NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: ‘Melo feels bad for Amar’e — When Carmelo Anthony forced his way out of Denver and to New York during the 2011 season, the thinking was ‘Melo wanted to play in a major media market with perhaps more opportunities to advance in the playoffs as well. But aside from those factors, playing alongside Amar’e Stoudemire was a big draw for Anthony when the deal to the Knicks went down. Since coming to the Knicks, Stoudemire and Anthony have played just 99 games together (going 45-44) due to Stoudemire’s injuries preventing the big man from staying on the court for seemingly any prolonged period of time. Anthony told ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian Bagley that he feels awful for Stoudemire and his constant injury issues:
“As a friend, it’s hard for me to sit back and act like it doesn’t bother me because I know how hard of a worker he is [and] I know the time that he puts in the gym to train and rehab,” Anthony said Tuesday. “To see him go forward and then take some steps back every time, it’s just sad.”
Stoudemire will miss at least the Knicks’ first three preseason games as he works his way through another knee ailment. The 11-year veteran is working his way back from a knee procedure over the summer — his third in the past 12 months.
“I’m still getting stronger, still getting the legs strong enough to withstand the pressure of playing, but progress has been great so far,” Stoudemire said.
The six-time All-Star was limited to just 29 regular-season games in 2012-13 thanks to two separate knee procedures. He also had microfracture surgery in 2005.
Anthony sometimes wonders whether he’ll ever get to play with Stoudemire when he’s 100 percent healthy.
“Yeah, I think about it. I think about [it] sometimes,” he said Tuesday. “He was one of the reasons why I wanted to come to New York. So for me not to have that chance, the opportunity to get a full season in and get a rhythm going with him — it’s not something I thought would happen.”
The Knicks are 2-11 in the postseason when Stoudemire and Anthony are on the floor together, although the Knicks’ 1-2 mark last season is a bit misleading because Stoudemire was playing limited minutes.
Recent statistics aside, Stoudemire still believes he and Anthony can play well alongside one another.
He’s also proud of the improvements the Knicks have made during his tenure.
“Since I’ve been in New York, we’ve made great progress for the organization. We are a team to watch. We have more TV games now than we had before. But on top of that, we’ve been to the postseason every single year,” Stoudemire said. “And that was a part of my goal of coming here: to build something that will allow us to improve. Unfortunately injuries played a factor after I was here that first year. But I do envision myself getting healthy and being able to dominate as I once did before.”
No. 2: Dwight, Rockets strengthen bonds with each other — After losing their preseason opener at home against the Pelicans, the Rockets quickly set off for the Philippines as part of the NBA’s Global Games. Since landing overseas, Houston has spent more time with each other than they normally would have state-side, which has fostered some chemistry on the team. And, of course, having Dwight Howard belt out an R&B classic and show off his dance moves hasn’t hurt things either, writes our own Fran Blinebury:
In the daylight hours halfway around the globe, Dwight Howard is playing the role of a wrecking ball as he keeps sending his fellow Rockets big men away limping and bruised from practice. So far, Greg Smith, Donatas Motiejunas, Omer Asik and Terrence Jones have all workouts wearing ice packs, bandages and grimaces.
But away from the court, the All-Star center showed his mellow, playful side for guests of the Rockets as a singer and dancer at a reception in the team hotel.
Howard recruited rookies Isaiah Canaan and Robert Covington as his backup crew — Dwight & the Pips? — while he crooned his version of R Kelly’sI Believe I Can Fly and then showed off his footwork outside the low post as they did the Cha Cha Slide.
“I think traveling overseas on a trip like this is good for us at a time in our development,” said Rockets guard James Harden. “Here, 20 hours away, from home there’s a lot more bonding. It’s great for us. We’re so new to each other, so it’s the most important thing right now.
“Our chemistry has risen to another level as far as us hanging out outside of basketball. Whether it’s dinner, whether it’s us just going to the mall, doing small things like that, those are stepping stones to playing better on the court.”
No. 3: Report: Magic want to move D-League team to Jacksonville — As it stands today, the Orlando Magic’s NBA Development League affiliate is the Fort Wayne Mad Ants — a team it shares with the Bobcats, Pistons, Pacers, Grizzlies and Bucks. But the Magic, according to Don Cobble of the Florida Times-Union, have eyes on setting up their own D-League team in the much closer Jacksonville in the near future. The city of Jacksonville currently boasts the two-time ABA champion Jacksonville Giants and their owner, Ron Sholes, has hopes of making the switch from an ABA team to a D-League team soon. The holdups in the Magic getting a D-League team in Jacksonville, though, hinges on other there being three other future D-League teams in the Southeast U.S.:
The Magic, who will play the New Orleans Pelicans at 7, have an interest in moving its NBA Development League team to Jacksonville, team CEO Alex Martins said Tuesday.
“We’ve made it clear to the [NBA] league we’d like to make this happen,” Martins said.
Joel Lamp, of Jacksonville University’s business development and communications department, confirmed the city wants a D-League franchise and is working to make that happen.
… Executives with the Magic, Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Giants hope they can continue to work together to give the team a permanent place for players to rehabilitate from injuries and for younger players to get playing time.
“When I started the Jacksonville Giants, the five-year goal was to make the Giants a premier ABA team and to become a D-League single-team affiliate,” Giants owner Ron Sholes said. “We’ve talked with the city; they’re behind it. But it’s a process. It’s just a matter of getting the talks going.”
Martins said Orlando wants its own “hybrid” franchise so it won’t have to share players, coaches or administration personnel. He also wants his team’s D-League franchise to be closer to home.
“Right now we’re in [Fort Wayne, Ind.] and it’s so far away,” Martins said. “If we send someone there for rehab it’s hard to monitor them. Distance is an issue. It’s too far away.”
No. 4: Thibodeau always careful with statistics — The advanced statistics trend has ramped up in NBA discussions over the last few seasons and is at a fever pitch today as most teams have devoted numerous resources to mining data and finding an edge. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t knocking the trend of late, but as he tells the Chicago Sun-Times‘ Joe Cowley, he’s always been cautious about how much to invest into the stats movement, whatever it may be:
Tom Thibodeau quoted Winston Churchill.
It was just further evidence that when NBA coaches are cornered into discussing basketball analytics, anything can come out of their mouths.
“Churchill has a great quote that went something along the lines of he didn’t believe in any statistics that he didn’t doctor himself,’’ Thibodeau said. “I think there is a place [for analytics] in our league, and I think it’s good. It may be getting overplayed somewhat right now. I think the trained eye is very important, but numbers are a part of the equation.’’
While stats and numbers still play second fiddle to 23 years of coaching and watching for Thibodeau, he said he has been a student of analyzing numbers since he worked under former coach Bill Musselman his first few years in the NBA.
The dangers, however, are becoming obsessed with the numbers and basing full evaluations on them, or not understanding how to work the numbers so they give a coach or executive a true measurement.
“The biggest thing when you’re looking at statistics is comparing apples to apples,’’ Thibodeau said. “Often times that gets overlooked. So there is a biased confirmation. You can go into it and say, ‘OK, this is what I think,’ and you can get the numbers to confess to anything.’’
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Hawks lose reserve big man Gustavo Ayon for 4-8 weeks … Andris Biedrins is enjoying a fresh start with the Jazz … Rookie Archie Goodwin providing the Suns with some dreams of the future … Gregg Popovich wasn’t the toughest coach Manu Ginobili has played for
ICYMI of the night: Good ol’ Jarrett “Crusty” Jack comes up with a fantastic behind-the-back fastbreak dime to rookie Anthony Bennett …