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Carmelo Anthony

The Lakers are executing ‘Plan B’ in free agency

Going into this summer, Los Angeles Lakers fans were skeptical, to say the least. There were just four players under contract, including a $33 million dollar backcourt that played less than 20 combined games last season. The team had over $20 million dollars worth of cap room, more than enough for LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh, but very few building blocks in which to attract those players to L.A.. Even after an excellent draft night including acquiring Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, the prospects of the Lakers transforming back into a contender were slim.
But then…
Carmelo seemed to be changing his mind after a “very convincing” presentation from Lakers brass. There were rumors that LeBron James felt the same way. Kyle Lowry seemed interested in signing. Pau Gasol, for all the trade rumors swirling around him the previous three seasons, was locked in to re-sign in the event that the Lakers made positive strides with any other free agents. Despite what some felt would be a bleak summer, as always, the sunlight was peering through the clouds in Southern California.
This is what I called “Plan A” in a piece I penned right here on Silver Screen & Roll weeks ago. The Lakers, despite Kobe’s massive contract and all the mistakes made with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, would rise from the ashes and begin the latest championship era of Los Angeles basketball. With either James, Anthony or both in the fold and Bryant’s deal coming off the books in two seasons, the Show would be locked and loaded for years to come.
Plan A, it seems, has been a massive failure. What now?
Plan B is well underway.
(Read more of this desolation at SS&R)

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What’s the plan for the Lakers in free agency?

The Lakers have already fired their opening shot in getting together their next great championship squad: drafting Jordan Clarkson.

But they also picked up a fellow named Julius Randle–the number 7 overall pick–who hopefully will be a building block in LA for the next decade or so.
Beyond that? This year’s free agency could tell us a lot about where the Lakers are headed…or if we’re just going to be asking the same questions for another twelve months. What are the Lakers aiming to do in the coming months?
Plan A: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh. Or many of them.
As with most offseasons, even with no cap room or assets, the Lakers are going to be involved in the free agent rumor mill. But in an offseason where the team has room for a maximum salary contract? They’ll be involved in every whisper, no matter how farfetched.
Which is exactly what this situation is.
The Lakers have virtually no shot at the former four-time MVP, nor the former scoring champion nor the former Miami Heat Harlem Shake video MVP. The Lakers are essentially bereft of proven talent, the largest factor that any of these free agents will take into consideration before committing to another team. In short, the Show kind of stinks right now and I’m not sure any of these All-Stars want to descend into this pit.
(Read on at Silver Screen & Roll!)…

Trade Analysis: Phil Jackson to the New York Knicks

New York Knicks get: President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson for five years, $60 million
Bockerknocker: Nobody needs to explain the current state of the New York Knicks. Similarly, nobody needs to explain that the hiring of Phil Jackson to run the basketball operations of a once-proud franchise is a good move. What this really means, however, is that owner James Dolan must be Straight-Shot scared that his good buddy Carmelo Anthony will really leave for greener pastures this offseason.
We’ve seen this tired act of “autonomy” given by Dolan before. Former wheelchair-bound general manager Donnie Walsh was given the directive of getting the Knicks out of the hole that Isiah Thomas continued to dig even after his ouster. But remember when Walsh was ready to pass on sending young players and quality draft picks to Denver for Anthony, knowing that the ready-to-leave superstar would sign in free agency? Dolan stepped in, mortgaged the future for a “me first” player, and autonomy was vanquished.
Jackson comes to the Apple with a much richer caché, of course, and is far more likely to hold Dolan to his word. But before he arrived, I, for one, assumed Anthony would stay for the money and for the ability to choose his next coach. Now, Jackson won’t allow that, and all the championship rings in the world won’t be able to convince Anthony that he should waste one of the final years of his prime in the hopes that Jackson will reload for 2016.
If Anthony does stay, it will be a testament to the team-first character of which Jackson believes is within Anthony, based on the role Anthony played on Team USA. It will also justify the hire without regard to whatever happens next. But one thing must be clear: the Bockers are still a 2016 team, at best. There is no amount of Zen that can change that.
KOBEsh: I only disagree on a couple of points, but overall, I’m completely with you—this was a solid, though unspectacular signing for the Knicks. … Read more...

Knicks-Celtics thoughts going into Game 5

KOBEsh: In the midst of OT during Game 4, you texted me “We’ve had one good game all series. The Celtics are that terrible.” What in particular has been so awful about YOUR…New York Knickerbockers? And do you think this has any bearing on how far they can go in the playoffs?
BockerKnocker: For four straight games, the Knicks have depended too much on Carmelo Anthony. There is blame to be shared all around. Anthony demands the ball on every play, his teammates give in, and head coach Mike Woodson doesn’t do anything to stop it. It becomes much easier to defend a scoring machine when help defenders are focused on one player.
The Celtics are willing to let the other Knicks beat them, which is par for the course, but the problem with going through Melo on every play is that the guy gets fatigued relatively early. The PnRs with Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler have been rare; those plays enabled Melo to basically rest by spotting up from 3, where he shot a career high this season.
Why doesn’t Novak play with Carmelo? Most of the Discount Double Check minutes occur when Melo takes his early 2nd and 4th quarter rest. Novak’s help defender can never stray too far, while Felton and Kidd’s men will always take that risk.
This of course will impact how far they go. But let’s not put the Bockers in the 2nd round just yet.… Read more...

NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference First Round Predictions

It’s Christmas kids. Except instead of Jesus being born, we’re celebrating a bunch of overpaid athletes play a game we’d all happily do for a fraction of the money. It’s pretty much the same thing, right?
Let’s get right to it–MAMBINO official predictions and commentary from the whole team:
1) Miami Heat vs. 8) Milwaukee Bucks
Why is this a clean sweep for the Heat?

El Mariachi: LeBron James.  …

YOUR…6-0 New York Knicks. Are They For Real?

(With the Knicks up by five in San Antonio with mere minutes remaining on the clock, I texted MAMBINO’s two resident Knicks masochists fanatics, asking if they could handle what was happening to their beloved ‘Bockers. I got a number of responses, but mostly in the vein of “AAAHHHHHHHH”. Very verbose. 

The New York Knicks have the best record in the league, standing at a very respectable 6-0 record, with quality wins against Miami, Dallas and at San Antonio. Gotham is, to the surprise of no one, reacting with hyperbolic headlines and unbridled excitement at the extraordinary start that Carmelo, Kidd and company have raced out to. As a mere Knicks sympathizer, I had many questions for two rabid fans, who, by their own admittance, have their emotions on the team vacillate on a minute-by-minute basis. This is the e-mail string that followed.)
KOBEsh: El Miz–BockerKnocker, brace yourselves. YOUR…New York Knickerbockers are, I daresay, a juggernaut. At 6-0, this is the best start for the franchise since their Ewing-led heyday in the 90s. Let’s start with the most basic question: what’s the number one reason they’re doing this?
El Miz: Mike Woodson.  Coach Woody has gotten a group that features Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith to buy into things like holding the opposing team under 25 points per quarter, under 40 points in the second half, and caring about what the other team shot from the field percentage-wise. Carmelo has bought in, and it is pivotal to have the alpha dog buy in–last year, Carmelo wasn’t buying anything that Mike D’Antoni was selling…and that was it for the Gentleman Thief.  
The absence of Amare Stoudemire has helped as well — it has allowed Melo to get into a groove at the 4, a position where he excelled last year and won Player of the Month in April, a month where he averaged 30 points and 7 rebounds per game on 50% shooting from the field (including 46% from downtown).  It is clear now that Melo is better suited in this post-Seven Seconds or Less NBA to be a stretch 4, and without Stoudemire, there is no controversy in getting the best player in his most optimal position.  But this team is not undefeated without the emphasis on defense, and that has started with Woodson.
KOBEsh: I completely agree. I’ve been absolutely taken aback not by NYK’s ability to defend; they’ve always had the requisite athleticism and strength to lock down any team in the league. I’ve been astonished by their willingness and more importantly enthusiasm to do so. It’s been a breath of fresh air considering how apathetic they’ve been under D’Antoni. Lakers fans have gotta feel great right now.

You mentioned Stoudemire in your last response–but I’m not going to delve into the negative. It’s too hard to predict how he’ll affect the team on his return, and I don’t want to sully the positive vibes that you only get to experience once…a decade.

Besides the defense, what’s been the most surprising part of this unreal start? 

El Miz: The most surprising thing has definitely been the ball movement.  With “ball stoppers” like Carmelo, J.R., and Tyson Chandler, it has been remarkable to see the ball moving so well.  The arrival of the ageless Jason Kidd is the primary reason, as he has been drilling into Anthony’s head that moving the ball is harder to defend than one guy just taking it to the hoop.  Again, it is one of those things where once Read more...

Will the Real Carmelo Please Stand Up? — New York Knickerbockers Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Raymond Felton, SG Ronnie Brewer, SF Carmelo Anthony, PF Amare Stoudemire, C Tyson Chandler

Key Bench Players: PG Jason Kidd, SG JR Smith, SG Iman Shumpert, SF Steve Novak, PF Kurt Thomas, C Marcus Camby, PG Pablo Prigioni

Notable offseason additions: PG Jason Kidd, SG Ronnie Brewer, PG Raymond Felton, PF Kurt Thomas, C Marcus Camby, PG Pablo Prigioni

Offseason subtractions: PG Jeremy Lin, #LINSANITY, SG Landry Fields, PF Josh Harrellson, all discernible team assets and cap room for the next 3 years

Well, that whole Linsanity thing was fun while it lasted.  The biggest Knick storyline of the offseason centered around undrafted free agent pop culture sensation Jeremy Lin.  The Knicks infamously told anyone who would listen that they would match any contract offered to their Chinese-American star (and restricted free agent).  Then, curiously, the Knicks changed course and essentially decided to spend the money bookmarked for Lin on former Knick point guard Raymond Felton and former Knick power forward Kurt Thomas.  This led to a truly comical (and yet another “only under a James Dolan led Knicks team would this happen” moment) chain of events at Las Vegas Summer League where Knicks GM Glen Grunwald was reported to be ducking Rockets GM Daryl Morey at like a deadbeat ducks the landlord when rent was due two weeks ago. He was not so subtly refusing to receive the Rockets qualified offer for Lin and postponing the franchise’s decision on Lin’s contract until the absolute last possible moment.  #sameoldknicks

Lin and Linsanity are gone, ending a stint with the team that, ten years from now, will literally feel like it was make believe.  Now, moreso than any time since the Knicks traded 3 starters and 5 players overally to acquire him, this team is Carmelo Anthony’s and Carmelo’s only.  This team is built around his strengths and, in order to thrive, Carmelo Anthony needs to thrive.

After the Lin debacle — and really, it was a debacle, whether you were for or against the Knicks bringing him back, the matter in which it was carried out was laughably unprofessional and silly — the next biggest story of the offseason featured Amare Stoudemire down at Hakeem Olajuwon’s ranch, working on post moves.  Stoudemire, having played his entire career in Mike D’Antoni’s offense as the “pick” man on the high pick and roll, never developed any semblance of a post game, although his jumper has become increasingly reliable.  Even though the Knicks are bringing back Raymond Felton, who quarterbacked the Knicks offense to remarkable efficiency over 54 games in 2010-11 (Felton averaged 17 points and 9 assists in his first go-round as a Knickerbocker; Stoudemire averaged 26 points per game on 51% shooting with Felton running the offense), the Knicks believe that Stoudemire needs to play like a more traditional power forward for the team to be successful in 2012-13.

Which is certainly a curious thought — why, the Knicks already have a lethal post scorer who goes by the name of Carmelo Anthony.  Anthony did his best work last year when Stoudemire went down in March and Anthony slid into the 4, averaging 30 points and 7 rebounds per game and winning Player of the Month honors as the Knicks went 16-4.  For the season, all advanced metrics indicate Anthony is an elite power forward and a middling small forward.  The eye test indicates Anthony likes to bang with the bigs and loathes chasing around quicker players around the perimeter.… Read more...

Generationally Defective: Why We Hate LeBron and Melo, but Admire Rose and Durant

LeBron James is a coward. The self-anointed Chosen One has led a NBA career with varying highs and lows, astounding us along the way with a dazzling combination of size, speed, grace and strength. Never before had we ever seen an athlete that drew comparisons to a Transformer; a burning locomotive train that could change into a blackbird jet at any given moment. LeBron’s promise to his consumers has been that indeed, he would be the one to bring basketball to heights never before seen – we are all witnesses, afterall. However, in a folly of hubris fit only for a King, James has yet to deliver on his various pledges; while he has amazed, he has yet to conquer. The progenitor of the South Beach Theory, a situation where in trying to add value to your own personal “brand”, you actually diminish it,  LeBron has somehow become the most despised player in the league. We should be thankful that he spends his time bestowing his gifts and otherworldly play upon us, and yet, we’ve come to resent the cowardice from a man who has shown a reluctance to walk the self-instituted path we’ve lined the streets of, waiting for ascendance. LeBron James was drafted in 2003.
Dwight Howard is a indecisive lout. Thought to be the next in the lineage of the great NBA centers of all-time, Dwight has ostensibly strayed from his labeled ancestry that Kareem, Ewing, Hakeem, the Admiral and Shaquille occupied. Though each of those men were laden with early to mid-career blunders, Howard’s value in his eighth season seems lower than ever. At this point, Howard is best known for three things : 1) his all-world defense, 2) his noteworthy physical features, which range from his goliath-like shoulders to smile nearly broader than his countenance, and 3) an unbelievable hesitancy to be decisive. For nearly a year, the daily rumor mill has been rife with buzz of where Howard will continue his career. In a media storm that would embarrass a drunk Jose Conseco, Dwight managed to throw his coach, general manager, team and unwittingly, himself, under the bus. Though committed to the Orlando Magic for the 2012-2013 season, Howard continues to leave his team in managerial purgatory, not knowing whether he’ll sign an extension to stay or leave for nothing. Oddly enough, Howard’s unwillingness to make a decision regarding his contract future is mirrored by the lack of progress in his basketball repertoire. He is largely the same offensive and defensive player he was 4 years ago. Regardless of how you feel about LeBron as a person or a salesman, you have to admire that at least he’s attempted to improve his game. Orlando’s center has not. Dwight Howard was drafted in 2004.

Carmelo Anthony is a selfish ball-stopper. I suppose there’s a decent reason for that; he is one of the deadliest scorers in the league. Gifted with a powerful 6’8″ frame and a quickness that betrays that build, Anthony can score from any space on the floor. Facing up, in the post, out on the perimeter, back to the basket, on the fast break, cutting to the rack, mid-range, free throw line, multiple-defenders – the situation matters not. Carmelo Anthony can put the ball in the hoop. However, the Knicks All-Star forward has an all-around game that he rarely shows on the court. In flashes, Melo unveils his alter-ego; the black Larry Bird. His ability to rebound, defend and pass are often overlooked – because he infrequently displays them. With his strength, size and speed, there’s not rebound Melo can’t Read more...