Carmelo Anthony

New coach, talent gives Knicks chance to succeed

Despite the amount of talent on their roster year in and year out, the New York Knicks have continually underperformed every season. 

This year, the talent is once again there except they are operating under a new coach and system. Not to mention, Phil Jackson was hired as the new president of the organization and has complete control of all basketball moves.

This has amounted to a shake up of the Knicks roster to better fit Jackson’s triangle system. First order of business was to keep superstar Carmelo Anthony. But then came the surprising trade of Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas in exchange for Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Wayne Ellington, and Shane Larkin. Jackson also drafted Cleanthony Early, who very well may become the steal of this draft.

So all this plus J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Amar’e Stoudemire, and company leaves the Knicks with a talented roster. The question is, can they make the playoffs?

 New head coach Derek Fisher may not have been the fan’s number one choice but they are stuck with him and the complex triangle offense.

The triangle offense has proved to be successful before under Jackson and company with the likes of Michael Jordan’s Bulls and Kobe Bryant’s Lakers. Knicks fans are hoping their very own Carmelo Anthony can replicate Jordan and Bryant’s roles in the complex system and lead the Knicks to a deep playoff push. But the key to this will be patience.

Not to say the preseason is indicative of the regular season, but the Knicks looked way out of sync committing 28 turnovers. Not a good start for a franchise whose fans have little to no patience for mediocrity. Yes, they understand Fisher is a rookie head coach and is trying to implement a new system but patience can only last so long.

The triangle can be a beautiful thing if executed correctly, so hopefully the players and fans give Jackson and FIsher a chance to really iron out what they have envisioned for the Knicks franchise.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill | Daily Texan Staff

After LeBron James’ and Carmelo Anthony’s decisions dominated the first part of the offseason, superstar forward Kevin Love is now the biggest player on the market.

With a year remaining on his current contract, Love has been the subject trade talks between the Minnesota Timberwolves and multiple teams this summer. In the past week, a Kevin Love for No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins with Cleveland has looked very likely. However, Wiggins signing his contract with the Cavaliers on Thursday stalls that possibility. The contract prevents any trading of Wiggins for thirty days, or until August 23.

While Cleveland is still a major player for Love, Wiggins’ new contract affords other teams an opportunity to trade for Love. The two biggest contenders outside of Cleveland are the Golden State Warriors and the Chicago Bulls.

THE FAVORITE: Cleveland Cavaliers

Though a trade cannot happen for a month, an agreement between the Cavs and Timberwolves could still occur. While an extremely talented Wiggins has future star potential, LeBron James is in the prime of his career and obviously wants to continue his streak of making the NBA Finals. James and the Cavs management are well aware of the huge impact Love could have on the team’s ability to win now. James has personally reached out to Love in an attempt to recruit him. The political capital that James has over the front office, combined with the desire to play for a title-contender in Love allows Cleveland to remain the favorite.

THE THREAT: Chicago Bulls

After missing out on Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, the Bulls are still looking to solidify their chances at winning an Eastern Conference Championship. Chicago has now set its sights on acquiring Love, engaging in trade talks with the Timberwolves. In order to entice Minnesota into making a trade, Chicago’s front office will have to make an offer big enough to pull the Timberwolves away from their apparent favorite, Wiggins. Surely, Minnesota will examine every available option before dealing away Love to Cleveland, giving the Bulls an opportunity to snatch Love away.

THE DARKHORSE: The Golden State Warriors

Reports earlier in the summer indicated that Minnesota and Golden State came very close to a deal; however, the Warriors and Timberwolves never came to an agreement. If the Warriors have any regrets, they have the next thirty days to try to put together a deal that Minnesota will agree to. However, it still seems unlikely that the Warriors will trade away guard Klay Thompson, who the Timberwolves seem to be mandating before they consider a trade.  

Of course, Love could end up staying in Minnesota, but it seems unlikely at this point that the Timberwolves would keep him. Considering the Timberwolves appear to understand that they will not be able to resign Kevin Love, a trade would allow them to turn the remaining year on his contract into a future for the franchise. 

Former Longhorn Kevin Durant didn’t win a fourth straight scoring title but became the youngest to join the 50-40-90 club this year.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Someone wins the NBA scoring title every year. Each of the last three seasons, that someone was Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant

But former Longhorn Kevin Durant did something this year accomplished by only five other players in NBA history — shoot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line in a season while taking the minimum amount of shots required. Durant was unable to win the scoring title for the fourth straight year, getting passed up by the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony this month.

Anthony averaged a whopping 36.9 points per game in nine April games, sitting out the Knicks’ final two regular season games. Durant, who did not play in the Thunder’s regular season finale against Milwaukee, finished the year with 28.1 points per game, second only to Anthony’s 28.7 points per game. Had he led the league in scoring this year, Durant would have joined Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan as the only players to ever win four straight NBA scoring titles.

But Durant, who averaged 25.8 points and 11.1 points per game while winning multiple national player of the year honors during his only season at Texas six seasons ago, shot a career-high 51 percent from the floor, 41.6 percent from the floor and an NBA-best 90.5 percent from the free throw line for Oklahoma City this year. In doing so, Durant, 24, became the youngest player to ever join the 50-40-90 club.

“It shows my progression as a player,” Durant told The Oklahoman last week. “It shows how far I’ve come as a player, from shooting 42 percent as a rookie to now shooting 50 [percent] for a whole season.”

Mark Price was 25 when he joined the 50-40-90 club in 1989 while Steve Nash became the oldest player in NBA history to go 50-40-90 when he did it for the fourth time at age 36 in 2010. Nash, 39, nearly pulled off another 50-40-90 season this year, shooting 43.8 percent from three-point range, 92.2 percent from the free throw line but just 49.7 percent from the floor in his first year with the Lakers this season, although he didn’t shoot enough to qualify for his fifth 50-40-90 season.

The 28.1 points per game Durant scored this season was the second-most by a player to go 50-40-90 in a season, less than only the 29.9 points per game Bird averaged when he did it in 1988. 

If the Thunder win the NBA title this year, Durant would become the first in league history to ever go 50-40-90 and win a championship in the same season. Bird came the closest to pulling it off, leading the Celtics to the 1987 Finals, where they fell to the Lakers in six games.

It was the first time that anyone went 50-40-90 since Steve Nash did it for the third consecutive season in 2010 and the tenth time anyone had done it ever. Larry Bird, the only other player to accomplish the feat multiple times, was the first to do it, going 50-40-90 in 1987 and 1988. Price (1989), Reggie Miller (1993) and Dirk Nowitzki (2006) are the only others in the 50-40-90 club.

Former Longhorn great Kevin Durant concedes scoring title, but becomes youngest to join 50-40-90 club

Someone wins the NBA scoring title every year. Each of the last three seasons, that someone was Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant. 

But former Longhorn Kevin Durant did something this year accomplished by only six other players in NBA history -- shoot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line in a season. Durant was unable to win the scoring title for the fourth straight year, getting pased up by the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony this month. 

Anthony averaged a whopping 36.9 points per game in nine April games, sitting out the Knicks’ final two regular season games. Durant, who did not play in the Thunder’s regular season finale against Milwaukee, finished the year with 28.1 points per game, second only to Anthony’s 28.7 points per game. Had he led the league in scoring this year, Durant would have joined Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan as the only players to ever win four straight NBA scoring titles.

But Durant, who averaged 25.8 points and 11.1 points per game while winning multiple national player of the year honors during his only season at Texas six seasons ago, shot a career-high 51 percent from the floor, 41.6 percent from the floor and an NBA-best 90.5 percent from the free throw line for Oklahoma City this year. In doing so, Durant, 35, became the youngest player to ever join the 50-40-90 club.

“It shows my progession as a player,” Durant told The Oklahoman last week. “It shows how far I’ve come as a player, from shooting 42 percent as a rookie to now shooting 50 [percent] for a whole season.”

Price was 25 when he joined the 50-40-90 club in 1989 while Nash became the oldest player in NBA history to go 50-40-90 when he did it for the fourth time at age 36 in 2010. Nash, 39, nearly pulled off another 50-40-90 season this year, shooting 43.8 percent from three-point range, 92.2 percent from the free throw line but just 49.7 percent from the floor in his first year with the Lakers this season, although he didn’t play enough to qualify for his fifth 50-40-90 season.

The 28.1 points per game Durant scored this season was the second-most by a player to go 50-40-90 in a season, less than only the 29.9 points per game Bird averaged when he did it in 1988. 

If the Thunder win the NBA title this year, Durant would become the first in league history to ever go 50-40-90 and win a championship in the same season. Bird came the closest to pulling it off, leading the Celtics to the 1987 Finals, where they fell to the Lakers in six games.

Carmelo Anthony comes through when Knicks needed him most as he chases his first ring

Carmelo Anthony is one of two players from the top five picks of the 2003 NBA draft who hasn’t won a championship yet. The other is Darko Milicic. However, the other three players only won a title because they joined forces together (LeBron, Wade, Bosh), but that’s for another story.

Carmelo Anthony at this point in his career hasn’t been much other than a ball-dominant, high-volume shooter who can score the ball at will. He had his run-ins with Coach George Karl in Denver, and after being shipped off to New York, hyperbole said that the one-time collegiate national champion would
maybe get it together and be a part of a winning formula in New York.

This season the Knicks have been hit with injuries, and don’t have much of a chance at getting out of the Eastern Conference. New York probably won’t see the outside of the Eastern Conference for the next decade as long as Miami is still around.

But regardless of all of that, Carmelo Anthony is continuing to do what he has made a living off of, and he’s doing it at as high a level as ever.

Carmelo Anthony is a close friend of Kobe Bryant's, and he notably came out of the Kobe Bryant academy of chucking shots and scoring.

In Tuesday night’s nationally televised game in Miami, Melo did what he’s only done three other times in his career: drop 50.

It’s actually pretty surprising to me that Melo has so few 50-point performances, but Monday night’s was definitely enough to be pleased. Carmelo played mainly in the flow of the offense without forcing too many looks, and it shows in his stat line. Oh, and the guy had zero turnovers.

Carmelo shot 18-for-26 from the floor, and added a 7-for-10 from the three point shooting effort that might even make Stephen Curry blush a little bit. More incredible is the fact that Carmelo was shooting jumpers the entire night, and added more highlights to his resume that might cement his reputation as the best
mid-range scorer in the league.

Carmelo Anthony may never lead a team to an NBA championship, and he may never actually win one unless he’s surrounded by the perfect group to compliment his ball-dominant style of play. But Carmelo’s performance Monday was a very pleasant reminder of how talented the kid from the 2003
draft class really is.

NBA: Eastern Conference playoff primer

In the Heat’s statement win against the Pacers two weeks ago and in the playoff setting victory in Boston last week, it became obvious that the roll Miami has been on isn’t about any win streak. Rather, it is about rounding into playoff form. It is about getting ready for the ultimate goal, hoisting the elusive and coveted Larry O’ Brien Championship trophy in June.

The 27-point comeback win in Cleveland few days ago only confirmed this as the Heat during the fourth quarter had put on an assertivedisplay of championship-caliber swagger, confidence, and resilience. They are quite literally the embodiment of a prototypical championship offense and defense. Yes, the Heat is surging at the right time. (Quite possibly in historical fashion considering they are only seven games away from the longest winning streak in NBA history). However, Miami is not the only team on full throttle right now; there are several others. As countless NBA coaches, analysts, and gurus say, momentum could be the biggest asset in the NBA playoffs. Let’s take a quick look at which playoff and championship contenders are markedly surging or imploding at this very moment, starting with the Eastern Conference.

Eastern Conference

Miami Heat

Do I need to say anymore?

New York Knicks

With recent injuries to Carmelo Anthony and the absence of Stoudemire for about a month, the Knicks have struggled as of late. A healthy Carmelo and a rekindled defense will do the trick. Anyhow, the Knicks are definitely not surging at the moment.

Indian Pacers

Great team! They’ve been playing relatively well. But, don’t tell me that the loss to Miami will not the hurt the psyche/mentality of the Indiana Pacers and their resolve to defeat the Heat

Brooklyn Nets

The Nets only tease with a few quality wins, but never show any consistency- probably not the recipe for playoff success. On the bright side, Brook Lopez is shaping into the star he is capable of becoming.

Chicago Bulls

Yes, they’ve been playing poorly. Should Derrick Rose return? Is it even worth it anymore? The Bulls really aren’t going anywhere this year.

Boston Celtics

They’ve fared reasonably well without Rondo. Then again, come playoff time, its superstars that truly matter. The Celtics will be missing one.

Kevin Durant (5) finishes off a dunk in Team USA's opening round game against Nigeria. The United States' 83-point margin of victory over Nigeria was the highest winning margin in Olympic history.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

The United States Olympic basketball squad is possibly one of the most decorated teams in all of sports, and after one week of preliminary matches they already look prepared to cut down the nets once again.

This year’s U.S. team consists of two NBA finals MVPs, two former NCAA champions and ex-Longhorn and 2007 Naismith award-winner Kevin Durant. It is believed by many that this assortment of talent rivals what is known as the original Dream Team, the gold medal-winning 1992 USA basketball team. This team has kept the status quo expected of any other American basketball team: beating each of its opponents without difficulty.

As the Americans began the preliminary rounds of Olympic competition, they made quick work in their first three games and won by an average margin of victory of 52.33 points, which began with a 98-71 win over France.

“We know everybody else expects us to win by 40 points,” forward Carmelo Anthony said in a statement after the team’s first win. “For us, a win’s a win. We expect every game to be like this one.”

After making quick work of Tunisia shortly thereafter in a 110-63 effort, the new dream team made history. In their third preliminary match they established the highest scoring mark by any basketball team in Olympic history with their 83-point victory over Nigeria, 156-73. Carmelo Anthony recorded a Team USA single-game record of 37 points, including an unprecedented 10-of-12 shooting performance from beyond the arc. His 10 three-pointers were the most 3-pointers made or attempted in a single Olympic game by one player.

“Our guys just couldn’t miss tonight, and they shared the ball,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We had 41 assists. When you hit 29 threes, it’s very difficult to lose in a game like that.”

Then came the Americans’ first real test, Lithuania. The Lithuanians, 1-2 in prelims, took the U.S. to the final minutes and even held a slight two-point lead with a little under six minutes to go. Then LeBron James’ clutch gene kicked in as he scored nine of his last 20 points in the final four minutes to help outlast Lithuania 99-94 to remain undefeated in the Olympic Games.

“I feel like it was my time to step up offensively,” James said. “I am here to do the little things, whatever the team needs in Coach K’s perspective, and I was able to make a few buckets down the stretch.”

Through the first week of Olympic basketball play the United States and Russia are the only teams that remain undefeated with identical 4-0 records.

“We still have a lot of work to do, but that’s the beauty of it all,” Texas alum Kevin Durant said. “We’re all coming together in such a short time. We’re having fun playing. Guys don’t worry about points, rebounds, assists; we just want to play to win.”

Jeremy Lin's Magical Debut Week

In just one week, point guard Jeremy Lin went from the end of the Knicks bench to the main event at Madison Square Garden.

After the final buzzer sounded in the Knicks' game against the Los Angeles Lakers, the MSG crowd broke out an “MVP” chant. This time, the reaction wasn’t for Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant. Instead, it was the perfect ending to Jeremy Lin’s dream week.

"I feel like I'm in a dream right now," Lin said after his career high 38 points and 7 assists led the short-handed Knicks to victory over the Lakers. That performance was the high point for the Harvard graduate during a stellar debut week.

The Knicks season seemed to be in turmoil with leading scorer Carmelo Anthony going down with a strained right groin in the midst of a losing stretch. Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni had to try something different after forward Amare Stoudemire took a leave of absence due to a family emergency. Then, Lin -- who was cut by two different teams in the preseason -- comes in.

Lin led the Knicks to a 4-0 record, averaging 27.3 points and eight assists, becoming the first player in NBA history to rack up at least 20 points and seven assists in each of his first four starts. Geared by national media coverage and social networking, “Linsanity” captivated the basketball world.

"I don't know what to tell you," Mike D'Antoni said. "I have never seen this. It is not often that a guy is going to play four games, the best you are going to see, and nobody knows who he is. That is hard to do."

Can Lin continue this high level of play at a consistent rate throughout this season? It depends on his ability to respond once defenses adapt to his style. Defenses will no longer be surprised by Lin’s savvy point guard play and will limit his strengths. Lin has established himself as a smart pick-and-roll player and team facilitator.

The next stage of Lin’s progress centers on his ability to coexist with returning superstar Carmelo Anthony. There is little doubt on whether he can play with Stoudemire because the forward had a flourishing career playing alongside a similar type of pick-and-roll point-guard in Steve Nash. Carmelo, on the other hand, has a league-wide reputation of being a ball-stopper on offense.

Despite his reputation, Anthony insists playing alongside Lin will be a great opportunity for both players.

"I know there's questions about, 'Can I fit in?' and stuff like that, but this is like a dream come true to me," Anthony said. "It takes some pressure off of me. I don't have to play point guard.”

Jeremy Lin’s outbreak seems to be more than just a media-centered one-week sensation. The undrafted second-year point guard has revived the Knicks' hopes after they initially squandered their preseason hype.

NEW ORLEANS — The Big Easy has been everything but for Texas.

Frustrating, disappointing and heartbreaking, yes, but definitely not easy. In its final game of the season, Texas lost 81-80 in an overtime thriller in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Wake Forest in the New Orleans sub-regional. The loss was Texas’ third in a row in the Crescent City — a fact that is not lost on former Longhorn and current Philadelphia guard Royal Ivey.

“Texas is done 0-3 in [New Orleans],” Ivey said after the loss via his Twitter account.

Ivey would know, given that he was part of the last Texas team to play and lose in New Orleans. He was a starter on the Horns’ last Final Four team — a team that lost to eventual national champions Syracuse in 2003.

In that game, Texas was dismantled singlehandedly by then-freshman Carmelo Anthony, who put up a game-high 33 points in 37 minutes. Anthony would go on to win the Most Outstanding Player Award after his double-double effort in Syracuse’s national championship win over Kansas.

Two seasons before that, Texas lost its first-round game to 11-seed Temple in a 79-65 game that also happened to be in New Orleans.

Then there was this year, with Texas’ third trip to New Orleans in 10 years and its first loss in the first round since 2005. But Thursday’s loss wasn’t because of an eventual NBA All-Star like Anthony, and it didn’t come at the hands of a Cinderella en route to a shocking Elite Eight appearance.

In the eyes of coach Rick Barnes, this loss was because of rebounds, which were anything but easy to come by.

“There were two things coming in that we wanted to accomplish: One was transition defense, and the other was rebounding the ball. And we didn’t do a great job of either one of those throughout the entire night.”

Wake Forest’s head coach, Dino Gaudio, also had a similar approach to the game.

“Before the game they said, ‘What are the three keys to the game?’ I said, ‘Rebounding, rebounding and rebounding,’” Gaudio said.

That’s exactly what the Demon Deacons did, beating Texas on the boards 59-34.

Most notably absent in the first half in the rebounds column was Damion James, who had yet to record a rebound and only finished with six total, well below his season average of nearly 10 boards.

But it was the absence of boards in the overtime period that killed the Horns’ chances, when they were outrebounded 7-2. Part of that poor showing with rebounds was because of Barnes’ defensive strategy.

“At the end when we were trying to double-team the ball, they kicked out and we had to scramble out,” Barnes said.

In the end, for whatever reason, both rebounds and wins have been anything but easy for Texas in the Big Easy.