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Amar’e Is Only Getting Better; Derrick Favors Is Ready To Rise

Before you write off the Knicks as fake contenders because they let Jeremy Lin walk in free agency and replaced him with The Point Guard Formerly Known As Raymond Felton, remember three things: New York has Carmelo Anthony, New York has Amar’e Stoudemire, and New York has Tyson Chandler. Is that the best frontcourt in the NBA? It’s very likely. Consider that the worst player of the trio, Chandler, is the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year and fresh off a gold-medal run with the U.S. Olympic team. The other Knick on the Olympic team is capable of dropping 37 points in 14 minutes. And the one guy who doesn’t have a gold medal, Amar’e, all he did this summer was spend some time at Hakeem Olajuwon‘s boot camp learning to refine his post moves … Yesterday, Carmelo talked about Stoudemire’s summer schooling with Newsday: “Him going down there (the low-post) and putting me on the wing, now I get to play off of him rather than me going down there and him playing off of me, which could be a deadly weapon if it all works out.” … He’s right. Carmelo is arguably a better post scorer than anybody on the Heat, Celtics, Nets, Bulls, Pacers or any other team you consider a contender in the East. So if Amar’e emerges next season even better in the post than ‘Melo, the Knicks will be a serious problem for the rest of the conference … Speaking of problems, Blake Griffin says he’s back to 100 percent after the knee injury that cost him a trip to the Olympics. That’s a problem for the Western Conference and any mean-mugging seven-footers who feel like getting in Blake’s way underneath the rim … Jermaine O’Neal says his entire body is feeling better than it’s felt in years. We really don’t know exactly what the Phoenix Suns training staff is doing, but they’re obviously miracle workers. You could send the Suns’ trainers over to The Walking Dead and they’d have everybody competing in triathlons within two months … Hit the jump to read about the next big thing in Utah…

Disgruntled youngster alert: Derrick Favors is ready to start living up to his No. 3 draft position. “I want to play more than what I played last year,” Favors was quoted in Utah’s Deseret News. “If it’s starting, cool. If it’s coming off the bench, cool. I don’t mind. I just want to play more. I don’t want to sit on the bench no more.” Hear that, Ty Corbin? Now here’s the real question: Does Favors see it as his responsibility to earn more PT, or does he feel like the coach owes him? The answer to that will prove the difference between a motivated young beast and a sulking underachiever … It seemed like the Kings were destined to relocate to Seattle as soon as Seattle city officials realize they have a too-good-to-refuse arena offer staring them right in the face, but lately a couple other cities have surfaced in the headlines and potential destinations for a new team. One is Virgina Beach. The other is Vancouver. If the NBA really did return to Vancouver, Big Country Reeves and Blue Edwards need to be in the building to kick things off on Opening Night … Random NBA role player update: Lou Amundson is still unsigned and is now talking to teams in Europe, where he can start fights in multiple languages; and former Oklahoma State star James Anderson is apparently headed to the Hawks to be a tragically poor man’s Joe Johnson … We’ve all made jokes about — or been completely serious about — the NBA rigging the Lottery, but keep an eye on what happens with the WNBA next year. Even if you try not to pay attention to women’s basketball, you should know who’s entering the draft in 2013: Brittney Griner. And at the moment, the four teams in the best position to get her with that No. 1 pick are Phoenix, Tulsa, Washington and Chicago. Well, there’s absolutely no way the biggest star the WNBA has ever seen is going to end up in Oklahoma. (No offense, KD and Russ, but it’s a different ballgame we’re talking about.) Oh, and New York is also pretty close to missing the playoffs. Anybody wanna bet against Griner winding up in New York, Chicago, Washington or Phoenix? Didn’t think so … Send a well-wish out for Rick Majerus, who will be taking a season-long leave of absence from coaching Saint Louis due to health concerns. Majerus, who led the Billikens back to the NCAA Tournament this year for the first time since 2000, has been in the hospital recently for a heart condition. Assistant Jim Crews (a Bobby Knight disciple) will take over the head coaching duties this season … We’re out like Big Country …

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