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Melo coveted by Knicks, Nets on brink of deadline

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony Photo Credit: Getty Images

Guess who will get all the attention when the NBA All-Stars gather for their media interviews Friday in Los Angeles.

Hint: It seems everybody in the New York metropolitan area wants him.

If you guessed Carmelo Anthony, you’re right. And judging by the events of the last few days, the Nuggets’ high-scoring forward will have plenty to talk about.

The Knicks continue to try to bargain down the Nuggets from trade compensation that would embarrass an armed robber. The Nets, who backed away from a three-team, 15-player deal last month as their owner proclaimed the cost of Anthony was too steep, now appear back in the running after a consoling phone call from the Nuggets. And the Bulls are said to be in the race, too.

And Anthony is undoubtedly feeling the pressure of the fast-approaching trade deadline next Thursday. Unless the Nuggets can unload him to a team willing to give him a lucrative extension, Anthony risks staying with the Nuggets and trying his luck in free agency, if he opts out of the final year of his current contract. In any other year, that would not be a bad thing. But with an uncertain labor situation looming, Anthony could lose millions if the new CBA changes current player-friendly free agent rules.

Anthony has not ruled out signing Denver’s proposed three-year, $65 million extension, though doing so would cost him the $18 million option year of his current contract. His real desire lies in making even more while teaming up with Amar’e Stoudemire. But it’s probably not going to happen if the Nuggets remain steadfast demanding point guard Raymond Felton, forward Danilo Gallinari and another starter.

As for the Nets, any trade there would require Anthony’s approval, and no meetings have been set up between the Nets and the player. Plus, the Nets would probably have to give up rookie Derrick Favors, the expiring contract of Troy Murphy, and several draft picks.

It’s a mess, as this issue has been from the beginning. But at least it will afford the other All-Stars some free time, what with Anthony taking up the entire spotlight this weekend.

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