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Basketball Wiretap
Basketball news gathered from around the net.

Jackson: Carmelo Is Knicks' Only 'Certified All-Star', Bargnani Will Thrive In Triangle

Phil Jackson candidly spoke with Charley Rosen about the entire New York Knicks' roster.

"Carmelo Anthony is obviously the team's only certified All-Star," said Jackson. "It's also no secret that Melo has to keep the ball moving, but he's committed to doing this. Passing has never been a great strength of his, but in the triangle he'll be able to have check-off reads like a quarterback looking for his first-option receiver, then his second and then his third. There'll be plenty of iso opportunities for Melo, and in the triangle it'll be very difficult for defenses to double-team him. It won't be like last season where he had to take clutch shots with a gang of defenders in his face. Also look for Melo to get a bunch of post-up looks."

Jackson is optimisic that Andrea Bargnani can have a productive season.

"If Andrea Bargnani's initial season in New York was a disappointment, I believe he'll thrive in the triangle. The 3-point shot is a bit out of his range, but from 20 feet and in, Andrea is a deadly shooter. And those are the kinds of shots that the offense will generate for him. Still, there are two aspects of his offense that he has to work on. Because he only approaches the rim in straight lines, he needs to develop some kind of change-of-direction move with the ball -- perhaps a crossover dribble. Also, he's a finger-roller, not a dunker. Could he have small hands? Or does he just need to be more aggressive?

"Bargnani's defense likewise needs improvement. With his long arms, he can be an effective shot-blocker, but he's usually too reactive on defense. In the past, Andrea has been slow getting back in transition defense, and once there he's been unsure of what his rotation responsibilities have been. And like Amar'e, Andrea has to see which of the frontcourt positions suits him best."

Via Charley Rosen/ESPN

GMs Predict Spurs' Title, LeBron For MVP, Jabari For ROY

The NBA has released its annual survery of general managers with the San Antonio Spurs receiving 46.2 percent of the votes for which team will win the 2015 Finals.

The Cleveland Cavaliers came in second with 15.4 percent, followed by the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City tied for third at 11.5 percent. The Golden State Warriors received 3.8 percent of the vote.

LeBron James is the expected winner of MVP with 67.9 percent, followed by Kevin Durant at 21.4 percent. 

James is also the player most GMs would choose to build a franchise around with 50 percent of the vote, though that is down from 89.7 percent last season. Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant each received 25 percent of the vote.

Jabari Parker is a heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year with 75 percent of the vote, followed by Andrew Wiggins at 17.9 percent.

Gregg Popovich is considered the best head coach in the NBA with 92.9 percent of the vote.

Via John Schuhmann/NBA.com

76ers, Knicks, Lakers, Celtics Each Have Only One Player In ESPN's Top-100

The Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics each have just one player ranked in ESPN's top-100 list of NBA players.

Michael Carter-Williams, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo represent their respective teams in the top-100.

The 76ers are the only team with only two players ranked in the top 250, while the Knicks, Lakers and Celtics each have at least three other players in the top 150.

Via John Smallwood/Philadelphia Daily News

Thunder Seeing Improved Offense In Steven Adams

Steven Adams returned to the Oklahoma City Thunder this season as a much improved offensive player.

Adams' production on offense was inconsistent and limited last season.

“I think he’s just settling down,” Kevin Durant said. “Getting more comfortable.”

“I thought he made a leap last year in the playoffs,” Russell Westbrook said. “I think that’s when the leap started. If you kind of watch the games and see the different things he was doing in the playoffs, you could tell it was going to lead into the summertime and now into the preseason and now to the regular season.”

Via Anthony Slater/The Oklahoman

Carmelo Doesn't Envision Another Scoring Title In New Triange Offense

Carmelo Anthony finished second among the NBA's scoring leaders last season to Kevin Durant, but he does not foresee another title under Phil Jackson's and Derek Fisher's triangle system.

“I don’t think, especially in this system now, I don’t think I’ll be scoring champion,” Anthony said. “Especially with this system and the way we’re playing. The way that it’s going to be, well balanced, the style of play we’re going to have, I don’t think I’ll have to lead the league in scoring this year.

“I think shots will be fewer. I think it will be more effective shots. If that means taking fewer shots then that’s what will happen. But I don’t really know. We’ve been playing the preseason. It’s still early. It’s not until you really get into the flow of the game (that) you start knowing the minutes you’re going to play. (You don’t know) until you know who you’re going to be out there with most of the time, until you find that rhythm.”

Michael Jordan won seven scoring titles under Jackson, while Kobe Bryant led the league in scoring twice and Shaquille O’Neal once.

Anthony has averaged 25.3 points over his career, including a career-best 28.9 points per game with Denver in 2006-07.

Via Frank Isola/New York Daily News

Cavs Monitoring Dion Waiters' Shot Selection, Adjustment To Balanced Roster

Dion Waiters has shot a total of 54 times in this preseason, the most of any Cleveland Cavalier player in five games. Each game he has been the leading shot-taker.

Waiters shot four-of-15 on Friday night, when Kyrie Irving scored 23 points on two less shots.

David Blatt chose his words carefully when responding to Waiters' rapid field goal attempts.

"I was thinking about that at halftime, actually," Blatt said. "Remember that we didn't play with a full roster tonight and our normal rotation was not what it will be. The way that Dallas played led to a lot of open perimeter shots, which Dion is going to take because that's what he does.

"I don't think he should lead the team in shots. On the other hand I don't really care. I just want us to take good shots and make them. But we'll look at it. It's something we really should look at it and we will."

The Cavaliers appear concerned with Waiters' ill-advised shots and are challenging him and others to adjust to a balanced roster.

Via Chris Haynes/Cleveland Plain Dealer

Byron Scott Doesn't Believe High Rate Of Three-Point Shots Lead To Championship

Byron Scott discussed the high rate of three-point shot attempts taken by NBA teams and admitted he is not a believer in the system.

“You’ve got a lot of teams that just live and die by it,” Scott said Friday. “Teams, general managers, coaches, they kind of draft that way to try to space the floor as much as possible. But you have to have shooters like that; you also have to have guys that can penetrate and get to the basket, because that opens up the floor.”

When asked whether he buys into the style, Scott said: “I don’t believe it wins championships. (It) gets you to the playoffs.”

Through four exhibition games, the Los Angeles Lakers are averaging about seven 3-point attempts and have made just six of 29.

Seven of the last eight NBA champions led all playoff teams in 3-point attempts and makes.

Via Baxter Holmes/ESPN

Bulls Undecided Between Dunleavy, McDermott For Starting SF

Doug McDermott has looked comfortable with both units for the Chicago Bulls while Mike Dunleavy Jr. has filled a reserve and starting role in his two seasons with the team.

The Bulls are undecided on the permanent starter at small forward.

"Mike has shot the ball extremely well, so I think he helps that first unit function very well," Thibodeau said. "I'm not locked into it, but Mike's team defense is outstanding and I don't want to overlook that either.

"That's the great value in Mike, that he's comfortable in both roles. He doesn't need a long time to warm up. But I liked the way he played as a starter, so I don't want to make that decision yet."

Via K.C. Johnson/Chicago Tribune

Quincy Acy Appears To Be Favorite To Start At Power Forward For Knicks

Quincy Acy has emerged as the leading candidate to start at power forward for the New York Knicks.

Acy gives the Knicks more defense at the position than Amar'e Stoudemire or Andrea Bargnani would provide.

Bargnani started the first preseason game for the Knicks, but he's since been out with a hamstring strain.

“No I didn’t plan on coming here to start,’’ Acy told The Post with a chuckle. “I planned on coming here and playing hard to earn minutes. I guess I impressed enough with my defense to earn a spot. I don’t know what coach got going if I’m starting or coming off the bench or not playing, but I’ll be happy.’’

Jose Calderon, Carmelo Anthony and Samuel Dalembert have locked up the starting point guard, small forward and center positions, respectively. Iman Shumpert appears to have staked his claim to the starting shooting guard job.

“It’s important to have guys like Iman and [Acy] because there’s certain types of intensity and mind-set that’s contagious within the team,’’ Derek Fisher said. “That high motor. Teammates enjoy feeding off it. Right now we have some guys born that way.’’

Via Marc Berman/New York Post

Westbrook Has Played 94 Percent Of His Minutes With Durant Since 09-10

Scott Brooks hasn't staggered the minutes of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook during his tenure as head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Durant will miss several weeks to begin the 14-15 season due to a foot fracture.

Westbrook has played 94 percent of his minutes over the past five seasons with Durant also on the floor.

Via Tom Ziller/SB Nation

Derrick Rose 'Numb' To Thibodeau's Quest For Perfection

Derrick Rose isn't upset with Tom Thibodeau's criticism of the Bulls, but he also doesn't agree with it.

Adams Refutes Rep As Dirty Player, Claim He Baited Randolph Into Playoff Suspension

Steven Adams already has a reputation around the league as he enters his second NBA season.

Carmelo To Unveil Dirk-Like Wrong Footed Fade-Away

Carmelo Anthony plans to unveil a fade-away off the wrong foot this season, similar to one of Dirk Nowitzki's most effective moves.

Carmelo: We Don't Have A Choice But To Make Triangle Work

Carmelo Anthony remains committed to making the Triangle offense work.

Thibodeau Wants Bulls To Get Into Mind-Set Like Spurs

Tom Thibodeau singled out Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.

Jeff Bower Has Freedom To Pursue Trades As Pistons' GM

Jeff Bower consults daily with Stan Van Gundy about ways in which the Pistons can improve their roster.

Bucks To Start Giannis Antetokounmpo At Point Guard In Next Game

Giannis Antetokounmpo will start with Khris Middleton and Jabari Parker on the wings, Ersan Ilyasova at power forward and Zaza Pachulia at center.

Andrew Wiggins Being Pushed To 'Come Back At You' From Start

The Timberwolves' coaching staff has been encouraging Andrew Wiggins to push himself and stop trying to blend in.

Knicks Hire 'Mindfulness' Trainer

Under the direction of Phil Jackson, the Knicks have hired an expert to teach "mindfulness training" to the team.

Brett Brown Approaches 76ers' Job With 'Very Long Lens'

The 76ers finished 13-14 with the second worse record in the NBA and are expected to struggle again to produce wins this season.

Pau Gasol, Bulls Believe He Can Thrive Defensively In Thibodeau's System

The Bulls won't have Pau Gasol guarding "stretch four" forwards on the perimeter and will allow him to use his length to defend the rim

Boris Diaw Has $500,000 In Bonuses For Keeping Weight Off

Boris Diaw has a weight clause in his contract with the Spurs in which he will earn bonuses of as much as $500,000.

Bosh: Transition Playing With LeBron Will Be Difficult For Love

Chris Bosh went from first option with the Raptors to third option with the Heat, which was a difficult transition as an offensive player.

LeBron, Durant, Davis Named As GMs Top Picks To Build Franchise Around

The USA Today conducted an anonymous poll of 27 NBA executives on who would be their first pick if they were starting a team from scratch.

Byron Scott Wants Lakers To Limit Three-Point Attempts, Attack Basket

Byron Scott wants the Lakers to shoot between 10 and 15 three-pointers per game.

Heat Anticipate Keeping Cap Flexibility For 2016

The Heat agreed upon just two contracts that run past the 2016 offseason with their deals for Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts.

Suns Expect To Have Cap Space While Keeping Core In Place In Coming Seasons

The Suns have a good portion of their core under contract already, which could give them cap space when it escalates in the coming seasons.

Shaq Believes Russell Westbrook Needs To Take 'Step Back'

The Thunder and Scott Brooks have said the entire team must sacrafice to accomplish their championship goals.

Kerr Remains Concerned About Warriors' Turnover Problem

Andrew Bogut agreed with Steve Kerr that the team has been flinging passes around, calling them "bad habits."

Rudy Gay Drops Weight Gained Before 13-14 Season

Rudy Gay dropped 15 pounds that he gained before last season.
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