Knicks Win Without Carmelo; Pau Gasol Rumors Swirl

OK, I’ll play. Doug Smith of the Toronto Star is speculating about a trade of Andrea Bargnani for Pau Gasol. Full disclosure #1: 30 years ago, Smitty was the sports editor in a small Ontario town and hired me as a columnist. He’s the best. Full disclosure #2: I live ten minutes from the Air Canada Centre (there you go, Sheridan, a ‘legit’ Canadian spelling) and am so sick of Bargnani’s frequent disappearing acts, I will eat any pasta but Primo.

In this corner of the site, we are more-than-casual, less-than-rabid NBA fans who are good at fantasy hoops. The real columnists can tell you much more about how a trade like this would affect both franchises. From my perspective, a stretch 4 in L.A. would be ideal, and there may be no better human to pair with Jonas Valanciunas than Gasol. Pau and Kyle Lowry could run a two-man game, while Jonas cleans up mistakes and learns from an all-time great.

It’s still only a rumor, and other teams like the Timberwolves and Bulls apparently covet Gasol, if he’s made available. This would be such a Bryan Colangelo deal; cleaning up his own worst mistakes. Please, basketball gods, make it happen.

December 6 Games

NYK @ MIA: Who needs Carmelo Anthony? Not Raymond Felton, who his six 3-pointers en route to 27 points, adding 7 assists and 4 rebounds, despite a very sore left thumb. Melo was in street clothes, letting his lacerated finger heal, but the Knicks got a tremendous effort from their second unit and are the best team in the East. Steve Novak scored 18 points, J.R. Smith added 13 as the visitors buried eight triples in the third quarter to blow open a close game.

LeBron James just missed another triple-double (31 PTS, 10 REB, 9 AST) but he didn’t get much help. Dwyane Wade scored just 13 (on 3-13 shooting) and Chris Bosh (12 PTS, 6 REB) shot a mediocre 3-for-12. Three injured players returned for the Heat; only Mario Chalmers (7) hit the scoreboard, as Norris Cole looked lost and Shane Battier (knee) looked immobile. Udonis Haslem (10 PTS, 7 REB) started in place of Battier.

It won’t be long until Amare Stoudemire (knee) is back, and for anyone suggesting that might not help the Knicks, ask yourself if STAT is better than 40-year-old Kurt Thomas, who has started the last six games. Amare is targeting Christmas Day, and Iman Shumpert (knee) might return soon after, adding depth and a defensive presence to an already excellent roster. By the next time the Knicks play Miami (March 3 at MSG) this matchup will really be a playoff preview.

DAL @ PHO: Suns fans will be lining up for refunds. Actually, they just have to fill out a form saying they didn’t have a good time at the game, and anyone who has to watch Michael Beasley play certainly qualifies as unhappy. Credit the Mavericks for bouncing back 24 hours after a lopsided loss. O.J. Mayo (23 PTS, 5 REB, 5 AST) led all scorers and the Dallas bench was great. Darren Collison (16 PTS, 4 REB, 2 AST) played more (and better) minutes than starter Derek Fisher, who took three shots and missed them all. Chris Kaman (15 PTS, 7 REB before rolling his ankle) and Brandan Wright (16 PTS, 4 REB) were major contributors. Shawn Marion (groin) left midway through the third quarter; he and Kaman are questionable for Saturday.

It’s inevitable that Beasley, a single-digit scorer in four of his last five, will be demoted. Markieff Morris (15 PTS, 17 REB, 3 AST, 2 BLK) could slide over to SF with Luis Scola (13 PTS, 9 REB, 3 AST) returning to the starting PF spot, and/or Jared Dudley (11 PTS in 20 minutes) will see more action. One of the other big problems in Phoenix is the play —and negative attitude — of Marcin Gortat, who finished with three points on 1-for-8 shooting and would have some folks demanding a refund even if there hadn’t been a guarantee.

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