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LeBron James Reacts to Carmelo Anthony’s Standing Ovation at MSG

Carmelo Anthony was in attendance Sunday night at Madison Square Garden for the Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks game. While he was there to watch close friend Dwyane Wade in one of his final two games in the arena, the Knicks made sure to give Anthony some love as well.
Not only was there a video played of Carmelo’s 62-point performance, but he was shown on the jumbotron after the memorable moment in history. As you can see in the video posted by ESPN’s Ian Begley, the former Knicks star received a huge ovation from the fanbase.

Here’s the reception Carmelo Anthony received at Madison Square Garden when he was shown on the Jumbotron during Knicks-Heat: pic.twitter.com/v0LUDiKeaW
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) January 28, 2019

Later in the evening, current Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James had a message about both the video and Anthony, tweeting that it was well-deserved for his friend.

Well deserved!!! 👏🏾🙏🏾‼️‼️‼️‼️@carmeloanthony https://t.co/awReCCl6ZF
— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 28, 2019

Anthony was recently traded from the Houston Rockets to the Chicago Bulls. He played just 10 games for the Rockets prior to the team opting to go in another direction. It’s expected that he will either be traded or waived before the upcoming deadline.

Carmelo Anthony’s Run With Knicks
Anthony, who’s 34 years old, was traded to the Knicks during the 2010-11 season from the Denver Nuggets. He spent seven seasons with the team, playing in 412 games and averaging 24.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Over the impressive stretch, Anthony shot 44.3 percent from the field and 36.9 percent from beyond the arc.
The Knicks made the NBA playoffs in each of Anthony’s first three seasons, with the best year coming in 2012-13. New York went 54-28 that season before losing in the Eastern Conference semifinals. That stretch also marked arguably the best of Anthony’s tenure with the team, as he averaged 28.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.

Latest on Carmelo Anthony-Lakers Rumors
While the Bulls are expected to part ways with Anthony soon, it’s led to plenty of speculation that he could wind up with James on the Lakers. Although there have been various reports and rumors pointing to both sides of that, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski sounded off on it shortly after Anthony’s trade to Chicago.
As he reported, the Lakers have interest in Anthony but don’t want to waive a guaranteed contract.

Sources: The Lakers maintain interest in Anthony, but do not want to waive a guaranteed player to create a roster spot for him, league sources tell ESPN. If a roster spot eventually opens with LA, yes, the Lakers are a possible destination for Anthony.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 21, 2019

This isn’t all that surprising, as the Lakers remain focused on landing a second superstar to pair with James. The focus has primarily been on Anthony Davis, and the bulk of the team’s current guaranteed contracts have at least some amount of trade value and upside, making them tough to part with.
On the opposite side of the argument, Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports stated on the Nate Duncan podcast that the interest in Anthony may be more from James than the front office (per Clutch Points).
“Well, LeBron James is over there,” Haynes said on the Nate Duncan podcast. “And he’s made it quite clear that he would like to play with Carmelo Anthony. So if we’re going off of the past, LeBron typically has a strong voice and teams usually operate in a manner that’s going to appease him. So I will say that he definitely has interest.
“I don’t know necessarily that the Lakers brass is all that interested in bringing Carmelo Anthony on board.”
It’s an interesting situation and one that will be worth monitoring over the coming weeks. The Lakers could use depth at this point, specifically due to the injuries which have impacted the roster. Beyond that, if the team did swing a deal at the trade deadline, it could potentially open a roster spot for Anthony.
READ NEXT: 3 Anthony Davis Trades Involving Lakers’ Brandon Ingram


Lakers Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Suns; Latest on Kyle Kuzma Injury

The Los Angeles Lakers will play at least one more game without LeBron James when they host the Phoenix Suns on Sunday. It seems they also may be without another go-to offensive weapon as well in forward Kyle Kuzma. With the Lakers playing the final few home games before a road stretch ahead of the All-Star break, they’ll look to snap a three-game losing skid against a struggling Suns group.
After falling in overtime against the Houston Rockets last Saturday, the team has since dropped games against the Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves, moving to 25-24 on the year. LeBron’s absence has been nearly impossible to overcome, and since the Christmas Day injury, the Lakers have posted a 5-10 record as they await the return of their star forward.
Before diving into the roster and starting lineup for the date with Devin Booker and company, let’s check out the latest on Kuzma’s injury which may hold him out Sunday.

Latest on Kyle Kuzma’s Injury
It seems Kuzma’s injury may not sideline him long, but there’s a chance he could sit this game out. The Lakers revealed that Kuzma missed practice on Saturday due to a hip strain and is currently listed as questionable.
Beyond that, Mike Trudell of the team’s official website revealed head coach Luke Walton said Kuzma “didn’t look right” against the Timberwolves. He was limited in that game and the injury has apparently been nagging him as of late.

Luke Walton said Kyle Kuzma, who’s been dealing with a sore hip, “didn’t look right” physically, and that Kuzma “truly loves to compete but wasn’t able to do what he wanted to.” Already down LeBron and Lonzo, it didn’t help to have Kuzma limited, though Minnesota was beat up too.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) January 25, 2019

If Kuzma is unable to go, it’ll be interesting to monitor how Walton and the coaching staff opt to approach the starting lineup. Fortunately, the Suns play a fairly small lineup so they may be able to get away with going even smaller than they have as of late.
UPDATE: Kuzma has been ruled out for Sunday’s game.

Lakers Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Suns

Position
Expected Starter
Backup

Center
Ivica Zubac
JaVale McGee
Tyson Chandler

Power Forward
Kyle Kuzma (Q)
Michael Beasley
Moritz Wagner

Small Forward
Brandon Ingram
Lance Stephenson

Shooting Guard
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Josh Hart
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk

Point Guard
Rajon Rondo

There’s a chance Michael Beasley or Moritz Wagner could start, but the option to re-insert Josh Hart in the lineup with Brandon Ingram at the forward spots is more realistic. The Suns are likely going to start Josh Jackson at the four here, so putting Ingram against him defensively makes sense.
The obvious hope is that Kuzma can play, but with an upcoming stretch of six-straight games against possible playoff teams, it may be wise for the Lakers to give him the night off. After this game, Los Angeles will host the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.
READ NEXT: 3 Lakers Trades for Anthony Davis Involving Brandon Ingram


LeBron James Injury Update: Will Lakers Star Return vs. Sixers?

The much-anticipated return of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James may be near. Or, maybe we should hold off on the excitement just a bit at this moment. It’s tough to gauge exactly what the outlook of the future Hall-of-Famer is when it comes to his groin injury. But one thing that’s certain is that he won’t suit up for Sunday’s game against the Phoenix Suns.
While James is trending in the right direction, he took a huge step forward in his recovery on Saturday. As the Lakers revealed (with pictures, which was a nice bonus), LeBron returned to full contact defensive drills during the most recent practice.

LeBron James returned to full contact defensive drills for the first time since his injury, but won't play Sunday against the Suns. pic.twitter.com/e8y9z8kbI8
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 26, 2019

The importance of this can’t be understated, as there were talks that James had done some non-contact work prior, but the fact he’s in the mix at practice points to a return being near. There is yet to be a return date set, but the outlook improves with this news and we’re going to take a look forward at when he could realistically suit up.

Will LeBron James Return vs. Philadelphia 76ers?
For the first time since LeBron’s injury, there is a real reason to believe he may return in an upcoming game. There are currently eight games remaining (including Sunday) before the All-Star break, and there have been no signs pointing to James missing the festivities that weekend. In turn, expecting him to get back in the lineup sooner than later makes sense, but doing so against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday would be beneficial for a few reasons.
The Lakers are obviously being cautious with James, which is the right move, and even when he returns it’ll almost certainly be with a minutes restriction. Tuesday’s game against the Sixers marks the team’s final “home” game (they play the Los Angeles Clippers two days later) before the All-Star break. After the Clippers matchup, they have five-straight games away from home, and it’s a stretch where the star will desperately be needed.
This run includes dates with the Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics, Sixers, and Atlanta Hawks. While playing the Sixers in Los Angeles on Tuesday will be a tough matchup, giving James one game at home to log some minutes before this stretch could be key.

Hopeful of James’ Return for Tough Stretch
With the Lakers sitting at 25-24 currently, facing the first four teams listed on that road stretch, as well as the Sixers and Clippers prior to it, could leave them in a tough spot. James returning won’t completely keep that from happening, but it’s a starting point, even if he’s only able to play on a minutes restriction.
The Athletic’s Bill Oram cited that many had circled the game against the Suns as a possible return date for James. With that being the case, signs do point to him suiting up soon, and Tuesday is a decent spot to keep an eye on.
If you assume the Lakers defeat the Suns and move to 26-24 with five games they could easily lose waiting ahead, the idea of going into the break at 28-29 or 29-28 is far less than ideal. Even with their star back in a restricted fashion, it would at least give Los Angeles a chance to push a few of the top-tier teams that lie ahead.
READ NEXT: 3 Anthony Davis Trades Involving Lakers’ Brandon Ingram


Rockets Trade Talk: Enes Kanter, Robin Lopez Deals to Bolster Depth

The Houston Rockets are slowly but surely working towards getting healthy once again. With Eric Gordon recently returning from injury and Chris Paul set to return Sunday, it essentially covers the backcourt depth. But the Rockets could use an extra body in the frontcourt, even with the signing/emergence of Kenneth Faried.
The injury to center Clint Capela will leave him out through the All-Star break more than likely, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski revealed in mid-January that he had suffered a thumb injury. Unfortunately, it proved to be worse than originally thought, as Capela’s MRI showed ligament damage.
At this point, the addition of Faried could be enough to hold the Rockets over until Capela’s return, but adding another legitimate center to the mix makes sense. The key is that Houston almost certainly won’t want to give much up in a potential trade. Fortunately, two options in New York Knicks center Enes Kanter and Chicago Bulls big man Robin Lopez could come at a low cost to the team.
Let’s look at two potential deals, one for both players, which wouldn’t leave the Rockets shorthanded and will allow them to bolster their frontcourt prior to the homestretch of the year.
*All trades courtesy of ESPN NBA Trade Machine.

Robin Lopez Finally Gets Moved
ESPN NBA Trade Machine
*Note: Houston adds a second-round draft pick.
The Chicago Bulls seem to have little interest in buying out Lopez, although that may happen if the deadline gets closer and no deal happens. But instead of risking watching Lopez go elsewhere, the Rockets could offer up Brandon Knight for contract reasons and a second-round pick to make the deal happen.
The worst-case scenario for Houston is if they wait out the Bulls release of the big man and then he chooses to head to another team. With that said, the options are all on the table for the Bulls, but a deal with the Rockets makes sense for Lopez as an opportunity to see a solid workload and contend for a title.

Enes Kanter Traded to Rockets

*Note: Deal includes a second-round pick from Houston.
Things between the New York Knicks and Enes Kanter have taken an ugly turn. The big man can’t seem to find his way onto the floor at this point, even with starter Luke Kornet sidelined due to injury. And after a recent game, Kanter essentially asked for a trade out of town, as The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov revealed.
“What they’re doing to me is pretty messed up. I deserve better.”

“You either play me or let me play.” Kanter said, according to Vorkunov.
I can’t envision a world where the Knicks opt not to deal Kanter before the deadline. The problem is since head coach David Fizdale won’t play him and it’s known the team wants to trade him, Kanter’s value isn’t all that high. Plus, he’s on an expiring deal, so it makes little sense for the Knicks to stick him on the bench for the rest of the year.
READ NEXT: 3 Anthony Davis Trades Involving Lakers’ Brandon Ingram


Bucks Trade Talk: Grizzlies’ Mike Conley Pegged as Ideal Target

The Mike Conley sweepstakes are likely to ramp up in the coming weeks. With the news that the Memphis Grizzlies are open to trading their star point guard, it’s led to plenty of speculation and various rumors. Although it’s unknown whether a deal will actually happen involving the 31-year-old point guard, one thing that’s certain is that there are interested suitors.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Grizzlies are open to moving Conley as well as center Marc Gasol, who have been cornerstones of the franchise for 12 seasons.
“Memphis ownership and management have decided that they’ve reached an organizational crossroads and are preparing to weigh deal scenarios on one or both of their cornerstone veterans between now and the Feb. 7 trade deadline — and perhaps into the offseason, league sources said.” Wojarnowski revealed.
There’s an obvious chance the Grizzlies could opt to keep both players, but that comes down to the potential offers which come their way. Conley, specifically, has been an interesting name to monitor. While he’s been linked to a variety of teams, there was a pitch made about a pairing with the Milwaukee Bucks which makes a lot of sense.

Mike Conley Pegged as Great Fit for Bucks
In an interesting segment on ESPN’s First Take, Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith both addressed the Conley situation. Surprisingly, the duo agreed when Kellerman pitched the idea of Milwaukee swinging a deal for the guard.
“A team like Milwaukee, if you could turn the job that [Eric] Bledsoe does, if Conley could that job … and also he can’t go anywhere next year or the year after? All the sudden, it’s like whoa, you’ve gotta watch out for Milwaukee.” Kellerman said.
Smith took Kellerman’s point and ran with it, citing the thought of Conley playing alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.
“I like that suggestion, no question about it. Because I like Conley with the Greek Freak and Middleton and those boys that they have in Milwaukee, particularly being coached by a guy like Budenholzer, who can utilize him effectively.” Smith stated.
It’s an interesting thought, and if the Bucks move Bledsoe, who’s on a one-year deal, it gives them a player in Conley to star alongside Antetokounmpo for the foreseeable future. It would almost certainly cost the Bucks a bit more than just Bledsoe for this deal to work, but they do have a few young, intriguing pieces.

How Bucks Trade for Mike Conley Could Look
For the Bucks to strike a deal for Conley, there would have to be some additional cap moved along with Bledsoe’s $15 million number. While evaluating trade scenarios with ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine, the idea of a trade putting him with Thon Maker and Tony Snell could get the job done.
ESPN NBA Trade Machine
There’s a chance this would require possibly a second-round pick or even a protected first-rounder to make it happen. While the Grizzlies have made it known they’re open to moving Conley, they have little reason to make a deal unless it includes a decent return. But if they’re looking to open up cap space with potential Conley/Gasol trades, Bledsoe coming off the books after the year gives Memphis flexibility on how to approach their future.
READ NEXT: Mike Conley Trade Talk: Top Possible Deals for Grizzlies Star