Denver Nuggets small forward Carmelo Anthony (15) shoots over New...

Denver Nuggets small forward Carmelo Anthony (15) shoots over New Jersey Nets' Kris Humphries, left, and point guard Devin Harris (34) in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game. (Jan. 31, 2011) Credit: AP

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - The Knicks may have real reason to believe they are the only horse left in the race to acquire Carmelo Anthony before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. The Nuggets, however, apparently are trying to create competition by attempting to engage other potential suitors. Even if those suitors aren't interested. reported yesterday morning that the Lakers were in preliminary discussions about a trade for Anthony that would likely send center Andrew Bynum to Denver. But a person with knowledge of the situation told Newsday that Anthony-Bynum talks actually took place last summer and never developed beyond that.

The Nuggets may have tried to rekindle talks with the Lakers recently, but the Los Angeles Times yesterday afternoon cited a Lakers source calling the ESPN report "inaccurate'' and said the Lakers had no interest in trading Bynum, 23.

The Knicks reportedly made an offer recently that involved the Timberwolves. The reported deal would send Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph to the Timberwolves and Wilson Chandler, Minnesota's first-round pick and Corey Brewer to Denver. Though the trade would save Denver millions in cash, with Curry's $11.2-million salary absorbed by Minnesota, the Nuggets are believed to want the Knicks to improve the package, and may have tried to use the Lakers as a threat.

The Knicks are not likely to add Danilo Gallinari to the deal. The rumors bothered him early in the season, but since then he has relaxed and played with great confidence. "I've been telling you since the beginning, I'm not worried,'' he said. "They pay me to play basketball, they don't pay me to think about other stuff.''

Chandler, according to those close to him, is troubled by the rumors - in December he told Newsday, "I don't want to go to Denver.'' But those close to Curry and Randolph say both are rooting hard to escape from Mike D'Antoni's bench.

Curry and Randolph missed the team's annual bowling event Monday night and didn't practice Tuesday. The team said both were excused for personal reasons and were expected back for tonight's game against the Clippers.

Nearly seven months after Chris Paul's wedding toast brought to light Anthony's desire to play in New York, the situation gets more delicate as it becomes more realistic. It's gotten so intense behind the scenes that a person with ties to the NBA power elite said when he was asked to assist in the process, he turned it down.

"I didn't want to get caught up in all of that,'' he said. "There's enough people that will be looking to take credit.''

And if the Knicks have learned anything from the Nets, it's that too many cooks can sabotage a trade. As the Knicks try to complete a deal with the Nuggets, there is heightened concern at 2 Penn Plaza about information that is beginning to surface.

A person with direct knowledge of the situation dismissed a report that suggested former team president Isiah Thomas was influencing the deal by advising team owner James Dolan - and subsequently bypassing Donnie Walsh. "Isiah is not involved with Melo,'' the person said. "I can tell you that.''

The Dolan family owns controlling interests in the Knicks, MSG and Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.

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