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Sources: Lakers, Nuggets talk Melo


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Sources: Lakers, Nuggets talk Melo

The Lakers and the Denver Nuggets have had preliminary discussions about a blockbuster trade that would send Carmelo Anthony to Los Angeles, according to league sources. The Lakers' package would be built around Andrew Bynum.

Talks are in the preliminary stages, but it appears that another option besides the New York Knicks has materialized for the Nuggets.

"There have been discussions between the two teams," one of the sources said. "The Lakers are definitely an option."

Of course, Anthony, who can opt out of his contract after this season, would likely have to agree to sign a three-year, $65 million extension with the Lakers for them to part with Bynum. But Los Angeles is believed to be a city Anthony would be amenable to playing in, as he and his wife, La La Vasquez, bought a home there last summer. Two people close to Anthony said the Nuggets superstar would sign off on a deal that would make him a Laker.

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The Nuggets have no interest in Lakers forward Ron Artest and sources said they may not insist on getting Lamar Odom either. A straight-up trade of Anthony for Bynum meets the financial requirements of the collective bargaining agreement, but more players could be involved since Denver would look to shed as much salary as possible.

The Nuggets are also engaged in talks with New York about a three-way trade involving the Minnesota Timberwolves. Initial discussions centered around Denver getting Wilson Chandler, with Minnesota sending Corey Brewer and a first-round pick to Denver as well. But Denver wants more than that and has its eye on young Knicks assets Danilo Gallinari and Landry Fields, along with Chandler.

Minnesota, which would receive Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry in the trade, also wants more in return if it is to send a first-round pick to Denver.

In a sign that the Denver-New York talks have heated up, Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan has had direct negotiations with Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke, according to the New York Daily News.

One stumbling block to a Nuggets-Knicks deal, however, is the health of Chandler. The Daily News reported Tuesday that he is experiencing discomfort in his surgically repaired left ankle.

With the Feb. 24 trade deadline approaching, the Nuggets are weighing every possible option, including holding on to Anthony for the remainder of the season while hoping the owners can negotiate the right to put a franchise tag on players in the new collective bargaining agreement. Under that scenario, the Nuggets would be able to "franchise" Anthony and keep him in Denver.

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The likeliest outcome, however, remains that Denver will trade Anthony before Feb. 24, and one source said the club will likely pull the trigger a week or so before the deadline.

It is believed that the Lakers have not yet made an offer for Anthony but that the two clubs have merely had discussions.

Los Angeles has long viewed Bynum as a building block and potential star, but a series of knee injuries throughout his six-year career has frustrated the Lakers to the point that one source said the club would consider moving him. Bynum missed the first 24 games of this season while recovering from offseason knee surgery and also missed a game last week with a bruised knee.

Pau Gasol starts at center in Bynum's absence, with Odom moving to power forward, and the Lakers' record of 18-7 without Bynum this season is better than their record with him (18-9).

The Nuggets like Bynum's immense upside and believe that, at 23 years old, he can overcome his health issues. They understand it would be a risk, though, and are not entirely certain they would trade for him, one source said.

While Bynum is clearly a health risk, acquiring him is not a huge financial risk for Denver, considering his great potential. Bynum has two years and $31 million left on his contract, but the final year is a team option for $16.5 million. If Bynum experiences another injury next season, the Nuggets could decide not to pick up the option and thus be on the hook for just the $15.1 million he's due next season.

Bynum is averaging 11.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in 27 games this season. In five full seasons with Los Angeles, Bynum has averaged only 56 games per season due to injuries.

Anthony is coming off a 50-point, 11-rebound outing Monday, but the Nuggets lost to the Rockets.

Chris Broussard covers the NBA for ESPN The Magazine.

Follow Chris Broussard on Twitter: @chris_broussard

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how the **** can the Lakers afford Kobe/Melo/Pau/Odom??? I think this is just Denver trying to drive up the price on NY

why does Melo want to go to a place where he'll always be in Kobe's shadow anyway? he'd be kingpin in NY even over Amare

The Lakers already shot down this rumor this evening. The talks were during the summer and Buss is strongly against it because he's a big fan of Bynum.

Like you said, this is Denver desperate to strum up trade partners. Everyone in the NBA knows that Melo wants the Knicks so they're not bidding.

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