Lakers strike down latest rumor of four-player deal involving Carmelo Anthony
The scenario: the Lakers would trade center Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest for forwards Carmelo Anthony and Al Harrington. But the Lakers denied it was on the table in the first place and insisted team executive Jim Buss and General Manager Mitch Kupchak were on the same page as far as trade opportunities.
Coach Phil Jackson chuckled at the rumors in general after the Lakers practiced Wednesday in Boston. “I haven't even entertained it,” Jackson said of trading for Anthony. “My first thought is why are these [media] people interrupting my life with these kind of rumors.”
Harrington and Artest both have difficult-to-move contracts: Artest has three more years and $21.8 million while Harrington has four more years and $27.7 million.
The Nuggets are trying to get something tangible for Anthony instead of losing him at season’s end for nothing in return. Anthony, 26, has one more year on his contract at $18.5 million but can void it and become a free agent after this season. He is currently seeking a three-year extension worth $65 million that would kick in after next season.
Bynum is averaging 11.3 points and 7.4 rebounds this season and has one more guaranteed year at $14.9 million, with a team option for $16.1 million in 2012-13.
Bynum's development has been slowed because of numerous knee injuries but he is considered Buss' pet project. Buss has been tethered to Bynum since insisting the Lakers draft him out of high school in 2005, and he doesn’t want to give up on the 23-year-old.
The Lakers are also lukewarm about Anthony because of the financial ramifications. They have the league’s largest payroll ($90 million) and would be pushed significantly upward in salary and luxury taxes.
The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 24.
Bynum said Wednesday he had been through the rumor mill a few times in his career, including reported deals for Chris Bosh and Pau Gasol that turned out to be inaccurate.
“It's nothing new to me,” Bynum said. “I'm going to keep playing basketball.”
Kobe Bryant said Wednesday that Bynum was “extremely important” and that the Lakers' biggest strength was their size. Bryant also said Bynum should ignore all the media reports.
“If he can’t deal with that, forget a Game 7,” Bryant said. “I don’t need to talk to him about that. He’s a big boy. He can handle himself.”
Bryant downplayed the persistent rumors revolving around the Lakers.
“We don't really deal with the unknowns,” he said. “You might as well talk about UFOs, too.”
The Lakers play the Celtics in Boston on Thursday.
-Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner reporting from Boston
Photo: Carmelo Anthony. Credit: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images