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NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Anthony leaning toward leaving? — The Carmelo Anthony winds will probably blow in a few different directions over the next few weeks. Right now, they’re blowing toward Chicago and Houston, according to Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski:
New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is leaning toward leaving in pursuit of immediate championship contention, and awaits the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets to clear the necessary salary-cap space to sign him in free agency, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
As re-signing with the Knicks continues to fade as his priority, Chicago and Houston have emerged as the clear frontrunners to acquire Anthony, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Anthony’s meeting with Knicks officials on Friday night had little impact on his state of mind, league sources said, because there remain too many uncertainties about how quickly president Phil Jackson can reshape the team into a championship contender.
Chicago and Houston front-office executives are working diligently on contingencies to clear the space to sign Anthony outright – or engage sign-and-trade scenarios with New York, sources said.
No. 2: Monroe hoping for options — The Detroit Pistons will be an interesting team to watch this summer. Stan Van Gundy has taken over basketball operations and he’s got to decide if he can improve the team enough as a coach or if major roster changes need to be made. One variable is restricted free agent Greg Monroe, who spoke with the New Orleans Times-Picayune‘s Nakia Hogan about hitting the market in July:
“I’m hoping and praying that I will have some options,” Monroe said without divulging any potential landing spots. “As it looks right now I will have some. But I am just preparing myself and doing the normal things that I would around this time, working out. And on July 1, I’ll be with my agent and we’ll go through the process together.”
Returning to the Pistons isn’t out of the question. Stan Van Gundy, their recently hired coach/president, has said he is a fan of Monroe. Van Gundy also has said that he can envision Monroe playing next to center Andre Drummond.
“I’ve been in communication with Van Gundy,” Monroe said. “I met with him and he understands the position I am in right now and I am going to go through the process. I haven’t met (new general manager Jeff) Bower yet. But I have met with Van Gundy and have kept in constant contact with him through text messages.”
Without giving it his full endorsement, Monroe believes he could fit in with Drummond and small forward Josh Smith to form a big front line.
The trio wasn’t a good fit last season. But Van Gundy could change that.
No. 3: LeBron looking to make history — No team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win The Finals. But eventually, some team will be the first. LeBron James wonders why it couldn’t be his team, as our Jeff Caplan writes:
The odds are heavily stacked against him. No team in league history has recovered from a 3-1 hole in The Finals to win the championship. The Spurs, after they arguably played as near to perfection during Games 3 and 4 in Miami as any team ever, have never lost a 3-1 lead in a playoff series with Gregg Popovich as coach. The Heat, so used to this script being flipped, have never faced such a deficit in the Big Three era.
So when the Heat take the floor at the AT&T Center for Game 5 on Sunday night (8 p.m. ET, ABC), James said his speech to his teammates will urge them to make the impossible possible.
“Why not us? Why not us?” James said. “History is made to be broken, and why not me be a part of it? That would be great. That would be a great story line, right?”
No. 4: Spurs not looking to walk away — With the San Antonio Spurs on the brink of their fifth championship, it’s natural for those of us on the outside to wonder if their older principles – Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Gregg Popovich – would take the opportunity to go out on top. But they all sound like they feel like they have at least another year or two of basketball in them. Our Fran Blinebury got the story after practice on Saturday:
Maybe it’s human nature. We like to write endings to other people’s stories.
But just because it might fit into a neat narrative, don’t think that the chance to raise another NBA championship trophy over their heads sometime in the next week should automatically mean Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will walk out the door and bring an end to the era of the Spurs’ Big Three.
“I don’t have any plans on doing anything,” the 38-year-old Duncan said Saturday. “I’m going to figure it out when it comes. I’m not saying I’m retiring. I’m not saying I’m not retiring. I’m not saying anything. I’m going to figure it out as it goes. I’ve always said if I feel like I’m effective, if I feel like I can contribute, I’ll continue to play. Right now I feel that way, so we’ll see what happens.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Mikhail Prokhorov says he isn’t interested in selling the Nets … who believe that Kevin Garnett will return for a second season in Brooklyn (and 20th season overall) … and Amar’e Stoudemire ain’t giving up $23.4 million (#notbreakingnews).
ICYMI of The Night: Tim Duncan sat down with Steve Smith to talk about the journey to his sixth Finals:
VIDEO: Steve Smith talks Finals and more with Tim Duncan