Handicapping the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes

Baltimore's most prominent basketballer, Carmelo Anthony, has been the subject of trade talk since his wedding this summer. As my colleague Kevin Van Valkenburg wrote in this feature last month, the uncertainty and the negative feedback from Denver Nuggets fans is clearly weighing on the former Towson Catholic star. But Anthony has been a trooper, still playing hard even though a deal appears to be imminent before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

The latest team to be linked to Anthony was the Lakers, but The Los Angeles Times says the team is unlikely to trade Andrew Bynum for Anthony given the type of salary Anthony will command as a free agent this summer.

So where will Carmelo be playing two weeks from now? Allow me to handicap the field.

The Knicks: 35 percent. Madison Square Garden is said to be Anthony's preferred destination, but New York doesn't really have the assets to blow Denver away with an offer. The Knicks are reportedly attempting to bring in a third team to make it happen, and it seems as if the Nuggets will try to accommodate Anthony's demands to an extent. Right now, they're the frontrunners.

The Nets: 25 percent. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov demanded that his team bow out of trade discussions a couple of weeks ago, but don't count them out yet. Brooklyn New Jersey was offering a boatload of assets to land Anthony -- word on the street is that Prokhorov was willing to throw in most of Siberia -- and if they open up trade talks again, they have the most appealing package.

The Mavericks: 10 percent. Like the Knicks, the Mavericks are lacking serious trade chips, but owner Mark Cuban, always in win-now mode, is said to be hot and heavy for 'Melo and might bring him on as a rental without the guarantee of a contract extension.

The Rockets: 10 percent. A darkhorse in the sweepstakes, the Rockets could dangle Yao Ming's massive expiring contract in a deal along with Kevin Martin and/or other assets. I can't see Houston making a move like this, though, if they don't think they can sign Anthony long-term.

The Lakers: five percent. I don't see this one going down and I'm not alone, but hey, you never know. GM Mitch Kupchak and franchise icon Magic Johnson have suggested the team might make a deal to shake things up. They probably aren't going to give up Bynum, though, especially because it will be crazy difficult to fit Anthony's next contract under the cap. Sorry, LaLa Vazquez.

The Wizards: .01 percent. It would be awesome if Anthony could come this close to home, but it's not happening unless the Wizards offer up John Wall, which isn't happening.

The field: 14.9 percent. Carmelo is said to be open to playing for the Bulls, and other teams such as the 76ers, the Clippers and the Trail Blazers could have interest. You never know which team will come out of the woodwork in the final minutes, which is why this sweepstakes should go down to the wire on Feb. 24.

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