Don't count on Carmelo Anthony coming to Lakers
By Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner
Los Angeles Times
The Lakers had the day off. The trade winds, however, kept churning.
The Lakers were pulled into the season-long Carmelo Anthony drama after an ESPN report named them as possible trade partners with the Denver Nuggets for the unhappy All-Star forward.
There were denials from the start, team officials saying off the record they wouldn't include Andrew Bynum in a deal for Anthony, sticking with a declaration to The Times last week that there was "zero" chance they would acquire Anthony before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
Bynum, 23, hasn't lived up to his promise because of numerous knee injuries but is considered the pet project of team executive Jim Buss, who has a large say in trade matters alongside General Manager Mitch Kupchak.
Bynum is averaging 11.3 points and 7.4 rebounds this season and has one more guaranteed contract year at $14.9 million, with a team option for $16.1 million in 2012-13.
The Lakers view Anthony as a top-tier player but are tepid about trading for him because of the massive contract ramifications.
Anthony, 26, has one more season remaining at $18.5 million but can void it and become a free agent after this season. He is seeking a three-year extension worth $65 million that would kick in after next season.
The Lakers have the league's largest payroll ($90 million), and acquiring Anthony could push them into the stratosphere as far as salary structure and accompanying luxury taxes.
There have been talks between the Lakers and Nuggets. In fact, the Lakers declined to continue an informal discussion of Anthony for Pau Gasol, opting to keep the All-Star that helped them win consecutive championships instead of potentially bringing aboard a different one, though there was never anything officially on the table.
Anthony has been rumored to leave Denver since the season began. New Jersey tried to acquire him last month but trade talks fell apart. The New York Knicks remain the favorites to obtain Anthony, who is averaging 24.6 points and 7.8 rebounds this season.
LA Times staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.