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The dog days of August will soon give way to the dawn of the 2017-18 NBA season. Teams around the league will hold their respective media days in two weeks, with training camp to follow.
In the meantime, the Association is largely laying low, in more ways than one.
Carmelo Anthony appears to be keeping a closer eye on his New York Knicks teammates than his recent discord with the organization would suggest. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets have been quietly scouring the basketball world for more reinforcements up front.
And maybe, just maybe, the world will see Vinsanity take flight in Toronto again, albeit in an entirely different capacity than you might expect.
So before you hit snooze on pro basketball until late September, chew on these tidbits filtering through the rumor mill.
‘Melo, Is It Me You’re Looking For?
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It feels like a lifetime ago that word first surfaced of Carmelo Anthony’s willingness (if not desire) to be traded to the Houston Rockets and only the Houston Rockets, per the New York Post (h/t CBS Sports).
Last anyone checked, there’s been no NBA reunion yet between Anthony and Chris Paul, two of the famed Banana Boat bunch. There were some complicated talks involving Rockets forward Ryan Anderson and at least one other team, but no progress on ‘Melo’s part toward escaping from New York since then.
As such, the 10-time All-Star may have no choice but to take his talents back to Madison Square Garden, at least for the time being. It’s possible that Anthony has resigned himself to as much, if his latest bits of communication are any indication.
David Pick @IAmDPick
League sources tell me that Carmelo Anthony has engaged with Knicks teammates as the start of New York training camp nears.
David Pick @IAmDPick
Sources tell me Melo has followed the progress of Porzingis, Kuzminskas and Hernangomez during EuroBasket, sending texts of encouragement.
For what it’s worth, ‘Melo has ample reason to send his support, beyond just being a good teammate. Porzingis’ Latvia team and Willy Hernangomez’s Spanish squad are both into the quarterfinals at this year’s FIBA EuroBasket. Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Lithuania, meanwhile, lost to Greece in the previous round.
Nets Hoping to Catch a Big
Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press
Even after swapping Brook Lopez for Timofey Mozgov, the Brooklyn Nets remain thin up front. In today’s NBA, head coach Kenny Atkinson doesn’t need a ton in the middle beyond Mozgov, Trevor Booker and rookie Jarrett Allen. But it can’t hurt for Brooklyn to look at some guys with size and experience, at least for training camp invites.
That seems to be exactly what the Nets have been up to through their September slog. According to Nets Daily’s Anthony Puccio, the team brought in Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger for workouts:
Anthony Puccio @APOOCH
League source told @NetsDaily that Tyler Zeller worked out for 2-3 days in Brooklyn. Jared Sullinger worked out for a longer period. #Nets
Once upon a time, Zeller and Sullinger were first-round picks in the 2012 draft. More recently, they were teammates with the Boston Celtics. Now, they’re both clamoring for somewhere to play in the NBA.
Zeller tumbled toward the bottom of Brad Stevens’ small-ball rotation in Boston. By the time the playoffs rolled around, the 27-year-old North Carolina product was already deep into mop-up duty—a role in which he persisted during the Celtics’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals.
As for Sullinger, the former All-American out of Ohio State played a total of 118 minutes over 11 appearances for the Toronto Raptors while suffering through another spate of back problems.
The Return of Air Canada?
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It’s been almost 14 years since Vince Carter and the Toronto Raptors split on less-than-amicable terms. In Dec. 2004, Vinsanity’s tantalizing but ultimately tumultuous time in Canada came to a swift end when the Raptors traded him to the New Jersey Nets for Alonzo Mourning, Aaron Williams, Eric Williams and a pair of first-round picks.
The split, though painful, was necessary. Both sides are far better for it now than they were back then.
Carter, 40, will be the NBA’s oldest active player when the coming campaign gets underway, just as he was when the last one ended. It’s admittedly a late point in his career for the eight-time All-Star to start wearing purple, but with the Sacramento Kings paying him $ 8 million dollars to do so, it’s still better late than never.
As for the Raptors, they’re in the midst of the most successful run in franchise history. Toronto will look to extend its team-record playoff streak into a fifth postseason, now that Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka are back and DeMarre Carroll is off to Brooklyn.
What better time than the near future, then, for Carter and the Raptors to bury the hatchet? According to Rogers Sportsnet’s Michael Grange, that may be the case:
Michael Grange @michaelgrange
Masai Ujiri says ‘Vince Carter will be home in Toronto’ … not sure what that means — jersey retirement when time comes?
The Kings will make their only trip of the season to Toronto on Dec. 17. Perhaps Masai Ujiri, long one of the league’s cagiest general managers, will let slip another detail or two about what’s in store for what could be Carter’s last homecoming prior to retirement.