Feb. 2 Shootaround -- Knicks reportedly still in pursuit of Cavs' Kevin Love
Report: Knicks pursuing Cavs’ Love | Jones says Chalmers would fit with Cavs | Stevens, Green help spark Celtics’ comeback | No minutes boost for Westbrook ahead
No. 1: Report: Knicks continue pursuit of Cavs’ Love — Where Carmelo Anthony will be after the Feb. 23 trade deadline is anyone’s guess. He holds the cards in the situation with his no-trade clause that will allow him to veto any deal the New York Knicks may concoct. The Knicks, though, are still trying to find where they may deal Anthony and have eyes for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ All-Star big man, Kevin Love. According to ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein, the Cavs would like to have Anthony — but not at the cost of losing Love:
The New York Knicks continue to pursue Kevin Love in advance of the Feb. 23 trade deadline despite the Cleveland Cavaliers’ unwillingness to part with the All-Star forward in a deal for Carmelo Anthony, according to league sources.
Sources said the Cavaliers, meanwhile, do maintain an interest in Anthony — which would pair him with Cleveland star and close friend LeBron James — but only if a deal can be struck without the league’s reigning champions surrendering Love.
ESPN first reported last week that the Cavaliers had rebuffed the Knicks’ attempts to swing an Anthony-for-Love swap.
The Knicks, sources say, have continued to engage the Cavaliers, LA Clippers and Boston Celtics in trade talks, believing those are all the teams Anthony would find appealing enough to surrender his trade-blocking ability if a deal could be struck.
The Knicks and Clippers, as ESPN first reported last week, have been searching for a third team to help them facilitate an Anthony deal.
That’s partly because New York, according to sources, is reluctant to take on the contract of Jamal Crawford in any trade, with the guard, who turns 37 in March, due to earn nearly $14.2 million in 2017-18 and guaranteed at least $4 million of his scheduled $14.5 million in 2018-19.
But another significant complication in a potential Anthony-to-L.A. deal is the 32-year-old’s 15 percent trade kicker, which would tack an extra $9.6 million onto the remaining value of his contract if a trade is completed. Because the Clippers are hard-capped this season — after signing Wesley Johnson to a full mid-level deal — league rules prevent Anthony from amending the trade bonus in a meaningful way to help facilitate a trade.
So the Knicks and Clippers realistically have no choice but to find a third team if they hope to make a deal happen, which would put longtime friends Anthony and Chris Paul on the same team.
Anthony is one of only three players in the league who possess a full no-trade clause alongside James and the Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki.
“I don’t know,” Anthony said Tuesday when asked what it would take for him to waive his no-trade clause. “It’s something I would have to think about. I think it’s more so what direction the organization wants to go. I’ve said this before: If they feel like they want to go in a different direction, rebuild and start fresh, then that’s something I will consider. I’ve always said that.”
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No. 2: Jones says Chalmers would be good fit with Cavs — Yesterday, LeBron James spoke out and said he is in favor of whoever the Cavaliers are bringing in for their open workout to find a backup point guard. While he has a connection with just about all the names on the list — Jordan Farmar, Mario Chalmers, Lance Stephenson and Kirk Hinrich — he didn’t favor one player over another. James Jones, a longtime James confidant/teammate since their days in Miami, pointed out to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com why Chalmers might be the best of the bunch for the Cavs to add:
Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue wouldn’t divulge too much information about the team’s four-player point guard workout, but Mario Chalmers’ presence at Cleveland Clinic Courts Wednesday afternoon has one of his former teammates thinking about a reunion.
“Of course,” James Jones told cleveland.com when asked about whether Chalmers would be a good fit. “I played with him and I won with him. I won championships with him and usually under pressure is where you can learn the most about a person and see how they deal with adversity so of course (he’s a fit).
“I’ve always been a Mario Chalmers fan and always will be. Not just because he’s an ex-teammate, but because he’s a good player.”
“He’s a player. People try to put you in a box and say you’re a shooter, defender, passer, but Rio is a player,” Jones said. “If you need him to shoot it he can shoot it. If you need him to make passes he can. If you need him to defend he can do all those things. But in big moments he’s fearless.
“He’s hard-headed at some points, hard-headed because he’s extremely confident in his skill set and the things he’s capable of doing because he works so hard. Great kid and brother to me also. Nothing but great things to say about him.”
During the 2015 season, Miami sent Chalmers to Memphis in a four-player deal. He was averaging a career-high 10.8 points with the Grizzlies before suffering a torn Achilles on March 9, and hasn’t played since. Following a lengthy rehab, Chalmers finally got cleared to resume basketball activities in August.
Jones stayed in touch with Chalmers throughout. He also tried to keep his spirits up, give the kind of advice that has helped Jones become one of the stronger voices in the Cavs’ locker room.
“We communicate from time to time,” Jones said. “Coming back from an injury is a lonely process. What I mean is that you spend a lot of time alone and learn a lot about yourself, but he’s doing well. He pushed hard, he worked hard to come back from that and he’s feeling well and moving well. I’m just glad that he’s back and doing what he loves, which is playing basketball.”
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No. 3: Stevens, Green ignite Celtics’ win — Thanks to his calm demeanor and sound on-court strategy, Celtics coach Brad Stevens has quietly driven Boston to the top of the Atlantic Division. But in last night’s showdown with the Toronto Raptors, Stevens wasn’t happy with his team’s first-half performance and got more than a little mad to get their attention. His technique — along with some words from reserve Gerald Green — worked as Boston rallied furiously in the second half for a 109-104 win, writes Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe:
“Honestly, Brad killed us at halftime,” Thomas said. “He yelled at us, probably the most mad I’ve seen him. And Gerald [Green] doesn’t shut up, so he was also talking and saying some words we needed to hear. Even though we still didn’t come out like we wanted to in the third quarter with that in the back of our heads, I think that changed the game for us.
“I think we played harder than them, we got the 50-50 balls, and I think that was the deciding factor.”
It shouldn’t take expletives from Stevens and chiding from Green to get this team going, but it did.
Green has become a veteran presence, one who constantly encourages his teammates. On the court, the season hasn’t gone as well as he had planned. He’s shooting 36.9 percent from the field and averaging 5 points per game. But what has kept him around is his influence in the locker room.
“I just had to let guys know, I thought that we were better than that,” Green said of the first-half performance. “We’re better than how we came out. Those guys played tremendous in the second half.”
He played six minutes Wednesday night and scored 2 points, but Green contributed greatly to the Celtics’ biggest win of the season, sensing his teammates were rather overconfident heading into the matchup.
“I’ve played a lot of basketball, here and overseas, and I think the guys respect my opinion a lot,” Green said. “I thought we were just too loose. And it’s OK to be loose, but I thought we were a little bit too loose. I had a feeling it was going to be like that. I kind of just got really mad and then Coach said the exact same thing. I said, ‘Come on, man. What the hell, man?’ I was hot because this was a very important game.”
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No. 4: Donovan won’t pump up Westbrook’s minutes — The Oklahoma City Thunder are hoping to hold onto their spot in the Western Conference playoff chase while reserve center Enes Kanter mends from his broken right ulna. While his absence means more heavy lifting on offense for superstar Russell Westbrook, it doesn’t mean coach Billy Donovan will amp up Westbrook’s minutes, too. Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman has more:
Entering Wednesday’s game at Chesapeake Energy Arena against the Chicago Bulls, Westbrook was averaging 34.7 minutes per game, which ranked 21st in the NBA. He played 29 on Wednesday in Chicago’s 128-100 blowout win.
“I think everybody here would agree that (Westbrook) plays with great energy and passion and intensity,” Donovan said before the game. “He sometimes needs a break, because if he doesn’t get a break or a necessary break, he’s not gonna be as efficient as a player, and I don’t think you’d be looking at the same player that you’d normally be looking at.”
Westbrook entered Wednesday leading the NBA in scoring at (30.7 points per game) and field-goal attempts (23.8) and tied for second in assists (10.3).
He’s doing his part. Donovan doesn’t need to see Westbrook do more.
“Even moving players around to different positions,” Donovan said. “I think you have to do that. The biggest challenge for us and for me is the fact that over a long stretch of time, we found a really, really good rhythm and we’ve created an identity with Enes. And now with him being out, we’ve got to create a different identity.”
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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: As trade talk swirls around him, Carmelo Anthony has raised his game of late … According to a report, the Detroit Pistons may be looking to trade Boban Marjanovic and/or Aron Baynes … Don’t look now, but the Indiana Pacers are on a little road winning streak … Minnesota Timberwolves youngster (and former No. 1 overall pick of the Cleveland Cavs) Andrew Wiggins doesn’t ponder what his career might have been like in Cleveland … Speaking of the Cavs, coach Tyronn Lue will have his jersey retired at his alma mater, Nebraska, tonight … Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy says the team won’t make a trade out of desperation … The Milwaukee Bucks could get Khris Middleton back in the lineup once their road trip West ends … The Chicago Bulls’ youngsters are bonding with Rajon Rondo …