NBA Notes: Carmelo says Knicks 'right there'


NBA Notes: Carmelo says Knicks 'right there'

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Some of the players were old, though the New York Knicks say their team is young in its development.

So they feel they need time, not an overhaul, to get further next season.

"We're just fine. I love our team just the way it is," point guard Raymond Felton said Monday. "When you start making too many changes, you can't build on something. If you're going to be successful, you're going to be good, a team has to be a team, has to be together for a while. This is our first year together."

Most of the ones who spoke Monday considered it a good one, though Iman Shumpert said not reaching the Eastern Conference finals made it a failure. To have done that, the Knicks would've needed to win Saturday at Indiana, then win a Game 7 that would've been played Monday at Madison Square Garden.

Instead, they were holding exit meetings at their training center, believing they're not far from being at the level of the Pacers or even Miami Heat, who open the East finals on Wednesday.

"We're right there," Carmelo Anthony said. "When you look back, recap this whole season, just some detail-oriented things that we've kind of got to fix, but we're right there. I believe we're right there as a team."

The Knicks finished 54-28, the second-best record in the East, and reached the second round for the first time since 2000. Their Atlantic Division title was their first since 1994 (see full story).

Pacers' West misses practice
INDIANAPOLIS -- Pacers forward David West is expected to play Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals at Miami, despite an injured right leg.

Team doctors held West out of Monday's practice with what coach Frank Vogel described as a calf strain or lower leg strain. He did shoot around with his teammates after practice ended. Vogel said doctors thought it would be best to give West a day off.

Pacers center Roy Hibbert had his right thumb taped after getting hit in practice. He finished the workout and it is not expected to keep him out of the Miami game on Wednesday night.

Backup forward Jeff Pendergraph did not attend Monday's workout to attend the birth of his daughter.

Indiana is making its first conference finals appearance since 2004 (see full story).

Jordan changing Bobcats' name
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A person familiar with the situation says Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan is changing his team's name to the Hornets.

The person says Jordan will detail the timetable for the change to be completed at a press conference the Bobcats have scheduled for Tuesday. The person spoke to The Associated Press Monday on condition of anonymity because the name change has not been publicly announced.

NBA deputy commissioner and COO Adam Silver previously has said it would take "about 18 months" for the Bobcats to change their name. That means Charlotte could once again become the Hornets by the 2014-15 season.

The Hornets resided in Charlotte from 1988-2002 before then-owner George Shinn moved the franchise to New Orleans. The New Orleans Hornets recently changed their name to the Pelicans (see full story).

Brett Brown: Sixers' Nik Stauskas set for 'breakout year'

Brett Brown: Sixers' Nik Stauskas set for 'breakout year'

CAMDEN, N.J. — The irony of Nik Stauskas’ reputation as a three-point shooter is that he doesn’t view himself that way.

Stauskas was drafted eighth overall by the Kings in 2014 after shooting 44.1 percent from three over two years at Michigan. But that’s not how he envisioned himself being in the pros.

“It’s crazy,” Stauskas said after practice Thursday. “I know I was a great shooter coming out of Michigan, but I don’t consider myself a shooter. I consider myself a gamer. I don’t think I’m an effective NBA player when I just stand and spot up and shoot threes. That’s really not my game.”

Stauskas has struggled to find offensive consistency in the NBA. The third-year two-guard averaged 32.4 percent from long range in his first two seasons. He wasn’t reliable as a knockdown shooter and bounced in and out of the starting lineup last season.

Rather than being a finesse player, Brett Brown encouraged Stauskas to get aggressive. Brown wanted to a see an edge from Stauskas and not hold back at the basket.

Stauskas displayed that side to his game on opening night against the Thunder. In 23 minutes off the bench, he scored 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting. His only miss came on a three-point attempt. His 83.3 shooting percentage was a single-game career high.

“He was cocky,” Brown said. “He was in attack mode. He was not afraid to put it to the floor and get to the rim. I feel like he’s got a real chance to have a breakout year. We need him to have a breakout year.”

The Sixers picked up the options on Stauskas, Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor on Thursday.

“I think the statement the club made on his contract lets him probably have a little bit more comfort on what we think of him,” Brown said. “I was really happy with his swagger last night.”

Stauskas is figuring out his role on the Sixers this season. It is one that can change often given injuries. A key to being successful, whether he is on the perimeter or at the rim, is feeling confident and in a rhythm on the floor.

“I had fun out there,” Stauskas said. “More than anything, I think yesterday was the first time in a while that I’ve really enjoyed myself out there and had a smile on my face.”

Sixers players 'thrown off' by anthem ordeal, figuring out how to respond

Sixers players 'thrown off' by anthem ordeal, figuring out how to respond

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers held a team meeting on Thursday to address the situation surrounding the national anthem performance on opening night. 

Sevyn Streeter was slated to sing the anthem Wednesday. She said she was replaced that night for wearing a shirt that said "We Matter.” On Thursday, Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo brought in a representative from the organization to meet with the team for around 40 minutes. 

“I think right now everybody’s learning what’s gone on, trying to gather information,” Brett Brown, who heard of the news Thursday morning, said. “Clearly our players are concerned and we hear them. We’re with them. I’m with them. I think how it’s handled going forward, how we share an inclusive sort of decision on how we deal with this moving forward will be discussed later. But right now it has been brought to the players’ attention and my attention.”

CBS3 reported Thursday that Streeter had signed a contract that barred her from making a political statement during the performance.

Brown was asked by a reporter if he would like amends to be made to Streeter.

“I think all that is on the table,” Brown said. “I think how we handle it as a group is going to be thoroughly discussed. We understand the situation and we respect the social issue involved. We completely get it. As a group, we will try to find a way to deal with this.”

The team is considering numerous options, Nik Stauskas said. He recounted there was a sense of disappointment among the players that Streeter was not able to sing. 

“I think the team, not only do we want to speak up on the matter that happened yesterday, but I feel like we’re now starting to push, like it’s not just about saying something, it’s about making a difference,” he said. “It’s about going out there and doing something. So we don’t really know what we’re going to do yet, but I know a lot of guys on this team are eager to go out there and make a difference one way or another.”

Robert Covington said many of the players were “kind of thrown off” when finding out what transpired. 

“Collectively, we talked about it, everybody expressed their emotions about it,” Covington said. “We know that we want to take steps about it. We just don’t know exactly what steps we want to take. We talked about a lot of different things. That’s one thing that, as a team, we’re very aware of now that the whole incident’s happened. It’s not something we’re going to look over. It’s just a matter of time.”

The Sixers have not set a timeline of when they will decide on a next step. Their next game is Saturday afternoon at home against the Hawks.