Tag Archives: Carmelo Anthony

Patience Pays Off for Lakers’ Front Office Duo

So what do I do when I have nothing to write about?

I write about what I know best – the Lakers.

So I was thinking yesterday about the Lakers and how the team added Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, and Antawn Jamison this offseason.

When you think about this, and you wind back the clock three, four, five months and you really think about this, you wonder – How the f*** did this happen?

Lakers executive Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchack just don’t get enough credit for saving a declining Lakers team/era.

It starts and ends with Andrew Bynum.

From the day he drafted him, Jim Buss supported Andrew Bynum like no one else did. He believed the young kid could blossom into a superstar, and the Lakers next franchise player.

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The first time Mitch Kupchack has smiled in a few years…

In 2007, a struggling Lakers team was fighting to just make the playoffs. The deal was available – a package centered on Andrew Bynum for All-Star Jason Kidd. Many Lakers fans, and even Kobe Bryant, wanted the team’s management to pull the trigger on the deal. Jim Buss couldn’t do it. He couldn’t part ways with the 19-year-old center and his vast potential.

Then came the summer of chaos in 2007.

Kobe Bryant, frustrated with the Lakers front office for not making the Kidd deal, requested to be traded. He then trashed Bynum in a viral video that went public.

The Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves began talking about trading Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom for Kevin Garnett, but the T-Wolves wanted more.

With their franchise in disarray and their superstar player unsatisfied, it would have been easy for Kupchack and Buss to cave.

They didn’t. They held firm, and did so again, with the Jason Kidd offer remaining on the table. So the Lakers moved on from the summer without making any significant moves.

In 2008, Bynum started showing the talent that Buss always believed he had. But when Bynum went down with a knee injury, Kupchack made the Gasol trade and the Lakers went on to make three NBA Finals and win two championships.

Eventually the team’s championship window closed, and Buss and Kupchack returned to work.

In February 2011, the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes were on. The offer was on the table – Andrew Bynum for Carmelo Anthony, with other minor players involved.

Anthony, an impending free agent, was willing to sign an extension with the Lakers. Bynum was coming off two knee surgeries in the last three season, and concerns that he was “injury-prone” were rampant at the time. Also, the team had a better record without him, 18-7, than with him, 18-9, that season.

The Lakers front office didn’t budge, in large part because Jim Buss strong support of Bynum.

Months later, after the team was coming off an embarrassing sweep to the Dallas Mavericks, the debate raged – should the Lakers give their core another chance or should they make a major move?

In December 2011, Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchack decided on the latter and traded for Chris Paul in a deal involving Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, leaving the Lakers.

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So David Stern allows the heavily lopsided Gasol trade, rejects the fair CP3 trade, and allows the lopsided Dwight trade?

What happened next was out of their control – David Stern rejecting the trade. Reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Lamar Odom, then asked to be traded, and Mitch Kupchack granted his wish.

Lakers fans everywhere were upset that Kupchack actually traded Odom, and more importantly got “nothing” in return for him. Even Bryant said he didn’t like the move.

They didn’t get “nothing” though. They received a first round pick and a $8.9 million trade exception, which would come in handy later.

After another second round exit in the 2012 playoffs, the Lakers definitely needed help. With Gasol’s consecutive second-round disappearing acts, he was the player most likely to be traded. So the trade offers came in – Kevin Martin and Luis Scola from Houston, Josh Smith from Atlanta, and other potential draft day trades.

The Lakers were a desparate team, but Kupchack and Buss were a patient duo. They wanted the right move, not just any move to please a frustrated fan base.

That patience paid dividends as the Lakers completed a sign-and-trade for two-time MVP Steve Nash in July, a move only possible with the Odom trade exception.

Then a month later, Jim Buss finally gave up Andrew Bynum, and Mitch Kupchack delivered the Dwight Howard trade.

Buss waited on Bynum as he developed from a 17-year-old project into the NBA’s second best center and then traded him for the league’s best center. Buss, the rich kid who supposedly lived off his father’s reputation, showed that he’s more than capable of managing the franchise.

To most Lakers fans, Buss and Kupchack will be remembered as the duo who brought Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to LA.

Instead though they should be remembered for all the moves they didn’t make.

Imagine the Lakers having Jason Kidd now? Or Kevin Garnett? Or even Carmelo?

Or they could have Steve Nash AND Dwight Howard now?

And that’s why every Lakers fan should send Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchack a card plus chocolates this Christmas.

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US Men’s Basketball Puts on Quite the Show

A lot has been made recently about whether this year’s US Men’s Basketball squad could top the original 1992 Dream Team. I’ve tried to avoid it, as it felt as a media ploy to generate interest in a US team that is clearly going to cruise to a gold medal. But after today’s 156-73 destruction of team Nigeria, they may have a point with this whole Dream Team talk.

Carmelo Anthony led the US to the biggest rout in Olympic history.

Team USA broke just about every record they could, scoring the most points in an Olympic game (previously 138, set by Brazil in 1988), scoring an Olympic record 78 first half points, and setting US records by shooting 71% from the field, hitting 26 threes and making 59 field goals.

Commentator Doug Collins believed the game to be over at 13-0 about a minute into the game. Amazingly, that’s true.

The final 39 minutes of the game was just time for the US to pad their stats, set some records, and fix some problems they had in their previous game against Tunisia.

That game began in stark contrast to today’s. Whereas the US had a 13 point lead a minute into the Nigeria game, that was the same lead they held at halftime against Tunisia, as the starters struggled out of the gate.

Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant both got off to hot starts against Nigeria, scoring 14 and 9 points respectively in the first quarter.

This is what the US did to Nigeria.

But the real star of the game was Carmelo Anthony, who came of the bench to score 37 points, hitting 13 of his 16 shots and 10 of 12 from beyond the arc. This followed his 6 for 6, 16 point game against Tunisia, making Anthony the hottest player on the planet right now. He’s not too shabby at basketball either.

Nigeria, despite their 83 point loss, was not without highlights of their own. PG Tony Skinn had a slick ankle breaker on James Harden. And that’s about it.

Team USA put on perhaps the most dominant basketball performance as a team of all time.

“When they shoot like this, I don’t know if there’s any team that can beat them,” said Nigerian forward Ike Diogu.

Well, maybe that ’92 Dream Team could. Who knows?

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Surprise, Surprise: The Knicks Screw Up Again

How about we throw away the greatest thing to happen to Knicks basketball in the last decade? Classic Knicks.

To the dismay of many Knicks fans, they let Jeremy Lin walk. He was one of the biggest surprises in NBA history and parlayed his success into New York legend status in 26 games and 50 days. That’s all it took for his jersey to become the No. 2 selling jersey this year in the NBA.

People will say he took advantage of New York, turning the media and the hype into a $25 million payday. But the Knicks used him back, and went further.

‘Linsanity’ renewed New York’s interest in a flailing Knicks team at the time, which the Knicks then used to settle their cable tv dispute and charge millions more in money. MSG’s stock platooned and Knicks’ ticket and apparel sales skyrocketed during Lin’s amazing run. They even sold out next season’s season tickets early because of him.

Still they let Lin leave. They let the most marketable, exciting player in Knicks basketball since Patrick Ewing leave.

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He’s going, going…gone.

With Lin, the Knicks could have become a global team, marketing themselves in Asia just as the Yao Ming-Houston Rockets did. But the Knicks could have done it better because well Houston is no New York. They could have had their own cable tv deal with China and you can be sure, companies would have paid big for those tv rights.

All this could have been reality had they kept Lin, and that’s even if he didn’t play as spectacular as he did before. He just had to be the Knicks starting point guard.

But they backed off because of $15 million owed to Lin in the third year of the deal would cause too much luxury tax penalties. Plain stupid. The Knicks are the NBA’s most valuable franchise. They would have made all that money back, and more.

Knicks owner, James Dolan, let the decision become personal, feeling cheated by Lin’s dealing. Even stupider. Last week when Houston offered Lin a 4-year, ~$29 million deal, with the last two years worth $9.3 million each, the Knicks said they would “absolutely” match and Lin would “absolutely” be their starting point guard next season. A few days later, Lin and the Rockets signed a 3-year, $25 million deal with the last year at $14.8 million.

Dolan felt betrayed. He felt the Harvard kid took advantage of him by turning the leverage that the Knicks were ‘definitely’ going to bring him back into a heftier contract.

Dolan and the Knicks should know better though. You don’t show your hand in a poker game, it’s as simple as that. The Knicks did, and Jeremy Lin, just like every other NBA player would, did the smart thing and upped the antae. The NBA’s a business.

The Knicks played it that way too, by not offering Lin a contract when free agency began. Instead they told him to find his worth on the open market, and they would match. Well he did, and they didn’t.

Now the Knicks are left with Raymond Felton as their starting point guard. Does anyone think Felton will make the Knicks relevant? Will he make money for them off-the-court? Hey most importantly, will he give them the best chance to win? He wasn’t a better player than Lin last year, and won’t be going forward. Lin’s on the rise, and Felton has reached his peak.

You have to feel for Knicks fan though. Letting Lin go was another typical dumbfounded move by Knicks management. In the last two years, they gave Amare Stoudemire 5 years, $100 million and Tyson Chandler 4 years, $58 million. Hey Carmelo, now those are some “ridiculous” contracts.

Well at least the Knicks are consistent.

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Why The Knicks Need to Keep ‘Linsanity’

It was surreal. It was possibly the story of the year. It was ‘Linsanity’. The kid nobody gave a chance, undrafted and twice cut, took Broadway by storm ,creating a buzz around Knicks basketball that has been absent for far too long.

But now its decision time for the Knicks. Lin has signed a 3-year, $25. 1 million offer sheet with Houston, giving New York till Tuesday 11:59 pm to match that offer and retain him.

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Remember Lin’s 38 point, dazzling display he schooled the Lakers with? Simply amazing.

It looks increasingly like they won’t and if that’s the case, it will be another wrong move by Knicks management in a decade plagued by them.

Instead the Knicks have acquired 28-year-old Raymond Felton in a sign-and-trade, giving him a 3 year, $10 million deal.

Seriously Raymond Felton? This is New York City, the mecca of basketball and the biggest media market in the US, if not the world, and you want Raymond Felton as your starting point guard?

Felton averaged a career low 11.4 ppg last season and is a career 41.2% shooter from the field. Portland fans spent last season closing their eyes every time he touched the ball, afraid of what he’d do. Hey New York, how does it feel to take Portland’s leftovers?

So what Jeremy Lin played only 35 games, starting 25 of those, for New York. Those 25 games were probably the most anyone has cared about the Knicks in the last decade. Lin made the Knicks relevant. Fans everywhere were tuning into to watch ‘Linsanity’. Even people who didn’t watch the NBA, wanted to see the young phenom. He was a star in a city built for stars.

Lin’s run was no fluke. You can’t fake those aggressive drives to the rim and the vision behind those chris-paul-like lobs to Tyson Chandler. You can’t fake that swagger and confidence that are necessary to surviving in the NBA. And you can’t fake an 18.2 ppg and 7.7 apg average over 25 starts.

The reality is that the Knicks had a .600 win percentage in Lin’s 25 starts. Had Lin started all 66 games, their win percentage would have been good for a division title, the number four seed in the East over Boston, and home court advantage in the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

Carmelo Anthony has been one of Jeremy Lin’s biggest believers

Sure Lin had his problems with turnovers but most point guards do early on in their career. With great players like Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Jason Kidd, and Tyson Chandler around him, Lin’s game will only get better. The 23-year-old is on the rise. And on top of it all, his marketability is off-the-charts.

The Knicks’ biggest worry of resigning Lin is the $75 million they will have committed to four players in Lin, Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler, in 2014-15. Along with other players on the roster, even if they were all at the veteran’s minimum, the Knicks would surely warrant tens of millions of dollars in luxury tax penalties. Let’s be real, this is New York and they’ll make that money back.

But what if they don’t want to pay that extra money in 2014-15? They’ll have the expiring contracts of Stoudemire, Chandler, Anthony, and Lin. In a league where expiring contracts are valuable trade assets, the Knicks should be able to trade away at least one of those expiring contracts and get themselves close to the salary cap limit, if not under it.

The Knicks want to win now and are built to do it with a core of Anthony, Stoudemire, and Chandler. Carmelo’s in his prime, Stoudemire’s on the decline, and Chandler has never had much of an offensive game.. The Knicks need another star to win. They need Lin. If they decide to stick with Felton, then they’re fine with mediocrity, a number five or six seed in the East every year, and annual first round exits.

The clock’s not just ticking on Tuesday’s 11:59 pm deadline to match Lin’s offer, but also on the Knicks chances to stay relevant.

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Taking A Look Back At The Stellar 2003 NBA Draft

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It’s been nine years to the date, June 26, 2003, from one of the best NBA drafts of all time. Here’s a look at the top nine players from that draft, in the order they were drafted, including career updates and what scouts/analysts thought of them going into the draft.

No. 1, Cleveland Cavaliers – LeBron James

The expectations were sky high for James from the get-go as ‘The Next Jordan’ labels started in middle school. One NBA Scout called him the “Best high school player I’ve ever seen. He is a freak.” after only his sophomore season in high school. James has lived up to the hype, with three NBA regular season MVP’s, six All-NBA First team selections, and 32 triple doubles, fourth all time, so far.

No. 3, Denver Nuggets – Carmelo Anthony

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Not sure if Carmelo’s a freshman in college or a 6th grader…

Going into the draft, NBA Scouts were drooling over Anthony’s scoring ability. He hasn’t let them down, developing into possibly the NBA’s purest scorer. Scouts did call him out for his perimeter defense pre-draft, and nine years later, Melo hasn’t improved much. Still, Anthony figures to have a spot in the NBA Hall of Fame, even if he doesn’t win an NBA Championship in his career.

No. 4, Toronto Raptors – Chris Bosh

NBA draft analysts thought the talent pool went very thin after the top three, but many players selected fourth or after went onto become NBA All-Stars like Chris Bosh. He has developed into a 20-10 player, and with another championship or two, should be a Hall of Famer.

No. 5, Miami Heat – Dwayne Wade

Scouts thought Wade was too short (6-4) to play shooting guard in the NBA. Pat Riley wasn’t sure on Wade, and wanted Chris Kaman on draft night. Wisely though, he opened up the decision to a vote by his scouting staff and one name kept coming up: Dwayne Wade. So Miami surprised many and took Wade early at No. 5. (projected to go as early as No. 8) Wade led Miami to the 2005 NBA Championship in his third year in league, and won NBA Finals MVP that year.

No. 6, Los Angeles Clippers – Chris Kaman

Just the Clippers’ luck, they pick right after four future Hall of Famers are selected. Still Kaman developed into a solid NBA big man with career averages of 11.9 points per game and 8.3 points per game, with one All-Star appearance.

No. 7, Chicago Bulls – Kirk Hinrich

ESPN’s Jay Bilas listed Kirk Hinrich above Dwayne Wade in his ‘Best Players Available’ list before the draft. So much for that. Hinrich though has developed into a solid point guard and exactly what he said he would be when EA Sports asked him, “The team that drafts you – what are they going to get?” before the draft.

 “They’re going to get a hard worker, a competitor, and a guy that’s going to come in and try to immediately help their team. A total team player who is very coachable and just cares about one thing, and that’s winning,” Hinrich said.

Hinrich has career averages of 12.5 ppg, 5.4 apg, and 37.8% three point percentage and would be a good veteran free agent pick up for many teams this offseason.

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Somewhere Mark Jackson was caught saying, “Mama, there goes that man!”

No. 18, New Orleans Hornets – David West

ESPN’s Chad Ford gave the Hornets a ‘C+’ in his draft day grades primarily for this pick. West though was a draft day steal at No. 18. He played the role of Chris Paul’s sidekick to perfection when New Orleans earned the No. 2 seed in the West. In nine seasons, he has made two All-Star games and has career averages of 16 ppg and 7.2 rpg.

No. 29, Dallas Mavericks – Josh Howard

The Mavericks hit big when they landed Howard at No. 29, who was talented enough to go much higher. From 2005 – 2009, he averaged over 16 ppg, made an All-Star appearance, and helped Dallas make an NBA Finals run.

No. 47, Utah Jazz – Mo Williams

Most second round draft picks are out of the league in a few years. Williams was an absolute steal at No. 47 who no one saw coming. He has developed into a solid point guard so far, with an All-Star appearance and career averages of 13.8 ppg and 4.9 apg.

Honorable Mentions:      

No. 8, Milwaukee Bucks – T.J. Ford, No. 21, Atlanta Hawks – Boris Diaw, No. 27, Memphis Grizzlies (traded to Boston Celtics) – Kendrick Perkins, No. 28, San Antonio Spurs (traded to Phoenix Suns) – Leandro Barbosa, No. 31, Cleveland Cavaliers – Jason Kapono

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