beyond the Timberwolves out there as well.

Perhaps the Suns would rather try to swing a similar sign-and-trade deal for Rajon Rondo. The Boston Celtics are in nearly as shaky of a position with their own point guard, and Rondo doesn’t fit into a rebuilding process that is still at least two or three years away from completion.

If Boston were willing to max out Bledsoe, the money would work out nicely, as Rondo is due to make just under $13 million in the final year of his deal.

Of course, if the Suns really wanted Rondo, they could simply wait until next summer to sign him outright. That’s a play most Bledsoe suitors could make as well.

What’s more, we don’t even know if a point guard is what the Suns would want in return for Bledsoe. We can take them at their word that three point guards are part of their strategy because they prefer to play two at once (hence the Isaiah Thomas signing over the summer).

That’s what our vision is,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said, per Bryan Gibberman of ArizonaSports.com. “You hear the three-headed monster about big guys all the time, but maybe we got the three-headed monster in the guards. There is going to be two of those guys on the court at all times. When it happens, teams are going to have to plan for that and really focus.”

Or, we can view the Thomas signing as evidence that Phoenix planned to deal Bledsoe all along.

So deepens the complexity of the Suns’ situation.

If Phoenix can’t get anything done before Oct. 1, Bledsoe can simply take the $3.73 million qualifying offer, play out the season and sign wherever he wants in 2015. Teams around the league know that, and the resulting game of chicken is the reason we still haven’t seen any real movement on the Bledsoe trade front.

In an interesting wrinkle, the Atlanta Hawks have almost $13 million in cap room, according to ShamSports.com. Would they view Bledsoe, at a max or near-max deal, as a big enough upgrade to send Jeff Teague, some salary filler and a pick back to the Suns?

Could they move enough money to sign him to a max offer sheet without giving anything up?

And if the Hawks could do that, would Phoenix just match after all?

Questions, questions, questions.

Even if we think we know a few things for sure—like, say, that the Suns have already placed a $12-million-per-year value on Bledsoe—we have to factor in Phoenix’s bargaining position. With no reason to bid against themselves, there’s really no reason for the Suns to make a last, best and final offer that reflects what they believe Bledsoe‘s actual value to be.

They have every incentive to let the rest of the league set the market and react accordingly. For all we know, the Suns have been willing to max out Bledsoe all along; they just weren’t going to do it until somebody forced them to.

When Bledsoe told Kyle Burger of WVTM-TV in Birmingham “I can understand the Phoenix Suns are using restricted free agency against me,” he knew what he was talking about.

If reports out of Minnesota are true, it would appear at least one team definitely thinks Bledsoe is a max player. And the Wolves could do a lot worse than adding a supremely athletic combo guard to their stable of No. 1 draft picks and untested talents.

Assuming, of course, the Suns won’t try to pry away guys like Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett or Zach LaVine in the bargain.

You’d expect Phoenix, a playoff contender, would rather have known commodities like Pekovic or Rubio in a sign-and-trade anyway. At the same time, we should never put asset accumulation to the point of absurdity past the Suns. They managed to hoard three first-round picks ahead of the 2014 draft, so we know they like young talent.

The truth is, we won’t know what a potential sign-and-trade for Bledsoe will look like until we see one. The range of possibilities is just that vast.

In a sense, that’s appropriate. All offseason, the only certainty in the Suns-Bledsoe marriage has been uncertainty.

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Antoine Walker Would Be a Good Fit Within the Boston Celtics Organization

A personal story: On March 2, 2002, my cousin and I attended a Boston Celtics charity event held at the club/billiard hall The Rack. Fans were able to hang out, play pool and get their photo taken with the players.

Being photographed with Eric Williams, Rodney Rogers and Walter McCarty was cool, but I wanted a picture with Antoine Walker. I had to have it.

And Walker didn’t disappoint. After hours of saying hello to every fan who wanted a piece of him, the Celtics co-captain enthusiastically greeted us and put on a great smile for both photos.

The Celtics could use Walker as a part of the organization.

On Wednesday, Walker was honored by The Sports Museum in a ceremony called “The Tradition.” Walker was honored along with three-time Super Bowl champion Tedy Bruschi, two-time World Series champion Tim Wakefield, Stanley Cup champion Patrice Bergeron, Olympic gold medalists Bode Miller and Kayla Harrison and longtime sports radio personality/pioneer Eddie Andelman.

Walker seems like a natural to represent the Celtics at public events. He’s a recognizable former player with a successful professional career that Boston could use to help keep the Celtics’ name in the community.

All Walker would have to do is show up at Celtics-sponsored events and interact with the fans: Say hello, shake hands, give high fives and pose for pictures. Sometimes he’ll read to kindergarten children. Elsewhere he’ll help build a playground. Next time out he’ll watch high school kids do school work at a newly donated computer lab.

Walker made similar appearances before as a player, so it would be nothing new to him. Based on what I’ve seen, Walker would be a great ambassador for the Celtics.

Walker had a fine career: an NCAA championship with the University of Kentucky, a three-time NBA All-star with the Celtics and a NBA championship with the Miami Heat.

But Walker’s embarrassing personal life gives the Celtics reason to think twice about whether they want Walker associated with the franchise. You heard the story: Walker made more than $110 million and ended up broke. He declared for bankruptcy in 2010.

Walker is getting his life in order. He’s now debt free, though he had to sell his 2006 championship ring in the process. And like former New England Patriot Tony Collins said in his book, Walker has turned his mess into a message.

Walker had his life turned into a documentary called, “Gone in an Instant.” It’s a cautionary story that details how Walker lost his wealth. Walker shared that same story when he spoke to incoming rookies during the NBA’s Rookie Transition Program. Walker is a living example to rookies to be careful now that many are instant millionaires.

Walker has expressed an interest in coaching, but that’s not going to happen with the Celtics right now (Boston doesn’t need someone telling Jared Sullinger to shoot more three-pointers). If Walker wants a job in the NBA, working for the Celtics’ community outreach might be the best way for him to get his foot in the door.

When he was a Celtic, Walker embraced being the captain. He was accommodating with the media, and I witnessed his gregariousness with fans back in 2002. During what likely will be another trying season for the team, Walker can be a public figure to keep the Celtics’ name on people’s mind.

JoJo White already fulfills this role for the Celtics as the director of special projects and community relations representative. He’s a legend in Celtics history. Walker would be a great complement because many of today’s fans watched Walker during his seven and a half seasons as a Celtic. Whether fans loved him or hated him, many fans know who Walker is, which can’t always be said about White.

Walker’s presence also could be a benefit to the players. There might not be a better person for young pros to talk to regarding trappings off the court. Walker can take his message straight to the Celtics’ young players.

The Celtics won’t retire Walker’s number. Boston won’t celebrate the 2001-2002 team that lost the Eastern Conference Championship to the New Jersey Nets with a reunion. Coaching will have to wait. But Boston could find a role for Walker. Employee No. 8 could use a job. Would the Celtics hire him?

Questions? Comments? Send to randolphc82@comcast.net.

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