Anthony still wants out in Denver, but deals to move him are complex

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Thumbnail image for carmello.anthony.2.jpgIt’s really a two-step process for the Nuggets to move on and trade Carmelo Anthony. And while most of us are having fun playing around with step two, the Nuggets still seem to be on step one.

Step one: Accept that he is going to leave and that you have to trade him. Step two: Find a deal that works.

Nuggets officials still seem to be dealing with step one — they think they have a shot to convince Anthony to stay. To sign the three-year, $65 million deal that is out on the table. Look at what coach George Karl told the Denver Post:

“To me, my job is to, anytime I talk to Melo . . . it’s to convince him that we won 53 games last year and I think we’re very capable of being a lot better than we were last year,” Karl told reporters. “Some of the bombs that hit our team injury-wise and my situation, I think we kind of need to stay together, in my opinion. It’s pretty easy: Stay together and figure it out. Right now, I don’t think Melo is going to be calling me for advice. Fortunately, it’s not my job to probably call him to talk about that situation. My job is to talk about basketball.”

How’s that going? Here’s what’s Ken Berger got from people “involved in the process” and clearly close to Anthony.

“There’s no sign of reconsideration on Carmelo’s part, despite what [Denver] has publicly said,” said one of the people involved in the process.

Denver officials may or may not be coming around to accepting that they will lose him — officially they are still turning away trade calls — but this topic will be a massive distraction during training camp and into the season if Denver doesn’t move him. It is a question that will come up in every city, in seemingly every story about the team.

But Berger also shows how hard it is to put together a fair deal for Anthony.

He talks about a complex three-team idea involving New Jersey and Philadelphia that would ultimately send Anthony to the Nets, No. 3 pick Derrick Favors to Philadelphia and Andre Iguodala to Denver. But there are a lot of other moving parts to make the salaries work, and Rod Thorn in Philadelphia may realize he is trading Iguodala ad getting back a project in Favors. Anthony likely would sign an extension with the Brooklyn-bound Nets but wherever he gets traded has to be to a team where he would sign. Nobody is just going to rent him.

Getting a deal done will be hard, but eventually Denver will come around and realize it has no choice. Unless it wants to repeat the fun in Cleveland. Or Toronto, where new Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri came from — doubt he wants to see that movie twice.

Jimmy Butler wants Mason Plumlee to pay fine after scuffle (video)


Jimmy Butler and Mason Plumlee got into an altercation in the Bulls’ win over the Trail Blazers last night.

Plumlee lowered his head and tried to barrel through Butler’s chest on a Butler screen. Butler fell and retaliated by putting Plumlee in a leg lock, causing Plumlee to fall.

You might remember a leg lock as what Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova did to Bulls forward Taj Gibson during last year’s playoffs. For all the talk then of Dellavedova being a dirty player, Butler seems particularly aggrieved after getting a technical foul, which comes with a $2,500 fine – the same penalty Dellavedova eventually received. (Plumlee got a flagrant foul.)

Butler, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

“He thought he was playing football for a second there,” Butler said. “Almost had to let the Fort Greene Projects out of me, Brooklyn, you know what I’m saying?”

It was said tongue in cheek considering Gibson was a few feet over and Butler wanted to draw some laughs. Gibson is a Brooklyn native and grew up in the Fort Greene Projects while Butler grew up in Tomball, Texas.

It was no laughing matter when he said he would find a way to approach Plumlee about the fine money, jokingly suggesting he would have his agent email him at “Mr. or something” and made a joke about Mike Dunleavy applauding Plumlee’s act.

Plumlee and Dunleavy are products of Duke University.

“Yeah, he cost me 2,500,” Butler said. “I’m not happy about that. Gonna ask him to pay me back and I’m not playing.”

Is that, or Or is it Dookie?

These are important questions – at least if you’re trying to turn the conversation away from your dirty play and toward your colorful quotes.

Breaking news: Leandro Barbosa dunked


The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to start 16-0.

In the process of getting that record-breaking win over the Lakers, something nearly as historic happened.

Leandro Barbosa dunked.

The 32-year-old Golden State guard last jammed in January 2011.

For a little more perspective, look how Barbosa handled a breakaway layup earlier in the fourth quarter:

You think that man can still slam?

Yes. Yes, he can.

Magic benching Victor Oladipo, starting Channing Frye

Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Channing Frye
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Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic have started eight of the Magic’s 14 games, including the last three.

But after Orlando dropped two straight, Scott Skiles hinted at lineup changes.

The Magic coach will deliver against the Knicks tonight, swapping Channing Frye for Oladipo.

Skiles, via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“It’s nothing punitive,” Skiles said after the Magic’s shootaround.

“It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”

Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the

  • Former starting lineup: 94.7/111.2/-16.5
  • New starting lineup: 117.2/90.3/+26.8

The new unit has played just 33 minutes in two games, so major sample-size caveats apply. But I like idea of seeing more of what has worked.

I suspect Skiles also wants to keep his players from becoming content. At 6-8 and coming off three straight seasons outside the playoffs, they should have no reason to feel satisfied, but the hard-driving Skiles will be proactive.

If Oladipo – whose defense Skiles values – can get sent to the bench, anyone can.

At some point, the Magic must determine whether Oladipo and Payton – both below-average 3-point shooters – can share a backcourt. But it’s also worth knowing whether Oladipo can excel as a super sub leading bench players.

This switch might help the Magic win now, but at worse, it’ll give them more information for evaluating their young roster. Seems smart all around.

Dwight Howard says he’s cleared to play back-to-backs

Dwight Howard
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The 5-9 Houston Rockets need some wins.

The Houston Rockets have a back-to-back coming up, Sunday against the Knicks then Monday against the Pistons (both on the road). Two teams with quality big men.

Combine those things and you end up with Dwight Howard being re-evaluated by team doctors and getting the training wheels taken off, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

This, plus a mini training camp the past few days, is part of new coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s effort to turn Houston’s season around.

Houston’s defense is 1.9 points per 100 possessions better this season when Howard is on the court and the Rockets are stronger on the glass. The problem is the offense is 7.8 points per 100 worse with Howard on the court. How much of that can be changed with some roster tweaks — like limiting the time James Harden and Ty Lawson share the court — and how much is due to Howard demanding touches and not doing enough with them we will find out quickly.