Or maybe not… new report says ‘Melo to Knicks has “no legs,” Nets still frontrunners

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UPDATE 10:16 PM: It may be a couple months — specifically after Dec. 15 — before Anthony does get traded. So make yourself comfortable.

Dec. 15 is when players signed over the summer as free agents can be traded, so the pool of people that could be traded for Anthony expands that day and the Nuggets are willing to wait for that, according to Ken Berger at CBSSports.com. However, it is unclear exactly who that would free up to be traded to the Nuggets (although things change once the real games start).

The Nuggets are going to move him, they realize they need to if they want anything back for him, but they are not going to move now just to get a deal done. The real question is if their patience will be their undoing as teams are more likely to squeeze the Nuggets as things get closer to the trade deadline.

9:33 pm: With the ongoing ‘Melodrama, everything is spin.

Yesterday’s report — out of New York — was that the Knicks were back in the running for Carmelo Anthony.

That now seems to be dead in a New York Minute.

NBA.com’s David Aldridge — based outside the five boroughs — says that the Knicks are still watching from the sidelines, they are not in the race. But the Nets are still running hard.

A league source with knowledge of the New York Knicks’ thinking said on Wednesday that there were “no legs” to an ESPN.com report that the Knicks have made “significant” progress on a trade that would bring Carmelo Anthony to New York from the Denver Nuggets.

Other league sources that have been involved in trade discussions with the Nuggets about Anthony in recent weeks maintained that the New Jersey Nets are still in direct talks with Denver about Anthony, though a proposed four-way trade that would have brought Anthony to the Nets last month involving New Jersey, Denver, Utah and Charlotte fell through.

One source said that though that deal died, the Nets have “never been out of the mix” in discussions about Anthony, and that Denver was still trying to figure out a way to get either forward Andrei Kirienko from Utah, Charlotte’s Gerald Wallace or the 76ers’ Andre Iguodala in a package for Anthony. Kirilenko was part of the original four-team deal, and would have gone to Denver.

NBA trade talks are like politics — the truth varies depending on who you ask.

ESPN’s Chris Sheridan (author of the Knicks are alive story) is a top-flight, professional reporter. Somebody with insight told him the Knicks were making strides — maybe either a persons or people with interest in the Knicks making strides. Maybe somebody in Melo’s camp (that is still his top choice), or maybe somebody with the Knicks. Maybe a lot of things.

Other people have interest is saying that the Nets are only viable option. Or that the Nuggets still want Utah and AK47 in the deal. Or that the Nuggets need more time.

Everything is spin. Maybe the Knicks are making progress but the Nets are still the frontrunner. Maybe not.

All we really know is that Anthony wants out — even though he is not saying that publicly — and that the longer Denver waits the more other teams will start to squeeze them with their offers.

Rumor: NBA executives think Rockets have shot at signing LeBron James

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LeBron James is now rumored to be headed to about 29 NBA teams this summer when he can opt out of his current contract and become a free agent. Earlier this week, we heard rumblings that LeBron could be interested in sharing a Los Angeles Lakers roster with Dallas Mavericks center-at-large Nerlens Noel.

Now we’re hearing that NBA executives think the Houston Rockets have a chance of nabbing The King in the summer of 2018.

All aboard the Banana Boat.

According to USA Today’s Sam Amick, both the Rockets themselves and rival execs think Houston is a real landing spot for James thanks in part to how well they are playing this season. James Harden is having another MVP-caliber year, and Chris Paul has played beautifully in his return.

Via USA Today:

While James has made it clear that he won’t deliberate his uncertain future until the Cavs’ season is complete, there is strong belief in Rockets circles that they’ll have a legitimate shot at landing the four-time MVP this summer. Rival executives also believe the Rockets will have a real chance. And once you really look at it, when you get past all the noise about the Lakers and even the compelling case for the up-and-coming Philadelphia 76ers, it makes all sorts of sense.

The only team we haven’t heard connecting rumors about is the Cleveland Cavaliers themselves. LeBron — whose family lives in LA — recently bought a new house there and all signs point to James heading to the Western Conference. Well, unless he goes to the Philadelphia 76ers, of course.

Then again it felt like a certainty that LeBron would head to the New York Knicks nearly a decade ago, an idea that seems hilarious in retrospect. The NBA is weird, and if LeBron dips from Cleveland expect it to get even weirder.

Sixers’ Robert Covington to miss at least one game after crashing into stands

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NBA fans love hustle from their players, but sometimes things go awry.

That’s what happened on Saturday night after Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington dove into the stands to try to save a loose ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The play came in the fourth quarter with under two minutes left and the Sixers down by just one point. Covington leapt into the far sideline just near the Cavaliers bench. He appeared to turn his ankle and land awkwardly on his back. The Cleveland floor has a small lip after the first row of seats that may have played a part in the injury.

Cleveland would go on to score on the play, and Covington had to be helped off the floor. The Cavaliers went on to win, 105-98.

Meanwhile, the 76ers will play Sunday in New Orleans against the Pelicans. According to NBC Sports Philadelphia, Covington will miss the game with a lower back contusion.

Via NBCSN Philadelphia:

X-rays and a CT scan came back negative. Covington is with the team in New Orleans and is doubtful for Tuesday’s game in Minnesota.

Covington tumbled out of bounds and over courtside seats while he tried to save a possession during a Sixers comeback attempt. There is an approximate four-to-five inch drop between the court and the area where Covington landed. Many of his teammates were unaware of Covington’s injury at first because it was out of their vision.

“It’s scary to see your teammate like that,” guard JJ Redick said. “They said he fell on his back. I wanted to make sure he’s walking and not in too much pain. But I just wish the best for him and hope he’s OK.”

Back injuries can be a complete hassle to recover from, especially when you’re deep in the middle of the season. Let’s hope the Sixers get Covington back soon.

Giannis Antetokounmpo dunked all over Rudy Gobert (VIDEO)

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Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks a lot. The Milwaukee Bucks forward is big, strong, and aggressive when it comes to attacking the rim.

But he doesn’t typically dunk this hard or this emphatically over perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidates like Rudy Gobert.

That’s what made this one special.

As time was winding down in Milwaukee’s eventual 117-100 win over the Utah Jazz on Saturday night, Antetokounmpo put the exclamation point at the end of the sentence for the Bucks.

Gobert took the brunt of it. Via Twitter:

Goodness.

Gordon Hayward on playing this season: “It’s definitely in the back of my mind”

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Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward has been going through some grueling physical therapy to aid his recovery from a horrible leg injury he suffered during his first game with the team back in October. Hayward wound up breaking his ankle, likely putting him out for the season.

Meanwhile, whether Hayward plays or not during the 2017-18 campaign is still up for debate. Hayward is making progress in his recovery — he recently was able to take his walking boot off and go for a smaller ankle brace.

For his part, Hayward has said that he is still thinking about the possibility of returning this season to the Celtics, who have earned themselves the top spot in the Eastern Conference in his absence.

Speaking to Adam Himmelsbach over at the Boston Globe, Hayward detailed not only his recovery routine but his thinking when it came to planning his return.

Via The Boston Globe:

“It’s definitely in the back of my mind,” Hayward said. “I’m definitely pushing to get back as fast as I can, while making sure that I still have a lot of good years of basketball in me. And coming back early and hurting something else is not part of that plan. So I’m making sure that if I come back, I’m 1,000 percent confident in myself and my leg. I hope more than anything I can play this season. That would be awesome. But that’s not something I’m stressing about. I’m stressing about what I can do today to help myself get better.”

That’s smart thinking on Hayward’s part. Too often it seems like guys are jonesing to come back, and when they do it’s cause for concern that they’re damaging their long-term playing health.

Hayward is making some real progress — the Globe story details him doing tasks like picking up marbles with his toes and shooting baskets from a chair as part of his PT — but whether he’ll be ready this season is doubtful.

It doesn’t sound like Hayward wants to rush things, but you never know. His agent did say that his return this year is unlikely, but another report has said that his earliest return would be March. Just in time to make a run for an Eastern Conference Finals showdown against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers?

We’ll have to wait and see.

UPDATE: Shortly after this story and the Boston Globe one was published on Sunday morning, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said the team isn’t planning for Hayward to come back. The plot thickens!