Winderman: Welcome to ‘Melodrama, Part II

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Now comes Part II of the Melo melodrama, and this could be even more intriguing.

Not by volume, of course. The next incarnation won’t be a 15-player package.

Rather, it will be fascinating to see just how much a team is willing to ante up for a potential four-month rental.

In many ways, Anthony could become a test case, a test case that also could create some second guessing of what transpired just a year ago, when the Cavaliers, Raptors and Suns held their cards to the end — and wound up with nothing tangible in exchange for LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Amare Stoudemire in free agency.

But at least Denver has those three examples as a guide.

Cleveland was never in position to consider dealing James by last season’s trading deadline, not while in the thick of a championship hunt that could have netted both a ring and LeBron’s long-term signature.

But, in retrospect, Toronto would have been wise to cash out with Bosh at the 2010 trading deadline. Ditto with the Suns and Stoudemire.

If the Nuggets truly believe they are championship contenders (they’re not), then it might make sense to play this out to the finish. Just put a dotted line on some of that championship confetti.

Otherwise, test the desperation elsewhere. Foremost, it has to be a team with a sizeable expiring contract. Then there have to be prospects and picks, what the Nuggets thought they would be getting from the Nets, until they apparently pushed too far.

In a league of ultimate desperation, someone’s championship vision will have them overpaying. Dallas, with Caron Butler sidelined, just might make plenty of sense.

Of course, Carmelo paying a playoff visit to the Pepsi Center with the Mavericks might prove too much to stomach.

Carmelo and the Nuggets clearly wanted ownership of the trade situation. Both seemed to have overplayed their hand.

Now the Nuggets would be foolish not to seek renter’s insurance, if, indeed, a such-term taker can be found.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

LeBron James hits go-ahead shot in All-Star win (video)

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LOS ANGELES – LeBron James‘ team trailed by 13 midway through the fourth quarter of the All-Star game, but he led a competitive comeback.

This shot put his team up 146-145 over Stephen Curry‘s team, and Team LeBron held on for a 148-145 win:

Great penetration by Russell Westbrook, and he and Kyrie Irving moved the ball well. LeBron made it count.

LeBron James finishes reverse alley-oop from Russell Westbrook (VIDEO)

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LOS ANGELES — The new format for the NBA All-Star game brought a little more defense to the first half of the annual showcase, but it didn’t do much to enliven the game. That said, the game has been better than the pre-game “entertainment.”

Midway through the second quarter, his team down 15, LeBron James decided to make it a game again and played with some energy. That included a three, and a couple impressive alley-oop finishes. The best came via Russell Westbrook.

There also was this one courtesy Kemba Walker.

Those may be the two best dunks of the first half.

Anthony Davis opens All-Star game wearing DeMarcus Cousins’ jersey

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LOS ANGELES – Anthony Davis often relies on his Pelicans teammates to set him up.

Tonight, he gave a nod to one of them.

Davis started the All-Star game wearing DeMarcus Cousins‘ No. 0 jersey. Cousins and Davis were both voted starters then drafted by LeBron James, but Cousins can’t play due to injury.

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

Very cool gesture by Davis. He’s an excellent teammate.

No, Joel Embiid didn’t cheat during the NBA Skills Challenge

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The Internet got itself all in a huff on Saturday as they watched the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend Skills Challenge. In particular, the matchup between Chicago Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen and Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid stirred up a bit of controversy.

Specifically, folks accused Embiid of cheating.

During the passing section of the obstacle course, Embiid didn’t actually make any of his passes into the ring. He then proceeded on the next section and was neck-and-neck with Markkanen as they tried to finish out the head-to-head competition. Markkanen won, but that didn’t stop folks from saying the 76ers All-Star had circumvented the rules.

We now know that’s not true.

According to the rules (provided on the NBA media site, page 47 of the 2018 NBA All-Star Media Guide) Embiid was allowed to move onto the next section even though he hadn’t completed any of his passes. A player only has to exhaust the rack, not complete a pass. It appears rules sort of assume that if a player stands there trying to complete a pass three times they’ll fall so far behind they won’t be able to catch up.

Re-watching the video, it appears Embiid knew this rule to the game and figured if he didn’t make the first one he would quickly try to blast the next two passes off the rack so he could then move onto the next section.

Embiid even took to Twitter to head off accusations that he had cheated.

Via Twitter:

Trust. The. Process.