Carmelo Anthony doesn't have to be careful what he wishes for

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Thumbnail image for Anthony_game.jpgAs the rumor mill starts to churn more heavily about the eventual destination of Carmelo Anthony now that it’s accepted he wants out of Denver, there will be conflicting reports. Some will say that the Nuggets don’t care a lick about what Carmelo wants and will trade him to whomever they please. These reports will be sourced out of the Nuggets camp or those close to them. Others will say that the Knicks are still in play or that one of his preferred teams is likely. Those, as you can guess, will come from Melo’s camp. 

It’s a cute game, but has little to do with what will actually occur. What’s interesting is how this will play out and determining who exactly has leverage in this situation. And that’s where the latest tweet from the reliable Sam Amico comes in. 
Amico reports the following concerning prospective partners for the Nuggets:

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Early word around NBA is Nuggets will try to trade Carmelo to 1 of 3 teams: Wolves, Kings, Nets. In other words, careful what you wish for.less than a minute ago via webSam Amico
SamAmicoNBA


It’s very likely that Amico’s on the money here. These are the types of teams that the Nuggets will be targeting as trade partners. They’re loaded with young talent, draft picks, and a handful of expiring contracts. The Nuggets will get what they want for Melo. Who cares what Melo or CAA has to say about it?

Well, for one, the teams that will be trying to trade for him.
The problem with this tactic lies with the original source of this whole shebang, Melo’s extension. As a free agent next summer, the Nuggets were trying to lock down a max extension for Melo.  His reticence to sign that extension was the first sign that maybe Anthony wasn’t quite as happy as he let on.
It’s also that extension that maintains Anthony’s leverage. Because those teams do have what the Nuggets want. And the Nuggets certainly have what those teams want… to a degree. They have access to Carmelo Anthony… for a single season. It’s Anthony’s own control over the subsequent season that will prevent the Nuggets from trading him to whomever they please. 
Any team looking to acquire Anthony will want him in an extend-and-trade that locks him up for further seasons. After all, these teams have already established a core of young players, they’ve done their cap cleaning and draft building. They won’t be giving up players with upside and future picks for a one-year rental of Anthony. Which means the Nuggets need him to sign the extension. And Anthony’s only likely to do that if he assents to where he’s being traded. 
Anthony’s extension and trade flexibility are inter-connected. The Nuggets don’t just have to find a trade partner looking to acquire Melo enough to surrender the pieces they’re looking to get back, they have to find a partner attractive enough to Anthony to convince him to commit to the future. 
We have three actors in this little play. Anthony and his people wants his extension under the current CBA, and to relocate to a new team that fits the lifestyle which he wants to become accustomed (fame, fortune, and championships), as well as maintain their leverage in negotiations not just for Anthony but future clients. His current team needs to get the pieces they want back for Anthony and maintain their leverage in negotiations with players to not be held hostage by their demands. And his new team wants Carmelo Anthony to make them into a contender, for the next three years and beyond. 
The Nets are a prospective partner, because they are relocating to Brooklyn, a market he likely finds attractive. The Kings have two definite stars, but the market isn’t really there for him. The Wolves? Um… Darko’s fun to hang out with? 
But any of these teams have to be able to convince Anthony they have the combination of elements he desires or else they’ll only be renting him.
The Nuggets have leverage, that much is clear from the events of the past week. The best scenario is convincing him to stay in Denver, sign the extension and move forward. But that bridge may have already been crossed, then lit on fire. But to act like Carmelo is subject to the whims of the Nuggets ignores not only the realities created by his extension situation, but the new reality of the empowered player that have shifted the NBA so greatly in the past three months.

LeBron James: ‘I almost cracked’ with Lakers’ slow start

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LeBron James has played in eight straight NBA Finals.

How’s he handling reduced expectations with the Lakers, who started 2-5 before rising to 7-6?

LeBron, via Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

‪“I haven’t changed anything outwardly, but you know me. You know how I am. I almost cracked [last week]. I had to sit back and remind myself, ‘[Expletive], you knew what you were getting yourself into,’” James told Yahoo Sports while laughing after Saturday’s win in Sacramento. “This process has been good for me. I just have to continue being patient.”‬

LeBron warned everyone to stay clear when he loses his patience, but he has never sounded close to losing it this season. He signed a four-year deal with the Lakers, said he doesn’t feel urgency to win quickly before his prime ends and seems content to wait for a co-star.

If anything, it seemed LeBron might be too relaxed, enjoying the Los Angeles lifestyle and focusing on showbusiness.

So, this is a welcome sign of his competitiveness.

Also kudos to LeBron for harnessing it unlike others in the organization. These Lakers need time to determine how these oddly shaped pieces fit together – unless a star becomes available. Then, all bets are off.

Dwyane Wade: Making Carmelo Anthony ‘fall guy’ doesn’t address the ‘real problem’

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LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul – the banana-boat buddies – comprise the NBA’s most famous friendship group.

With Anthony nearing his end with the Rockets, that puts Houston teammate Paul in an awkward place. But Wade and LeBron are speaking up. So are the Trail Blazers’ Evan Turner and Damian Lillard.

Wade:

LeBron:

Evan Turner:

Damian Lillard:

It’s unclear whether Wade is scolding the Rockets or fans/media. That comment is far more loaded if he’s referring directly to the organization. I wonder what he sees at the “real problem” in Houston.

A struggling team waiving a minimum-salary player is rarely viewed as making that player the scapegoat. But Anthony has an outsized reputation due to his long, star-level career. With that in mind, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tried to defend Anthony.

But Anthony is a part of Houston’s problems. He’s awful defensively and shooting poorly. There is mounting evidence he’s washed up. Downgrading his role, whether or not that includes waiving him, is a step in the right direction for the Rockets.

It won’t solve everything, and Anthony – after all that he has done in the NBA – should be treated with respect. But there’s no way around his substandard current level of play.

Report: Jimmy Butler planned to hold out from Timberwolves unless traded, informing team during Friday’s game

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According to one narrative, the Timberwolves decided after Friday’s loss to the Kings to trade Jimmy Butler.

But he might have forced their hand, resulting in his trade to the 76ers.

Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Butler decided he would play on Friday night, but he viewed it as the fork in the road. If the Timberwolves didn’t find a deal to fulfill his long-simmering trade request after that, he would begin to sit indefinitely, league sources told The Athletic.

The Kings defeated Minnesota 121-110 to push the Timberwolves to 4-9 and a winless road trip; Butler had 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 41 minutes. He had played almost 124 minutes in the last three games, all losses, and at halftime of the final one, the Wolves were informed that this was it for Butler, sources said.

Butler reportedly held out for a game a couple weeks ago, though he and Minnesota both denied it. It’s quite believable he would’ve held out again if not traded. Still, informing the team during a game he’s playing would have been quite bold.

I’m not sure who actually blinked first. This could be an I-quit, no-you’re-fired (or vice versa) scenario. Both Butler and Timberwolves president-coach Tom Thibodeau are stubborn.

But the most important thing is Butler is gone and both sides can move on – whatever ugliness preceded the trade.

Jimmy Butler on being a Sixer: ‘I’m ready to get started, we got a little ways to go’

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Jimmy Butler is officially a member of the 76ers.

His plane landed in Philly Monday and a camera crew from NBC Sports Philadelphia was there to get his first words on being a member of the Sixers. (You can see the video above.)

“I’m ready to get started, we got a little ways to go, we got some things to figure out. But all-in-all, I look forward to it,” Butler said out the window of the car that picked him up.

What should Sixers fans expect?

“Hard playing. A guy that wants to win. We got some things we want to get done here, we want to win a championship. I think the core group of guys we have, we’ll figure out a way to get it done.”

After that he rolled up the window and drove off… and we assume cranked up the country music.