Report: Nets try to draw Pistons into three-way deal for ‘Melo

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Ever since the collapse of a four-team deal before the season, the New Jersey Nets and Denver Nuggets have been trying to lure teams into a three- or four-way-trade that would end with Carmelo Anthony in New Jersey and a lot of picks and young players headed to Denver.

The latest — the Detroit Pistons, according to the Bergen Record.

In the complicated scenario that’s being discussed, the Nets would send Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and at least two first-round picks to Denver and Troy Murphy’s expiring contract to the Pistons. In return, the Nets would get Anthony and Chauncey Billups from the Nuggets and likely Richard Hamilton from the Pistons, who are looking to shed salary. Hamilton has two years and $25 million remaining on his contract.

There are a number of picks and other players involved in a variety of scenarios being discussed here, but that is the core of it.

Detroit joins the list of teams such as Cleveland, Portland and others that have been approached as being a third team in a deal, but so far nothing has come to fruition.

Not that Denver is in any rush. They are happy to drag this out right up until the Feb. 24 trading deadline, figuring that better offers will emerge as teams panic or they will go with the fallback Nets offer of Favors, Murphy and several first round picks.

But that assumes — as both Denver and New Jersey do — that Anthony will blink and sign an extension with the Nets (three years at $65 million, which the Nuggets have had on the table since this summer). Anthony’s people keep saying the Knicks are the only team where he would sign an extension. Denver does not like what the Knicks can send back to them.

Meanwhile Dallas, and maybe Houston, are out there as teams that would make a trade for Anthony and not care about the extension. But those offers are for far less than the Nets are offering.

Sam Amick at FanHouse described it well — Anthony and the Nuggets are playing a game of chicken. With the deadline so far away, there is no real pressure for someone to blink yet. So the game continues with other teams like the Pistons being drawn in.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.

Watch Lakers fan drain half-court shot to win $75,000

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
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It might have been the loudest the crypto.com Arena was all night.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.

Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).

One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.