NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Olympic accomplishments lessen playoff sting for Anthony — As our John Schuhmann noted the other day, international teams far and wide know better than to mess with Carmelo Anthony in FIBA play (aka “FIBA Melo”). Anthony is the newly crowned all-time leading scorer in USA Basketball history, has two Olympic gold medals to his name and, if Team USA wins in Rio, will be the first U.S. player to win three golds. In an interview with ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, Anthony revealed how those overseas accomplishments help lessen the sting of his many, many playoff letdowns in the NBA:
As the accolades stack up for him in the international game, New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony says he has no trouble tuning out naysayers who want to take issue with his NBA résumé.
In an interview with ESPN at the Rio Olympics, Anthony insisted that the prospect of becoming the first U.S. male to win three gold medals in basketball more than eases the sting of an NBA playoff history that, to date, includes only one trip to the conference finals and just two trips total beyond the first round.
“Most athletes don’t have an opportunity to say that they won a gold medal, better yet three gold medals,” Anthony said. “I would be very happy walking away from the game knowing that I’ve given the game everything I have, knowing I played on a high level at every level: high school, college, won [a championship at Syracuse] in college and possibly three gold medals.
“I can look back on it when my career is over — if I don’t have an NBA championship ring — and say I had a great career.”
In his fourth Olympics, Anthony is now up to 293 points, 20 ahead of previous leader LeBron James, who has played in three Olympics.
David Robinson (270) and Michael Jordan (256) are third and fourth on the all-time U.S. list, respectively. Brazil’s Oscar Schmidt holds the men’s Olympic record of 1,093 points. But unlike Anthony, Schmidt didn’t have his minutes restricted while playing on powerhouse teams.
“He was wanting that moment,” Team USA forward Paul George said of Anthony’s performance against Australia. “He was special tonight. We joke about it, this being his farewell tour, but he was definitely special. He’s he reason we won this.”
A 13-year NBA veteran who has starred for the Knicks for the past six seasons, Anthony won gold with the United States in 2008 and 2012 after a disappointing bronze medal in 2004.
“Of course, because we play in the NBA that’s always the goal: to win an NBA championship,” Anthony said. “But every year [there’s] a new champion, so you have an opportunity to compete for a championship every year. This is every four years.”
No. 2: Hoiberg says he doesn’t foresee any ‘issues’ with Butler — Chicago Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg was faced with a fairly tough task in 2015-16, his first season on the job: get a team with a well-versed group of veterans over their long-sought Finals hump. That didn’t exactly happen as the Bulls went from Eastern Conference elite to out of the playoffs in the span of a few months. Since then, numerous roster changes have taken place as the team tries to build anew around All-Star guard Jimmy Butler. Hoiberg, for his part, says last season’s mini-tiff with Butler is an ancient memory and expects to have no problems with his new-look team. CSNChicago.com’s Vincent Goodwill has more:
He’s still dealing with being the man who replaced Tom Thibodeau as coach but in his second season, he believes he’s much more comfortable in his position and his adjustment to the scrutiny that comes with being in a large media market.
And with a roster makeover that featured Derrick Rose get traded to New York along with Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol leaving via free agency, perhaps he gets a second chance at a first impression after an up and down season that saw the Bulls miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
“We did have a lot of injuries but there’s no excuse for me,” Hoiberg said. “I’ve got to get them playing more consistent basketball. “
“We’ve got to be more consistent on a nightly basis and that’s on me.”
Hoiberg parroted what the Bulls front office has been saying since Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade have been brought aboard, highlighting the fact they made free agency additions without sacrificing some of the youth on the roster.
“Rondo is a point guard who I think will thrive in the system we like to run and then to get Dwyane, we didn’t have to give up any of the young pieces in the process,” Hoiberg said. “We’re able to stay competitive with players with championship experience. To pair those two guys with Jimmy Butler, it’ll be a dynamic and exciting backcourt.”
Figuring out how to handle three ball dominant perimeter players, including one in Wade where his minutes and workload will be monitored from Day One, will be among his biggest challenges he and the trio faces.
None are great perimeter shooters and Hoiberg has made no secret of wanting to play a fast pace offense where 3-pointers can fly early and often.
“It’s gonna take sacrifice,” Hoiberg said. “When you have guys who can put up big numbers every night, there’s gonna be sacrifice involved and guys will have to buy into their roles. It may not be your night every time you take the floor. But if everybody buys in, we have a chance to do a lot of good things this year.”
In context, no one can expect the Bulls to be the best team in the East, but people should expect a better working relationship between Hoiberg and Butler — especially when you factor in Wade’s presence in the locker room as a mature adult who won’t be fazed by little issues that seemed to plague the Bulls last season.
But Butler and Hoiberg have improved their relationship on their own, according to the second-year Bulls coach.
“Jimmy and I have had a lot of conversations,” he said. “There’s a lot of things (that happened) last year. The big thing was the comment after the New York game…We got it handed to us and the comment was made.”
In what has been repeated ad nauseam, Butler called for the mild-mannered Hoiberg to “coach us harder” after a two-game stretch in December that saw the Bulls lose a four-overtime game against the Pistons followed by getting waxed by the Knicks the next night.
It put Hoiberg in an awkward position of sorts and Butler received criticism for calling out his coach publicly. No matter where people sat in terms of the comments, it made for scrutinized co-existence that will only be more scrutinized until the wins start piling up.
“We had a lot of conversations and I don’t see any issues with Jimmy Butler and I,” Hoiberg said. “The biggest thing as a staff is we have 15 guys that we gotta coach and hopefully put them in situations and utilize their skill sets and get the most out of them.”
No. 3: Wolves rookie Dunn says he’s healthy after concussion in Summer League — The Minnesota Timberwolves were just starting to get a good look at what first-round pick Kris Dunn could do in the Las Vegas Summer League when injury struck. Dunn was limited to two games in Vegas after suffering a concussion and the Wolves played it safe with him. Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune caught up with Dunn recently, who said he’s doing much better and expects to be ready for training camp:
Wolves rookie point guard Kris Dunn, who played in just two NBA Summer League games last month after sustaining a concussion during early action — thus missing out on the young Wolves’ run to the championship game — said Thursday he’s healthy and back on the court.
Dunn, who is in New Jersey with other first-year league players for the NBA’s Rookie Transition Program, said in a phone interview Thursday, “I feel great. I’m back on court. I’m just working to get better for training camp, but I’m definitely back.”
When asked what he thought his role on the Wolves might be this season — starter? sub? — Dunn said he is prepared for whatever happens. Ricky Rubio is the incumbent starter at point guard, while second-year guard Tyus Jones shined in Dunn’s absence during Summer League play. Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins also figure to combine to get heavy minutes in the first three spots on the court.
Dunn, the No. 5 overall pick in June’s draft out of Providence, made a splashy debut in Summer League, averaging 24 points in those two games before being sidelined.
“Just like any other time, when you’re coming from 8th grade to freshman year, you just want to prove yourself and work hard. Same thing when you’re going from high school to college,” Dunn said. “Whatever happens, happens. If I’m a starter or not a starter, I’m going to do whatever the coach needs me to do. I’m just here to learn.”
No. 4: Report: Noel ‘very open’ to trade from Sixers — The Philadelphia 76ers will have a pretty stacked frontline once they open training camp in a month or so. From All-Rookie first teamer Jahlil Okafor to rookies Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and Ben Simmons to third-year big man Nerlens Noel, the Sixers likely have more big men than there are minutes for all of them. According to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com, the Boston Celtics are interested in dealing for Noel if he becomes available:
Noel has not asked for a trade, but multiple league sources told CSNNE.com that he is “very open” to being traded if the Sixers decide to make that decision.
Another league source contacted by CSNNE.com on Thursday morning indicated that the Celtics still have a high level of interest in Noel but no deal is imminent.
When the Sixers drafted Ben Simmons with the No. 1 overall pick in June, that created a major logjam for Philadelphia’s frontcourt. Simmons joins a group that includes Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid.
With five young bigs who are all talented enough to play now, the Sixers will have little choice but to trade away at least one of them or potentially create a locker room with more disharmony.
Every NBA team knows that Philly has to deal at least one of their big men, which is why the Sixers’ discussions by and large have not been fruitful.
When asked by Sirius Radio as to whether he was comfortable going into the season with three centers (Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid), Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo replied, “Absolutely not.”
Colangelo added: “We’re not going to make a bad deal just to make a deal. I think we can be a better basketball team if we can distribute that talent better. Maybe take one of those assets and address other needs on the roster. I think right now it’s best to say we like all of them, we want to see if we can make the most out of each of them. At the end of the day, the reality says one has to go at some point but only when the deal is right.”
Will the right deal be struck with Boston, one of the teams Philadelphia had serious trade talks with on draft night?
It won’t be Noel’s decision to make as to where he could be traded to, but all indications are that he would have no problem becoming a Celtic.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: According to a report, the Toronto Raptors and GM Masai Ujiri are closing in on a lucrative extension … Great story from Chicago Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg about his fairly anonymous playing days with the Bulls … Miami Heat owner Micky Arison penned a confident open letter to the team’s fanbase … Former Los Angeles Lakers fan favorite Robert Sacre got an invite to New Orleans Pelicans training camp … Journeyman point guard Ronnie Price has reportedly reached a deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder … A super-early look at which teams will have cap space in 2017 …