Pau Gasol close to deciding

Sam Spiegelman

Pau Gasol is close to choosing his next team.

The power forward tweeted out that he “close” to making his decision Friday night.

Gasol is choosing from a handful of suitors, including the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks which Carmelo Anthony is also reportedly considering. The San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers are also in the mix, and while the Miami Heat showed interest, Gasol presumably does not want to go there without LeBron James.

NBA: New York Knicks at Chicago Bulls

Carmelo to choose between Knicks and Bulls

Carmelo Anthony’s decision is reportedly down to the Knicks and Bulls (Smith, July 11).

Anthony is reportedly going to re-sign with the Knicks, but his agent says the final decision is still up in the air.

The Knicks have made five different contract offers to Melo (TKB, July 11).

“I felt really good about my conversation with Carmelo Anthony. But we’re still waiting to hear,” Phil Jackson said on Thursday from Las Vegas (Herring, July 10).

Why NBA Summer League should be Tim Hardaway Jr.’s time to shine

Keith Schlosser

As the Knicks await Carmelo Anthony’s ultimate decision, there are plenty of other question marks surrounding the team’s roster as well. With Phil Jackson hoping to piece some things together in the months that follow, perhaps some of those question marks will be answered at the conclusion of NBA Summer League.

There are plenty of promising young guns for New York to keep an eye on along the way, but perhaps one of the more intriguing prospects out there is someone the Knicks are already quite familiar with: Tim Hardaway Jr.

Tim Hardaway Jr.Whereas players such as Brandon Tiche, Cameron Moore, and even NBA vet Shannon Brown will be among those hoping to secure roster spots for this coming fall, perhaps Hardaway Jr.’s goal will be proving he deserves an even more expanded role next season, as he continues to learn the triangle offense.

Assuming for the moment that Anthony returns, the most wide open position up for grabs in New York’s starting lineup will be shooting guard. With Iman Shumpert coming off an underwhelming year and J.R. Smith’s ever present inconsistencies perhaps suggesting he needs to be set back into a sixth man role, it may be Hardaway Jr.’s time to step up.

Arguably the Knicks’ most consistent two-guard last season, Hardaway Jr. played quite well throughout his rookie campaign. Finishing with an average of 10.2 points, on 43% from the field and 36% from deep, there’s no doubt the young gun can fill it up with ease. He likes to pour in the points, and carries himself with a refreshing and bold confidence. He has a certain swagger, not known to many players at this point in their respective careers.

Also proving to be somewhat of a liability on defense last season, it’s clear that the rookie has plenty to learn about defensive tendencies in the NBA. Still, perhaps the pros outweigh the cons with Hardaway Jr, even at this point in time. He may be a better option than some of the other alternatives available for the Knicks to turn to.

As a first-year player, Hardaway Jr. displayed flashes of brilliance en route to proving he could hold his own with some of the league’s more talented players. Staying afloat is a more than respectable feat for a rookie. He played a supporting role, and did so quite well.

But NBA Summer League is a different animal. Not longer a supporting cast member, Hardaway Jr. should rise up as a star. One of the few current Knickerbockers on the Las Vegas squad, perhaps he’ll even need to emerge as a leader of sorts. This stage presents the guard with a huge opportunity. He should be able to stand tall as a man amongst boys.

Whether his time in Sin City is simply a chance for Hardaway Jr. to prove something to the Knicks, or if they’ll use this opportunity to put him on display for other teams (in hopes of pairing him up in a trade with one of the team’s larger contracts), remains to be seen. Nevertheless, this is the youngster’s time to shine either way.

Phil Jackson, Jose Calderon recruiting Pau Gasol to Knicks

Sam Spiegelman

Knicks president Phil Jackson and newly acquired point guard Jose Calderon are recruiting Pau Gasol to sign with the Knicks, according to the New York Post.

Per the report, the pair is trying to sell Gasol on playing with Carmelo Anthony, continuing to be in the triangle offense and the proximity of the United Nations.

Of course, Jackson has not heard from Anthony, who’s decision may be delayed as long as LeBron James remains mum on his own future. But all along, both ‘Melo and Gasol have shown an interest in playing together.

Calderon plays with Gasol on the Spanish national team, and has been texting his friend about the idea of playing together in New York.

Gasol would have to accept less money to play in New York, but Jackson told reporters during the team’s summer-league practice Thursday that Gasol would be willing to do so in order to play for a winner.

“[Gasol] knows what he has here and what is possible,’’ Jackson said. “He’d like to play with Carmelo and like to play with a winner. We can’t guarantee that, but with him we can guarantee a much better chance.’’

The Knicks could further benefit from adding Gasol at power forward. No person is better suited to recruit his brother, Marc Gasol, when he hits the free-agent market next summer. In addition, the Knicks could have a void at power forward if they ship Amar’e Stoudemire off to Philadelphia.


Knicks have five different contracts out to Carmelo

The Knicks have five different contracts out to Carmelo Anthony in hopes that he agrees to one of them (Berman, July 10).

New York – and only New York – can offer him a max deal of five years and $129 million.

According to the report, one offer to Melo is “to accept the max to start at $22.4 million next season and then take the highest-allowable 7.5 percent paycut in the second year that would open up cap room for 2015. That would clear about $3.5 million more in cap space than if he took the 7.5 percent raise.”

“They’re amenable to what we’re trying to get accomplished,” Knicks president Phil Jackson said. “It’s not a big thing. You guys have made a much bigger thing about this. It’s not a really big thing. It’s percentages less than 1 percent of dollars that go over five years. It just gives us more flexibility.”

Watch: The latest on Carmelo Anthony writer Ken Berger chats with Chris Carlin about NBA free agency, including where LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony may end up.

Phil: Knicks haven’t heard

“I felt really good about my conversation with Carmelo Anthony. But we’re still waiting to hear,” Phil Jackson said on Thursday from Las Vegas.

The Knicks president of basketball operations said he is confident in a positive outcome from the Melo situation, and he expects an answer on Thursday. He also heard he would hear from Anthony on Wednesday and Tuesday, too (Herring, July 10).

“So far, we’re still in Plan A,” Jackson said.

More sources saying Melo expected to return to Knicks

Following up the New York Daily News report that Carmelo Anthony will return to the Knicks, more sources are saying that a deal could be announced on Thursday or Friday.

A report in Newsday cites sources saying that the Knicks are “optimistic” Melo will re-sign (Iannazzone, July 10).

ESPN’s Marc Stein, on ESPN Radio, also claimed to hear that a deal is imminent and an announcement will come soon.

Marc Berman of the New York Post reports that the Knicks are expected to officially hear from Carmelo on Thursday (NYP, July 10).

Keith Schlosser

There are plenty of business reasons for Anthony to stay in the Big Apple. One of the biggest markets in the world, there are endorsement opportunities galore. Though their championship drought has now surpassed forty years, the Knicks are still also one of the most storied franchises in all of the NBA. Madison Square Garden is the mecca of basketball.

If making a decision was simply all about that, it’d be an easy one. But attempting to win in New York with the Knicks may be a challenge. What Phil Jackson does with the roster remains to be seen, so re-signing with the team would confirm Anthony’s faith in the thirteen-time NBA champion turned rookie executive. Five years is a big commitment at this point in the forward’s career, so a Big Apple return would indicate Anthony trusts Jackson. He’s taking a chance. There are questions marks surrounding the squad, even if Anthony remains on board.

Because of that, Anthony’s heart would need to be in this, if he ultimately chooses to stay with the Knicks as expected. According to Frank Isola (who spoke with “a friend” of Anthony), it certainly appears to be. Believing he has unfinished business in New York indicates that Anthony understands how driven and hungry the city and respective team’s fan base really is for success, let alone a championship.

To stay up to date on the latest Carmelo news, and all NBA free agency rumors, follow our live blog on TKB