Posts Tagged ‘Scott Howard Cooper’

Blogtable: Thoughts on LeBron?

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: Free agency winners & losers | Thoughts on LeBron | Lakers’ coaching search



VIDEO: Cavs GM David Griffin talks about LeBron James’ return to Cleveland

> It’s been five days since LeBron James shook the NBA with his latest decision. What are your last thoughts on his move and its effect on the NBA?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Even commissioner Adam Silver said he was “moved” by James’ homecoming essay. That’s great, and because of it, I trust the two-year term of his Cavs contract is solely about signing a fresher, bigger one in 2016 – he cannot leave Cleveland again that quickly and have a shred of credibility left. But I think this was about basketball more than James let on, because the Cavs have a budding supporting cast on the fast track now. Impact on the NBA? We’re back to a “tandem” rather than “trio” world again, as far as superstars congregating. With 30 needy teams, spreading the firepower thinner is a good thing.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: The two-year contract he signed in Cleveland with an out next summer could have the longest-lasting effect. It signals that he’s playing year-to-year from now on and it could be the first step toward the elimination of max contract ceilings in the next collective bargaining agreement.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: He definitely took the sentimental approach over the business approach in terms of picking a team. He took the business approach in terms of structuring a two-year contract in which he can opt out after NEXT season. Now, the thinking on this is to maximize his salary as the salary cap increases with each season, and perhaps by leaps and bounds once the league’s new TV deals are secured. But if James hesitates at all to re-sign with the Cavs, his talk about coming home for all the reasons he listed will be hot air. The effect on the league is that now Cleveland holds the ace and not Miami. Veterans seeking a ring will be drawn to the Rust Belt instead of South Beach.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: That there can’t be any last thoughts yet. James’ decision could still have a ripple effect, with players who previously might not have been interested in signing for less to join the Cavs now more open to the possibility. Kevin Love wouldn’t have sent Cleveland a signal before that he would be very interested in staying as a free agent next summer. The presence of LeBron changes that.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: The reason I was surprised LeBron left Cleveland in 2010 is the same reason I wasn’t surprised he returned in 2014. He’s a loyal dude. Akron and his friends and family from Akron/Cleveland have always been close to his heart. He knows that he needs more than one more championship to get in Michael Jordan territory, but he also knows that Cleveland hasn’t won a championship in 50 years. To bring a title to that city would mean more (to him and to the people he cares about) than winning two or three more somewhere else.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: In retrospect, and after reading LeBron’s own words, his return to Cleveland should not come as a surprise to anyone. It’s clear that even while he was taking the Miami Heat to The Finals year after year, his heart was actually somewhere else. Northeast Ohio in particular. It’s a game-changer for the league, no doubt. The Cavaliers go from afterthought to an Eastern Conference contender with LeBron’s return. In fact, the impact his homecoming will have cannot be quantified in any traditional manner. Just by returning to Cleveland, this guy is going to lift the spirits of an entire fan base, region and, really, a state. I lived in Cleveland (for a short 14-week stint) when LeBron was still in elementary school. And I’ve had family there my entire life, so I know how serious they take their sports teams and heroes. They’ve never had anyone like LeBron, homegrown, to latch on to. So to lose him four years ago in dramatic fashion only to see him win it all twice in Miami, their joy in getting him back now cannot accurately be displayed in words. If he actually comes home and wins a title, brace yourself for absolute pandemonium.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: It makes the East much more competitive from top to bottom. There isn’t that same excellence in the top teams as in the West, but it makes it much harder to delineate the best teams in the conference. I wouldn’t be surprised if Chicago, Indiana, Cleveland, Toronto or Washington won the Conference, with Atlanta, Brooklyn, Miami and Charlotte in the mix as well. LeBron returning home is a nice narrative, but that doesn’t give Cleveland a rim protector or a coach proven in the NBA just yet.

Point guard Giannis Antetokounmpo?


VIDEO: Sekou Smith interviews rising star Antetokounmpo

LAS VEGAS – Bucks coach Jason Kidd was asked about the point forward.

“The what?” Kidd responded, hearing the question just fine about Giannis Antetokounmpo handling the ball a lot more but not liking the position description.

OK. The point guard.

“Thank you,” Kidd said.

The Bucks and their new coach are not hiding it. They are not disguising the long look of Antetokounmpo initiating the offense as some test drive in the safety of summer league, not downplaying the Greek Freak with the ball in his hands,  some in the first game and a lot in the second, Monday night in Thomas & Mack Center against the Jazz, as Kidd experimenting to learn more about his players.

Milwaukee is serious about this for the regular season, maybe even as the starter at the point. Antetokounmpo is serious about this.

At the very least, even if the idea goes bad in 2014-15 and the Bucks stick with Brandon Knight and Nate Wolters as conventional decisions, it just became a long-term subplot in Milwaukee. Antetokounmpo, having measured at 6-9 and 190 pounds last September and 6-10 ½ and 217 pounds at the end of the season, growing into a starting point guard, possibly and maybe even likely 6-11 by then. That doesn’t even get into imagining the day of the 7-foot point guard.

“We’ve seen it in practice, and so when you see a player’s comfort level with the ball no matter what size, we want to see it in game action and we slowly have started letting him have the ball and running the offense,” said Kidd, bound for the Hall of Fame as a point guard.

“With the group we have right now, with B-Knight and Giannis, we have additional playmakers and when we have that on the floor, it makes the game easy. We’ll see how the roster shakes out, but we’re not afraid to play him at the point, as you see.”

That was Monday night, after Antetokounmpo played a large portion of his 32 minutes at the point, registering five assists against four turnovers along with 15 points on six-of-16 shooting, and some with Wolters on the court. This is now officially an audition.

“Handling the ball, as time goes on, I feel more comfortable,” Antetokounmpo said.

He will get more time, here and almost certainly into training camp. The Bucks see the possibilities, from putting opponents in matchup hell to creating more versatility so the second-year player from Greece fits with Jabari Parker, the second pick in the draft who some teams think can be a small forward, Antetokounmpo’s primary position last season, or power forward.

Antetokounmpo at point guard and Knight at shooting guard would be a strain because neither have great range, but would work because Knight could defend the point guards and Antetokounmpo the bigger opponent in the backcourt. Then it could be Parker, Ersan Ilyasova and Larry Sanders in the front court.

“Whatever coach wants me to do,” Antetokounmpo said. “If he tells me to do that, I’m going to do that. If he tells me to be on the wing and to be aggressive on the wing, I’ll be aggressive there.”

Perfect. Because the Bucks are thinking about an aggressive move at point guard.

Isaiah Austin: ‘I know I’m going to lead a happy life’


VIDEO: Isaiah Austin chats with NBA TV’s Kristen Ledlow about his future

LAS VEGAS – People who recognized him, even sitting, without Isaiah Austin uncoiled at 7-foot-1, stopped to ask if they could take a picture with him or get an autograph. One lady simply offered a smile and a reassuring arm squeeze.

He is still in a basketball setting, the way it has always been, except that it’s never been like this. Summer League games are being played, he was supposed to be playing somewhere, here or Orlando last week, as a rookie from Baylor, and on top of that, his hometown team, the Mavericks, are playing the Raptors.

Watching from the front row is as close as Austin will get, though. On June 21, five days before the Draft, the projected second-round pick announced through the school that he would be forced to retire after it was learned he had Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that had gone undetected the first 20 years of his life. He had an increased risk of a potentially fatal heart episode on the court without ever knowing.

His career was over in an instant. He was brought to the Draft by the league anyway and given a unique salute when commissioner Adam Silver announced from the podium that the NBA was drafting Isaiah Austin. The crowd at Barclays Center responded with a standing ovation.

Baylor said his scholarship will remain in place and that Austin has an offer to join the coaching staff. As he weighs whether to accept that, though clearly leaning toward it, he came to Las Vegas to work behind the scenes for NBA TV.

Question: When you first got the news, was your reaction as a basketball player about what it means for your career or were you thinking more as a human being and what it could mean for your life?

Answer: Definitely my life. Basketball’s a wonderful game and all, but it’s not worth taking my life and risking it all, playing the game to risk my life for it. That was the first thing that came in my mind. I had been playing for I don’t know how long and my life has been in danger the whole time without knowing.

Q: How much does that scare you now as you think about that?

A: It didn’t really scare me because I have a strong faith and I knew that if my time was going to come then God was going to take me home. But at the same time, I was confused that nobody else caught it at the time.

Q: Do you ever look back now to any moment that you were playing that you may have felt a symptom or a problem coming on and just sort of set it aside as a quick moment?

A: No. I’ve never had any symptom. They told me some of the symptoms of Marfan syndrome are shortness of breath or chest pains, lower back pains. I’ve never had any of those pains while I’ve been playing in my career.

Q: How long did it take you to come to grips with the reality that you’re done with basketball?

A: It happened the first night. It’s reality. It’s not something you play with, something of this stature, messing with your heart. So I knew that right away that my career would end, but at the same time I knew that I can make this into a positive.

Q: Was it that easy to put it behind you? You’re just able to close one door and open another, or have there been days that it’s been difficult?

A: There’s still days that it’s difficult. Even watching these games, watching all these guys compete, I miss it. I miss being out there. I miss competing. I miss all the hustle and all that type of stuff. But at the same time, I’m focused on just staying positive and not trying to sulk in all this.

Q: Is it hard to sit here and watch these games?

A: Not really.

Q: Do you put yourself in position of “I could be out there, I should be out there”?

A: Sometimes I do. I definitely could be out there. I should have been out there. But it wasn’t God’s plan for me to be out there to play, so I’m definitely thankful that it was found out when it was because it did save my life.

Q: Did you give any thought to saying, “I’m going to play anyway”?

A: At first I did. But then I came to reality and I was like I would hate to see one of my fans or one of my family members see me collapse out there on the court.

Q: How long did you think about it and how seriously?

A: A couple days. I was pretty serious. They said I could sign a waiver and still play. But it’s not worth my life. It’s a great game and it teaches you many life lessons, but it’s not worth taking a life for.

Q: Have you had any teams talk to you and say, “If you ever reach a point that medically you feel you’re able to do this, please let us know”? Has there been any communication with any teams about playing one day?

A: No. I haven’t had any communication with any team. The only communication I’ve had with teams were them reaching out to me to give me their condolences. They were telling me they’re sorry that it happened but they were supporting me.

Q: What have you heard from them?

A: They just tell me that I’m a great guy and I’m a genuine dude and they’re supporting me in whatever I choose to do. They all tell me that I’m still a part of the NBA family. I’m thankful.

Q: Have there been one or two calls or letters that have stood out to you and meant the most.

A: Probably the one that meant the most was when commissioner Adam Silver whispered in my ear on stage that I’m always a part of the NBA family.

Q: What did that mean to you at that moment?

A: Everything. It’s always been my dream to become a part of this organization, to be part of the NBA, and he’s making it happen for me.

Q: There was a lot of attention and positive energy that night when they brought you up on stage. When they first approached you with the idea, were you all for it or were you thinking, “I can’t get that close to the NBA and not actually touch it. I just can’t do that”?

A: I was all for it. I’m all about being around the game that I love.

Q: It wasn’t too hard to get so close and not to be able to reach the goal?

A: It’s hard, of course, because I’ve worked my whole life for it. But at the same time, as long as I can be a part of the game in some way or form, I think I’ll be satisfied.

Q: Did the reaction of the crowd that night, and around the country, we assume, based on the reaction from Twitter and some other areas, did it surprise you at all?

A: Definitely. I had no idea that I would have this much support from around the world.

Q: What did that mean to you in a difficult time?

A: Everything. It’s tough to go through something like that, but it makes it that much easier when a lot of people are behind you and supporting you.

Q: When that night is over, you’re back in your hotel room, what’s going through your mind?

A: Man. I was just thankful. I just remember praying that night after I got back to the hotel room. I just remember calling my mom and thanking her and my family for being with me on this journey. I told them that it’s not over and we’re just beginning. It’s a new chapter in my life.

Q: You’re here doing some work for NBA TV. I know Baylor said that it was interested in having you come back to work on the coaching staff. Have you decided what’s next?

A: I am going to go back this fall to finish my degree, and while I’m there I’m thinking about taking the coaching job so I can still be
around basketball.

Q: Haven’t decided yet?

A: Haven’t decided yet.

Q: Is it something that you envisioned yourself getting into one day after your NBA career or you never really thought of coaching before so you need to take some time and decide if it’s what you want to do?

A: I never really thought of coaching but I always knew that I still wanted to be a part of the game somehow or some way, whether it was creating a foundation for the young kids and still being around the game or even having my own basketball camp one day. I am taking this into consideration because it is going to be a great opportunity for me. My brother’s still at Baylor and to still be a part of a great program.

Q: When do you think you’ll decide?

A: In the next week or so.

Q: Do you have a leaning right now? What does your gut tell you?

A: My gut’s telling me to take it because I love the game of basketball and I love teaching.

Q: I get a sense you want to do it.

A: I do want to do it. But at the same time I have to think if I’m going to have enough because I do want to graduate (with a projected 2016 finish) and do as best as I can in my classes.

Q: If there’s no NBA as a player, what do you want to do?

A: Get into public speaking. I want to share my story with as many people as I can and just try to inspire them to push through the obstacles in their lives.

Q: You’re going to bring a lot of attention to awareness and treatment of Marfan. That’s obviously something that is more than a job to you at this point. What message would you like to send to people?

A: Just to stay positive and if you have signs of Marfan to get tested early because it is a life-threatening syndrome and we would hate for anybody to have a fatality because they didn’t get checked out and they continued to play sports.

Q: You’re sounding incredibly positive in what must be a difficult time in a lot of ways because you came so close to one of your goals. Are you positive that you’re going to be as much of a success in another field as you once thought you would be in basketball?

A: Yeah, definitely. I have all the confidence in the world in myself and I know I have the right people around me to be able to become a successful businessman one day.

Q: How does this story turn out?

A: I don’t know. But I know I’m going to live a happy life.

Now Hairston finding basketball trouble


VIDEO: Coach Steve Clifford discusses playoff berth, future of Hornets

LAS VEGAS – Sunday afternoon, it was missing 14 of 20 shots in 27 minutes and, thanks to the forgiving rules of Summer League, committing seven fouls, which came after the first game, which came after the car swap, which came after the fight with a high school kid. All of which, of course, came after everything else.

P.J. Hairston of the Hornets dropped to No. 26 in the Draft — six or eight spots lower than others with the same talent would have gone, according to some teams — amid concerns with off-court issues. He was suspended by the NCAA before last season at North Carolina as part of an investigation into allegations he received impermissible benefits and an association with a local felon, beyond previous legal issues, before school officials announced in December they would not seek reinstatement. The evidence against him was too strong.

Hairston played last season with the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League, waiting for the Draft in June and insisting at every opportunity there was no reason for concern, then got the new start he wanted when he joined the NBA, officially picked by the Heat but quickly traded to Charlotte. And then he couldn’t even make it to the first summer-league game before trouble tracked him down again.

There was a fight in a pickup game at a Durham, N.C., YMCA … with a 17-year-old high school student. That resulted in Hairston being charged with assault and given an Aug. 8 court date. Then there was what he said was a chance meeting with Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns at a Raleigh, N.C., grocery store that led to the two deciding to swap cars for a day, only to have the Pro Bowl receiver later get arrested while driving impaired in Hairston’s 2015 Cadillac Escalade.

“What I told him the other day is ‘We need to start having more meetings about his defense and shot selection and less about what he’s got to do to be a dependable player,’ ” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said a few days ago.

Once Hairston finally got to play — not against high schoolers, though — he took 16 shots against the Warriors on Friday and made two. A versatile offensive threat in college and the D-League who could score from the perimeter or be aggressive and use strength to get to the rim, he launched 10 3-pointers and made one. Maybe there would be a meeting about his shot selection, after all.

So Sunday in the 72-65 loss to the Kings at Cox Pavilion was just the latest. Hairston going 6-for-20 from the field prompted Hornets assistant Patrick Ewing, running the bench during summer league, to note, “P.J. played better today.” Talk about perspective.

“He has the ability to be a rotational player in the NBA,” Ewing said. “Right now, it’s a work in progress. He has abilities. The mistakes that he’s making right now, he’s not going to be able to make them when the season starts because if he does, he won’t play. That’s part of growing. He has to put forth the effort to do those things.”

Hairston concedes he briefly thought, after hearing he would be a Hornet, that it might be best to get a fresh start away from his North Carolina past. But he grew up in Greensboro, has family in Charlotte and saw the chance for home-cooked meals and a support system as too valuable. He called the draft pick/trade one of the biggest accomplishments of his life.

The recent troubles?

“It’s just stuff I have overcome and look past and keep moving forward,” Hairston said.

He understands he fell in the draft because of the off-court concerns — “I guess. I don’t know. But I’m assuming that probably is the case. Like I said, I’m working on moving forward instead of moving backward.” He understands the need to play better for a team that needs the scoring to build on the playoff appearance of 2014. Now to do something about it.

“I’m confident that he’ll get to that,” Clifford said. “He’s a good person. I like him, I like the way he works. Everybody knows he’s made mistakes. He knows it, he’s owned up to it. It’s part of his maturation process. I think he understands at this level it’s all on him. We have to help him. He’s a talented enough guy to have a good NBA career, but here, the way we do things, if he can be dependable he’ll get off to a great start.

“The guys who do the right things off the floor give themselves the chance to do the right things on the floor. That just makes sense. It all fits together. … I told him I’ll commit to him — I like so much about him — but the commitment comes with the trust, the understanding, that he’s got to be a dependable, professional player who’s accountable to himself, his teammates and our franchise every day.”

Glen Robinson III fighting his college reputation

No. 40 pick Glen Robinson III looks to disprove doubters who say he coasts on the court.

No. 40 pick Glen Robinson III looks to disprove doubters who say he is too passive on the court.

LAS VEGAS – He should start a fight.

It doesn’t matter who it’s with, it doesn’t matter what it’s about. A cheap shot under the basket. The temperature on the team bus to the arena. Who should be first in line at the breakfast buffet. Anything.

Just start a fight.

“I don’t think that’s necessary,” Glenn Robinson III said through a smile, getting the point but disagreeing with it. “It might happen in practice or something. I need to keep my head, keep my cool.”

He needs to show a fire. Robinson fell to the Timberwolves at No. 40 in the draft on June 26 because a lot of teams saw him as too passive in a 2013-14 at Michigan that was set up for success with the departures of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. but ended with questions about GRIII lacking intensity. They were frustrated that he didn’t seem more frustrated.

This summer league and the rookie season in Minnesota that follows is about proving he won’t cruise through games, that his attitude will match his billing as a small forward with the talent to be in the lottery conversation six or eight months ago. That talk faded, obviously, but the skill set did not, so Robinson begins the transition to the NBA needing to take on an image as well as every human opponent.

“Something that really helps me is just talking on the court, whether that’s smack talking or joking around,” he said. “It’s talking and keeping that motor up.”

It’s trash talking more than before.

“Oh, yeah,” Robinson said. “Definitely…. Whoever’s guarding me. Everybody talks out there. That’s something that’s a little trick that I’ve found to keep my motor up.”

The son of Big Dog Glenn Robinson, a two-time All-Star with the Bucks in the early-2000s as part of an 11-year career with four teams, is that conscious of wanting to appear locked in. Last season, he re-watched a lot of games the same night, sometimes with Michigan coaches and sometimes when he got home or back to the hotel room, not agreeing with the assessment that he was cruising but that there were “a couple possessions maybe I could sprint my lane a little faster or maybe try to grab some offensive rebounds.”  Also, that “a lot of people tell me the game seems to come easy to me. I think that’s more what it is. I have the same facial expression or am relaxed all the time.”

Wanting to be much more than a what-could-have-been, GRIII is using the same level of self-analysis at the start of his NBA career. Because not agreeing with the assessment is different than not taking the comments to heart as a way to get better.

“I never felt like I was drifting or I never felt like I wasn’t playing 100 percent,” he said. “But if it’s there, you have to make adjustments. You have to change that.”

So, he trash talks. He jokes on the court. Anything to get a reaction. No fights, though.

Even if he should.

Caboclo gets another new experience


VIDEO: Brazilian Bruno Caboclo scores 12 points in his Summer League debut

LAS VEGAS – The big surprise is giving way to the little moments.

Bruno Caboclo spent another 90 minutes with an English tutor at the team hotel on Friday, just as the Brazilian has been doing regularly for about three weeks, even before the Raptors pulled the shock of this and many other drafts by taking Caboclo at No. 20. The same Caboclo who was not in the top 60 on the draft board in a lot of war rooms. The same Caboclo who was as stunned as anyone when he got a call while riding in the back seat of a taxi in New York that, yes, he actually had just become an NBA first-round pick.

He spent much of last week in Los Angeles, working out with new teammates DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, Amir Johnson and others, trying to accelerate the growing pains and get ready for 2014-15 in Toronto, not another season in Brazil. The Raptors wanted him to learn about life on the road in North America, and basketball too.

“He saw a lot of stuff,” general manager Masai Ujiri said. “It hit him in the face a little bit. It’s a learning process.”

Friday afternoon, Caboclo played for the Raptors for the first time. Another little thing. It was only Summer League, only the opening day of Summer League at that, but something of an unveiling, a name and a face almost no NBA fan would have recognized before the night of June 26 facing the Lakers at Cox Pavilion.

He logged 24 minutes, made five of seven shots, contributed 12 points and two rebounds to the 88-78 victory as part of the transition that will surely include stints, and possibly long stints, in the D-League. As with the other progress reports, the experience matters to the Raptors more than what happened in the moment.

There are more games here and the fresh milestone of interpreter Eduardo Resende returning home to Brazil on Sunday, a big step for an 18 year old seeing a lot of new places before he has a chance to get settled in Toronto. Some veteran Raptors have been more than glad to help him pick up a few words and phrases in particular, of course.

“They teach me all kind of things,” Caboclo said through Resende.

People around them laughed, getting the point in any language.

“He’s learning pretty quick, that part,” the translator said.

Those helpful teammates.

“He’s a young player, he’s going to grow,” Ujiri said. “He’s a very young player. We just want him to experience the NBA practices, the NBA game itself when we can, the D-League, get stronger. All that stuff. He’s going to go through the process.”

He’s going to go through all the little things.

Blogtable: NY’s plans with ‘Melo, without

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: Idle summertime chatter | LeBron + Cavs = ??? | The Good & Bad of ‘Melo in NY



VIDEO: Howard Beck breaks down the news around the Knicks and free agent Carmelo Anthony

> You’re Phil Jackson. What do you do with the Knicks if Carmelo Anthony leaves? What if he stays?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: I refuse to answer the first question because it ain’t happening – Melo’s going nowhere. The money, the attention and now the capability to claim he’s staying for Phil Jackson‘s “vision” (when it’s really the money and the attention) keep him right where he is. So with Anthony on board, Jackson will have to cue up some of the share-the-ball-you’ll-get-it-back teachings to Michael Jordan from back in the day. And he’ll need to lure Kevin Durant, LeBron James and/or Kevin Love to Manhattan because Jackson has limited experience with a roster that doesn’t boast one or two of the league’s top half dozen guys.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: If Anthony leaves, you pat James Dolan and the Knicks franchise on the head and make a beeline back to Playa del Rey and Jeannie Buss.  If he stays, well, you might want to do that anyway.  New York is not a market that has the patience or the long-range vision to do what’s necessary, which is why with the exception of a couple blips on the radar screen the Knicks have spent the past 40 years peddling the false notion that they’re contenders.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.comIf Anthony leaves, you celebrate? Really, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. A max contract is a cap-stuffer particularly as Melo plays into his mid-30s. Him leaving would totally free up Phil Jackson to remake the roster in 2015 when potential free agents include Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol and Goran Dragic. If Anthony stays, Jackson is already on the right track by trying to unload Amar’e Stoudemire‘s $23.4 million contract without taking much back. If Anthony returns, he knows 2014-15 is only a bridge to next summer when the Knicks, even with Melo’s max deal, will be flush with cap space to go nuts.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Nothing much I can do if he leaves. Square 1 is Square 1. Maybe try to extract a couple picks/player(s) if it’s a sign-and-trade, but draft choices wouldn’t be paid out for at least another season and maybe, if it’s the Lakers, several. I might like the appeal of something close to a blank slate lineup wise while still having salaries to untangle, but I would also realize that’s the positive spin on “Ummmm … errrrr … let’s see here….” If Carmelo stays, I know there’s a better chance to land free agents in future summers and a quicker path to wins. Anthony plus Jose Calderon’s shooting plus Tim Hardaway Jr. coming off an encouraging rookie season is a decent start on the re-build.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: Listen, as much as I’d love to be rich, famous and have more rings than your neighborhood jeweler, I wouldn’t want to be Phil Jackson in New York if and/or when Carmelo Anthony spurns the Knicks for either Chicago, Los Angeles or that dreaded outfit in Miami. The haters will be merciless if ‘Melo bolts after receiving a max offer to stick around. If ‘Melo stays, Phil has to include his max-earning superstar on his rebuilding plan, which has to include making a monster splash in free agency in 2015 (Melo and Kevin Love is a great place to start with the East Coast Triangle). ‘Melo doesn’t get to choose his new teammates, but he at least needs to be consulted in some form or fashion, because he’s going to be right up there with Phil and James Dolan on the fall guy list if this experiment doesn’t work out.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blogCarmelo, you’re not leaving $30 plus mil on the table. We need you. But not for this season — the Knicks this season aren’t going to be much better than they were a season ago. Then again, they can’t be much worse. But after this season, Stoudemire and Bargnani come off the books and clear up about $35 million in cap space, and suddenly we can be players in free agency. The triangle offense starts to take hold, and now we’re in the mix, particularly in the weak Eastern Conference. By the way, Cleanthony Early is going to be a steal, and our system will make contributors out of guys who had been overlooked in the past. So it’s going to take some time, but be patient. What, ‘Melo, you thought the Lakers would contend right away?

Karan Madhok, NBA India: If Anthony leaves, I’ll be hoping that the always-expectant Knicks fans stay patient for one more year of awful basketball. By this time next year, the Knicks will have a ton of cap space and some interesting free agents (Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo, LaMarcus Aldridge, and, if he signs just a one year extension, maybe even LeBron James) available on the market to recruit to New York. If Anthony stays, I’ll be hoping to convince another contributor (like Pau Gasol, who has experience with Jackson) to sign for cheap, but still sell the team the idea of thinking the future before the present, and the idea of a big offseason in 2015 if they can suffer through a quiet one this year.

Marcelo Nogueira, NBA Argentina: I would start a new age where “the team” would be more important than a star player. If Carmelo stays, it won’t be good for the Knicks. If he leaves, the Knicks have a better opportunity to rebuild, Jackson style.

Guillermo Garcia, NBA Mexico: If Anthony’s still on the team, I’ll try to reinforce the club with another big player … maybe one with the name Gasol?

Blogtable: Say LBJ goes to Cleveland …

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: Idle summertime chatter | LeBron + Cavs = ??? | The Good & Bad of ‘Melo in NY



VIDEO: Four years later, former NBA exec Stu Jackson reflects on “The Decision”

> There are a lot of “ifs” to consider, but IF LeBron goes back to Cleveland, are the Cavs really good enough to win the East?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comI like the idea of LeBron going back to Cleveland and leading all that potential and raw talent to the top of the East standings. The roster now looks better to me than the crew that won 66 games in 2008-09. Several of the Cavs would get better almost overnight from the defensive attention paid to James. What would they be lacking? A savvy veteran backcourt player would help. Also: Bubble-wrap for Anderson Varejao to keep him healthy.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: If he were to go back to Cleveland, it obviously means the best team in the East has broken up. The Cavs would lack overall experience, cohesion and any real clue what it takes to get though the playoffs.  But hey, they’d have LeBron and a puncher’s chance.  He’s taken a team with less raw talent to The Finals in 2007.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.comOnly because the East is so weak, the answer is yes. It would take Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao to stay healthy — and that’s never a given — and for last year’s No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett to contribute. They could use a knock-down 3-point shooter or two. You figure a LeBron-less Miami falls out and Indiana might not have Lance Stephenson plus they’ve got a major mental reconstruction job. Toronto and Washington should be on the rise. Maybe the Nets under Lionel Hollins will have a say. But any team with LeBron has to be given a legitimate shot.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: TBD. Who do the Cavaliers have to offload to make the money — and possibly the sign-and-trade — work? Do the Bulls get Carmelo Anthony? Cleveland could be good enough. I’ll go that far. James, Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, Andrew Wiggins is a nice first five for the future, plus maybe Dion Waiters. But I would still pick Chicago with Carmelo, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Doug McDermott and others.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: No. I’m not ready to vault this theoretical Cleveland team past Indiana right now. That said, with LeBron, the only thing the Cavaliers would be lacking is the needed seasoning to compete at the highest level. All that young talent they’ve piled up is fine, save for the fact that they’ve only seen the playoffs on TNT and other networks. They’ll also need to piece together some chemistry overnight. But they’d be right there behind Indiana and capable of overtaking the Pacers if we see the same kind of mental and emotional fragility we saw from the No. 1 seed Pacers we saw last season.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: Last season the Cavs didn’t even make the playoffs. Adding LeBron and Andrew Wiggins would be about the best one-two punch you could find. But to me, experience and outside shooting are the two things lacking that jump out at me. The Cavs were in the bottom half of the league last season in 3-point shooting, and that was how the Spurs dissected Miami last year — spreading them out and knocking down jumpers. Miami’s Achilles’ heel was rebounding, and I don’t know that the Cavs have much better depth along the front line than the Heat. It’s funny to me that everyone kinda writes off the Heat — they made it to the Finals and actually split the first two games. To me, the Heat with Bron are closer to another Finals run than Cleveland would be.

Marcelo Nogueira, NBA Argentina: It wouldn’t be enough to just have LeBron back in Cleveland to win the Eastern Conference. The Cavs would need LeBron and a scientist to create a LeBron clone.

Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA Greece: First of all, any team with LeBron in the starting five becomes a contender. Moreover the Cavs have the talent to support him. Andrew Wiggins is a player with tremendous potential and Kyrie Irving has showcased his All-Star quality. Anderson Varejao if healthy is a great role player, Spencer Hawes can reallly stretch the floor and become a great asset for a LeBron-James-playing-style, Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett are rising stars. If their core can overcome their injury-filled destiny they can be the next big thing, for sure.

Rodrigo Méndez, NBA Mexico: The Cavs, for those seven years LeBron James played in Cleveland — with a championship eluding them — had a chance to learn a few things. Now if LeBron returns, those lessons come to fruition: build a team around the star, a complete team with a good defense and a full suit of complements on the court and on the bench. That last lesson they can take from the Heat, which had trouble surrounding LBJ in 2013-14.

Blogtable: Summer, when gabbing is easy

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: Idle summertime chatter | LeBron + Cavs = ??? | The Good & Bad of ‘Melo in NY


> It’s been a confusing, chatter-filled start to the NBA summer. What’s the dumbest, most forehead-slapping headline or storyline that you’ve seen?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Geez, so many from which to choose —  Jodie Meeks‘ contract, Carmelo Anthony supposedly leaving New York and $30 million or more on the table, Klay Thompson suddenly being regarded as a combo Jerry West/Dwyane Wade in trade value. But I’m going with the hand-wringing in Chicago over Derrick Rose’s alleged “unwillingness” to recruit free agents. That sort of thing, in the best of places, probably ranks 8th or 18th or maybe 28th in what sways a player to choose a new team/market. All Rose should be doing is what he did – allow the targeted player, like Carmelo Anthony, to watch a workout so he can gauge Rose’s health and comeback potential. Beyond that, it’s sheer high-school silliness.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: I was very tempted to say “all of the above” since the entire free agency period is mostly rumor, innuendo and flat-out lying posing as pseudo-journalism.  But if I must choose, well, Jodie Meeks at more than $6 million per is a head-slapper.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Orlando agreeing to pay Ben Gordon $9.5 million over two years. That slightly edges Portland agreeing to pay Chris Kaman nearly $10 million over two years.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: You’re asking me to pick one grain of sand on the beach. We know, for example, that the Heatles are definitely splintering, unless that they’re not and are simply giving Pat Riley time to make moves before closing their own deals. And Kobe, Carmelo and Kevin Love definitely magically appeared at the same pickup game at UCLA, except that they didn’t. The silly season in full effect. If there an option to expand beyond free agency and make it the entire offseason for dumbest, most forehead-slapping storyline, it’s an easy call: Jason Kidd.

Gordon Hayward (Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE)

Gordon Hayward (Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE)

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: How about the latest one, “Hayward get max offer sheet from Hornets.” In a summer when financial haircuts are being discussed for All-Stars — superstars in some cases — a guy who has never sniffed the All-Star team gets a $60 million offer from an Eastern Conference playoff team. Hayward is worth whatever someone is going to pay him, so I’m not mad at him. But, as I said on Twitter last week (when Hayward was supposedly on tap for a max offer from the Cavaliers that never happened), something is awry in this system when Lance Stephenson (as flawed or deficient as he might be in some areas) sees this headline about Hayward and is supposed to be cool with an offer $16 million lighter in total. Even if Utah matches, as they have said all along that they will, this is still one of the gems of “Crazy Season!”

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: Well to be fair, it was probably a headline that I wrote that was dumb. But as far as a wild storyline, the thought that signing Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts will put Miami over the top is pretty out there. I mean, the Pacers basically let Granger walk, and Basketball Jesus a.k.a. McBob is a nice player but … putting Miami over the top? That’s a head-slapper. The Spurs beat Miami up and down and left and right in the Finals. It’s going to take more than just one or two additions to make the Heat a Finals winner. Then again, getting LeBron to re-up would be a pretty good start.

Marc-Oliver Robbers, NBA Deutschland: The most confusing thing for me is that everyone is waiting for everyone. Melo is waiting for Bosh’s decision, Bosh and Wade are waiting for LeBron’s decision. LeBron is waiting what the Heat will do, but the Heat have to wait, what their Big 3 will do to know how much cap space they will have. Then the second row with Deng, Parsons and Ariza are waiting what Melo, Bosh,Wade and LeBron will do. And all teams with cap space are waiting for the decisions of the superstars to remain flexible. So everybody is waiting and the worst is, we have to wait, too. LeBron, get the ball rolling!

Davide Chinellato, NBA Italia: I’ll go with Jeremy Lin being upset because Houston used his uni to court Melo. Free agency is like love and war: all’s fair. It has been done before (Rockets GM Daryl Morey remembered they used Patrick Beverley‘s #12 last year to recruit Dwight Howard) and you shouldn’t be upset when your team is trying to get  one of the best players in the game, especially if you are in the trade rumors mill.

Karan Madhok, NBA India: After LeBron’s “Decision” in 2010, nothing in the NBA off-eason really surprises me anymore, and I truly leave all options open to possibility. That said, there were a couple of stories that made me shake my head with mild disbelief. One was The Pick-Up Game that Never Happened rumours of Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and even Kevin Love playing ball at UCLA, as reported by some sources, as a hopeful indication of what the Lakers roster could look like next season. The second was the Recruitment Pitch that Wasn’t Made, a saga of Derrick Rose – did he or didn’t he try and recruit Carmelo Anthony to Chicago.

Reports: Hayward agrees to max offer sheet from Hornets

Gordon Hayward

The Hornets deal would pay Gordon Hayward an average $15.75 million a year.

The free-agent spending spree reached a new level of intrigue when the Hornets and Gordon Hayward agreed on a four-year contract worth a reported $63 million, a maximum deal that will severely test the long-standing Jazz promise to match any Hayward offer sheet.

The Charlotte Observer first reported the agreement, Yahoo! the financial details. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has more here:

A player option for the fourth year of the deal and a 15 percent trade kicker are expected to be included in the offer sheet, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Both would be considered incentives to dissuade the Jazz from matching the sheet, but Utah officials have remained adamant they will match any sheet for Hayward – including a max offer.

Agent Mark Bartelstein aggressively courted the market for an offer sheet for Hayward, discussing deals with several teams – including Cleveland, Phoenix and Boston – but ultimately reached the deal with Charlotte on Tuesday. There was doubt within the league whether Bartelstein could secure a max offer for Hayward, but he found a willing suitor with the Hornets.

Charlotte is negotiating with free agent Marvin Williams to replace Josh McRoberts at power forward, but those talks could be on hold while Utah is working to match the offer sheet.

Hayward, 24, will sign the offer sheet when the free-agent moratorium is lifted on Thursday, and league rules will give Utah three days to make a decision on matching the deal.

Several other teams had called Utah to inquire about the possibility of sign-and-trade deals if they signed Hayward to an offer sheet, but Charlotte never did, sources tell Yahoo Sports. The Hornets are short of the kind of young frontline talent that would appeal to teams in such a deal.

The Hornets had made it an offseason priority to add scoring and especially on the wing, a primary reason they looked hard at two of the best shooters in the draft, Doug McDermott and Nik Stauskas, with the ninth pick in the draft before unexpectedly finding power forward Noah Vonleh still on the board. So the appeal of  the 24-year-old Hayward and his 16.2 points a game last season is obvious, even with the concern that his field-goal percentage has declined each of the last four seasons.

The 6-foot-8 Hayward is also a good passer from the front court and would address Charlotte’s hope of getting bigger.

The offer sheet can be signed as soon as the league-wide moratorium ends on Thursday. The Jazz would then have three days to decide whether to match it.

Based on past indications regarding Hayward, keeping him as part of the Jazz’s young core moving forward together would essentially be an automatic for Utah. The actual details when the contract came, though, could give the small-market front office pause. That’s especially true when considering the average of $15.75 million a season for a player with declining accuracy along with, according to Yahoo!, a trade kicker and an option for Hayward on the final season.

A year after Al Jefferson got three years and $40.5 million from Charlotte to leave the Utah front line as an unrestricted free agent — although the Jazz didn’t have nearly the long-term plan with Jefferson as they now do with Hayward — and decades after player Michael Jordan won back-to-back championships at Utah’s expense, owner Michael Jordan has come hard at the Jazz again.