SPORTS

Carmelo Anthony Sweepstakes Winds Down as NBA Trade Deadline Nears

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 21:  Carmelo Anthony #15 of the Denver Nuggets looks on during a break in the action against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Pepsi Center on January 21, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Lakers defeated the Nuggets 107-97. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 21: Carmelo Anthony #15 of the Denver Nuggets looks on during a break in the action against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Pepsi Center on January 21, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Lakers defeated the Nuggets 107-97. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)  (2011 Getty Images)

One thing is certain: Carmelo Anthony, barring injury, will be playing basketball next week.

What's less clear is where.

The sweepstakes for the Denver Nuggets forward is winding down – the NBA trade deadline is February 24 – and hoops fans still have no clue where Anthony is going to end up.

To hear some team executives tell it, it won't be in New Jersey or Los Angeles.

Lakers' general manager Mitch Kupchak said Thursday the team, which was rumored to be discussing trading Andrew Bynum for Anthony, is unlikely make any trades.

"I think it's unlikely," Kupchak said. "But there's eight days to go. All of the general managers are here in Los Angeles this weekend, and there will be a lot of yapping.

"There will be a lot of guys moving off to the side, and there will be a lot of phone calls," Kupchak added. " I stand by what I said, that it's unlikely, but I don't think any general manager can stand here and say there will be absolutely no changes in eight days, in particular at this time of year."

New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, too, insists he has not changed his mind. The Russian owner abruptly pulled out of the Anthony talks last month. On Thursday, his spokeswoman said that – despite reports that the Nets wanted back in – nothing has changed.

"Mikhail has not changed his mind," Ellen Pinchuk, the spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. 

When asked if that meant Prokhorov does not want the Nets to reopen talks with Denver at this point, the spokeswoman said:

"What I said is what I said," she insisted. "Not what you said."

Then, of course, there are the Knicks, long considered the front-runner because Anthony, a native of Brooklyn, has said he would love to play in New York.

The price, according to reports, could be steep. To land the All-Star forward – who would likely be accompanied by current teammate Chauncey Billups – the Knicks would have pony up, among other players, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Raymond Felton.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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