Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets

Stop us if you’ve heard this one: New York closing in on Melo

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Recently we spread the word on a Yahoo! report saying Melo’s people had informed teams that the Knicks were the only team he would sign an extension with. From there, there has been more movement towards an actual trade with New York, signaling a possible shift in Denver’s so-far ice-cold approach to dealing with the Knicks.

First, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported Friday that Minnesota had entered into talks with the Nuggets and Knicks as a third partner. From Berger:

That team, sources say, is the Timberwolves, who are willing to absorb Eddy Curry’s $11.3 million expiring contract in a three-team scenario that would send Anthony Randolph to Minnesota and Anthony to New York. In this scenario, which one executive involved deemed “unlikely,” the Wolves would simply waive Curry after the trade. Depending on the timing, Curry would likely have only five paychecks remaining for a total of $4.7 million. So taking on Curry would involve little or no cost to Minnesota; if the Wolves could negotiate a $3 million buyout covering the remainder of Curry’s salary, that tab would be fully picked up by the Knicks, who could send as much as $3 million cash to Minnesota in the trade. But Curry’s $11.3 million cap number would help make the complicated trade math work in a three-team deal. The Nuggets aren’t interested in Curry’s expiring contract, sources say, and the only other team with enough cap space to take it on without sending back equal salary is Sacramento — which has yet to be invited into any Knicks-Nuggets discussions.

via Only time will tell if Mavs have what it takes to win out West – NBA – CBSSports.com Basketball.

Then off that story, Chris Broussard advanced it by filling in some of the details of the players involved in a possible deal Saturday night:

In the proposed trade, New York would send Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry to Minnesota and the Timberwolves would send Corey Brewer and a first-round pick to Denver. Denver would also receive Wilson Chandler from New York.The deal is not expected to happen until the middle of next week at the earliest, and one source said it could drag out until the trade deadline. Denver, which has been exchanging proposals with the Knicks for the past couple weeks, is weighing other options.

via Sources: New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves discuss Carmelo deal – ESPN New York.

Should this deal go through, it would mean an absolute coup for Donnie Walsh and the Knicks, a pretty perplexing move for Denver, and a pretty bad move for Minnesota.

The Knicks would be giving up Chandler, which is a shame given how he has played, but keeping Danilo Gallinari and offloading Eddy Curry to get Carmelo Anthony. It doesn’t solve their defensive issues nor their need for a legit center, but it’s adding an All-Star for Anthony Randolph, Wilson Chandler, and Eddy Curry. That’s a win.

The Nuggets? Going from Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, and three first-round picks to Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewer and a first-rounder in exchange for Carmelo Anthony is kind of a disaster. Masai Ujiri kept pushing for more, more more in the Nets deal, and if this is what he walks away with from his All-Star, that’s a pretty terrible way to start your tenure as GM.

For the Timberwolves? Kahn. That’s about it. Anthony Randolph alongside Darko Milicic and Michael Beasley while paying Eddy Curry money and surrendering a first-round pick. You might as well rename them the Minnesota Island of Misfit Toys.

The deal isn’t imminent and as always, these deals are likely to fall apart at any time. But all signs are pointing towards the Knicks getting their Melo cake and eating it cheaply too.

Report: Khris Middleton could return to Bucks before All-Star break

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 16:  Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts during their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 16, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. 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 Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The Bucks projected Khris Middleton to miss about 70 games when he tore his hamstring before the season. That extended absence often leads players just to shut down for the year, but Middleton vowed to return in time for the playoffs.

He might get back far sooner than that.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star ‎break.

Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.

The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.

Isaiah Thomas nutmegs Knicks center Marshall Plumlee (video)

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Isaiah Thomas usually saves his best play for the fourth quarter, but the Celtics guard showed out early with this pass between Marshall Plumlee‘s legs to get Kelly Olynyk a layup.

Thomas uncharacteristically just didn’t have enough late. Though he scored 39 points, he shot just 2-for-9 in the final period, as the Knicks pulled away for a 117-106 win.

Kevin Durant misses dunk so hard, ball flies past halfcourt (video)

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Kevin Durant played great in the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night, but – perhaps fueled by excess emotion – he missed this incredibly emphatic dunk attempt.

Later, Russell Westbrook showed his former teammate how to do it (sparking their apparent conversation):

James Harden outduels Giannis Antetokounmpo as they produce fantastic highlight video

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James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo met in a battle of two of the NBA’s best point guards. (Still weird to say.) The final lines:

  • Harden: 38 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks
  • Antetokounmpo: 32 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks

The winner? Harden and the Rockets, who topped the Bucks, 111-92.

But the real winner? Anyone who gets to watch this highlight video. It just gets better as it goes.