Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony to the Lakers next summer? People are talking about it.

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Especially without Dwight Howard sticking around, the Lakers are loaded with cap space next summer — right now only Steve Nash is on the books for the summer of 2014 (and they could waive him and use the stretch provision to provide more cap space). The Lakers will ink Kobe Bryant to a new, discounted deal (ala Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett) to get his massive cap hold off the books, then they will have wheelbarrows of money to spend.

And Carmelo Anthony could be their target.

Anthony can opt out of his deal with the Knicks next summer. People on both coasts are speculating a move to Los Angeles is possible. Here is what Marc Berman wrote in the New York Post.

The Post reported on May 29 that Anthony hoped the Knicks would acquire a secondary scorer to play alongside him and was concerned about management’s postseason remarks the team would stay intact. The underlying implication was if Anthony doesn’t see the team upgrade the roster with more star power, it could factor in his decision on whether to stay in New York long-term.

The Knicks are way over the cap and spent their summer bringing back J.R. Smith and Pablo Prigioni. They will be the same team as last year. Meanwhile the team across the Brooklyn Bridge made bold moves to get better, which is not going to sit well. The Knicks likely go into next season seen as the fifth seed in the East.

Meanwhile, here is what Eric Pincus speculated at the Los Angeles Times Lakers blog.

In 2011, Kobe Bryant was asked which NBA player he would most like to team up with.

“I would actually like to play with Melo,” said Bryant, as documented by Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld.com in 2011. “Championships are won on the inside and I’m always thinking about winning the title. I would love to play with Melo because I would know that I have an inside presence. That’s really been the biggest strength with our Lakers team.”

‘Melo will not be the only big game for free agency hunters like the Lakers next summer. LeBron James is the potentially biggest name on the market, but don’t expect him to bolt Miami (they have won two NBA titles in a row and he trusts Pat Riley to build a winner in a way he did not the guys in Cleveland). Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Luol Deng, Danny Granger, Zach Randolph, and Rudy Gay all could be on the market.

Carmelo Anthony may be the “sexiest” name on that list (after LeBron). Whether you can really build a winner around him remains to be seen, but if he decides to leave his native New York (not a foregone conclusion by any means) the Lakers could be a landing spot.

Chris Paul finds brilliant counter to hack-a-DeAndre Jordan (video)

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I originally favored allowing Hack-a-Shaq as the NBA currently does. I found the strategy fascinated – why and when teams would use it and how their opponents would counter.

But it just became too common. Far too many games featured a parade of trips to the line, a boring stretch that made games too long. I thought the intrigue had run its course.

Then, Chris Paul pulled this move last night.

The Clippers guard saw Jonas Jerebko charging toward DeAndre Jordan to commit an intentional foul, so Paul stepped in front of an unsuspecting Jerebko and took the foul himself. That’s sent a good free-throw shooter to the line instead of the dismal Jordan.

Just an awesome heady play by Paul.

PBT Podcast: NBA All-Star Weekend talk, predictions with Sean Highkin

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NBA All-Star weekend descends upon frigid Toronto starting Friday, with everything from the Rookie/Sophomore… er, Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, the Dunk Contest/Three-Point Contest on Saturday, and the main event on Sunday.

Kurt Helin and Sean Highkin of NBC’s ProBasketballTalk break it all down, from Pau Gasol replacing Jimmy Butler to predictions on the Dunk Contest and if anyone can knock off Zach LaVine. Plus, there is plenty of “why Sting?” talk.

PBT will be in Toronto with reports from the event all weekend, so come back early and often for all the latest (plus trade talk, as all the GMs get together in one city where it’s too cold for them to go outside).

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Pistons retire Chauncey Billups’ jersey at halftime (VIDEO)

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Moments before his jersey went up to the rafters, Chauncey Billups spoke to the crowd about the night the Detroit Pistons wrapped up the 2004 NBA title by routing the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the Finals.

“We had one motivation,” he said. “We wanted to win it here at home.”

Billups was the most valuable player in the Finals that year, and he had his No. 1 jersey retired by the Pistons on Wednesday night at halftime of their game against Denver.

He was the second player from that 2004 team honored by the Pistons this year. The Pistons retired Ben Wallace’s jersey last month at a similar ceremony – in front of a packed house on a night Detroit beat Golden State.

There were some empty seats in the upper level Wednesday, but Billups wanted to be honored while the Pistons were playing the Nuggets. Billups is a Denver native and played for the Nuggets for two stints during his career.

“This was by design, only because there’s a lot of people that contributed to my success as a player and as a man, in Denver, my hometown,” Billups said before the game. “There were several dates that I could have chosen. This one obviously stuck out.”

Billups does have a mild regret about his run of success with the Pistons. He figures they could have won more titles.

“I felt like, two and maybe three championships – we were that good,” he said.

Ben Wallace was on hand Wednesday, and so were Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince from the 2004 champions. Pistons great Isiah Thomas was also at the Palace for the ceremony.

“This is what tradition looks like,” Thomas told the crowd. “This is what it feels like.”