Shootaround (Feb. 9): Carmelo Anthony reportedly may hold firm to stay with Knicks
Plus, more on the Charles Oakley skirmish, Kyle Korver's hopes to stay in Cleveland and more
Report: Anthony may stand firm on no-trade clause | Making sense of Oakley skirmish at MSG | Durant knows OKC departure ‘still hurts’ fans | Bucks hope for best with Parker | Korver wants to re-sign with Cavs
No. 1: Report: Anthony may stand firm on no-trade clause — The trade deadline is a mere two weeks from today and Carmelo Anthony has heard his names feature prominently in a variety of talks. Will he end up on the Cleveland Cavaliers in a swap for Kevin Love? Will he land on the LA Clippers in a swap for some spare parts? The beauty of all this talk for Anthony is he still holds the trump card in the situation — his no-trade clause. Marc Berman of the New York Post writes that Anthony may very well use that option no matter what deal comes along:
Carmelo Anthony has told confidants he may decide to wait out the old Zen Master, according to a source.
As the feud between star player and star president escalated Tuesday, Anthony was telling friends he may stand firm on his no-trade clause at the Feb. 23 trade deadline and see what 71-year-old Phil Jackson decides to do with his career.
“He still feels it’s his team and still loves it here,’’ the source said of Anthony.
In Jackson’s Tuesday tweet, he endorsed an anti-Anthony column suggesting he’s not “a winning superstar’’ and compared him to NBA bust Michael Graham. Jackson tweeted in part: “I learned you don’t change the spot on a leopard with Michael Graham in my CBA daze.”
Jackson has an opt-out clause in his contract at the three-year mark. There’s conflicting reports whether that means his March 19 anniversary or this season’s end. It is also unknown if Jackson would get some form of buyout package if he exercises the clause.
After another Knicks loss, Anthony, obviously still perturbed, issued a few good one-liners, taking issue with the leopard comparison.
“I definitely wasn’t googling who Michael Graham was,’’ Anthony said. “I was upset he got the animal wrong. I’m not a cheetah. I’m black jaguar.
“I’m done asking why. I don’t need an explanation. I’m beyond the point of it bothering me.”
Anthony wouldn’t tip his hand and reveal whether this escalating feud would make him more likely to waive his no-trade clause.
“I’m in that building every day until something is said to me directly I’m not going to feed into it,’’ Anthony said.
Anthony denied Jackson has even attempted to change his game. When asked if he still trusts Jackson, Anthony said, “I did say that once. I trust the process.’’
Yahoo Sports reported Anthony’s determination to remain with the Knicks is hardening in the wake of Jackson’s folly.
“[Jackson’s] underestimating Melo’s willingness to stay,” a Yahoo source said.
As Berman notes, here’s the story from The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski about Anthony’s resolve to stay put in New York:
New York Knicks president Phil Jackson’s public campaign to pressure Carmelo Anthony into waiving his no-trade clause is working to harden Anthony’s resolve to remain with the franchise, league sources told The Vertical.
“[Jackson’s] underestimating ‘Melo’s willingness to stay,” a source familiar with Anthony’s thinking told The Vertical.
Anthony has privately told teammates, too: He refuses to let Jackson run him out of the Knicks. The Knicks have contacted three teams – the Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers – about possible Anthony trades. The Clippers and Cavaliers have interest, but only in cobbling together packages that include role players, league sources told The Vertical.
Anthony has privately indicated an interest in listening to trades to those three teams, but the Knicks have been unable to find a trade package that they’re willing to accept, sources said. The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 23.
Boston’s shown minimal interest in Anthony, preferring to continue its pursuit of persuading Chicago (Jimmy Butler) and Indiana (Paul George) to engage in trade talks that involve two younger, more well-rounded stars.
There was an expectation around the NBA that Knicks management would start to search elsewhere for trade possibilities and bring Anthony different scenarios for his approval, but that process doesn’t appear to have begun, league sources said.
Anthony’s contract guarantees him $24.5 million this season and $26.2 million in 2017-18, and he holds a $30 million player option for 2018-19. Plus, the Knicks must pay Anthony a $9.5 million bonus if he is traded.
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No. 2: Report: Oakley says Dolan wanted him to leave MSG last night — If you somehow missed the in-game skirmish that erupted courtside between former New York Knicks star Charles Oakley and several Madison Square Garden security types, you can get up to speed on it here. Oakley was arrested for the incident and was later released by police shortly after midnight Eastern Time today. Frank Isola of the New York Daily News has more on the incident and what may have led Oakley to act out:
It was a crazy night at the Garden Wednesday, that saw a Knick legend hauled out of the arena by security, handcuffed and taken to jail in front of a stunned star-studded crowd just a few feet from Garden chairman James Dolan.
Charles Oakley, known for his physical style of play that made him an All-Star and helped the Knicks reach the NBA Finals in 1994, vehemently denied that he yelled at the Knick owner moments before being thrown out by several security guards.
Oakley told the Daily News moments after being released from Midtown South police station at around midnight that the Garden security asked him to leave because Dolan did not want him there.
“I was there for four minutes,” Oakley said late Wednesday night. “I didn’t say anything to him. I swear on my mother. They came over and wanted to know why I was sitting there. I bought the ticket. I said why do you guys keep staring at me. Then they asked me to leave. And I said I’m not leaving”
Oakley was confronted by security, forcefully shoving one guard and appearing to strike another before he was physically removed from the stands.
However, sources at the Garden and police sources dispute Oakley’s account of the altercation, saying the scuffle was provoked by the former Knick yelling at his longtime nemesis Dolan.
Oakley was asked by several members of Garden security to leave, and then was seen shoving the swarming security guards – not far from tennis legend John McEnroe and with Dolan standing nearby in a maroon scarf.
Oakley was then escorted through the tunnel, taken to the floor by NYPD, and cuffed. According to police, Oakley was charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault, one of criminal trespass. A source said that Oakley declined legal representation because he was only hit with a desk appearance ticket. He was released from the Midtown South precinct at around midnight by police and snuck out the back door and into a black SUV, avoiding the waiting press outside.
ESPN.com’s Ian Begley also reports on the incident and provides a look at what may be next for Oakley with his arrest charge:
Knicks president Phil Jackson came out to try to calm down Oakley, who was yelling about Dolan and telling security he wasn’t going to move as they handcuffed him outside the tunnel leading to the court. At one point, Oakley was on the ground surrounded by police and Madison Square Garden security.
Fans chanted “Oakley! Oakley!” in support of the popular former power forward, as players from both teams turned to watch.
“I stopped, and then there was an inbounds play on the side. I turned around just in time as he was handing it to him, and then there was a foul. I walked back to catch the third, fourth and fifth rounds,” Clippers forward Blake Griffin said. “It was crazy, man.”
Knicks star Carmelo Anthony said he saw what happened “from afar.”
“I was kind of on the opposite end of the court,” Anthony said. “I just saw a commotion, guys standing up. I don’t really know kind of what happened, all the details.”
According to the NYPD, Oakley, 54, punched three male MSG employees — all of whom suffered minor injuries and refused medical attention at the scene — as he was being escorted out. He was charged with three misdemeanor counts of assault, all third degree, and one count of criminal trespass, a third-degree misdemeanor.
It’s the latest drama surrounding the Knicks, who lost their third game in a row, and it came just hours after first-year coach Jeff Hornacek said he expected as much when he took the job.
“I kind of, not was warned, but it was expected that it was going to be something all the time,” Hornacek said. “And it’s lived up to the billing. It’s been something all year.”
Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James appeared to voice his support for Oakley in an Instagram post Wednesday night.
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No. 3: Durant understands why fans are hurt in OKC — When LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat in the summer of 2010, Cavs fans in Ohio and across the world made their hurt feelings known in a number of (often unpleasant) ways. Such was true last summer when Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors after spending his entire career with the OKC franchise. As his first return date in OKC looms on Saturday (8:30 ET, ABC), Durant spoke with ESPN.com’s Marc Stein about that return to his former home:
“I had good relationships with everybody there,” Durant told ESPN’s Marc Stein in a SportsCenter sit-down that aired early Thursday after the Warriors’ 123-92 victory over the Chicago Bulls. “I was good to a lot of people, [and] they were great to me.
“No matter what goes on [Saturday night in OKC] — cheers, boos — I know that stuff will be remembered, and it’s something that I’m always going to remember. It’s a new chapter in my life. I’ve decided to move on. I know I’m making it sound as simple as that, but to me, that’s how I have to approach it. It’s just as simple as me moving on and turning a new page in my life. But for them, I know it still hurts for me to move on. They looked at me as their son. I was there since I was 19 years old, and I grew up there. So, like I said, I understand, man. It’s all a part of playing sports. It’s all a part of being a fan, so I embrace it all.”
“I’m looking forward to playing in that atmosphere,” Durant continued. “I’ve always been on — I’m gonna say the other side of the fence — where a lot of people have clapped and cheered for me as I walked out onto the court. So to be on the other side, it’s going to be different, but it should be fun.”
But Durant acknowledged that the reception he is likely to receive at Chesapeake Energy Arena is bound to be “more like LeBron James when he went back to Cleveland” as Wade’s new teammate with the Heat in the 2010-11 season.
“That’s what makes sports great,” Durant told SportsCenter. “That’s what makes fans a part of the team, a part of the organization. It’s that they’re loyal to their team, they’re loyal to that logo. Players come and go, coaches, GMs, but that logo stands forever. I know how important that is to those fans there in Oklahoma City. I was there. I was there for the first game [in OKC, after the franchise relocated from Seattle]. [I’ve] seen how they sold out every night, no matter how good the team was, no matter who was on the floor. So that means a lot to ’em.
“I know what I did wasn’t a popular choice, but I can respect how hard they ride for their team, how loyal they are to their team and to that logo.”
Durant has had monster games in Golden State’s two home wins over Oklahoma City this season, with scoring totals of 39 and 40 points. But he revealed in the SportsCenter conversation that it took him a full quarter in the teams’ first meeting Nov. 3 to stop thinking about the gravity of the occasion.
“It was hard to be myself ’cause I was just thinking about teammates, all the hype around the game, all the speculation, different rumors that came out, everybody’s trying to figure out why I left, make something out of nothing, basically,” Durant said. “I was thinking about all that stuff instead of just realizing, ‘Take that whole thing off once you step on the court.’
“In the second game, I was a little bit more comfortable, just knowing it’s all about the game of basketball for me. If I go out there and play and produce, all of that noise will start to quiet down. I gotta focus on court, focus on my game, prepare the right way and worry about basketball, instead of all the fake drama that comes with this lifestyle.”
As for his new team, Durant said of the huge expectations Golden State faces: “We’re in a lose-lose situation almost. We win a game, we’re supposed to win. If we lose a game, it’s the end of the world. If me and Draymond [Green] have a shouting match, then all eyes are on us, even if we planned that, even if we are trying to fire each other up. We can’t be a normal team because of a decision I made. And I know how it is. That’s just a part of the business. That’s why we get paid the big bucks. And that’s why so many people admire us and look up to us, because we gotta go through the criticisms as much as the praise, and I get it. I understand it. It’s all a part of it.”
No. 4: Bucks hoping for best in wake of Parker’s injury — Just about a month ago, the Milwaukee Bucks were 18-18, in the thick of the playoff chase in the Eastern Conference and awaiting the return of shooting guard Khris Middleton from hamstring surgery. Fast-forward to last night and Middleton did indeed return (five points, two rebounds and two assists in 15 minutes), but the Bucks are falling from the playoff chase and, to add insult to that, saw forward Jabari Parker land awkwardly on his left knee in a loss to the Miami Heat. Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has more on Parker’s injury (which requires an MRI today):
Parker injured the same knee that required surgery during his rookie season when he suffered a torn left anterior cruciate ligament in a December 2014 game against the Phoenix Suns.
The Bucks termed the injury on Wednesday a sprained left knee but the severity of the injury was not determined. An MRI exam is scheduled Thursday, Bucks general manager John Hammond said.
Bucks players were very concerned about Parker after his injury.
“When he asked for a second, that’s when I realized it was serious,” Bucks center Greg Monroe said. “Coming back from his previous injury and how hard he worked, I know he doesn’t want to be back in that situation.
“I’ll be praying for him. Hopefully, it’s not bad.”
Monroe said the players were able to talk to Parker before he left the building. “He looked even more explosive coming back than he did before,” Monroe said. “It’s just scary for him right now. When I talked to him, he was being upbeat; he was being strong. I just know when you injure something and it’s in that same area it’s scary for anyone.”
Bucks center John Henson said, “I’m very concerned, man. Jabari, just to see him go down with an injury, it sucks. We hope it’s just a sprain. That’s what we’re all praying for.
“When it rains, it pours, man. We’ve got to fight our way out of this.”
Henson and other Bucks players ran out on the court after Parker was injured, and Henson and Michael Beasley helped him get off the floor.
“He was yelling the whole time, ‘I just hyperextended it. It’s cool. I’m good.’ Hopefully, that’s what the case is,” Henson said.
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No. 5: Korver hoping to stay with Cavs next season — When he first got word he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, former Atlanta Hawks shooting guard Kyle Korver had some mixed emotions. Of course he was happy in one regard to join the Eastern Conference’s top team (and one that has a more than solid chance at another NBA Finals berth). On the other hand, he was sad to leave a place he had forged ties with. But Korver is settling in nicely with the Cavs and told Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon he hopes to re-sign with them in free agency this summer:
Kyle Korver hasn’t given much thought to his free agency this summer, but, yes, he’d like to re-sign with the Cavs.
“I mean, who wouldn’t want to play with the best players in the world,” Korver told cleveland.com.
Korver is playing out the last of a four-year deal he signed with the Atlanta Hawks in July, of 2013, for about $5.2 million this season. He turns 36 on St. Patrick’s Day and, like James, is in his 14th season. Korver told cleveland.com he’d like to play for another two or three seasons beyond this one, and said he has grown comfortable with the Cavs over his first month with the team.
“I know they (the Cavs) will have a lot of decisions to make this summer, with tax implications and things like that, but, yeah,” Korver said.
Cleveland already has the highest payroll in the NBA at nearly $130 million, and it may grow over the coming weeks through trades and free agency. The luxury tax line is $113.3 million — so the Cavs are way over that — and the salary cap (not the luxury tax) for next season is projected to be $102 million.
Korver, James Jones, Jordan McRae, and Chris Andersen will be free agents this summer. The roster could change depending on any trades made up to the Feb. 23 deadline.
A 3-happy organization, Korver gives the Cavs more of what they like, as well as a serious scoring threat off the bench. They have so many 3-point options, from Irving (who’s in the 3-point contest over All-Star weekend), to Kevin Love, to Channing Frye and Iman Shumpert and even James (37.6 percent). But when J.R. Smith returns from thumb surgery, they’ll have all-time-great 3-point shooters in him and Korver with each unit.
“Korver is in a league of his own,” James said. “And J.R. is in a league of (their) own as well. … We’re happy to have (Korver). Every time that ball is released out of his hands, we believe it’s going in.”
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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The Houston Rockets may be interested in trading for the Orlando Magic’s Serge Ibaka … The Milwaukee Bucks have purchased an NBA D-League Team that will begin playing in the 2017-18 season … Former Slam Dunk Contest champion Nate Robinson inked a deal with the Delaware 87ers yesterday … Phoenix Suns rookie Dragan Bender had surgery on his ankle and will miss 4-6 weeks … Denver Nuggets big man Kenneth Faried sprained his ankle last night against the Atlanta Hawks …