NBA All Star Game Basketball

Report: Nets ending pursuit of Carmelo Anthony. Or Not.

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It still appears likely the Knicks will get the big prize.

But whether or not the Nets are still fighting for Anthony is up for debate.

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix sent out this tweet Monday afternoon:

Source says it appears Nets are “throwing in the towel” on pursuit of Anthony.

Al Iannazzone of the Bergen Record quickly shot that rumor down.

Nets are not throwing in the towel. Then Knicks are bidding against themselves. Nets don’t want that. No Knick writer will retweet that

Take all of this with a grain of salt — actually, an entire salt lake — because the Nets have said they were out of things a couple other times only to jump back in. However, both of these reports fit with everything we’re hearing.

Carmelo Anthony was going to tell the Nets today whether or not he would sign an extension with them. If the answer was no, the Nets saying they are not going to pursue him any more is the face-saving way for them to get the news out.

If true, it would mean the Knicks would get Anthony and then the Nets may well do a separate deal with the Nuggets to get some picks for the future and send some Knicks players to New Jersey. Of course, part of the reason the Nets want that second deal is to anger the Knicks, maybe slow them dow and give the Nets room to get back in. Not that it’s likely to work — it makes no sense for the Knicks to kill their big trade for a superstar just because some of their role players may come back to New Jersey.

The Knicks “final offer” was said to be Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Eddy Curry and his expiring contract, plus a first-round pick to Denver for Anthony, Chauncey Billups, and Shelden Williams (and maybe another player.

The Nuggets are pushing hard to get Timofey Mozgov included in the deal and that continues to be the big holdup. As of now, the Knicks have not relented on him. (And why should they? If ‘Melo won’t go to the Nets why up the offer?)

Ken Berger of CBSSports reports this as a three-team deal where Denver also would get Corey Brewer from Minnesota, while the Wolves would take on Curry’s contract plus forward Anthony Randolph. (Not sure why that works for Minnesota but it’s out there.)

There will officially be no trades on Monday — the league office is closed for the President’s Day holiday. However, teams can agree to deals and send them to the league office, they just will not be reviewed and approved until Tuesday.

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: