NBA Matchup: Memphis Grizzlies at Chicago Bulls

Memphis Grizzlies at Chicago Bulls Fri. March 25, 2011 8 p.m. EST

With the NBA playoffs just around the corner, the Chicago Bulls have cemented themselves as the best team in the Eastern Conference. The Boston Celtics were given a lot of attention as the best team in the league earlier in the season, but once they made the deal to send Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder they have really struggled as of late seem to of loss that edge that they’ve had all year long.

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With that being said, the Chicago Bulls have taken advantage of this opportunity to move up in Eastern Conference and snatch the number one seed away from Boston Celtics. There are still a few games left in the NBA regular season and anything can happen from here on out as the Chicago Bulls could lose their grip on the number one seed in the East, but with the way their playing right now I really don’t see that happening as All-Star point guard Derrick Rose is almost certainly going to win the NBA MVP award and continue to lead his team to victory.

On Friday night, the Chicago Bulls will be hosting the Memphis Grizzlies in what could be a very competitive game between one of the elite squads in the league and a team looking to make the playoffs in the final stretch of the NBA regular season.

Coming into this match up with the Grizzlies, the Bulls have won two straight and nine of their last 10 games as they are arguably the hottest team in the league just behind two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. With that being said, Chicago see

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ms to be firing on all cylinders right now at they are shooting the clinch the top spot in the Eastern Conference and hold off a very resilient Boston Celtics team.

Along with the fact that they are playing some very good basketball right now, the Chicago Bulls of also benefited from the Boston Celtics really start to struggle as Kevin Garnett and company have only won five of their last 10 games and a longer look like a dominant team they were just no more than month ago.

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So coming into this matchup both of these teams will have agendas as the Chicago Bulls will look to stay hot and get one step closer to clinching the number one seed in the Eastern Conference while the Memphis Grizzlies will be attempting to keep their playoff hopes alive and stay in the eighth spot in the Western Conference. One thing watch in this game will be the matchups in the backcourt as Derrick Rose and Mike Conley Jr. will be going head-to-head.

Even though the Memphis Grizzlies have been a team on the rise as of late, I believe the Chicago Bulls should get yet another win stretched their winning streak to three in a row. If the Chicago Bulls can stay hot from here on out, they will be extremely tough to be in the Eastern Conference playoffs a real thorn in the side for teams like Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics

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Can the Los Angeles Lakers pull off the three-peat?

Over the last few years Los Angeles Lakers have been without a doubt the best team in the NBA. No matter who doubts this team year in and year out or what kind of struggles they may face throughout the NBA regular season, Kobe Bryant and company just seem to elevate their game at the right time every single year and make a charge in the playoffs in order to contend for yet another NBA title.

This season Phil Jackson and his squad came into the year with a target on their back once again as they had won two consecutive NBA titles and were favored to have a legitimate shot at winning their third in a row. This is obviously nothing new for Phil Jackson as he has won two three-peats with the Chicago Bulls back in the Michael Jordan era and one three-peat with the Los Angeles Lakers in the Shaq/Kobe era in th

Photo of Los Angeles Lakers Andrew Bynum.
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e City of Angels.

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With that being said, there is no head coach in the league today that is more prepared or experience when competing for an NBA title and a three-peat for that matter. There is no question that there has been plenty of bumps in the road this season as the Lakers have had their fair share of struggles. Not only have they been banged up with injuries as they normally are throughout the regular season as Andrew Bynum missed considerable time and the beginning of the year once again, but they’ve also hit some serious slumps during the year and at one point or thought to not have what it takes to compete for an NBA title.

Fortunately, as they seem to do every single season, the Lakers have hit that proverbial switch in which they just turned it onto another level entirely with the kind of championship swagger that had over the last couple years on the way to beating the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.

With three straight appearances in the NBA finals, the Los Angeles Lakers are no strangers to playoff time and knowing how to compete in order to beat the best of the best consistently. This year they might have their work cut out for them once again in the playoffs as they will have to almost certainly contend with the likes of one or more of the best teams in the Western Conference.

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Even though last season was no cakewalk for the Lakers as they do have to face a very good Oklahoma City Thunder squad and the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals, this time around it will be even tougher in perhaps their toughest challenge of the last three

Phil Jackson (center), coach, Los Angeles Lakers
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years.

With the San Antonio Spurs playing out of their minds this season and teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Ma

vericks playing at an extremely high level, the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers will have their work cut out for them from start to finish the minute the playoffs begin.

Personally, I still believe that no team in the Western Conference can beat the Los Angeles Lakers in a seven-game series, but they will be truly tested this time around as they can’t afford any injuries and must play their best basketball every single game from here on out.

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NBA Matchup: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks

San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks Fri. March 18, 2011 8:30 p.m. EST

The NBA regular season is really starting to wind down now as most teams around the league have no more than 15 games last before they are either headed home or into the playoffs. Two teams in the Western Conference that could be serious force to be reckoned with come playoff time are the San Antonio Spurs (54-13) and the Dallas Mavericks (48-20).

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Even though the San Antonio Spurs seem to have a tight grip on the number one seed in the Western Conference right now the Dallas Mavericks have just fallen out of the second spot in the West after the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers just went on a tear recently, these two teams will probably be looking to kill each other when they go head to head this Friday night in Dallas, Texas.

There will be basically nothing on the line for either one of these teams coming into this matchup, but with the potential of these two teams possibly meeting in the playoffs they will want to feel each other out and get a sense of what the matchups should be if they are to meet in the Western Conference playoffs.

There is a slight chance that the Dallas Mavericks could get back into the second spot in the Western Conference if they can get back to their winning ways over the next few weeks. The Los Angeles Lakers may be arguably the hottest team in the league right now as they have gotten it championship swagger back after struggling a bit at about the midway point of the NBA regular season, but since the two teams have identical records right now and will play each other one more time before the playoffs, positioning in the West isn’t exactly set in stone right now.

With that being said, and the fact that this game will be played on their home floor in Dallas, the Mavericks could come out with some playoff intensity in this game as they never like losing at home or losing to the rival San Antonio Spurs.

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As for the San Antonio Spurs, they will be looking to get back on track as they have struggled as of late after losing two big games to Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat on their home floor in San Antonio. These two losses to NBA title contenders will have almost certainly been wakeup calls for head coach Gregg Popovich. With that being said, the Spurs might also come out with a playoff intensity in this game which could make things very interesting moving forward as this might be an all-out battle from start to finish.

As of right now, I believe the San Antonio Spurs are the better all around team, but with their playoff seeding basically being fairly solid at this point they might not take the game as seriously as the Dallas Mavericks. If the Spurs start to lose early on, I would anticipate Popovich letting his foot off the accelerator and letting his reserves get some time while resting his starters.

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NBA Matchup: Los Angeles Lakers @ Dallas Mavericks

Before Thursday night’s loss to the Miami Heat in South Beach, the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers were arguably the hottest team in the league with eight straight wins. After beating the league leading San Antonio Spurs in convincing fashion last Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers showed the entire league that they are ready to make the final push for the playoffs and yet another NBA title.

Unfortunately, even though they are still considered to be arguably the best team in the league right now after their impressive run as of late, they did suffer a loss to the Miami Heat and may have jeopardized their chances of competing with the Dallas Mavericks for the second seed in the Western Conference.

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With the Dallas Mavericks dominating the New York Knicks on Thursday (127-109) and the Los Angeles Lakers losing to the Miami Heat (94-88), the Mavs are now a game and half ahead of the Lakers in the West. Even though Thursday’s games did give the Mavs the edge moving forward, these two Western Conference heavyweights will be going head-to-head on Saturday night in Dallas.

A win for the Lakers on Saturday night would be a big step in the right direction moving forward as they would be just a half game back of the Mavs in the West. With 15 regular season games left before the playoffs, the Lakers will have a great opportunity to take over the second seed.

In my opinion, the Lakers could go 10-5 in the next 15 games as they play teams like the Utah Jazz (twice), Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors and the New Orleans Hornets. Along with these relatively easy wins, the Los Angeles Lakers will also face these playoff bound teams in the final stretch of the season: Dallas Mavericks (twice), Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers (twice), Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs.

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So things are looking up for the Lakers as they could head into the playoffs full steam ahead, but they will first have to get past the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night. Not only could the Lakers meet the Mavs in the playoffs at some point, but they will need to get this win in Dallas this weekend in order to get back on track and prove that the loss to the Heat has only motivated them more moving forward.

This game will be another tough one for the Lakeshow as they will be facing a Dallas Mavericks squad that is coming off a huge win over Carmelo Anthony and the revamped New York Knicks 127-109. Even though the Los Angeles Lakers pose some pretty big matchup problems in the paint for the Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki and company will give the defending champs a run for their money on Saturday night as they have won eight of their last ten games.

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Is Kevin Love the best power forward in the NBA today?

Coming into this NBA regular season, all anyone was paying attention to was the recent big-name free agents signed around the league like LeBron James (Miami Heat), Amare Stoudemire (New York Knicks) and Carlos Boozer (Chicago Bulls), but the real story this year has been the emergence of some of the most talented young players in the league like Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers), Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls) and Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves).

Over the past few years, the Clippers, Bulls and Timberwolves have been perennial bottom feeders in the NBA with little or no hope for the future. Fortunately, all three of these struggling NBA franchises were able to get their hands on some promising young players that had the potential to turn the teams around.

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Even though the Chicago Bulls are the only team of the three that will make the playoffs at season’s end, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Minnesota Timberwolves might not be that far off from being playoff bound in the next few years. There is no doubt that Blake Griffin is the frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year award this season and has stolen some of the spotlight away from the two-time defending NBA champion Lakers in Los Angeles, but it has been the Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love that has really started to make headlines as of late.

With forwards like Tim Duncan, Moses Malone and Charles Barkley before him, Kevin Love has had his work cut out for him in terms of being compared with the best of the best at the power forward position in the NBA. Last season Love was a solid contributor for the T’Wolves and thought to be the next big thing in Minnesota, but no one knew just how good this kid from UCLA would turn out to be.

This season Kevin Love has put up some monster numbers and made history with unbelievable performances. With 20.9 points, 15.8 rebounds (league leader) and shooting 47% from the floor, Love has been arguably the best power forward in the NBA this season and recently cemented himself in the record books by passing NBA great Moses Malone for most double-doubles in a row in a single season.

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With his 51st straight double-double (23 points, 17 rebounds) against the Dallas Mavericks on Mon. March 7, 2011, Kevi

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n Love passed Moses Malone and has made a case as one of the best players in this league. The Minnesota Timberwolves may still be a few years away from being playoff bound in the Western Conference, that is if Kevin Love sticks around or takes the high road like Kevin Garnett did, but Love has definitely made an impression and is quickly becoming a rising star in the NBA.

In my opinion, there is no other forward in the league that comes close to Kevin Love right now in terms of putting up the numbers every single night, but whether or not he is willing to stick around if this franchise can’t surround him with talented players remains to be seen.

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NBA Power Rankings: Lakers reclaim top spot with dominant victory over Spurs

#1 Los Angeles Lakers (45-19)

The two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers may have been struggling heading into the All-Star break, but the loss to arguably the worst team in the league in the Cleveland Cavaliers may have been just what the doctor ordered for this team as they have been the hottest team in the NBA since that loss.

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With seven straight wins and a dominant performance over arguably the best team in the league in the San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Lakers are making a case for the fact that they might be NBA Finals bound for the fourth straight year.

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#2 Chicago Bulls (43-18)

Even though the Chicago Bulls were targeting hometown boy free agent Dwyane Wade this last summer, not being able to sign the superstar may have been a blessing in disguise as point guard Derrick Rose has quickly become the favorite for NBA MVP this season and has led this team to second place in the Eastern Conference after a big win over the Miami Heat.

Whether or not the Bulls can maintain this kind of momentum remains to be seen, but as of right now they seem to be playing as well as any team in the league with a solid shot at clinching a high seed in the East heading into the playoffs.

#3 San Antonio Spurs (51-12)

Throughout the majority of this NBA regular season, the San Antonio Spurs have been the team to beat as they have been able to stay relatively healthy and consistently win basketball games. Ever since the All-Star break though, the Spurs have lost two big games to the Memphis Grizzlies and the arch rival Los Angeles Lakers.

Even though these losses haven’t really affected their chances of clinching the top seed in the West, they have shown that this team can be vulnerable and as a result they have fallen to third from first on this list.

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#4 Dallas Mavericks (45-17)

The Dallas Mavericks are staying strong in the Western Conference once again as they have been able to hold on to the second seed in the West for quite some time now and got a big boost off the bench with the addition of Corey Brewer, but they might be in danger of losing their grip on the second seed if they can’t hold of the Los Angeles Lakers.

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With just a handful of games left in the NBA regular season, the Mavs will be looking to win as many as possible before playoff time as the defending champs begin to breathe down their necks.

#5 Boston Celtics (46-15)

With all that has happen in the NBA over the past few weeks like the resurgence of the Lakers, struggles of the Heat and the Carmelo Anthony trade, the Boston Celtics have been able to fly relatively under the radar, but they may have their work cut out for them in the final stretch of the season trying to hold off the Chicago Bulls for the top spot in the East.

#6-10 Orlando Magic (40-23), Oklahoma City Thunder (39-22), Memphis Grizzlies (35-29), Miami Heat (43-20), Denver Nuggets (37-27)

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Spurs Injury Update: Tony Parker to miss 2-4 weeks

At this point in the NBA regular season, the consensus around the league is that the San Antonio Spurs are the team to beat. Even though many people of question their age and their ability to sustain this kind of momentum throughout the rest of the season, this Spurs squad has been able to quiet the critics and play some solid basketball on both ends of the floor.

Despite the fact that the San Antonio Spurs are sitting pretty at the top of the Western Conference and have the best record in the league at 49-10, they suffered a major blow recently when point guard Tony Parker went down with a calf injury in the win over the Memphis Grizzlies this past Sunday. This injury doesn’t appear to be serious, but could keep him out as much as a month.

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This is the first major injury that this team has suffered all season long which is impressive to say the least considering the age of this veteran squad. Even though no other team in the Western Conference is really threatening to take the number one seed away from the San Antonio Spurs right now, they could be in trouble without their starting point guard as he is set to miss the next two to four weeks.

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With the way this team is playing most people believe this won’t be much of a problem, but the competition does get much better from here on out as they are set to play teams like the Miami Heat (twice), Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and the Portland Trail Blazers during that span without Parker at the point.

Fortunately, the San Antonio Spurs do have a viable backup for Tony Parker who took over in the same position last season when the French import went down with a hand injury. George Hill played so well in place of Tony Parker last year that he almost threatened to take the starting role from here on out, but it coach Greg Popovich decided to stick with his veteran point guard this year.

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In my opinion, this will be a good test for the San Antonio Spurs as one the main reasons they have been able to contend with the likes of the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers has been due to injuries just like this. So if they can get past this and continue to play well, the Spurs could very well be on their way to yet another NBA championship.

The Los Angeles Lakers are still a very dangerous team and could ultimately be on their way to pulling off the three-peat once again, but they will get some serious competition from their rivals down the stretch. The one edge that the San Antonio Spurs have always had over the Los Angeles Lakers has been at the point guard position and without Tony Parker in the backcourt this weekend in San Antonio, the Spurs might struggle against the defending champs.

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Clippers trade Baron Davis to the Cavs for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon

The NBA trade deadline has officially come and gone with plenty of teams getting involved in the action to upgrade their squads for the second half of the NBA regular season. The first domino to fall on the day of the deadline was the Los Angeles Clippers point guard Baron Davis.

A couple of years ago, the Clippers made a free agent deal with Baron Davis in what was thought to be the beginning of a new era of basketball for arguably the worst team in the league. Despite Davis being a great addition to the team at the time, the Clippers never really got going with BD running the point until this season with the addition of rookie phenom Blake Griffin and a vastly improved Eric Gordon.

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The future of the Los Angeles Clippers appears to be bright with Griffin and Gordon leading the way, but Baron Davis was apparently not in their long term plans as they decided to trade the former All-Star point guard to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers.

Reportedly, the trade will send Baron Davis and a 2011 first-round draft pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for point guard Mo Williams and small forward Jamario Moon. This was obviously an attempt to unload Baron Davis’ contract which is set to pay him $13 million for the rest of this season and $28 over the next two years. Even though Davis has improved his play a bit playing alongside Griffin, the Clippers felt they had to make a move and make it now.

Mo Williams is a solid point guard and will be a great addition to the backcourt for the Clippers, but he is a shoot-first guard and might not be what this team needs moving forward. Ironically enough, the one player in this deal which could turn out to be the most beneficial for the Clippers is forward Jamario Moon.

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It will be interesting to see what the Los Angeles Clippers do from here on out as they would love to bring in a big-name free agent this summer or the next to surround Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin with the kind of talent they need to get to the next level. They will most likely be going after Chris Paul, Dwight Howard or Deron Williams when or if they become free agents, but in the meantime their goal will be to be playoff bound next season.

As of right now, the Clippers seem to be a much better squad than people anticipated as Blake Griffin has quickly turned into a superstar and arguably one of the best forwards in the league. Even though the Clippers are on the up and up, they will most likely miss the playoffs once again with 21-37 record and little to no hope of clinching the eighth spot in the Western Conference.

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NBA Trade: Celtics trade Kendrick Perkins to Thunder for Jeff Green

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The Baron Davis trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers from the Los Angeles Clippers was just the first of many deals made on the NBA trade deadline on Weds. Feb. 24, but the one trade that might have the biggest impact is the one that the Boston Celtics made with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

There is no doubt that the Oklahoma City Thunder is one of the most promising young teams in the league led by the league’s leading scorer Kevin Durant, but they have had some serious issues in the paint with the inability to compete against big teams like the two-time defending Los Angeles Lakers. With that being said, the Thunder decided to make a bold move on Wednesday by acquiring one of the best big men in the league in center Kendrick Perkins.

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Over the past couple of years, Perkins has been the Boston Celtics main man in the paint as he is more than willing to do all the dirty work and concentrate on cleaning up the glass. Along with the ability to bang with the best of them in the key, Perkins can be an offensive threat with his back to the basket or as a jump shooter.

Ironically enough, the Boston Celtics have used Kendrick Perkins as somewhat of a scapegoat for their loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals. With Perkins suffering a season-ending knee injury, the Celtics just weren’t able to contend with a much bigger Lakers squad in the paint.

Fortunately, the Celtics were able to get their defensive-minded center back on the floor recently, but in an interesting twist, Celtics GM Danny Ainge decided to trade the big man to the Oklahoma City Thunder for forward Jeff Green.

Perkins takes to the hoop
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The core of this deal is without a doubt Kendrick Perkins and Jeff Green, but the Celtics also traded away backup point guard and spark off the bench in Nate Robinson. In my opinion, this deal makes absolutely no sense for Boston as the Celtics get smaller and lose one of the better backup point guards in the game. Jeff Green is a solid player and a could be a very good addition to this team in the future, but as for right now, this trade could seriously affect Boston’s chances of contending with the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and the Orlando Magic in the playoffs.

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Other parts to his deal include the Thunder sending forward Nenad Kristic to Boston. Even though Kristic is considered a “big man” he is more of a shooter and isn’t a player that plays with his back to the basket like Perkins.

Personally, I believe this deal is an awful one of the Boston Celtics and a steal for the Oklahoma City Thunder, but Celtics GM Danny Ainge must have something up his sleeve as Boston is one of the Eastern Conference superpowers and could be well on their way to an NBA title. With that being said, Ainge must have plans to sign some veterans or something else in mind.

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NBA Trade Rumor: Is Carmelo Anthony headed to Hollywood?

The Denver Nuggets have been surrounded by all sorts of trade rumors over the past couple of months involving their superstar Carmelo Anthony. Most of these rumors have been because the soon to be free agent Carmelo has decided not to sign a contract extension with the Nuggets which would pay him $65 million dollars over the next three years.

With an annual income that will having Melo bringing in $20+ million dollars over the next three years, the money is not the problem, but the location is as the 26 year old All-Star would rather be playing in the Big Apple alongside Amare Stoudemire with the New York Knicks. Not only does Melo believe that he would have a better chance of winning a title with the Knicks, but the Big Apple has a soft spot in his heart as he played his college ball in New York at Syracuse.

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Even though the consensus around the league still seems to be that Melo will end up in New York one way or another, things just started to get very interesting with the two-time NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers showing interest in Carmelo Anthony.

It is no secret that the Lakers have struggled this season in their second straight title defence, but despite being well over .500 with a record of 36-16, they seem to be ready to make another blockbuster deal that could bring another superstar to Hollywood.

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Reportedly, the Lakers finally seem ready to part ways with their promising young center Andrew Bynum. The deal for Carmelo Anthony will be built around Andrew Bynum and possibly some other players like Shannon Brown, Lamar Odom and Nene Hilario.

This is all speculation at this point in time, but with Melo saying that he will not be signing with the Denver after this season, the Nuggets will have to get something done before the Feb. 24 NBA trade deadline.

The Los Angeles Lakers getting involved in the Carmelo Anthony trade talks definitely makes things much more interesting with the NBA trade deadline right around the corner, but even though Melo has said that he would sign an extension with the Lakers, the Knicks still seem to be his most likely destination.

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There is no question that the Lakers have some extremely valuable pieces to offer the Nuggets like Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown, but some people believe that this move might be just a way of making the Knicks offer more for Melo.

If the NBA trade deadline passes and Carmelo Anthony is still in Denver, the Knicks will benefit more than any team involved in these trade talks as they can just sign the All-Star without giving up any of their young players like Wilson Chandler, Landry Fields and Danilo Gallinari. So with that being said, the Knicks seem to be just waiting to see how things pan out, but if Melo ends up in Los Angeles they will have missed out an opportunity to bring another superstar to the Big Apple.

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