Report: Lakers, Nuggets have preliminary Carmelo Anthony talks

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UPDATE 12:28 pm: Jim Buss — the son of owner Jerry Buss and the guy who is the real day-to-day head of the Lakers basketball-side operations — turned down a Carmelo Anthony for Andrew Bynum trade, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News (on twitter). He adds that Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant were dismayed.

Drafting Andrew Bynum was something the younger Buss pushed for — a lot of people thought it a reach at the time but, despite all the injuries, it has worked out well. Buss is fiercely loyal to Bynum and it would make sense if he turned down this trade.

ESPN’s Broussard acknowledged this but said that the talks are not dead.

12:02 pm: There are a lot of questions, a lot of reasons to be suspicious of this, but it is out there.

The Lakers and Nuggets have had preliminary discussions of a Carmelo Anthony for Andrew Bynum trade, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard. (To be fair, he was one of the first to have LeBron going to Miami.)

The Lakers’ package would be built around center Andrew Bynum. Denver has no interest in Ron Artest and isn’t particularly interested in Lamar Odom either, sources said. A straight-up deal of Bynum for Anthony works financially, but there could be other players involved since Denver would look to shed more salary if possible.

Sources described the talks as in their infancy, and a three-way deal between the Knicks, Nuggets and Wolves is very much alive.

He says the Nuggets are not interested in Lamar Odom or Ron Artest, which makes sense as they want to get young and rebuild and those guys are older with long-term deals. Denver throughout this has looked for ways to shed more salary — hello Al Harrington — and with that they may want to add players to any such deal.

Would ‘Melo sign an extension with the Lakers? He already has an off-season home in Los Angeles and it is a big entertainment industry city for his wife’s career. So the smart guess is yes, he would.

Here’s my first question: Who gains by leaking this? Denver does. They want to get a better deal than what the Knicks are offering right now. They need leverage now that the Nets are out of the picture. The big, bad Lakers and their actual quality asset in Andrew Bynum is that kind of leverage. So you could see the Nuggets making the call to the Lakers then leaking it.

Also remember when the Lakers stole Pau Gasol from Memphis (although it wasn’t quite the fleecing some thought) that the trade came out of the blue. The Lakers are better than most organizations at not having leaks. That this is out there adds to the suspicion.

However, the Lakers have talked about needing a shakeup to this roster. (Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak is not the kind of GM to simply say things to the media for effect.) This certainly would be a major shakeup.

The trade makes little sense for the Lakers in one key sense — they need to improve their defense if they want to defend their title, and Bynum is the anchor of their defense. Anthony can fill it up and is a great shooter late in games, but the Lakers offense already the most efficient in the league the Lakers have their closer.

Don’t bet on this happening. ‘Melo is much, much more likely to land in New York. But it’s out there and being discussed.

Adam Silver backs Knicks center Enes Kanter’s decision to skip London trip

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LONDON (AP) — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says the safety and security of players will always be paramount for the league after New York Knicks center Enes Kanter did not travel to London for his team’s game against the Washington Wizards.

Kanter said he feared he could be attacked or killed over his opposition to Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan if he were to travel to London. Istanbul-based newspaper Daily Sabah reported that an arrest warrant was issued for Kanter by Turkish prosecutors on Wednesday.

Silver, speaking ahead of Thursday’s game, says “it was never a suggestion from the league that (Kanter) was not welcome on this trip.”

“There are significant issues that he is dealing with, and I recognize that for the NBA, by virtue of the fact that we’re a global business, we have to pay a lot of attention to those issues as well,” Silver says.

Kanter, who has frequently criticized Erdogan, had his Turkish passport revoked in 2017.

Wizards beat Knicks with game-winning goaltending call in London Game

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The good people of England could use a break from the dumpster fire that is Brexit, so the NBA came to town to entertain with their very best… their biggest stars… the teams that were willing to go, the Knicks and the Wizards.

But the Londoners got to see one unusual ending.

The Knicks were up 100-99 thanks to a Noah Vonleh hook shot, but the Wizards had three seconds to try to get off a game winner. Scott Brooks designed an interesting play, with Bradley Beal starting in the backcourt and sprinting into the frontcourt, and when the defense moved to him as the likely shooter he passed to Thomas Bryant rolling down the lane, he put up the finger roll and…

That was a goaltend by Allonzo Trier to my eyes — the ball is just starting its downward trajectory, and it may have been over the cylinder (in an NBA arena there would have been an above-basket camera with a better angle on if it was over the rim, but that did not seem to be available in London).

The Wizards — who owner Ted Leonsis said will never tank, so forget about them trading away assets at the deadline — have won 3-of-4 and are 6-4 since John Wall was sidelined with his foot injury, with a +3 net rating in those games. Washington is now just two games out of the playoffs in the East and GM Ernie Grunfeld does not believe in tanking, so expect them to make a push.

Which is why wins like this matter.

PBT Extra: DeMarcus Cousins’ return will be big boost for Warriors. Maybe.

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The Golden State Warriors — the two-time defending NBA champs, the team on top of the Western Conference with the best offense in the NBA — are about to get a whole lot better.

Maybe.

Nobody really knows.

What we know is DeMarcus Cousins is scheduled to make his return to the court on Friday night against the Clippers in Los Angeles. Cousins missed the end of last season and all of this season recovering from a ruptured Achilles.

I get into all of it in this PBT Extra.

As NBC’s Tom Haberstroh pointed out, the history of big men bouncing back from this injury does not bode well for Cousins. On the other side, Cousins was so skilled, if the Warriors can get 75 percent of the old Cousins it will be an upgrade over Kevon Looney and give Golden State a guy who can exploit mismatches.

On paper, the Warriors should get better with Cousins in the lineup. But nobody really knows.

Spurs president-coach Gregg Popovich says he doesn’t know whether he’ll retire after season

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Spurs president-coach Gregg Popovich said in 2015 he made a commitment to newly signed LaMarcus Aldridge, presumably to coach through the five-year contract he signed in 2014.

That contract will expire after this season.

Then what?

Popovich, via Marc Stein of The New York Times:

“I don’t know the answer,” Popovich said when asked about his plans for next season in an interview Wednesday

Maybe Popovich is legitimately undecided about his future. Maybe he has a firm plan and was just being dismissive because he didn’t want to discuss it publicly. There’s obviously a massive difference between the two, but it’s difficult to parse from only his quote.

Popovich will coach Team USA in the 2019 FIBA World Cup and 2020 Olympics. That responsibility means a lot to the Air Force veteran. Some have even speculated he’ll retire from the NBA after this season to prepare for his USA Basketball duties.

In the meantime, Popovich remains one of the NBA’s top coaches. He has helped San Antonio turn around its season, building a strong offense around mid-range shooters DeMar DeRozan and Aldridge and getting everyone on enough of the same page defensively to be reasonable on that end. The Spurs aren’t a great team, but they’re good in ways that have Popovich’s fingerprints all over them.

Popovich could continue to succeed in the NBA for the foreseeable future. The question is – with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili gone and Popovich nearing age 70 – how much longer he wants to do it.