Apparently Camelo Anthony doesn't want a title, just wants out

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Thumbnail image for CAnthony_stares.jpgThe trading of Carmelo Anthony before the start of the season has gone from “if” to “where and for whom” if we are to believe the latest reports. And we do, as all signs point that way and have for a while.

But from the list of possible trading partners out there — both the ones preferred by Anthony and the ones the Nuggets ownership has forced into the conversation — it is clear that winning a title is not why Anthony is doing this.

From what we can gather and other reports, the list of teams Anthony is interested in includes New York, Orlando, Chicago, Houston and New Jersey. The Nuggets want young players and picks, so they have brought the Clippers and Golden State to the party.

Who on that list is closer to winning a title than the Nuggets? None, really. Unless Anthony thinks he can draw Chris Paul to wherever he lands to form a new superteam, which is a pretty big gambit. But he gets no closer to a title with any realistic move right now.

Maybe Orlando would be a contender. But they would have to get past Miami and Boston in the East (and Chicago is pretty good, too). And while Boston will fade Miami is going to be a powerhouse — an only improving powerhouse — for the next five years. While the Lakers are a power in Denver’s way in the West, their window is shorter.

In the west Houston makes some sense — if you think Yao Ming can stay healthy and ignore how good the Lakers are. Getting Anthony would recreate the concepts behind the McGrady/Yao pairing that never quite panned out. And the Rockets could offer a nice package in a trade of something like Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger, plus they have something the Knicks do not — Knicks draft picks. The Rockets could offer up their own 2011 pick (which comes with the right to flip with New York) and the Knicks 2012 pick.

Anthony allegedly pushed for New York but the Nuggets see no sense in that because what can the Knicks really offer? The expiring contract of Eddy Curry, somebody like Wilson Chandler and picks in 2014 and 2016? Not enticing.

The Clippers are considered frontrunners and they certainly could put together a package of nice young players. Chris Kaman would be a big salary piece but Eric Bledsoe and maybe even Eric Gordon could be part of the package, along with picks. But do not think Blake Griffin will be part of the deal, the Clippers are too invested in him.

This also is where cooperation comes in — would Anthony really do a sign-and-trade to the Clippers? Would he trust the prime of his career to Donald Sterling? Anthony and the Clippers need to be on the same page here.

The Nets may make the most sense. They are soon to be New York, they have young players like Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, the big contract of Troy Murphy could be part of the deal. What the Nets would want is to keep Brook Lopez and rookie Derrick Favors to pair with Anthony, in what could be a very good combo going forward.

But with the Heat looming in the East, is that closer to a title than Denver right now? No.

Which makes me think more and more that winning is not the primary motivation here.

After Thunder win, Russell Westbrook trolls Joel Embiid, waves goodbye, tells him to “go home”

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Joel Embiid was making friends all over the court on Friday night.

First, he got into a jawing match with Carmelo Anthony. Also during the first overtime, Embiid blocked Russell Westbrook‘s driving attempt at a game winner.

After the Thunder won in triple overtime, Westbrook trolled Embiid by waving goodbye to the Sixers’ center, who was yelling back at him.

When asked about it, Westbrook said Embiid was talking a lot so he told the Sixers center to go home.

That can have some serious connotations — Embiid was born in Cameroon. Westbrook may have meant “go to the locker room” or “go to where you live,” but considering Embiid is an immigrant it comes off very poorly for Westbrook.

Embiid threw a little fire back at Westbrook.

The league office is going to be looking into this one.

DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t expect Pelicans to trade him at the deadline

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The New Orleans Pelicans have a decision to make as they approach the trade deadline: Do they think they can re-sign DeMarcus Cousins next summer to stay in the Big Easy with Anthony Davis?

If the answer is no, then they have to consider trading Cousins at the deadline to at least get something back. There is a lot of context, however, that makes this seeming binary trade/keep decision far more complicated.

Cousins himself doesn’t think he is going anywhere, as he told Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated.

While the Pelicans have a lot to consider with the unrestricted free agent, Cousins says he is confident that he will still be playing for New Orleans after the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

“I am confident in my team,” Cousins said. “I am starting to understand this business a lot more than I did before. You can kind of tell when things are about to come about. We’re a very competitive team. A talented team. I don’t think that will be the case at all….

“A.D. hits me with little jabs about free agency all the time, but he also understands,” Cousins said. “It was Jrue in that situation last [offseason], and we understood his situation. Of course, they throw their little jabs. They throw their little jokes. But they are serious at the same time. They are respectful about it at the same time.

The Pelicans are 15-14 and the seven seed in the West entering Friday night’s games, and if New Orleans has a shot at the playoffs come the deadline there is no way he gets moved. Ownership and management want a playoff appearance. They have greenlit adding one of the game’s top centers (Cousins) to go next to Davis, and last summer they paid big to keep Jrue Holiday at the point in New Orleans. If the Pelicans don’t make the playoffs (and possibly even if they do squeak in and get swept out in an ugly fashion), everyone in the organization expects a housecleaning. They have been on edge all season. With jobs on the line, they are not trading Cousins and getting worse short term even if you could argue it was the right basketball move long term.

Will Cousins re-sign with the Pelicans next summer? That will be about the money — what the Pelicans offer, and what other teams will offer in what is expected to be a tight free agent market, especially for centers.  DeAndre Jordan will be on the market as well, not to mention second-tier guys who will be more affordable for teams such as Brook Lopez. In that market, Cousins may want to stay where he likes his teammates and seems happy.

But first he has to get past the trade deadline.

Joel Embiid scores over Carmelo Anthony, then they exchange words (VIDEO)

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Joel Embiid gives zero… well, you know where I’m going with that.

Embiid trolls the world and backs down from no man, and that includes Carmelo Anthony. Late in the fourth quarter of the barn burner between the Thunder and 76ers Friday night, Embiid backed ‘Melo down and scored over him, then did a little jawing — which Anthony didn’t appreciate.

I love that Embiid egged on the Sixers crowd after this. He knows his audience. After the game he said this.

Embiid talks a lot — A LOT — but he is backing it up.

For example, in the first overtime Russell Westbrook thought he made a drive that was going to win the game, and Embiid rejected him.

If you did not watch this game, go find a replay. This is the new best game of the season.

Rudy Gobert leaves game vs. Celtics with likely knee sprain. Again.

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Rudy Gobert missed 11 games this season due to a bone bruise in his knee. While the Jazz defense suffered as should have been expected with their anchor gone, their offense found a groove without him — and with more Donovan Mitchell and Derrick Favors — resulting in Utah going 7-4 with their star center out.

Now the Jazz will be without him again for a while — he seems to have sprained his left knee just minutes into Friday night’s game against the Celtics when Favors fell back into him. That is the same knee he injured before. Gobert was forced to leave and will not return to the game.

If that diagnosis holds, it will be weeks again the Jazz will be without Gobert.

The Jazz know how to play without Gobert. Favors moves to center and while he’s not near the same defender his offensive skills got them buckets and opened up the floor. The rookie Mitchell, as well as Ricky Rubio at points, took advantage of it to give the Jazz a top-10 offense with Gobert out. They need to find that groove again.

Still, Utah needs Gobert back and himself to really reach the heights they are capable of.