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Joe Johnson Says Nets ‘Definitely’ Better Than Knicks; New York Also Losing Jeremy Lin?

GM Billy King is calling them “the best backcourt in the NBA.” We’re calling them a probable playoff team. Joe Johnson just calls them “definitely” better than the Knicks. The venue: Borough Hall. Who: about 1,000 screaming fans. What: a rap cypher. Okay, so the last part isn’t really true. But that’s what it felt like. Someone should’ve just given Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz a mic because the dude was throwing more haymakers at the crosstown “rivals” than Eminem on “The Sauce.” At the rally to celebrate the new stars of Brooklyn, Markowitz instead took the chance to say: “For nearly 40 years the Manhattan Knicks have shown they can’t bring a championship to New York, so it’s going to take the Brooklyn Nets to get the job done. So move over Manhattan — enough air balls. You had your chance.” He must’ve been hanging with Jay-Z lately. It took more than half a bar to drop the diss, but he still hit the Knicks HARD. Then Johnson took his turn and said his new squad is definitely better than the ones from across town. The Knicks haven’t exactly lit the basketball world on fire, and Amar’e Stoudemire‘s knees might be weaker than 40 Glocc, but all-around, they still have more talent than the Nets. Williams might go berserk and turn Jeremy Lin into a couple of egg rolls like he did last season, and yet it probably wouldn’t matter. The Knicks have ‘Melo, who is much better than Gerald Wallace, and Tyson Chandler, who is much better than Brook Lopez. The rest of the rosters are a wash. Joe Johnson is just a little too excited right now (for the first time in like, ever) … Brooklyn/Manhattan beef wasn’t even the biggest news in New York yesterday. It seems the unthinkable might happen. There’s a good chance the Knicks let Jeremy Lin walk. Houston has signed Lin to an offer sheet worth $25 million, which isn’t all that crazy, but it’s backloaded for nearly $15 million in the final year. In another sign that perhaps their commitment to Linsanity is wavering is the acquisition of Raymond Felton. New York picked up Felton (again) and Kurt Thomas from Portland for Jared Jeffries, Dan Gadzuric and a 2016 second-round pick, according to Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. They could play the two of them together, but how much weight can they fit in one backcourt (in the case of Felton, how much is quite literally a question)? Also, do you realize that Thomas and Marcus Camby are now once again teammates on the Knicks 14 years after they first were? … Some other offseason news: the Knicks won’t match Landry Fields‘ offer sheet and he’ll become a Raptor … Cleveland might be looking to form up the all-flop team by possibly pairing Luis Scola with Anderson Varejao … Brooklyn kept winning by picking up C.J. Watson on the cheap … The Bobcats claimed Brendan Haywood, while the Hornets agreed to match Phoenix’s offer to Eric Gordon … And Kyrie Irving is out six to eight weeks after he fractured a bone in his right hand during a summer league practice. Kobe DEFINITELY sent Tonya Harding’s hit man … Keep reading to hear about the second day of the World Basketball Festival …

The second day of the World Basketball Festival in Washington, D.C. brought us face to face with Team USA at the Armory, a military base that, after the basketball renovations, felt like a Broadway show. Our man Sean Sweeney checked out a team practice early yesterday morning. John Thompson, the Georgetown legend, was there. So were Olympic alums Lenny Wilkens and Pat Ewing, who didn’t appear to be sweating. The team was introduced, with Carmelo Anthony coming out last for the DMV love. With Jay Bilas – the trillest – MC-ing the practice, the players went through some fast-break drills, some three-man weaves and some pick-n-roll drills. No one was really going hard; Kevin Durant even took a long yawn at one point. Kobe missed his first eight jump shots in a row, and the only thing that changed were the “Kobe!” chants coming from the crowd only grew louder (he’s STILL the most popular player). Then, the intrasquad scrimmage started, Bryant banged his first triple and we were off. The intensity was up. The defense was there. Everyone was into it. Maybe it felt different because we were a yard from the court, but the team was into it enough to lobby for one extra “overtime” session. The two teams were quite obviously “the starters” and “the subs”. The top six were Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, and the bench six were Deron Williams, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and James Harden. At one point, Coach K rolled with a lineup of CP3, Kobe, James, KD and ‘Melo, and they promptly proceeded to banished the rest of the guys to their rooms with a number of easy buckets. Williams was the only one keeping it close early; he banged two quick triples. That lineup might not work against the brothers from Spain, but if you’re an international team, you’re not trying to deal with that. That’s the type of lineup giving coaches ulcers … We also hit up a Converse block party where they debuted the Pro Leather, which is being re-launched this summer (and it’s DOPE), and then we got up on stage with Stalley and The-Dream. We’re just happy they didn’t toss us the mic … The day’s nightcap were the two semifinals of the City Tournament of Champions. New York took out Chicago in overtime and then Washington, D.C. was handling L.A. before the West Coast fellas came back and rolled in the second half. The biggest surprise of the games? Marcus Williams showed up to play for L.A. Yes, THAT Marcus Williams, of UConn and laptop fame. He seemed like he was half asleep for most of the action too … Photos will be on the way soon of all the festivities … We’re out like Knicks/Nets beef.

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