NBA story lines
'Melo yellow no more?
Carmelo Anthony recently decided to tip his hat to himself for how he's handled the adversity he created for himself when he asked the Denver Nuggets to trade him. The New Jersey Nets reportedly got close to landing him twice, then owner Mikhail Prokhorov pulled out, and now they appear to be back in the mix. The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly discussed dealing Andrew Bynum for Anthony. Who knows? Anthony wants the New York Knicks, but they don't want to sacrifice too much when they can possibly sign him in free agency. By Feb. 24, the most annoyingly awkward situation of the season will finally be settled when Anthony either gets shipped or ends the season with the only NBA home he's known for more than seven seasons.
Rise of Rose
"Why can't I be the MVP of the league?" Derrick Rose asked back in September. It was a question that appeared to have an easy answer, since his name wasn't LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or Kevin Durant. But the third-year point guard has forced himself into the most valuable player discussion as he lifted the Chicago Bulls within two games of the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics despite Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah both missing significant time with injuries. Rose is also making a strong argument for being the league's best point guard after recording wins against his peers, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams and Chris Paul, in the past six weeks.
The MVP negate
LeBron James thought that when he made "The Decision" he would likely have to sacrifice some gaudy individual statistics in order to chase his championship dreams with Super Friends Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. But James's scoring is only slightly down from his career average, while his rebounding and assist numbers have remained practically the same. The two-time reigning league most valuable player said the chances that he would win the MVP "kind of went out the window" because he has more help than he ever had in seven seasons in Cleveland. And that may be the case, since the greatest obstacle to winning a third consecutive MVP appears to be Wade, who is also posting MVP-caliber numbers and sparked the turnaround for the Miami Heat.
Will the Spurs or the Lakers stump the Lakers?
The Los Angeles Lakers started the season as the prohibitive favorite to send retiring Coach Phil Jackson out with his fourth career three-peat. But instead of the usual off-court circus that surrounds the team, the Lakers appear to be a broken team on the court - from Kobe Bryant's knee to Ron Artest's rapid regression to Andrew Bynum's limited impact. The disharmony in Los Angeles is a concern, but no more than the surprising dominance of the San Antonio Spurs, who have managed to enter the all-star break with their best record ever after 56 games - even as Tim Duncan becomes more marginalized.
The Washington Wizards were able to deal Gilbert Arenas and his seemingly immovable albatross of a contract to the Orlando Magic for Rashard Lewis and his seemingly immovable albatross of a contract. Neither Arenas nor Lewis had been living up to his nine-figure price tag, so it probably worked out that they were traded for each other. But Magic general manager Otis Smith's mid-December shakeup his championship contending team was hardly the most unexpected move of the season's first half. Jerry Sloan's decision to leave the Utah Jazz - whether or not all-star point guard Deron Williams was responsible for his exit, or he simply had grown fatigued - was probably much more shocking than the Hall of Fame coach's ability to hold onto the same coaching job for more than 23 seasons.