This morning's headlines:
'Melo looking toward the door -- While the Knicks want to hit the pause button, Carmelo Anthony is now looking forward to moving on to a life outside of New York. As team president Steve Mills and newly named GM Scott Perry want to sit down with the 10-time All-Star, Anthony is setting his sights on joining the Rockets, says Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Whatever stance a post-Phil Jackson front office is taking now, Anthony expects the Knicks to resume trade talks soon and honor the franchise's long-standing goal to rebuild without Anthony, league sources said.
Anthony, 33, has been willing to waive his no-trade clause for Houston and Cleveland, but in recent weeks, he has begun to prioritize a trade to the Rockets to join Chris Paul and James Harden over the Cavaliers and LeBron James, league sources said.
With Perry's hiring from Sacramento and the promotion of Steve Mills to president, the Knicks have paused those trade discussions, in part because New York has been unhappy with the recent proposed returns on an Anthony deal, league sources said.
As Perry starts to shape the front office and impact policy, another realization has washed over the organization -- that the months of organizational harping on Anthony, driven largely by deposed president of basketball operations Jackson, has dramatically devalued Anthony's trade value. Mills and Perry are evaluating whether it's worth allowing time for Anthony's standing around the NBA to be rebuilt, as opposed to trading him at an all-time low, league sources said.
Harden wants to retire as a Rocket -- After signing the richest contract extension in NBA history, James Harden says he wants only two things — to win a championship and retire as a Houston Rockets. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle has the details:
"It's rare that you feel so welcome, that you feel like you're at home and feel like every single day you wake up to go to work and have people around you to motivate you, that push you to be better, that you love to be around," Harden said. "That's another reason I signed the extension.
"I don't want to go anywhere. I don't want to deal with free agency. I know where home is. I know where I want to be. I know where I want to retire ultimately. And I know where I want to win a championship. Everything is going to happen in Houston.”
Gobert is center of new Jazz plan -- As soon as Gordon Hayward announced his decision to move to Boston, the Jazz franchise could have folded its tent and gone for a total teardown and rebuild. But Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune reports that thought never crossed the mind of Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey, who now plans to construct a championship contender around big man Rudy Gobert:
"We feel like we can build defensively around Rudy Gobert," Lindsey told The Tribune. "We look at him, and he's a top 10 player and unique defender. So we wanted to build a team around his talents."
Welcome to the new-look Utah Jazz. They won't be the Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets, two teams that can score in bunches. But the Jazz project as a potentially elite defensive team, one with a bevy of defensive playmakers surrounding Gobert in the middle.
Lindsey knew replacing Hayward's 22 points a game figured to be impossible. Hayward's decision to make the jump to the Boston Celtics came too late in the free agency period for Lindsey to jump on the market to sign a scorer.
So he did the next best thing. He signed Thabo Sefolosha, Jonas Jerebko and Epke Udoh. The three are veterans, plus defenders and unselfish players who will fit seamlessly into coach Quin Snyder's ball-moving offense.
The signings make the Jazz a deep team. They are a team hoping to qualify for the playoffs in the ultra-competitve Western Conference. But they will have to be functional offensively, and that's where the questions will have to be answered.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: It's a Philly dream matchup: The Answer vs. Dr. J ... Pat Riley's solution for the tanking problem is a lottery playoff tournament ... Kendrick Perkins hopes you and the NBA haven't forgotten him ... The other shoe could be on Lonzo Ball's foot if the price is right ... Andre Roberson talked about his new contact and the sometimes tricky art of tipping in the age of Twitter ... You really didn't think LaVar Ball was done lobbing bombs at Joel Embiid, did you?