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Carmelo Anthony trade: Nuggets using Lakers & Andrew Bynum to con Knicks into upping offer?

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Yesterday in Carmelo, all hell broke loose. Amid reports about a three-way Knicks, Nuggets and Timberwolves trade and direct talks between Knicks' owner James Dolan and Nugs boss Stan Kroenke, ESPN's Chris Broussard talked up a potential L.A. Lakers swap, with Andrew Bynum as the main piece. But is Broussard being played?

Here's the Broussard tweet that got everything rolling:

Lakers-Den in preliminary discussions of Melo 4 Bynum deal. early in talks, I don't think firm offer made yet. Minn-nyk-den still alive tooless than a minute ago via Echofon

As is clear from the tweet's tone, Broussard doesn't think a Lakers deal is imminent, nor that rumblings about a transaction have killed the three-way move, which would send Melo to NYC, with the Nuggets getting Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewer and the Timberwolves' top draft choice. Nonetheless, New York media went into freak-out mode best exemplified by this screamer from today's New York Post.

No surprise that mention of the Lakers produced such a flurry of activity. The team's been part of Melo-related speculation for a long time, as our July 2010 post "Carmelo Anthony sign-and-trade to the L.A. Lakers? Please, God, no..." proves -- and earlier this month, pundits began to speculate about whether the Lakers could challenge the Knicks for Anthony's services.

But Bynum alone is clearly not enough to entice the Nuggets, if only because he's hurt all the damn time -- and with Kenyon Martin and Chris "Birdman" Andersen so frequently on the shelf, the franchise needs durability in a big way. And then there's the PR risk involved with trading a player of Anthony's magnitude and youth within the conference. Does Denver management really want Carmelo beating the hell out of the Nugs in the playoffs every year until 2020 or so? If the Nuggets are fortunate enough to even get into the playoffs, that is...

That's why we agree with the likes of Business Insider's Kevin Baumer, who feels that by floating the Lakers/Bynum rumor, "the Nuggets were attempting to gain leverage over the Knicks." And, Baumer goes on, "they did just that. Knicks fans were petrified at the idea of losing Melo again, and you can bet the Knicks' front office is feeling more pressure today than they were just 24 hours ago."

If all that's true, Nuggets management, which has made plenty of glaring mistakes throughout this process, may finally have done something smart -- especially if the Knicks improve their offer to protect themselves from a Lakers' steal that may never have been a serious possibility in the first place.

More from our Sports archive: "Carmelo Anthony trade: Did Amare Stoudemire, NY Knicks kill 4-way deal featuring NJ Nets?"

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