Nuggets and Nets reportedly agree on deal, leaving Anthony to determine his own fate

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At long last, a deal is reportedly in place which would make Carmelo Anthony a Net…if he so chooses. According to Fred Kerber of the New York Post, New Jersey and Denver have agreed to terms on a deal that would bring the Anthony trade saga to its overdue conclusion.

However, as has been the case all along, finalization of the deal depends on Anthony himself. Should Anthony give his approval by way of agreeing to sign an extension with the Nets, this is the likely final form of the trade that will significantly alter the complexions of the two franchises (per the Post):

The Nets would send rookie Derrick Favors, point guard Devin Harris, forward Troy Murphy with his expiring $11.9 million contract, rookie guard Ben Uzoh, and four first-round draft picks to the Nuggets for Anthony, point guard Chauncey Billups, forwards Renaldo Balkman and Shelden Williams, and center Melvin Ely.

The Nets would surrender their first-round pick for June’s NBA Draft along with a pair of 2012 picks (a protected-to-18 pick received from the Lakers and a protected-to-7 pick from the Warriors), and a 2011 lottery-protected Rockets pick.

Ken Berger of CBSSports says that it is actually a three-team deal closer to one that had been in place before the Nets pulled out of talks previously. In this scenario the third team would get one of those four picks to take on the expiring contract of Troy Murphy. Al Iannazzone of the Bergen Record also reports that Murphy will be part of the deal, but indicates that Murphy would land with the Nuggets — a point which has been disputed in various reports.

Anthony will deny it, but he sure seems to have enjoyed this whole trade drama. In the same way some girls like to have all the guys fighting over them — they feign disgust but secretly love the attention — Anthony has said one thing but acted like a guy who wanted to be wooed more than he wanted to choose.

His people said he would only sign with the Knicks but did help facilitate the Nets talks. He kept saying nice things about the Nuggets. He tried to play all the angles.

Now, this weekend, Anthony has to actually make a choice.

Will he sign a three-year, $65 million extension with the New Jersey Nets or not? He is supposed to meet with both Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Knicks owner James Dolan this weekend in Los Angeles, where all three of them will be for All-Star Weekend. Either way, this weekend Anthony is going to get what he wanted: he is going to be wooed. Billionaires will be fighting over him.

The time for games is over. He has the leverage of the extension, if he really wants to be a Knick only then the Nuggets will have to deal with them and whatever they offer. If the Nets are in play there is no offer the Knicks can make the Nuggets will like as much as Favors and picks.

So Anthony — decide already. It’s time.

LeBron James finishes left-handed alley-oop with head behind backboard

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We have reached the point with LeBron James and his legendary career that the incredible almost seems ordinary — he has made our jaws drop so many times it’s hard for him to clear the bar of amazing anymore.

He did Saturday night against Utah.

In transition, LeBron gave up the ball to Jeff Green, who returned the favor with an alley-oop pass. Just not a particularly good one, it was behind James.

So he reaches back with his left hand and throws it down as he ducks his head under the backboard. Then LeBron stops and stares at his left hand, like he can’t believe what he just did.

We can’t either.

Carmelo Anthony standing ovation in return to Madison Square Garden

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Knicks fans may have had their frustrations with Carmelo Anthony, but they know how much he has meant to the franchise over the years. He pushed to be a Knick and chose to stay, he carried the franchise for years.

Saturday night he returned to Madison Square Garden in an Oklahoma City Thunder uniform after a trade this summer, and he was welcomed with a retrospective video followed by a standing ovation from the crowd (you can see all of it above).

Well done Knicks fans. Well done.

Lakers’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will not travel with team for 25 days due to legal issue

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The Lakers’Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed his new team’s first two games this season due to a suspension for a DUI case in Michigan.

But that was not all. Caldwell-Pope’s came with probation, and to get out of it early the Lakers’ forward has to go through an intensive rehab program — one that does not allow him to leave California with the team for 25 days. He did not play against the Cavaliers and that is just the first of multiple games he will miss, a story broken by Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Caldwell-Pope was originally cited for operating a vehicle while intoxicated but pleaded guilty in May to the lesser charge of allowing someone to operate his vehicle while under the influence, which carried a 12-month probation.

On Thursday, Caldwell-Pope had to return to California to begin an intensive program over the next 25 days that will result in some travel restrictions and could cause him to miss additional games but will end his probation early.

The Lakers are in a home heavy part of their schedule, and by my calculations KCP would only miss one or two games (for sure against Houston Dec. 20, then maybe against Golden State Dec. 22, but that is in California). The Lakers next road game after that is Dec. 31 in Houston again.

Caldwell-Pope signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Lakers last offseason, and he has gone on to become one of the few reliable three-point shooters on the team, hitting 36.1 percent from beyond the arc, taking 6.1 shots from there a game. He’s been solid on defense and a player the Lakers’ need, although his overall efficiency is closer to average.

If the Lakers are successful with their big game hunting during free agency next summer, Caldwell-Pope will not return to the team. In a tight free agent market, he may once again not see offers near what he sees himself worth next summer. That said, his play in Los Angeles has been good. And now he will not have this legal issue hanging over his head during free agency.

LeBron James is good with televising All-Star team selections

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From the moment the NBA announced changes to the All-Star Game team selection format for this season, most NBA fans — as well as most media members I know — have wanted a live team selection show.

As a reminder, this year (as in past years) fans will vote for their favorite All-Stars, and those votes will be combined with media and player votes to name the five starters from each conference. Then the coaches will vote to select the teams.

What’s different is the top vote-getters from each conference — let’s be honest, it will be LeBron James in the East and Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant in the West — will be named captains and they will then pick their teams from the pool of other selected players. No East vs. West. If LeBron gets to choose first and he picks James Harden, then Harden is on that team. Curry can go second and select Giannis Antetokounmpo or whoever he wants from the starters pool, then the captains move into the reserves pool. Old-school playground style team picking.

Who wouldn’t tune it to watch that selection show?

The NBA officially has not decided yet if the selection process will be broadcast, but it probably won’t be. The reason is some player is not going to like being picked last (or next to last) and his agent will like it less. It gets political (would Curry have to choose Durant or Draymond Green first to keep his teammates happy?).

LeBron basically said Saturday why not televise it? From Nick Friedell of ESPN, when LeBron was asked if it would bother him to go against teammates in the All-Star Game:

“I hope not,” James said after Saturday’s shootaround. “We’re all grown men. It doesn’t stop their paycheck from coming. It won’t stop you from playing time once the season starts.”

And is he good with the pick order being made public or done live.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” James said. “It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, if I’m rewarded to be a part of the All-Star Game again, that’s cool for me. It doesn’t matter. All that other stuff is extracurricular.”

That’s the right attitude, and whoever got picked last would say that publicly. But privately… who knows? Depends on the guy.

That selection show would be must-watch television. The NBA needs to broadcast this. But it won’t. Politics will win out.