New York Knicks v Denver Nuggets

‘Melo says it’s all about winning. Trade to Nets moves closer. Do those two things go together?

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It’s getting close. The Nuggets, Nets and Pistons are still negotiating, hammering out the final details of a proposed blockbuster trade, something the Denver Post and multiple other sources are reporting. The details could be finalized the first part of next week, after the Nuggets finish their road trip Sunday night.

Then it all falls to Carmelo Anthony. He and his people will be presented with the deal and have to make a decision.

Will he sign a three-year, $65 million contract extension to play with the Nets? Russian billionaire and Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is expected back in the United States the middle of next week and he — along with minority team owner Jay-Z — are expected to personally make the case to Carmelo on why he should come to New Jersey. Prokhorov said to be very persuasive in person. But the Knicks keep standing there in the background trying to get Anthony’s attention.

Anthony told reporters before the Nuggets took on the Cavaliers Saturday that what he cared about was not moving to New York or any specific market — he cared about winning.

“I’m going into my ninth season. I have no time to waste right now,” Anthony said. “I want to see the light at the end of the tunnel in my future. That light is a championship….

“Going to a bigger market and all that stuff is cool, but if I feel like I have a chance of winning a championship in Denver in the next five years, then I’ll sign the extension. It really doesn’t matter. I just want to win. At the end of the day, that’s all I care about.”

There are real questions about whether moving to the East is the best way to get a title. Right now the Boston Celtics are a force, but even as they fade the Miami Heat will be a powerhouse for years to come, and Orlando with Dwight Howard in the middle isn’t going anywhere. Also, the Chicago Bulls with Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer are a good shooting guard away from being an elite team.

Out in the West, right now you have the Lakers, plus the rejuvenated Spurs. But those are two of the older teams in the league; their windows are not going to be open much longer. Dallas with Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki is not a young team, either.

Oklahoma City is up-and-coming, but wouldn’t Anthony have a better chance of getting a ring coming out the West with a good Nuggets roster in three years rather than fighting his way out of a deep Eastern Conference? Especially since the Nets have 34-year-old Chauncey Billups and 32-year-old Rip Hamilton as key parts, so some moves to restructure would be needed in a couple of years.

While the questions linger, the trade machinery has moved forward and the deal is almost done. That deal would send Anthony, Billups and Hamilton to New Jersey; send Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, Anthony Morrow, some other players and a couple first-round picks to Denver; and give Detroit Troy Murphy and Johan Petro as well as some second-round picks. And that’s just the core of a 16-player trade that would have multiple picks changing hands as well.

The only thing that would kill it is Anthony saying he wouldn’t sign an extension with the Nets, at which point they would pull out and the house of cards would fall. One way or another we are getting close.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. 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.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: