Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant

Report: Hornets, Magic both thinking deal with Lakers


The New Orleans Hornets have their eyes wide open and know they are going to have to trade Chris Paul. The Orlando Magic are holding out more hope of retaining Dwight Howard but that feels like a longshot as well. The front offices in both cities have to be gauging offers right now, or they are not doing their jobs.

But if they are both looking to make a deal, do they both want to deal with the Lakers? Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski says that may make it a race between the two sides.

Why? You’re not going to get equal value back when you trade your superstar, but Andrew Bynum comes about as close as it gets. And the Lakers will part with him.

In a lot of ways, the Hornets and Orlando Magic are in a race to make a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers for Paul and Howard. They’re running so many scenarios across the big boards in their offices, but make no mistake: Los Angeles is the port that can entice Paul and Howard to sign extensions, with the one player – young center Andrew Bynum – as a centerpiece that can justify the trade.

The Lakers and Hornets talked several days ago, league sources told Yahoo! Sports, but it was one of those circuitous conversations that left the sides unclear what it would take to get a deal done, and the talk ended with no formal offers. The Lakers and Hornets expect to speak again this week, sources said. The prospect of Pau Gasol as the primary player going to the Hornets won’t be acceptable, sources said. The Lakers will ultimately be willing to let New Orleans pick its player in the deal – Bynum or Gasol – but New Orleans is determined to get quality, and quantity, in a deal.

The Nets will offer Brook Lopez and picks, but most teams would rather have Bynum than Lopez. That seems like a fallback.

For the Lakers, Chris Paul gives them the missing athleticism and someone who could be very good on the pick-and-roll with Pau Gasol. Dwight Howard upgrades them in the paint and gives them a younger star to transition with in the post-Kobe Bryant era.

We’ll see if this happens, however. After a lockout filled with talk of competitive balance could the league-owned Hornets send Chris Paul off to the Lakers to form another trio of stars? Would the other owners tolerate that from David Stern? As for the Magic, could they trade Dwight Howard to the franchise that took Shaquille O’Neal away from them? There would be fan backlash.

Which is a way of saying we are a long way from a deal either way here. But the Lakers may have the best offer out there and that is going to count for something.

Carmelo Anthony says he can play at high level 4-5 more years

USA Basketball Men's National Team Training Camp

Carmelo Anthony can flat-out score the rock — that has never been the question. Even hurting last season for many of the 40 games he played, he averaged 24.2 points a game, had a true shooting percentage of 53.1 percent (right near the league average) while having the entire weight of the Knicks offense on his shoulders (32.2 usage rate, fifth highest in the NBA). When people (or players) talk about him being overrated, the discussion turns to defense or if he makes his teammates better. But there should be no doubt Anthony is an elite scorer.

He thinks he will be for a while longer — like another five years. Via Ian Begley of ESPN:

In fact, the 31-year-old Knicks star is confident that he can play at a high level for the next “four or five years.”

“Without a doubt. Without a doubt,” Anthony said after the Knicks’ final training camp practice on Saturday.

The Knicks better hope that’s true, they already made that bet with that massive five-year contract they gave him last summer.

Anthony’s age combined with him coming off knee surgery have a lot of people — myself included — expecting him to take a step back. Not a big one, but he is coming up at the point in his career where some open shots he used to get are now contested because he’s half-a-step slower, and some of those looks don’t fall as often. His jumper isn’t suddenly going to look like Rajon Rondo‘s, ‘Melo is going to get his points, but he may not be as efficient.

Fortunately, the Knicks have an improved supporting cast around him this season. That should take some offensive load off his shoulders, and maybe the Knicks offense will see better ball movement and start to resemble the triangle. If it’s just more isolation Anthony, it’s not going to be pretty.

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.