Ken Berger

LOS ANGELES – The Lakers and Nuggets have achieved some traction with recent trade discussions involving Andrew Bynum and Carmelo Anthony, two people with knowledge of the talks told Tuesday. 

Bynum-for-Anthony would be the obvious centerpiece in the proposed deal, but numerous other pieces that would have to be involved make it “very, very difficult to get this done,” said one of the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss team business. 

The Lakers’ early success in piquing the Nuggets’ interest in Bynum represents a subtle shift in Denver’s trade strategy. One of the people familiar with the talks said Nuggets officials have recently expressed a renewed desire to bring back a “star player” along with multiple draft picks in a trade for Anthony. A scenario involving the Knicks, Anthony’s No. 1 choice in a trade, would not yield a star but would save the Nuggets significant money and provide cap relief to rebuild. 

ESPN The Magazine first reported the preliminary discussions between the Lakers and Nuggets Tuesday. 

Although Anthony’s representatives with Creative Artists Agency have recently stepped up their efforts to circulate Melo’s long-held preference for a trade to New York, those close to the three-time All-Star believe there is no question he would sign a three-year, $65 million extension as part of a trade to the Lakers. Such a scenario would give Anthony everything he wants — top-dollar in an extension, the big-market allure that comes with the Lakers’ Hollywood surroundings, and the inside track to his first championship. 

But such a complicated trade is much bigger than Anthony’s desires. Sources say the Nuggets would insist on the Lakers recruiting a third team that could provide attractive first-round picks. From the Lakers’ perspective, they also would be looking for a backcourt upgrade in the deal — and sources say Chauncey Billups could fit that bill as a short-term replacement for struggling Derek Fisher. 

Also, despite his denials, sources say Ron Artest has, in fact, privately discussed wanting to be traded — and Lakers officials have been eager to take him up on it, with no realistic takers given the nearly $22 million he is owed over the next three seasons. Including Artest in the framework of a Bynum-Melo deal is highly unlikely, given that Denver would balk at taking on his contract and any third team willing to surrender valuable picks wouldn’t want it, either. 

For these reasons and plenty of others, a Lakers-Nuggets deal centered around Bynum and Anthony is “a long way from being made,” one of the sources said. 

But if the discussions gained momentum, the Lakers would be giving up their most valuable advantage — front-court size — for a player whose scoring talents mirror those of Kobe Bryant. But of all the stars on the 2008 Olympic gold-medal team, Bryant and Anthony were the two who grew closest in Beijing. It’s one thing to co-exist on the national team, and quite another on an NBA team with obvious championship ambitions. But at least Bryant and Anthony would have a solid relationship and mutual respect as their foundation. 

And look at it this way: Bryant is still playing at a high level, but he can’t do this forever. The opportunity to cash in a valuable asset like Bynum for a player who could not only team up with Bryant and win a title now, but replace him in the future, is too good to pass up. 

But as has been the case in every Melo trade scenario, the wild card is Denver. Are Nuggets officials willing to send their superstar to a conference rival, only to watch him torture their souls for years? Is a potential star center with suspect knees the best they can do for Anthony? These are among the many questions this tantalizing scenario presents — and as usual with Anthony, there are more questions than answers.

Comments (10)
  1. manny miles says:

    Don’t make a move, Mitch Kupchak. It would be dumb to trade your starting center, a better than decent player, and left without one, for a guy that is all hype with no real proven abilities to win, or make the players around him better. Really, how is this Carmelo Anthony a great basketball player? His game is all smoke and mirrors. I think his nickname ‘Melo’ and all the commercials he does have people believing he’s an outstanding player. Winning is about chemistry, personnel, character, leadership, and experience, none of which ‘Melo’ possesses.

  2. bdj says:

    IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT.!!!!!!!!!

  3. FRANK says:

    Lakers could really use Carmelo Anthony. This guy is first-rate in every respect. He is his own person, a great talent on the court, and will defend his team-mates if need be. Question is, will he and Kobe harmonize? If so, hock the franchise and get him … now!

  4. Allen says:

    Bynum may be starting center, but he doesn’t have what it takes to be great. He is not a fighter … plain and simple. Besides being injury-prone, he plays listlessly most of the time. Take away his height and this guy wouldn’t even make the starting lineup in most NBA teams. Unvarnished truth.

  5. D says:

    let me ask all of you, when was the last time you said, “wow bynum had a great game dominated the game”? when was the last time he put up a 5 straight good games? this guy is lazy plain and simple.. he has been doing the same moves for years now. he does not work on getting better same stupid post move and travels or fouls… the end of the game he is on the bench, we cant do any worse without him..TRADE HIM HES A BUM!!!

  6. archie says:

    they be better trade walton for ben wallace…

  7. omar says:

    i want carmelo cuz he is a GOOD play he is better than bynum lets get carmelo!

  8. D says:

    that pic of bynum says it all.. hand up in the air crying …
    bum bottom line!

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