Carmelo Anthony tour moves to Los Angeles as increasingly teams think he stays in New York

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Chicago made its pitch first, and if Carmelo Anthony was going to take a pay cut and leave New York to go somewhere the Bulls are the logical frontrunner — they are already on the cusp of contending just needing more scoring, they have the defensive system Anthony needs around him to win, it’s still a major market, and it’s a team with a good history (thanks to that Jordan guy).

Yet Chicago started to ramp up its pursuit of its second targets (Pau Gasol for one) right after Anthony left and there are whispers of pessimism from them, as reported by Ian Begley at ESPNNewYork.com.

“They’re worried that he’s headed back to New York,” a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking said of early Tuesday morning. “They’re more pessimistic than optimistic.”

The source wasn’t speaking for the entire Chicago front office, just a small segment. So there is reason to believe that not all members of the team’s hierarchy shared this opinion.

If Chicago is pessimistic, then where does that leave Houston and Dallas? Those two teams made their pitches on Wednesday and both can make the case that, like Chicago, with Anthony on board they are instant contenders. But if Anthony is leaving New York for a shot at a title is he going to leave the Eastern Conference to go to the West and the loaded side of the bracket with the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Warriors, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies and more?

Thursday the Lakers will make their case. They will sell Los Angeles (where Anthony lives in the off-season), the most recognizable brand in basketball, and Kobe Bryant will be at the meeting. But the Lakers are not only in the Western Conference they are farther away from winning than the Rockets and Mavericks and would need to add pieces around ‘Melo and Kobe to be a serious threat. That likely doesn’t happen overnight.

More and more the sense around the league seems to be that Anthony is going to give Phil Jackson a chance in New York.

Nobody knows exactly what Anthony is thinking. It’s a decision he and his family need to make over the coming days (Anthony has been ribbed on talk radio for the influence that his wife Lala may have here, but you try and make a decision about how much money you’ll make and where you’ll live without involving your wife and see how that goes). He could choose Chicago. There is a lesser chance but maybe James Harden and Dwight Howard were convincing in Houston, Mark Cuban was in Dallas.

But more and more it seems Anthony is in a New York state of mind.

Check out Lakers’ stretch of hitting 15 straight shots to end third quarter (VIDEO)

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The Lakers lost to the Wizards because they are young, inconsistent, and defend like traffic cones at times.

But that young Lakers core also has its moments.

Los Angeles strung together 15 straight made buckets to end the third quarter Tuesday night. Some of it was flukey, like Corey Brewer driving and finishing contested layups like he’s Kyrie Irving, but there were things Lakers fans should want to see such as D'Angelo Russell draining threes, Jordan Clarkson working hard off the ball and his teammates finding him, and Julius Randle just attacking.

After this run the Lakers led by 13 going into the fourth, but lost the game.

It’s official: Joakim Noah cleared to play, 20-game suspension starts tonight

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What this ultimately means is next season the Knicks should have Joakim Noah available just before Thanksgiving.

Noah has been suspended 20 games for testing positive for a banned substance, but because he was out due to knee surgery the suspension did not start until he was “physically able to play.” Noah said on Tuesday that he had been cleared, but that was just by the team doctors. He also had to be cleared by the NBA’s doctors (because if teams could cheat they would).

That happened Wednesday, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.

Noah’s first season in New York after signing a four-year, $72 million deal has been a disappointment. To put it kindly. He’s not been completely healthy, and any observer of him the past few years had to wonder if he would ever be fully healthy again. He had lost a step from the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year before the Knicks signed him. The Knicks don’t need him to necessarily be that dominant a force again (although it would be nice), but they need to get more out of him and see if he is a fit next to Kristaps Porzingis for now as the Knicks try to build a roster for next season that can play a little defense. And the triangle.

Report: Pacers bring back Lance Stephenson in time for playoffs; deal for three-years, $12 million

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The Indiana Pacers need healthy bodies for their playoff run, and they had three rotation guys injured between Al Jefferson, Glenn Robinson III, and Rodney Stuckey. Wednesday, the Pacers waived Stuckey to create an open roster spot to bring in some help (they were not going to pick up his option for next season anyway).

Who are they bringing in? The prodigal son Lance Stephenson returns, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The surprising part of the deal was the security Stephenson got, as first reported by Adam Zagoria at his blog — three years, $12 million, with a player option for the final year. (This has since been confirmed by other sources.) Other teams were looking at giving Stephenson a 10-day contract, the length of the Pacers’ offer is a surprise.

Stephenson played in six games for Minnesota recently, averaging 3.5 points per game off the bench, but an ankle sprain kept the Timberwolves from really having to decide whether to keep him for the season. Stephenson knows how to create shots for himself and can be a good defender when focused, something we saw with the Pelicans at the start of this season — he became a key part of their rotation averaging 9.7 points and 4.8 assists per game until he tore his groin.

It’s a little strange to see him back in Pacers colors. It will be particularly strange if the Pacers stay in the seven seed and the Cavaliers remain the two-seed setting up a first-round playoff series. Because I don’t think any of us need to see this again.

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Tuesday’s win gives Wizards first division crown since 1979

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Divisions are almost forgotten in the NBA. They exist still as quaint reminders of days gone by, but they don’t matter other than as a potential tie breaker with a non-division-winning team. Winning your division doesn’t even guarantee a team a playoff spot anymore.

Yet, the last time Washington had won a division title they were in the Atlantic division and when you turned on the radio you were likely to hear that new hit Heart Of Glass by Blondie. It was 1979.

That was until Tuesday when John Wall led a 13-point comeback in the fourth quarter against the Lakers to get the Wizards the win and the SouthEast division title.

According to CBSSports.com, that 38-year division title drought was longer than any team in any major U.S. professional sports — NHL, NFL, and MLB.

Congrats to the Wizards. They also have locked up home court in the first round, and they are currently the No. 3 seed in the playoffs (who they face in the first round is up in the air still as only three games separate seeds five through nine).

With Scott Brooks at the helm this feels like a far more dangerous — and healthy — team heading into the postseason. Wizards fans have waited a lot time for a team like this.