Anthony still wants out in Denver, but deals to move him are complex

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Thumbnail image for carmello.anthony.2.jpgIt’s really a two-step process for the Nuggets to move on and trade Carmelo Anthony. And while most of us are having fun playing around with step two, the Nuggets still seem to be on step one.

Step one: Accept that he is going to leave and that you have to trade him. Step two: Find a deal that works.

Nuggets officials still seem to be dealing with step one — they think they have a shot to convince Anthony to stay. To sign the three-year, $65 million deal that is out on the table. Look at what coach George Karl told the Denver Post:

“To me, my job is to, anytime I talk to Melo . . . it’s to convince him that we won 53 games last year and I think we’re very capable of being a lot better than we were last year,” Karl told reporters. “Some of the bombs that hit our team injury-wise and my situation, I think we kind of need to stay together, in my opinion. It’s pretty easy: Stay together and figure it out. Right now, I don’t think Melo is going to be calling me for advice. Fortunately, it’s not my job to probably call him to talk about that situation. My job is to talk about basketball.”

How’s that going? Here’s what CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger got from people “involved in the process” and clearly close to Anthony.

“There’s no sign of reconsideration on Carmelo’s part, despite what [Denver] has publicly said,” said one of the people involved in the process.

Denver officials may or may not be coming around to accepting that they will lose him — officially they are still turning away trade calls — but this topic will be a massive distraction during training camp and into the season if Denver doesn’t move him. It is a question that will come up in every city, in seemingly every story about the team.

But Berger also shows how hard it is to put together a fair deal for Anthony.

He talks about a complex three-team idea involving New Jersey and Philadelphia that would ultimately send Anthony to the Nets, No. 3 pick Derrick Favors to Philadelphia and Andre Iguodala to Denver. But there are a lot of other moving parts to make the salaries work, and Rod Thorn in Philadelphia may realize he is trading Iguodala ad getting back a project in Favors. Anthony likely would sign an extension with the Brooklyn-bound Nets but wherever he gets traded has to be to a team where he would sign. Nobody is just going to rent him.

Getting a deal done will be hard, but eventually Denver will come around and realize it has no choice. Unless it wants to repeat the fun in Cleveland. Or Toronto, where new Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri came from — doubt he wants to see that movie twice.

Report: Clippers trading Wesley Johnson to Pelicans for Alexis Ajinca

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The Chris PaulBlake GriffinDeAndre Jordan era already ended in L.A.

Now, the Clippers are losing the very last player from their 2016-17 team (just two years ago!) – Wesley Johnson, who’s being shipped to the Pelicans for Alexis Ajinca.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Johnson ($6,134,520) has a slightly higher salary than Ajinca ($5,285,394) with both players in the final year of their contracts. As long the Clippers have to waive a player, they’d rather drop the cheaper one.

The Clippers actually had to shed two players before the regular-season roster deadline. They’re also releasing Jawun Evans, the No. 39 pick last year. The point guard just didn’t acclimate to the NBA quickly enough to beat out Sindarius Thornwell and Tyrone Wallace. Though waiving Evans was probably the right move now, I wouldn’t write him off entirely.

Ajinca, on the other hand, has no place in a shrinking NBA. The 7-foot-2 30-year-old can’t stay healthy and hasn’t been productive when on the court.

Johnson fell out of favor with Clippers coach Doc Rivers, but the Pelicans desperate for a small forward. Though Johnson wouldn’t be an exciting addition for most teams, he’s worth the low cost – the $849,126 difference between his and Ajinca’s salaries – to New Orleans, where he might actually be a significant addition.

PBT Podcast: MVP, Rookie of Year, other awards plus NBA playoffs, Finals predictions

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Will James Harden repeat as MVP or will someone else — LeBron James, Anthony Davis — grab the award away from him?

Luca Doncic and Deandre Ayton seem to be the favorites for Rookie of the Year, but could Trae Young or Jaren Jackson Jr. push their way into the conversation?

Who will win Coach of the Year? Is Jamal Murray a guy to watch for Most Improved Player?

Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports discuss all the major awards plus get into playoff predictions in this latest PBT Podcast. Can Charlotte sneak into the final playoff slot in the East or is Detroit going to take that? Are the Spurs going to miss the playoffs in the West for the first time in 22 years? And are the Warriors a lock to win it all? (Hint: They are not.)

We want your questions for the podcast, and your comments, email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com. As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

Report: Suns signing Jamal Crawford

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The Suns are desperate for a point guard.

How desperate?

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

I wouldn’t assume Phoenix plans to play Crawford at point guard. Perhaps, he’ll be an off guard. But the possibility is scary – whether the fear comes from playing Crawford out of position or the possibility he’d actually be the Suns’ top point guard.

It’s questionable whether the 38-year-old can help in either backcourt spot. He doesn’t attack the rim like he used to, and his defense has become even more porous.

Though he declined a $4,544,400 player option with the Timberwolves, there’s a reason he remained a free agent so long. He’ll likely settle for the minimum with Phoenix, one of the NBA’s bottom teams.

The Suns now have 14 players with guaranteed salaries on standard contracts, three with small or no guarantees (Richaun Holmes, Isaiah Canaan and Shaquille Harrison) plus Crawford. The regular-season standard-contract roster limit is 15. So, it’ll be interesting to see whom Phoenix drops in the next day. The Suns reportedly applied for a disabled-player exception for Darrell Arthur.

The Suns might try to spin this as adding veteran leadership. But they already have Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson and Tyson Chandler. How many veteran leaders do they need?

They need a starting-caliber point guard. Crawford isn’t it. At best, they realize that and have other plans for him.

Charles Barkley says he hasn’t worn underwear in a decade

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Charles Barkley can’t control everything, like whether the Magic hire him as general manager.

But he can control his underpants, as he explained on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.