Maybe James Dolan's involvement in talks with the Nuggets means (among other things) that the Knicks are closing in on a trade for Carmelo Anthony. But now the Lakers reportedly have had discussions with Denver about a trade as well — one centered around Andrew Bynum — though ESPN Los Angeles reports that it's believed talks haven't even advanced to the point where the Lakers have made an offer. So what to make of the reported talks?
According to a couple of outlets, you shouldn't make much of them at all. Even ESPN, which reported word of the preliminary talks between the two teams, was told by a Lakers source that the trade won't happen. The Daily News, meanwhile, reports that the Lakers actually turned down a deal because Jim Buss, the son of owner Jerry Buss and the Lakers' vice-president of player development, doesn't want to part with Bynum. The Nuggets also reportedly have no interest in Ron Artest. (For what it's worth, yet another source tells ESPN that the deal isn't actually dead. And ESPN cites sources that say Anthony would be willing to sign an extension with Los Angeles.)
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has said he'd at least consider making a move before the deadline, so that he might be in discussions with others teams isn't necessarily a surprise. Though in this case, it's to Denver's benefit to engage in talks with another team — particularly one that could be a desirable destination for Anthony — even if they're unlikely to lead to a trade. Since the Nets dropped out of the race for Carmelo, the Knicks have been in a very strong negotiating position: Without any other potential trade partners, Denver's options could be limited to trading Anthony to the Knicks, or letting him walk during free agency. With another team potentially interested in Anthony, it's possible the price to acquire him might rise. (As you'll recall, the Knicks wouldn't be giving up much in the most recent reported proposals.)
Indeed, the Post quotes an unnamed league executive who says that "a lot of GMs believe 'Melo's agent (Leon Rose) is trying to make the Knicks believe a deal could get done with the Lakers to get the Knicks to give more." We're not sure we follow the logic here, though: Why would Carmelo's agent care what the Nuggets get in return (unless, we guess, it had ramifications for other clients)? And why would he want to deplete the roster of the team Anthony would be joining?
For Denver to seriously demand more from the Knicks, they'll need another potential trade partner willing to make a strong offer. Whether they have that in the Lakers remains to be seen.
Sources: Lakers, Nuggets talk Melo [ESPN Los Angeles]
Carmelo Anthony-for-Andrew Bynum trade proposal turned down by Lakers' Jim Buss, son of owner [NYDN]
Lakers in talks to swipe Anthony from Knicks [NYP]