Anthony nothing thinking he'll be dealt | Ginobili injures ankle vs. Magic | Do Rockets need another guard? | Bradley aiming to return next week | Okafor making best of 'weird situation'
No. 1: Anthony expects to be with Knicks after trade deadline -- New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony was named as the replacement for Kevin Love on the Eastern Conference All-Stars roster last night. That means he's headed to New Orleans right now for NBA All-Star 2017. Where will he be when All-Star weekend ends? Before last night's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Anthony sounded confident he'd be staying put with the Knicks once trade deadline day ends next Wednesday. The New York Post's Marc Berman has more:
Carmelo Anthony said he doubts Wednesday’s game against the Thunder will be his last game as a Knick, but he wouldn’t guarantee it. Because he holds all the cards with a no-trade clause, he could have declared he’s not going anywhere.
However, the flip-flopping Anthony said he’s pretty certain he will be a Knick when they face the Cavaliers on Feb. 23 – hours after the trade deadline.
“I never thought I would be anywhere else,’’ Anthony said. “You was thinking that? You was writing about that?”
Told he had given himself an out, Anthony said, “I didn’t give any indication of that.”
Anthony repeatedly has said he would consider a move if Knicks management desperately wanted to rebuild.
Asked specifically if he has told the front office he won’t waive the no-trade clause, Anthony said: “No, like I told you all before, nothing came to me, nothing came to my table for me to look at. Until that time comes, then they don’t need for me to even talk about the trade clause.”
Anthony admitted he has talked to his family about the matter, but not extensively. The Knicks have held exploratory conversations with the Clippers, Cavaliers and Celtics. A source said the Knicks had just one conversation, from a while back, with the Cavaliers about Love.
Still, Anthony won’t declare he’s a Knick for life.
“You don’t know what can happen,’’ Anthony said. “I’ve seen a lot of things happen in this league over the year. I don’t know what’s going to happen or what can happen. Obviously we know what can happen over the next week. But I guess we’ll see when that time comes.”
Anthony was reminded that last February, he completely squashed any chances of him leaving town when a report surfaced about a three-team trade between Cleveland and Boston. Anthony said he did so because the report was erroneous.
“I squashed it because it was something me and my team hadn’t even heard about that,’’ Anthony said. “That’s why I was able to squash that.”
Anthony is no longer amused by the speculation. The Oklahoman ran a tongue-in-cheek column selling Anthony on OKC. (One positive would be GM Sam Presti doesn’t have a Twitter account.) The Thunder reportedly had some interest a few weeks ago.
“Every other day I’m on another team,’’ Anthony said. “I can’t squash all 29 of them. At this point, it’s just about letting it be and whatever happens is going to happen.
“We’re talking in circles now. I honestly think we’re talking in circles. Until something is imminent or something is worth looking at, there’s no need for me to talk about trade clause.”
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No. 2: Ginobili suffers ankle injury in win vs. Magic -- The San Antonio Spurs head into the All-Star break with a 43-13 mark and, perhaps, one injury to be concerned about while the wait out the rest period. Veteran guard Manu Ginobili injured his left ankle last night in a road win against Orlando and its unknown just how serious the injury is. Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com has more:
San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili was forced out of the Spurs' 107-79 win over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday in the third quarter due to what the club called a "left ankle impingement."
The severity of the injury wasn't immediately known, and the Spurs haven't announced whether the veteran will miss an extended period of time.
"I did not like the way he fell, and he wanted to come out," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He knew something was wrong there. So, we will see. Luckily we have a little bit of time here."
Ginobili appeared to roll the ankle driving toward the basket with 2:43 remaining in the third quarter. The injury didn't appear to be serious, and Ginobili left the game under his own power.
Fellow Spurs reserve David Lee said "the timing's as good as it can be" for a quick return for Ginobili.
"I'm not a doctor, but he looks like he's going to hopefully be OK," Lee said. "I know he was a bit frustrated. Luckily, it wasn't a two-point game and we have a break coming up. He's an old man similar to myself. So, it will be nice to have a couple of days [off]."
Spurs backup point guard Patty Mills wasn't sure about the severity of the injury, but he believes Ginobili left the game as a precautionary measure.
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No. 3: Loss shows Rockets' need for more guard depth -- Few if any preseason prognostications had the Houston Rockets rolling into the All-Star break with the third-best record in the NBA. Yet that's where they stand, even after last night's home loss to the Miami Heat. As Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com points out, the defeat showed one of the key weaknesses for Houston and raises a question of whether or not the team will address it before next week's trade deadline:
The reality is that the Rockets' 18th loss of the season isn't that big of a deal, especially when you consider the team has 40 wins and maintains the third seed in the Western Conference. What is important, though, is starting guard Patrick Beverley's departure.
Beverley suffered a left groin strain in the second quarter and sat out the second half. D'Antoni said he hoped Beverley would be OK once the Rockets return from the All-Star break next week. Losing Beverley didn't cost the Rockets this game -- low energy did -- but not having him for a long period going forward would expose the backcourt's lack of depth.
As the Rockets move toward the Feb. 23 trade deadline, general manager Daryl Morey must decide if someone is out there who can help them in a late-season push. Finding a big man, or stretch 4, doesn't seem to help matters for the Rockets. Having a guard to take the pressure off of James Harden as the ball handler does, and having a healthy Beverley would help.
Harden played 42 minutes Wednesday in recording his 15th triple-double of the season. He scored 38 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and had 12 assists. D'Antoni gambled by keeping him in the game with five fouls instead of giving him early rest in the fourth quarter, as Harden remained on the floor for all but 10 seconds of the final period.
With Beverley gone, D'Antoni used Harden with Corey Brewer in the backcourt as the Rockets tried to claw their way back in a game they never led.
D'Antoni doesn't trust guard Tyler Ennis, a player the Rockets acquired before the season, for extended minutes. D'Antoni inserted Brewer over Ennis to start the second half, which wasn't a surprise given the intangibles Brewer brings.
So as Beverley heals from his injury, Morey must decide if another guard is worth adding to this group.
"We have great chemistry in the locker room," D'Antoni said before the game regarding possible trades. "We got enough to win. I'm sure Daryl will be diligent as every general manager has to; answer the phone and talk, that's their job. I'm real happy with our group. We got a good group of guys. It's been fun, a lot of fun, to coach them."
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No. 4: Celtics' Bradley hoping to return next week -- Boston Celtics defensive ace and shooting guard Avery Bradley hasn't suited up since an Achilles injury took him out of the lineup in early January. He won't play in tonight's marquee matchup on TNT against the Chicago Bulls (8 ET) but is aiming for a return to action sometime soon. Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald has more:
“They’ve been playing well,” Bradley said before his mates defeated the 76ers, 116-108, last night at the Garden. “I don’t want to mess anything up but, selfishly, I do wish I was playing, it’s just part of it. Wish I could be around the guys but they have been playing well, I’m happy with how they’ve been playing. I’ve just been rooting those guys on and hopefully we can continue to play that same way and, when I’m added, hopefully I can help us out even more.”
Bradley missed his 18th game over a 19-game stretch last night due to his recovery from a strained right Achilles, and will also miss tonight’s game in Chicago. The hope of all concerned is that Bradley will be ready by next Thursday in Toronto, when the Celtics return from the All-Star break.
Bradley can at least say that he’s encouraged by how he feels, and that the pain is “completely gone.”
“I’m feeling really good. I wish I could be back now, but I just have to do whatever is smartest at the moment,” he said. “The medical staff thinks it’s smarter for me to just wait until after the All-Star break.”
Bradley has had several false positives, including his return four games after suffering the injury, only for the soreness to flare up. Two returns to practice produced the same reaction.
“They just want to be smarter about it. We don’t want any more setbacks,” Bradley added. “You could play a game and then miss another game, it’s just not very smart. And it doesn’t make me look good playing some games then sitting out the next game. It just made sense to just sit it out and make sure I get it strong enough so I’m able to play the rest of the year.”
To this point Bradley has had a minimum of actual basketball activity.
“I really haven’t done much. I’ve been doing more so conditioning and strengthening, upper body and lower body, just making sure I’m strong enough for when I do return,” he said. “Now we’re getting the basketball stuff in, so I’m hoping over All-Star (break) I can play some basketball and be ready for the first game.”
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No. 5: Okafor trying to make best of 'weird situation' -- Trade rumors surrounding second-year Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor have run hot and cold all season (and more recently, the last few weeks). Okafor rejoined the team for their game last night against the Boston Celtics and played some off the bench after not traveling with the team on the last few road games. Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer has more from Okafor, who opened up about his recent playing status:
Okafor did not play the last two games because of trade talks. Although those talks continue, the team is not as close to trading the second-year center as it seemed to be in recent days. Okafor did not travel with the team to Monday’s game in Charlotte or play in Saturday’s home game against Miami.
Teams sometimes keep players out of the rotation if a trade is imminent to avoid a deal-killing injury. The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 23.
“It was just a weird situation,” Okafor said. “I was just waiting to hear a phone call to say I was going to end up [in a certain] city. I just didn’t know what to expect. … Now, I’m back here.
“It’s just a weird situation for me. Something I never had to deal with.”
He’s not alone.
Brett Brown is in his fourth season as Sixers coach. He said there were times as a San Antonio assistant when the team would hop on a plane thinking a trade had been made involving a Spur. Then the Spurs would find out that a trade didn’t go through once they landed. There also have been times with the Sixers when Brown has been asked to sit players because a trade either happened or was about to happen.
“So this isn’t uncommon as it relates to the topic,” Brown said of sitting Okafor. “It is uncommon as it relates to the duration of time.”
But Okafor has remained positive. He said he did not view being the subject of trade talks as a negative.
“It was just the possibility for me being on a new team, getting a new start,” he said.
Okafor had been the subject of trade discussions with the New Orleans Pelicans, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, and reportedly the Portland Trail Blazers, among others.
A league source said Sunday morning that the Nuggets and Sixers were no longer having discussions about Okafor.
The location on Okafor’s Twitter page said “Chicago” on Sunday, fueling speculation that the Bulls were the front-runner to make a deal. However, he said Wednesday that he remained in the Philadelphia area to rehabilitate his sore right knee and work out at the practice facility.
“I don’t believe they are off,” Brown said of trade talks. “This particular one has not happened. The trade deadline is whenever it is. It’s probably fluid. The one that was the reason for us reacting to Jahlil not being with the team — very advanced discussions — did not happen.”
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