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.

Another LeBron James mural vandalized in Los Angeles

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Most of Los Angeles — and the vast majority of Lakers fans — are fired up that LeBron James is coming to Los Angeles. They see a return to glory for the franchise (well, once they get the rest of the roster right… sorry Lance Stephenson).

However, there is a segment — particularly the die-hard Kobe fans — who are having trouble assimilating to the new reality.

So when an artist did a LeBron James mural near Venice in Los Angeles recently — a really well-done tribute — it was quickly vandalized. Then eventually covered up.

This week another artist did another impressive LeBron/Lakers mural — this one with LeBron looking up at the Lakers’ legends — and once again, it was vandalized.

I’m not shocked by any of this, but it is depressing. If you’re vandalizing art, you are a cowardly buffoon.

There’s no way to really know the motivation behind the second attack, although the smart money is on it being the same as the first one — a few people think they are protecting the Lakers’ brand by not welcoming the best player on the planet to a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in five years. It’s incredibly flawed logic, but frankly flawed logic has become trendy in recent years, it can get you elected to all kinds of offices.

Credit real Lakers fans who showed up to help fix this.

AP Source: Thunder trading Dakari Johnson to Orlando

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma City Thunder are trading reserve center Dakari Johnson to the Orlando Magic.

A person with knowledge of the details confirmed the move to The Associated Press on Friday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly.

Yahoo Sports, which first reported the deal, said Oklahoma City will get guard Rodney Purvis in the deal. Purvis averaged 6.0 points and 1.7 rebounds in 16 appearances for the Magic last season. The Orlando Sentinel said the Thunder also sent cash to the Magic.

Johnson played 31 games last season for the Thunder with six starts. He averaged 1.8 points and 1.1 rebounds per game. The 7-footer averaged 23.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in 10 games for the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder’s G-League affiliate, last season.

Center Alex Len reportedly reaches contract deal with Atlanta

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Five years ago, the Phoenix Suns had just drafted Alex Len at No. 5 overall and thought he would be the big man in the middle the team would build around. It didn’t work out that way, he never averaged double figures in either scoring or rebounding for a season. While Len has said he thought he was not used correctly, and there has been plenty of change and inconsistency in Phoenix, he never grabbed hold of the top job, either.

When the Suns drafted Deandre Ayton No. 1 last June, there was no chance they were bringing back Len next season. The unrestricted free agent is headed to Atlanta instead, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Free-agent center Alex Len has agreed to a two-year, $8.5 million deal with the Atlanta Hawks, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Len received interest from several teams in recent days before finalizing an agreement with the Hawks on Saturday.

Len is not going to space the floor, 73 percent of his shots came at the rim last season, but he’s become an efficient finisher there. He is good as a roll man, will work off the ball, and can post guys up on offense. He’s also strong on the offensive glass and gets points via putbacks. His game is not that of a modern NBA center, but he’s become efficient at what he does.

Len is going to have to earn his minutes in the ATL, rebuilding team or not there is some quality along the front line. John Collins, who made the All-Rookie team last season and was one of the standouts of Summer League, will start up front, possibly at the four with Dewayne Dedmon at the five. The just-drafted Omari Spellman showed potential at Summer League and could be the backup four, which means Len gets the backup center minutes.

Len is getting his new chance on a team that can give him some run, we’ll see if a change of scenery is what he needed.

Gordon Hayward posts new workout video, he is moving pretty well

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Player workout videos on Instagram are a lot like how your life (or, your parent’s life) appears on Facebook — everyone looks their best, is always having fun and doing something interesting, and the daily grime of life has been scrubbed away.

That said, Boston’s Gordon Hayward looks good — he seems to be moving very well — in this latest workout video he posted.

It’s a good sign to see Hayward moving like that in July, months before that reconstructed ankle needs to be put to the test on the NBA hardwood.

With Hayward and Kyrie Irving healthy, the Celtics start the season as the favorites in the East — but Toronto is a sudden, serious challenger if Kawhi Leonard is all the way back and healthy. Philadelphia is talented and in that mix as well if Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons can take strides forward with their game.

The top of the East is going to be very interesting next season.