Anthony, Nuggets have to play ball together one way or another

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Thumbnail image for anthony_high5.jpgThe rumors just keep flying around a four-team trade that would bring Carmelo Anthony to New York seems to be slipping away.

Why? Because Denver and Anthony can’t seem to play nice together. So it looks more and more like they will have to play together on the court to start the season in what will be a very awkward union. It looks more and more that way.

Anthony wants to go to the Knicks. The Nuggets are pissed at Anthony and don’t want to send him where he wants to go. Plus the Knicks don’t have the best offer. The parameters of the much-discussed four-team trade (that would net the Nuggets a good haul) are in place, but two things are holding it up, according to Yahoo sports.

One is Anthony, who is hesitant to sign an extension with the Nets, a prerequisite of the deal going through. The Nets won 12 games last year and played before a lot of empty seats in the Meadowlands, and Anthony apparently isn’t sold things will be different. The Nets have a new Russian billionaire owner, a new energy and will be in Brooklyn in a couple years — things are changing with that franchise — but that’s not enough for Anthony.

No, Anthony and his CAA people keep pushing for the Knicks saying he wants to play for a winner. Which is crap — to get Anthony the Knicks would have to strip their roster down to Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and not much else, with no picks. The Nets are better positioned to be good long term. But you know, it’s the Knicks. So he wants that.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets keep looking around for a better deal, and are considering even killing this deal to find a better one. They may want to ask the Toronto Raptors organization how well that same strategy worked out with the Vince Carter trade. Meanwhile, other teams in the deal are getting uncomfortable.

By the way, some are blaming new Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri for this. Don’t. There is a division within the Nuggets front office on how to handle this, but at the end of the day Josh Kronke makes the call. The buck falls to him.

We’ve been saying this since day one — Anthony and the Nuggets don’t have to like each other, but they need to be civil and play nice to get something done that works for all of them. Right now, that’s not happening. So a four-team deal is in a holding pattern and may slip away. Both the Nuggets and Anthony may come to regret that. Anthony wants the Knicks but is he willing to risk millions on a new CBA to make it a reality, because that may be the test. For the Nuggets, they may find fewer teams willing to play ball and teams like Chicago more likely to take pieces out of their offer rather than add them in. The Nuggets will feel the pressure to get something done just not to be left with nothing.

Play nice and work out some kind of deal. If you can’t, you’ll all come to regret it.

And in the mean time, Denver and Anthony will both have no fun being on the court together. That is going to be akwaard. Enjoy.

Spurs honor Kobe Bryant in his last game in San Antonio (VIDEO)

LOS ANGELES - MARCH 30:  Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands next to Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs on March 30, 2006 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Spurs won 96-85. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Kobe Bryant farewell tour has gone all around the NBA, but some stops are more emotional than others. His final trip to San Antonio certainly qualifies — the Spurs and Lakers have played each other in the playoffs eight times in his career, including twice in the Western Conference Finals (the Lakers won both times). The only player who has rivaled Bryant’s longevity is Tim Duncan, and the Lakers and Spurs were the two most dominant teams of the 2000s, winning nine of the 12 championships from 1999 to 2010 between them.

So, of course, the Spurs had an elaborate tribute video planned for Bryant. The video ran two and a half minutes and featured narration from Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Watch it below:

Report: Clippers’ Austin Rivers has broken hand, out 4-6 weeks

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29:  Austin Rivers #25 of the Los Angeles Clippers scores on a layup past D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a 105-93 win at Staples Center on January 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Clippers are without Blake Griffin for the next few weeks as he recovers from a broken hand stemming from an altercation with an equipment manager. Now, the Clippers have lost backup point guard Austin Rivers to the exact same injury, albeit not in the same circumstances, obviously.

The loss of Rivers isn’t as devastating as the loss of Griffin, but given the Clippers’ lack of depth, it’s certainly not ideal. Now, Chris Paul‘s only backup is Pablo Prigioni.

Warriors hold off late Thunder run to remain undefeated at home

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For once, a marquee matchup involving the Golden State Warriors lived up to its billing. Their much-hyped meetings with the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs were anticlimactic blowouts nearly free of drama. And for the first half on Saturday night’s 116-108 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, it seemed like the defending champions were headed for another snoozer. They led by as much as 20, and completely outmatched the Thunder on both ends of the floor.

But the Thunder rallied behind a surprising defensive effort in the second half and some solid play from Enes Kanter. Plus, you know, Kevin Durant, who led all scorers with 40 points and gave the normally unflappable Draymond Green fits defensively. They tied the game at 104 before Golden State pulled away.

Despite the huge first-half lead, the Warriors weren’t their usual selves. Stephen Curry shot 1-for-8 from behind the three-point line, and triple-double machine Draymond Green scored just nine points. Golden State’s most consistent player was Harrison Barnes, who has probably read the speculation that the Warriors would have to dump him to land Durant this summer. He hit three three-pointers and shot 8-for-14 overall on the way to 19 points.

The Warriors’ bench carried them for stretches, outscoring Oklahoma City’s reserves 42-17.

Despite the Thunder’s late run, this was a statement win for the Warriors. They sent the message that, even when they aren’t in total control from start to finish, they can still pull away from other elite teams. The Thunder have given them the toughest challenge of any team they’ll likely have to face in the late rounds of the playoffs this spring, and it’s to their credit that they took the first-half punch and came back to make it a game. But the Warriors are on a different level from the rest of the league, and they showed that clearly on Saturday.

Kevin Durant brushes off free-agency speculation: “Once that time comes, I’ll make that decision”

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 05:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder drives on Harrison Barnes #40 of the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on January 5, 2015 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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It goes without saying that with the Thunder and Warriors playing each other for the first time on Saturday night, Kevin Durant free-agency talk has been at an all-time high. The hot rumor this week is that the Warriors are the frontrunners to land Durant this summer, which would shake up the league like nothing since LeBron James going to Miami.

Obviously, all parties were going to be asked about it before the hotly anticipated game. And obviously, all parties were going to downplay it. That’s exactly what happened.

Here’s what Durant said, via the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Rusty Simmons:

“Once that time comes, I’ll make that decision. I’ll sit down and talk to my closest friends and family and figure it out, but right now, I’m just trying to be the best basketball player I can be every single day. I have to be at a high level to lead every day at practices, shootarounds and games, and that’s a tough task. I can’t focus on anything else, other than that.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr also downplayed the speculation:

“I don’t know why anybody would talk about anything but the fact that we’re 45-4 and have a hell of a team,” said Kerr, who hasn’t addressed rumors about Durant favoring the Bay Area as a future destination with his players. “Why would anybody talk about some different team, future stuff and other players?

“Focus on our team. We’re pretty good.”

On both sides, that’s the appropriate way to respond publicly. Not that this is going to go away anytime soon. They play each other two more times this season, once in Oklahoma City and once more in Oakland, and this is going to get brought up then, too. And just like Saturday, nobody will give a definitive answer. Nor should they. Nobody will know anything until July 1. But until then, it will be impossible to quiet the chatter.