Blogtable: Carmelo a Knick for life?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

BLOGTABLE: Paul George the PF? | Do you believe Carmelo? | Is it time to deal D-Rose?

VIDEOCarmelo Anthony chats during training camp

> Carmelo Anthony says if things don’t work out in New York, he wouldn’t ask for a trade. Do you believe him? Where would you trade Carmelo if he and the Knicks can’t get on track?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Believe him? Today yes, tomorrow not so much. Four more years is an eternity, especially for an aging drama king who is out of sync with New York’s current rebuilding initiative. His and the Knicks’ arrows are trending in opposite directions and, at some point, it isn’t going to be pretty. If I needed to trade Anthony, I’d labor mightily to make it Brooklyn, where it wouldn’t disrupt his lifestyle and all the other ancillary stuff that was so important to him when he re-signed. Or Philadelphia, just because.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Actually, I think I do believe him. Anthony has demonstrated that he’s mainly interested in being the big Broadway star with his name getting top billing on on the marquee while taking most of the shots. He can only do that by remaining in New York. Ka-ching!

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.comOf course he should be believed! How dare you suggest people ever say something for public consumption and something different behind closed doors. The fair answer is that I believe him at the moment. There is no way for anyone — including Melo — to know what he will be feeling in a year. So much can change. Maybe the team is still losing. Maybe the team is going in a positive direction but with Anthony in a supporting role he does not want. But I believe he wants things to work out in New York. It’s where he wanted to be, twice.

Shaun Powell, NBA.com: He won’t ask for a trade perhaps because Mrs. Melo doesn’t want to live anywhere else, and neither does Carmelo. There are too many external factors (endorsements, visibility, social ramifications) at stake. He wants his identity tied to NYC and if he didn’t, he would’ve signed with the Bulls a few summers ago. From the Knicks standpoint, regarding a trade, I’d never elevate a player above the team. If shipping him makes sense, I’d ship him.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Believe him? Yes and no. He fought hard to get to New York and probably wants to give it as much time as he can possibly stand. Still, it’s hard to imagine the Knicks being a very good team anytime soon and Anthony could certainly change his mind in time. If he were to be traded, I’d guess that Chicago and L.A. (Lakers) are the most likely destinations, because his no-trade clause gives him the right to choose exactly where he’d go. Dark-horse pick: The Wizards if they miss out on Kevin Durant next summer.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: Careful Carmelo. Your words now, when the season is still young enough that the Knicks can dream a little dream about being a playoff contender, could come back to haunt you if things go awry again this season. It doesn’t matter whether I believe him or not, because if things get ugly Carmelo won’t have to ask for a trade. The pressure will be on all sides to do something, either with Carmelo or someone else. As far as trading him, I can think of a team on the other side of the country that could be in desperate need of a player with Melo’s abilities. But I can’t imagine who or what the Lakers would have that the Knicks would want in a trade …

Ian Thomsen, NBA.comI believe the future is unpredictable. Who knows how the Knicks will develop cover the next couple of years? I also believe that Anthony went through a trade demand once before, in Denver, and it was not a happy year for him, so he would probably like to avoid the same predicament as he approaches the back end of his career. Bottom line is that I just don’t see the Knicks trading Anthony – if they did, their next move would be to find another star of his caliber, and good luck there. They know the supply is scarce.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blogWell, he can’t ask for a trade without getting fined, right? At least not publicly? Carmelo may never actually “ask” for a trade, but I suppose he could strongly suggest the Knicks move him, or just straight-up privately ask for a trade. Anyway, this is just semantics. He clearly could see what was on the horizon when he re-signed with the Knicks, so to suggest now that he’s unhappy or surprised by the direction of the team would seem disingenuous. It’s like a time-share presentation: He knew what he was getting into when he signed up. And there’s no easy way out of it now. Go see a show in midtown, have a nice dinner downtown, ride your bike along the West Side … New York is a pretty great pace to live, regardless of how good the Knicks are.

McDermott thrives in first glimpse of Bulls’ ‘Hoiball’ offense

VIDEO: Butler, McDermott lead Bulls past Bucks

CHICAGO – Already, they call it Hoiball.

OK, maybe that’s not the most descriptive or exciting appellation for the Chicago Bulls’ revamped offense under new head coach Fred Hoiberg. But it’s pretty decent shorthand for an attack with more pace, more reads, less emphasis on halfcourt sets and, from the glimpse offered in their first preseason game Tuesday night at United Center, a whole bunch of 3-point shots.

The Bulls hoisted – Hoistball? – 39 of them in beating Milwaukee, becoming more accurate as the game went on and not at all more shy; Chicago was 3-of-20 from long range in the first half, then 10-of-19. That fueled a second half in which the Bulls scored 68 points. And while they did it with four of the Bucks’ starters idle after halftime, they also did it with five rotation guys of their own not participating.

The big beneficiary was Doug McDermott, the second-year forward from Creighton whose forgettable rookie season was waylaid by knee surgery, blown assignments and a gruff Tom Thibodeau not inclined to force-feed him. McDermott was 0-for-5 at halftime, then went 8-of-14 the rest of the night, hitting five of his last eight 3-pointers.

“It’s a blast,” McDermott said of Hoiball. “Coach Hoiberg makes it a lot of fun for us. It’s just ‘Move the ball real well and be unselfish.’ Coach won’t pull you out of you have a bad shot. He just lets you play your game.”

McDermott had searched for his long ball at the Summer League in Las Vegas, missing 14 of his 16 attempts there in July. His start Tuesday continued that bad trend until he and his teammates snapped him out of it.

“Even though he started off 0-for-whatever,” Jimmy Butler said, “we all told Doug at the half, `Hey Doug, that’s what you do. You put the ball in the basket. Don’t be scared to keep shooting the ball.’ He did just that. You saw the outcome of it.”

Said Hoiberg: “He’s one of those guys, every time he shoots, you think he’s going in. But when he stands right on the line, he’s not as effective as when he’s getting a little momentum going into it. … When he gets that 1-2 rhythm step into his shot, he generally shoots it better.”

For Hoiberg, this debut as the Bulls head coach came 16 years after he made his first appearance as a Chicago player, joining the team in 1999-2000 for what would be four seasons. His most vivid memory back then was being pranked by Bulls veterans, who let the new guys run onto the floor without following. This time, Hoiberg was most noticeable for the amount of time he spent sitting, turning the VIP seats adjacent to the Bulls bench into unobstructed views compared to his predecessor.

He felt the players loosened up and got better giddy-up into their git-along in the second half. The abundance of 3-pointers – more than Chicago shot in all but two of its 82 games last season – might wane once Pau Gasol is back in the post and Derrick Rose is attacking the basket. But there were some elements that the Bulls hope will be constants in Hoiball.

“The spacing that we have, you’ve got shooters everywhere on the floor,” Butler said. “So a lot of driving gaps. A lot of chance for isolation. And then of course, getting up and down in transition. I think it fits everybody’s game, not just mine.”

Report: Nash may join Warriors

VIDEO: Warriors set to add Nash to tutor guards

Steve Nash is close to joining the Warriors as a part-time player development consultant, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com.

The sides are in “advanced negotiations” and “in the process of finalizing a deal that essentially will make Nash an occasional tutor to the Golden State guards,” Stein reported, citing sources. The two-time MVP, who retired in March after struggling for years with nerve issues in his back that ruined his time with the Lakers, had already been working out in an unofficial role with several NBA players, including Jordan Clarkson, Jeremy Lin, Dante Exum, Kemba Walker and C.J. McCollum.

The job would be formalized with Golden State under the proposed arrangement. Nash was not previously planning to go into coaching, but apparently was convinced by Warriors coach Steve Kerr, assistant Bruce Fraser and president Rick Welts — all of whom had built a strong relationship with Nash when they were together in Phoenix — to spend a few days a month with the defending champions. That schedule was obviously more appealing than a full workload.

From Stein:

Sources said as recently as late June — when Nash played in longtime teammate Dirk Nowitzki’s annual charity baseball game — the Dallas Mavericks were still hoping to lobby Nash to consider unretiring and reuniting with Nowitzki as a spot-duty point guard for the coming season. ESPN.com reported in March that the Cleveland Cavaliers — at the behest of Cavs general manager David Griffin and former Cavs exec Raja Bell, also former Nash colleagues in Phoenix — likewise tried last season to persuade Nash to push for a buyout from the Lakers that would allow him to team up with LeBron James in Cleveland as a third point guard.

But Nash has been adamant since October that if he were physically able, he would play for the Lakers only. Nash ultimately was limited to 65 regular-season games in two seasons in L.A. thanks to a stubborn and debilitating nerve condition that has plagued him since he suffered a broken left leg in his second game as a Laker on Oct. 31, 2012.

Not that Warriors guards need a lot of direction — Stephen Curry is the reigning MVP, Klay Thompson is an All-Star and member of Team USA, and Shaun Livington and Leandro Barbosa are experienced backups. Kerr, while general manager of the Suns, attempted to trade before the 2009 Draft for the pick that would become Curry, hoping to pair the rookie with Nash in the Phoenix backcourt. Around the same time, then-Golden State coach Don Nelson compared rookie Curry to Nash in their ability to shoot with range and accuracy while playing point guard in up-tempo systems without being elite athletes. And now the pairing may finally happen in an unexpected alignment in 2015.


More Moses memories, pre- and post-NBA

VIDEO: Moses Malone career retrospective

It’s been a couple of days since Moses Malone died unexpectedly at age 60 Sunday in Norfolk, Va. Even in this era of 24/7 news coverage, some of the appreciations and remembrances of the legendary NBA center still are getting posted and published. One, from the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, provided some details of Malone’s passing and cause of death (hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease), along with a glimpse into Malone’s recent post-NBA life. Another, by L.A. sports columnist Mark Whicker, recalled the clamor-bordering-on-uproar generated when Malone, intensely recruited as a high school senior, decided to skip NCAA basketball entirely.

First from the Times-Dispatch:

On Tuesday, Malone visited a doctor in Houston, where he lived. Malone was working out when he felt his heart skip a beat. The doctor found nothing wrong, but gave Malone a heart monitor. When Malone was found Sunday, he was wearing his heart monitor.

Police and EMS responded, and they told [Malone’s best friend Kevin] Vergara that Malone probably died of in his sleep.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for Virginia said Malone died of natural causes. The cause of death was listed as hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

“He was always very health-minded,” said Vergara, who noted Malone didn’t drink or do drugs, and skipped sodas and fried foods in favor of grilled chicken, fish and salad. “He’s vigorous about working out.”

Even when Malone traveled, he frequently rose early and visited the hotel fitness center. So when Malone didn’t show up at breakfast at 6 a.m. Sunday morning, no one was worried at first. When he didn’t answer his phone, Vergara went to his room and knocked on the door. Still, there was no response.

Vergara obtained a room key from the front desk. He tried to open the door, but the latch was locked from the inside. That’s when he knew something was wrong.

The story, by Richmond reporter Eric Kolenich, also mentioned Malone’s girlfriend Leah Nash, their 6-year-old son Micah and his two older sons Moses Jr. and Michael. It also spoke of the Malone’s friendships.

“We talked every day, literally,” Vergara said. Even though Malone lived in Houston and traveled frequently, and Vergara remains in Hopewell, they kept in constant contact, often talking about Moses’ love of the Dallas Cowboys and Vergara’s love of the Washington Redskins. As Malone’s mother aged, Vergara cared for her.

And Vergara got to know Malone better than most. Malone had a reputation of not being very smart. But that wasn’t the real Malone, Vergara said.

“He is very smart,” Vergara said. “He was a shy person, but when he got to know you he opened up. And he knows the game. … He would have been a good coach.”

But that wasn’t the route Malone took. Instead, he spent retired life doing speaking engagements and playing in charity golf events. He was still under contract with Nike, which occasionally sent him on trips. He worked out, but he didn’t play basketball much anymore. Golf became his sport of choice.

On Sunday, he was scheduled to play in NBA referee Tony Brothers’ golf event to support single mothers. Malone had participated each of the past six or seven years.

Malone talked about operating his own charity golf event in Petersburg. Vergara says he might start one in Malone’s memory.

Whicker wrote about Malone as a highly sought prep star who ultimately disappointed all of college basketball by signing directly with the ABA Utah Stars. Within two years, he was tearing up the NBA, averaging 25.5 points and 14.1 rebounds through his first nine seasons in the league (1979-87), numbers that no player has matched in a single season since then.

Malone, elected to the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2001, wound up as one of four high school-to-NBA stars who won both NBA championships and Most Valuable Player awards (three in Malone’s case). The others: Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. But in simpler media times, when word-of-mouth mattered, there was an undercurrent of excitement about Malone’s game and potential that stirred a frenzy among college coaches:

Malone somehow became as good as the college recruiters thought he was. New Mexico had a late-season game against Florida State, and assistant coach John Whisenant went from Tallahassee to Petersburg. And stayed. He was at the Howard Johnson motel until Malone signed in June, with Maryland.

Whisenant now works in commercial real estate in Albuquerque. Malone was his friend. After he signed, he drove to the hotel to tell Whisenant.

“I don’t know whose car it was,” Whisenant said Monday. “I know Moses didn’t have one. The whole thing was the most bizarre recruiting story you’ve ever seen.”

Whisenant would accompany Malone to high school all-star games, throughout the country, and then fly home with him. Malone would hang out at the motel before he went home. Together they watched Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run on TV. Sometimes Malone would bring his best friend Nathan, who was a manager on the high school team.

“They would sit there and sing,” Whisenant said. “Nathan was a great singer and Moses would do backup. They sang Motown songs. Sometimes I hear songs on the radio and think of those two.”

Malone and Nathan would take Whisenant to the Mouse Trap, the local nightclub, and Whisenant would sit there as the only white person in the place and think how far he’d come from Gore, Okla.

“I was trying to hold off the entire ACC,” Whisenant said. The Maryland people were everywhere. Lefty Driesell was an all-world recruiter. His obsessive assistant, Dave Pritchett, was known as Pit Stop. They would visit the hotel, too. That’s where Whisenant met an intense Detroit coach named Dick Vitale.

Sometimes Driesell would call Whisenant and imitate Malone, just for fun.

Driesell asked Malone who the toughest playground player in Petersburg was.

“Well,” Malone said, “there was The Milkman.”

Why did they call him The Milkman?

“Because he killed a milkman, man,” Malone replied.

The best part of that story is that it is possibly true.

Report: Raptors, Valanciunas discussing 4-year, $60M contract extension

Big man Jonas Valanciunas and the Toronto Raptors reportedly are in advance discussions on a contract extension, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, with terms said to be hovering in the DeMarre Carroll neighborhood of four years/$60 million.

As Robert DeNiro‘s character says in “Midnight Run,” that’s a very respectable neighborhood. It’s also a potential bargain for the 7-foot, 255-pound center’s services if the Raptors can lock him in before the salary cap bellows next summer, when Valanciunas would hit restricted free agency.

But, assuming this extension gets done, it won’t qualify as a steal unless the Raptors figure out better ways to deploy Valanciunas.

The big guy posted solid stats last season: 12.0 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.2 bpg in 26.2 mpg. His PER climbed from 15.9 in his first two seasons to 20.6. But he stuck out from much of what the Raptors did, or how they preferred to play, like the proverbial sore thumb. Their commitment to Valanciunas typically waned as games went on. Though he made 80 appearances, he played in the fourth quarter only 57 times and he averaged just 5.1 of his minutes in that period. His usage percentage in the first quarter: 22.7 percent. In the fourth: 17.0.

That’s why some close to the team could joke that, based on the first few minutes of games, Valanciunas seemed a lock some day to break Wilt Chamberlain‘s single-game scoring mark set that 1962 night in Hershey, Pa. Invariably, his involvement and production would fizzle fast, Wilt’s mark safe again.

There has been speculation that some personnel changes in head coach Dwane Casey‘s staff were made due to Valanciunas’ lack of progress. Hopefully, there’s truth to that, because if there isn’t, you’d hate to think that keeping a lid on him was all about keeping his asking price within reason.

Report: Embiid’s surgery set for Tuesday

When fans and media resort to arguing over the merits of having a season-ending surgery sooner vs. later, nearly three months before said season even begins, you know you’ve reached the dog days of the NBA offseason.

That debate provided the only real energy to what remains a drag of a story: Philadelphia center Joel Embiid reportedly will have surgery Tuesday on his right foot, according to Yahoo! Sports.

Embiid, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, had his rookie season wiped out by surgery to repair a stress fracture in that foot. Now the need for a second procedure, followed by his recovery and rehab, will wipe out his 2015-16 season as well.

A piece earlier this week on CSNPhilly.com provided some background on the delay between the 76ers’ official acknowledgement that Embiid would need additional surgery and when it actually will take place:

In early July, the Philadelphia Inquirer first reported that Embiid will require another surgery to address the navicular bone injury in his right foot. The team confirmed that report in a statement and said it anticipated “the procedure will take place in the next 7-10 days.” That was nearly a month ago, and Embiid has yet to have the surgery.

The holdup has led to speculation in the media. When asked about the delay, one source said it was partly because Embiid — who is 21 and who, according to president/general manager Sam Hinkie, has been pain-free — was coming to terms with the decision. The source indicated that Embiid and his confidants wanted more time to review the matter and select a doctor. A doctor has been chosen, though the source declined to provide that information.

The source said Embiid also reached out to Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant. The Thunder star underwent a bone graft on his right foot in late March. That surgery was performed at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, home to one of at least 12 doctors the Sixers and Embiid have so far consulted about Embiid’s hyper-complicated situation.

Whether the surgery took place last month or this month doesn’t seem to affect Embiid’s revised timeline, which will have him competing (maybe) for the NBA’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award at age 23 against rivals who, at the moment, haven’t moved into their freshman dorms yet. It might provide some third- or fourth-guessable grist for a Philadelphia rebuilding/tanking operation that’s been second-guessable for a while.

But it’s the middle of August, so as the memes like to say, “like if you think the Sixers waited too long, share if you think they timed Embiid’s surgery just right.”

Meanwhile, there’s this:

Morning shootaround — July 25

VIDEO: Harrison Barnes hangs out with FC Barcelona

Barnes wants long-term stay with Warriors | Hibbert looking to shape up in LA | Len thinks Chandler will help, not hurt, his career | Okafor excited to get started with Sixers

No. 1: Harrison Barnes wants long-term stay with Warriors The Warriors had a rather uneventful offseason from the standpoint of change. They didn’t add a big free agent or draft in the lottery, and their status quo was secured once Draymond Green inked an extension, which was expected. There’s a reason the Warriors didn’t look to change much: They did win the title and their core is mainly young with upside. If Harrison Barnes has his choice, he’d like to remain part of that nucleus when his deal comes up next summer. Barnes has played a useful role with the Warriors and while he’s not a star, at least not yet, he’d be in demand if he ever reached free agency. Here’s Barnes speaking to Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group

“I mean, we just won a championship,” Barnes said. “Of course I’d love to keep this group together for many years to come, you know what I’m saying? So that’s obvious.”

Barnes, 23, and the Warriors face an Oct. 31 deadline for getting an extension signed. If the sides cannot reach agreement by then, he is expected to become a restricted free agent at the end of next season.

Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob has most recently re-signed homegrown talent, giving Klay Thompson a four-year, $70 million extension and Draymond Green a five-year, $82 million contract. Barnes acknowledged that seeing his teammates get deals done gives him confidence.

“It’s a good fit,” Barnes said of the Warriors, who value the 6-foot-8 player’s versatility. “Obviously, you want to continue to get better. One thing Coach (Steve) Kerr and I talked about at the end of the season was just how can I get better in the spots I was used last year — post game, ballhandling more, bringing the ball up in transition and pushing, getting it to shooters, that type of thing. There’s a lot of obvious areas for growth and improvement, and this is a conducive system for that.”

Barnes said he would probably work with Warriors executive board member Jerry West again in Los Angeles after doing so last year on the heels of struggling in his second season in the league.

“The biggest thing for me is just to work on my game,” Barnes said. “Obviously you won a championship, and the goal is to do it again.

“This is obviously a big year for everyone. We have a young team. I think we still have a lot of room to grow, and we have to capitalize on that.”


No. 2: Roy Hibbert looking to shape up with the Lakers Last season wasn’t the best for Roy Hibbert. Matter of fact, it was rather costly from the standpoint of keeping him in Indiana. Pacers president Larry Bird made it clear that the team wanted to move on, and Hibbert soon made his way to the rebuilding Lakers. Crazy: Just a few summers ago, Hibbert had a tremendous playoff run and was a top-10 center in the NBA. Now? He must repair his reputation and maybe his career, and it starts in L.A., where he’s anxious to get started. As Bill Orem writes in the Orange County Register, Hibbert is looking for a fresh start and a better situation …

Roy Hibbert was a lost cause. A lumbering center with little offensive game and a disinterested temperament, they were happy pawning him off for nothing more than a future second-round draft pick.

The Lakers, however, view Hibbert as a player who can not only regain his standing as an All-Star big man, but anchor their anemic defense, which last year ranked second-worst in the NBA.

“I expect to play at an All-Star defensive level, and everything else will come,” Hibbert said.

“In this business,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said, “if you can have somebody who’s that size, who’s 28 years old, that clearly wants to rebirth his career, I think that’s a good risk.”

Hibbert averaged 10.6 points and 7.1 rebounds for the Pacers last season. He is just a year removed from his second All-Star campaign, and helping Indiana to the Eastern Conference finals.

He remains a reputable defender. The Pacers last season allowed 101.1 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor. The Lakers, by contrast, allowed 108.

Hibbert has averaged 1.9 blocked shots per game in his seven NBA seasons, but Kupchak said that won’t solve the Lakers’ defensive problems alone.

“It all can’t fall to his plate,” Kupchak said. “If you’re on the perimeter, you can’t just let your guy get past you and say, ‘Oh, Roy is back there.’ It doesn’t work that way. Everybody is going to have to buy in defensively and make a commitment defensively.

Hibbert hopes to join a storied tradition of big men to find success with the Lakers. He said he grew up studying Shaquille O’Neal and has worked out extensively with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

“He gives me the little tidbits,” Hibbert said. “I worked with him a lot last year in the summer and he keeps up with me. He always gives me some advice, some things to work on. I always ask him questions.”


No. 3: Alex Len happy to have Tyson Chandler around It was a pretty weird situation, watching the Suns give four years to the well-seasoned Tyson Chandler while they were trying to develop Alex Len, their lottery pick two years ago. And to hear Len, it was surprising to him, too. But after he gave it more thought, Len figures Chandler will actually be beneficial to a young center trying to learn the nuances of the game and become a useful rotation player. At least that’s what he told Michael Lee of the Washington Post

Instead of an immediate opportunity lost, Len focused on the possible long-term benefits.

“He’s one of the best defensive bigs in the league. The way he blocks shots, the way he communicates. I think I can learn just from watching, just from being around him, add it to my game. I think it’s going to be great,” Len said. “He’s a great leader. We needed a veteran last year. Somebody in the locker room, on the court, somebody we can look up to. So, I think it’s great for the team.”

Though he was selected fifth overall out of Maryland in 2013, Len wasn’t expected to quickly come in and resurrect the franchise – especially since he ditched his crutches from left ankle surgery just to walk across the stage to meet then-commissioner David Stern on the night of the draft. Len’s rookie season was lost because of nagging ankle troubles — “I just throw that out,” he said of his forgettable first season — but he started to look the part of a serviceable big man in his second season, showing a soft touch for a 7-footer and the necessary aggressiveness required to make countless screens on a pick-and-roll heavy team.

The Suns have been happy with Len’s progress but want to improve at a much faster pace than the time required for him to become a well-rounded player. In an effort to land the all-star talent needed to truly compete in the stacked Western Conference, Phoenix targeted the best free agent in the open market — LaMarcus Aldridge — and knew that he wanted to play power forward and to be paired with an experienced NBA center. Chandler agreed to a four-year, $52 million agreement in time to sit at the table to recruit Aldridge, who strongly considered leaving Portland for Phoenix before deciding to join the San Antonio Spurs.


No. 4: Jahlil Okafor too excited to get started in Philly  — While there are plenty of reasons for pessimism in Philly concerning the Sixers this upcoming season, given the injury status of Joel Embiid and a roster that still isn’t teeming with top-shelf talent, their No. 1 pick wants to make it clear: He’s happy. Jahlil Okafor wasn’t taken by the Lakers, which was the pre-Draft scuttlebutt, and instead landed with the Sixers. He’s not going to Philly kicking and screaming; rather, he’s looking forward to the experience and has big plans. He told Michael Lee of the Washington Post all about it …

The 76ers are certainly hopeful that Okafor will develop into a cornerstone for a rebuilding effort that is slow to take shape. Using a be-bad-and-pray-for-some-luck strategy, Philadelphia General Manager Sam Hinkie has inspired plenty of doubt around the league and nearly imposed lottery reform.

Over the past two years, the 76ers have traded serviceable NBA players for draft picks and used lottery picks on injured players while stashing another in Europe. As a result, they have won 39 games the past two seasons. Okafor won 35 games in his lone season at Duke but isn’t intimidated by the challenge ahead in the NBA, with an organization still seeking an identity.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker, a Chicago native, Duke alumnus and one of Okafor’s best friends, has been advising the talented big man with the throwback low-post moves on what to expect in the NBA. Like Okafor, Parker has dealt with the immense scrutiny of being a prodigy, played for Coach Mike Krzyzewski, and was taken with a top-three pick to join an organization that won fewer than 20 games the previous year.

“It will help the adjustment period,” Parker said of Okafor’s experience of being in the spotlight, “but it’s on a different scale. He has a lot to learn, because he’s been given a pedestal and a lot of responsibility but it’s nothing he can’t handle. He’s going to be in the NBA a long time. So he has to. He doesn’t have a choice.”

“My role is to dominate,” Okafor said. “I’m one of the centerpieces of the team, so my role is the same.”

Embiid’s injury, combined with the Los Angeles Lakers selecting point guard D’Angelo Russell ahead of Okafor, forced Hinkie to take the best player on the board, regardless of position. After initially wondering if he was drafted to be traded, Okafor was assured the 76ers want to build around him.


SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The Utah Jazz are thinking about changing their primary logo ASAP … Although he missed the latter half of last season with knee issues, Carmelo Anthony will attend (but probably not play in) the Team USA workouts … The Pelicans still have some roster decisions to make, starting with Norris Cole.

Report: Hansbrough, Hornets agree to terms

VIDEO: Latest news around the NBA

Maybe familiar surroundings will provide the boost that Tyler Hansbrough‘s NBA career seems to need.

Hansbrough, a four-year star at the University of North Carolina, agreed to terms to play for the Charlotte Hornets in 2015-16, according to the Charlotte Observer‘s Rick Bonnell.

Hansbrough, known for his “motor,” his intensity and his physical play, hasn’t approached the status he enjoyed as a Tar Heels player in six NBA seasons. He has averaged 7.2 points and 4.5 rebounds in 17.9 minutes with Indiana and Toronto — his best season coming in 2010-11 (11.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 21.9 mpg). The Pacers selected Hansbrough with the No. 13 pick in the 2009 draft after he averaged 20.2 points and 8.6 rebounds across four UNC seasons.

Report: Seth Curry to join Kings

VIDEO: Seth Curry joins The Starters

Given Seth Curry‘s performance in the just-concluded Las Vegas Summer League – he was, after all, the leading scorer among draft picks, developing players and hopefuls – it’s no surprise that he might land himself a job offer, maybe even a contract.

What was a mild surprise was the fact that it came from an unexpected team, according to Yahoo Sports:

Curry — the brother of NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry – averaged 24.3 points in Vegas, made the All-NBA Summer League First Team, and seemed to be playing for precisely the right squad: New Orleans. The Pelicans will be coached this season by Alvin Gentry, who served as an offensive coordinator of sorts on Steve Kerr‘s staff with Golden State. That’s the system in which his big bro thrived, leading our own Shaun Powell not only to write about their fit but to speculate on the prospect of Seth joining the Pelicans for training camp in October.

By heading to Sacramento, the younger of the two Currys will get the chance to build on his meager NBA experience – just four games and 21 minutes the past two seasons, split between Memphis (1 appearance), Cleveland (1) and Phoenix (2). He also will be in the same division and in close proximity to Stephen, about 85 miles away in Oakland (in 2013-14, Seth played the first of his two D League seasons in Santa Cruz, about 70 miles south of the Warriors’ facility).

More important, Seth Curry will get a chance to compete for playing time in a Kings backcourt that includes Darren Collison, Rajon Rondo, Ben McLeMore and Marco Belinelli – without, apparently, the make-good pressure to survive a camp cutdown.

McDermott finds way around NBA campus

VIDEO: Doug McDermott gets 16 points in Bulls’ victory.

LAS VEGAS – Welcome to the NBA, the old saying goes, and it’s not meant as hospitably as it sounds. There’s a smirk inherent, in that life-in-the-big-city, better-it-happened-to-you-than-to-me way.

That’s the way Doug McDermott‘s introduction to the league went last season, a rude welcome to the kid from Omaha in his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls. From college basketball’s player of the year and a Sports Illustrated cover guy to a lost and struggling newbie, all in a few months time. McDermott dealt with rattled confidence, a sore knee and bench splinters for the first time in his basketball life.

“I think maybe when I was 14 years old,” McDermott said Wednesday after the Bulls’ shootaround at the Cox Pavilion, one of the Las Vegas Summer League’s two venues. “I wasn’t a top guy on my AAU team, so I wasn’t playing a lot back then.”

Going through it at 23, after arriving as the No. 11 pick in the NBA Draft, that hit harder.

“But it’s a mental thing where you’ve got to stay positive,” McDermott said. “Your time is coming. Obviously, it was the first time I’d ever been hurt, too. That was hard to get through.”

McDermott got through it – 36 appearances, a mere 8.9 minutes per, and a whole lot of sitting that included 24 games lost to surgery on a meniscus tear in his right knee – but doesn’t intend to go back there. The Bulls can’t afford him to, either, with a familiar roster relying mostly on improvement from within this season.

Already this summer, McDermott has logged long hours at Chicago’s practice facility. He has been the Bulls’ leading scorer in Vegas, averaging 16.5 points through four games, while doing so in uncharacteristic ways: McDermott’s offensive repertoire has featured a variety of floaters, step-backs and layups, coming from isolation and in transition. He walked out Wednesday night with an ice pack taped to his right wrist, the price paid for an open-court dunk in the third quarter against Cleveland’s entry.

But he missed his only 3-point attempt, leaving him – whoa! – just 1-for-11 from the arc here.

“And I saw him make 30 in row in practice,” new Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said, “so I’m not worried.”

Hoiberg plays a central role in McDermott’s most significant source of inspiration for his second NBA season. If predecessor Tom Thibodeau was tough on the rookie because, well, he was a rookie – and because of McDermott’s surgery layoff, defensive lapses, blown plays, missed shots and passed-up shots – Hoiberg represents a clean slate and a more McBuckets-friendly style of play.

An accomplished 3-point shooter himself (he led the NBA in three-point percentage in his last season, before a heart ailment ended his career), Hoiberg shares the shooter’s mentality, too. He’ll be sensitive to quick hooks that can mess with a guy’s confidence.

“That’s the big things for Doug, to know that he has the confidence to go out there and be a basketball player,” Hoiberg said. “He’s one of the most successful college players in the history of the game, as far as scoring the ball. It’s just a matter of getting that confidence back. If he misses a few, keep shooting. That’s what the great shooters do, that’s what the great players do.”

McDermott’s frame of reference is his time at Creighton. He was a good player when he got there but he blew up as a sophomore, his feet fully wet, his body and mind acclimated to the level of play. His scoring average jumped from 14.9 ppg to 22.9, his accuracy from 52.5 percent to 60.1 percent, his 3-point success from 40.5 to 48.6.

Nobody in the NBA thinks much of college imagery, but in McDermott’s mind at least, he’s physically and mentally ready for his sophomore year.

“Everyone is so much more athletic, everyone is so much stronger than you’re used to,” McDermott said of last year’s transition. “Everyone that’s on the floor is essentially, probably, the best player on his college team. So there’s a reason everyone’s here. It’s just a matter of being able to prove yourself.”

Going from 26.7 ppg as a senior to 3.0 as a rookie wouldn’t be anyone’s idea of fun. McDermott just hopes it’s his idea of done.

“Being a rookie with my rep, everyone wanted to come at me. It’s part of the deal,” he said. “But I’m a competitor – I like that stuff. So I’m not going to back down.”