Conflicting reports on if Anthony approved extension with Nets, clearing way for trade

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Thumbnail image for carmello.anthony.2.jpgIt appears to have come down to this — if Carmelo Anthony approves a three-year, $65 million (or similar) contract extension with the New Jersey Nets, a complex four-team trade likely will go forward.

According to one report, he has.

New York Daily News Nets beat writer Stefan Bondy tweeted this Friday evening:

Reliable source: Carmelo has approved the deal to the Nets.

The deal could go down as early as tomorrow.

Take that with a grain of salt, but not a big one. Several other reports say no decision has been made, but they have him leaning toward approving the deal.

Word is that William “Worldwide” Wesley — backroom powerbroker for Anthony’s agent and CAA — has been pushing Anthony to take the deal. You’d be foolish to think new Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov also has not been in contact with Anthony.

Anthony has through the weekend to approve the extension and for the deal to go ahead, or the entire thing falls apart. Nobody wants this hanging over their head going in to camp next week

The trade would break down like this: Anthony would go to New Jersey along with DJ Augustin (probably, that last part not finalized); No. 3 pick Derrick Favors, Andrei Kirilenko and the Nets first round pick (formerly Golden State’s, top seven protected) and maybe more going to Denver; Charlotte getting point guard Devin Harris; while Boris Diaw would end up in Utah. Utah would do this because they would get $5 million under the luxury tax threshold with the salary savings.

There would likely be other parts. And a lot of things could fall out, but reports are that it really comes down to Anthony accepting an extension with New Jersey.

It will mean a step back this year — Denver with Melo would be a better team then New Jersey with Melo will be. For now. But Denver seems unable to get over the hump in the West and the Nets would be a building team in the East with Melo and Brook Lopez, plus a new billionaire Russian owner. Plus they will be in New York in two years.

Is that enough? Apparently so, but we wait for confirmation.

Markell Fultz takes ugly pump-fake free throw

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A key question after the 76ers traded for Jimmy Butler: How would the demanding star affect Markelle Fultz‘s confidence?

Butler isn’t even playing for Philadelphia yet, but this isn’t an encouraging sign.

Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice:

Maybe the ball just slipped out of Fultz’s hands on the way up, and he had to continue pushing it toward the rim to avoid a violation. That could happen to anybody.

But given everything we know about Fultz’s shooting woes, it’s impossible to take this as anything other than a ghastly low point in an ongoing problem.

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.