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Hold the applause

In a typically bold/vaudeville move, Knicks owner James Dolan traded six players — including all the ones over 6-foot-8 in stocking feet — for Carmelo Anthony, who might have signed as a free agent.

Dolan offered three starters and when the Nuggets asked for promising 7-foot rookie Timofey Mozgov, threw him in too.

Happily, the Nuggets didn't ask for Madison Square Garden or the Knicks might be looking for a place to play.

Gotham swooned as if the Knicks had landed LeBron James.

"It's the new Staples Center, if I can say that," Amare Stoudemire said. "L.A. is known for having all of the stars there. I think New York is going to take over that stardom stage."

"The Knicks are back," James announced.

Not quite yet.

Entitled as he is, James is Solomon the Wise next to Anthony, a young 26 with an easily-turned head.

Before Chauncey Billups arrived in Denver, Melo never won a playoff series, losing 20 of 24 games in five first-round routs.

Aside from being in Denver, the Nuggets were ideal for Anthony because they were built around him.

The Knicks were built around Stoudemire, who didn't like sharing the spotlight with Steve Nash, who didn't care and made him a great player.

Melo won't do anything for Amare but take some of his shots.

Anthony yearns for recognition, as Stoudemire does, and is better connected. Melo and wife La La Vasquez already have a new VH1 reality show.

Nor is Amare inclined to suck it up. When the Knicks started 3-8, he said he wanted to stay in Phoenix, noting Alvin Gentry was the only coach who taught him to defend, throwing coach Mike D'Antoni under the bus even faster than expected.

The Old Electricity returned to the Garden for Anthony's debut, as the Knicks held off the Bucks before giving up 115 and losing in ... Cleveland?

"You play a certain way all year and you've got to change gears now," D'Antoni said.

"We're smaller and that's going to be our formula. Whether we like it or not, that's how it's going to be."

Hold that bus.

Da Who? Da, er, the Bulls were such a surprise to everyone, including themselves, they were still adjusting when the trade deadline arrived with its hard choices.

At 38-17 with Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer having played a handful of games together and two non-shooting shooting guards, they targeted the Grizzlies' O.J. Mayo, who shoots, defends and could even back up Derrick Rose at the point.

Unfortunately, they couldn't bring themselves to part with either Taj Gibson or Omer Asik and lost out.

Within hours of the trade deadline, the Bulls came from 10 points behind to rock the Heat's world … while missing 17 of 21 3-point attempts.

On the bright side, think what they'll be next season with a shooter!

On the other hand, think what the Heat will be with a big man!

The undefeated: The greatest starting team ever retires undefeated?

If Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins weren't really the greatest, or, let's face it, close, they were undefeated.

After winning their 2008 title, they never finished another season together …

Now the Celtic Five never will be after Perkins was traded to the Thunder, stunning teammates.

The 6-9, 280-pound nose tackle of their defense was right behind KG and Rondo in importance with his toughness and quick feet.

"Well, the bottom (line) is we'll see," coach Doc Rivers said of losing Perkins.

"That team never lost so we can just end that ..."

Bad times in Detroit: Capping a season of discord, the rudderless Pistons — who remained amazingly competitive as veterans on their way out sniped at coach John Kuester — saw six players skip a shootaround. In alphabetical order, it was Austin Daye, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Rodney Stuckey, Ben Wallace and Chris Wilcox.

Benched for the 110-94 loss to the 76ers — the six were then caught on camera laughing on the bench when Kuester was ejected. The players who showed up for shootaround and played were Will Bynum, Ben Gordon, Jason Maxiell, Greg Monroe, Dajuan Summers and Charlie Villanueva.

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