Report: Lakers, Nuggets have preliminary Carmelo Anthony talks


UPDATE 12:28 pm: Jim Buss — the son of owner Jerry Buss and the guy who is the real day-to-day head of the Lakers basketball-side operations — turned down a Carmelo Anthony for Andrew Bynum trade, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News (on twitter). He adds that Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant were dismayed.

Drafting Andrew Bynum was something the younger Buss pushed for — a lot of people thought it a reach at the time but, despite all the injuries, it has worked out well. Buss is fiercely loyal to Bynum and it would make sense if he turned down this trade.

ESPN’s Broussard acknowledged this but said that the talks are not dead.

12:02 pm: There are a lot of questions, a lot of reasons to be suspicious of this, but it is out there.

The Lakers and Nuggets have had preliminary discussions of a Carmelo Anthony for Andrew Bynum trade, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard. (To be fair, he was one of the first to have LeBron going to Miami.)

The Lakers’ package would be built around center Andrew Bynum. Denver has no interest in Ron Artest and isn’t particularly interested in Lamar Odom either, sources said. A straight-up deal of Bynum for Anthony works financially, but there could be other players involved since Denver would look to shed more salary if possible.

Sources described the talks as in their infancy, and a three-way deal between the Knicks, Nuggets and Wolves is very much alive.

He says the Nuggets are not interested in Lamar Odom or Ron Artest, which makes sense as they want to get young and rebuild and those guys are older with long-term deals. Denver throughout this has looked for ways to shed more salary — hello Al Harrington — and with that they may want to add players to any such deal.

Would ‘Melo sign an extension with the Lakers? He already has an off-season home in Los Angeles and it is a big entertainment industry city for his wife’s career. So the smart guess is yes, he would.

Here’s my first question: Who gains by leaking this? Denver does. They want to get a better deal than what the Knicks are offering right now. They need leverage now that the Nets are out of the picture. The big, bad Lakers and their actual quality asset in Andrew Bynum is that kind of leverage. So you could see the Nuggets making the call to the Lakers then leaking it.

Also remember when the Lakers stole Pau Gasol from Memphis (although it wasn’t quite the fleecing some thought) that the trade came out of the blue. The Lakers are better than most organizations at not having leaks. That this is out there adds to the suspicion.

However, the Lakers have talked about needing a shakeup to this roster. (Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak is not the kind of GM to simply say things to the media for effect.) This certainly would be a major shakeup.

The trade makes little sense for the Lakers in one key sense — they need to improve their defense if they want to defend their title, and Bynum is the anchor of their defense. Anthony can fill it up and is a great shooter late in games, but the Lakers offense already the most efficient in the league the Lakers have their closer.

Don’t bet on this happening. ‘Melo is much, much more likely to land in New York. But it’s out there and being discussed.

James Harden scores 34, Rockets hold off Timberwolves 129-120

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — James Harden had 34 points and 12 assists, and Houston held off a fourth-quarter rally to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 129-120 on Sunday night for the Rockets’ 26th win in 28 games.

The West’s top team led by as many as 25 before the Timberwolves, holding on for dear life in a tightening playoff race, pulled within five in the fourth. The loss dropped the Wolves into the eighth playoff spot after they started the day in a three-way tie for fifth.

Harden had 11 points in the final 6:34, including a 3-pointer with 58 seconds left that effectively secured the win.

Chris Paul and Clint Capela each had 16 points for the Rockets.

Jeff Teague led Minnesota with 23 points, Andrew Wiggins had 21, and Karl-Anthony Towns and Jamal Crawford each added 20.

The Wolves got a burst of energy after a fourth-quarter scuffle between Gorgui Dieng, Paul and Gerald Green. Green was ejected for coming to Paul’s defense after a frustrated Dieng pushed him down after a foul. With the pumped-up crowd chanting “Gor-Gui!,” Derek Rose had back-to-back layups to pull the Wolves to 109-102. But Paul hit a jumper with Crawford in his face, and Harden easily drove past Dieng for a layup to give the Rockets some breathing room.

Minnesota’s 19-6 run made it 115-110 with 3:58 to play before Trevor Ariza hit a 3, and the Rockets were able to answer every Wolves bucket to hold off the rally.

The game was seemingly over by halftime; Houston shot 63 percent, hit 11 3-pointers and led by as many as 24 in the first half while turning the ball over only three times. Harden had 10 assists in the first half, when the Wolves were as close as three before Houston reeled off a 12-0 run and didn’t allow Minnesota to recover.


Jimmy Butler targeting return to Timberwolves before end of season

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Jimmy Butler could return to the court for the Minnesota Timberwolves before the end of the regular season, if he stays on track with his rehabilitation from knee surgery.

Butler spoke to reporters Sunday for the first time since the meniscus injury he suffered Feb. 23 at Houston . He confirmed an initial recovery estimate of four to six weeks. Even on the long end of that timetable, he’d likely have two games with the Timberwolves before the postseason.

Butler said he’s confident in both his ability to heal in time and the team’s ability to hang on to a spot in the playoffs. The Wolves entered their game against the Rockets in a three-way tie for fifth place in the Western Conference, but no room for a slump.

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Gerald Green ejected for pushing Gorgui Dieng into stands (VIDEO)

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I don’t know why everyone in the NBA is so geeked this weekend. Coaches are getting fined, referees are throwing dudes out left and right. Maybe it’s because most of us recently saw the sun for the first time in five months, although I couldn’t tell you for certain.

As the Minnesota Timberwolves and Houston Rockets went head-to-head on Sunday, something had players on both sides itching. Early in the fourth quarter, Timberwolves big man Gorgui Dieng got into it with Houston’s Chris Paul and Gerald Green.

The incident came as Dieng was being defended by Paul in the low post. Paul was whistled for a foul while trying to get the ball away from Dieng, but even after the whistle blew the Rockets guard did not stop trying to get the ball. Dieng responded by pushing Paul, who fell to the ground as if someone cut the strings on him.

That prompted another whistle from the refs, and a crowd of players ensued. Green rushed to push Dieng, sending the Timberwolves center into the stands.

When the scene settled, Dieng was issued a technical foul and Green was ejected.

After the game, Dieng told reporters he thought Paul’s constant digging for the ball was a cheap shot, so he responded in kind.

Minnesota, energized, tried to make a late push on the top team in the Western Conference but came up just short. Houston beat the Timberwolves, 129-120.

Alvin Gentry, Stan Van Gundy fined $15,000 each for criticizing officials

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All is not right between NBA players, coaches, and the referees. What else is new?

After contentious games on Saturday night, both Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy and New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry expressed their opinions about what they felt was a poor officiating.

Van Gundy — whose team lost to the Portland Trail Blazers as they continued on to their 12th straight win — complained that his players were being “screwed” as they were knocked down, hammered, and hit. Gentry was especially infuriated after a late foul call went against his team as James Harden was hit on the hand while shooting a 3-pointer.

Now, the NBA has announced that both coaches have been fined $15,000 each for public criticism of officials.

Things were slated to get better between the NBRA and NBPA after the All-Star break. The two sides were supposed to have a meeting which discussed some of the more concerning trends that players and coaches have publicly complained about this year. That meeting got moved up to December, with more talks to come later. It’s not clear if they’ve done any good.

Right after All-Star Weekend guys like LeBron James were still making waves about how they are being officiated. Coaches like Doc Rivers continue to openly complain about the referees and draw fines. Van Gundy and Gentry are just the latest additions to the list, and it’s unlikely they’ll be the last before the season ends.

Hell, the end of the game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors was just about as bad as we’ve seen all year. In that game, Raptors coach Dwane Casey was ejected after a comment made by a fan sitting near the floor was incorrectly attributed to him.

The NBA lost a lot of veteran officials due to retirement in the changeover to this season, and the transition has been rough. They’re going to need to figure some things out over the summer. I expect bigger announcements about those efforts to come out after the NBA Finals as a means to restore public faith in the officiating crews.