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If Carmelo Anthony has his way, he'll be ditching the Nuggets jersey for a Knicks jersey. Photo by Jeff Lewis
Lakers; Clippers; Carmelo Anythony; and the Mavericks are on fireBy Michael Brown, Sentinel Sports WriterBynum returning? Sterling heckles Baron Davis After struggling Sunday on the road to put away the awful New Jersey Nets, the Lakers, who have been lackadaisical since they started the season 8-0 and are now 17-7, are expected to get center Andrew Bynum back for the Tuesday, Dec. 4 game at Washington.Bynum has said that he is “definitely playing,” but the Lakers’ training staff is being more cautious. Team trainers have said they will gauge whether the seven-footer can go or not based on how his body responds during Tuesday’s pre-game warm-ups.Bynum’s return can’t come a moment too soon. Pau Gasol has been taking a pounding at center and playing heavy minutes, while an improved Lamar Odom has started at power forward.Bynum’s return will certainly help with some of the Lakers’ defensive woes of late, and allow Odom to return to the bench, bolstering the second unit.It will be interesting to see what kind of workload coach Phil Jackson will pile on Bynum.Jackson is expected to ease Bynum back into action at 20 minutes a game.Meanwhile, across the Staples Center hallway, as usual, the biggest news is never about basketball. According to a Yahoo! Sports report, Clippers owner Donald Sterling has heckled point guard Baron Davis during games.Reportedly, Sterling has been overheard saying things such as, “You’re out of shape,” and “Why are you in the game?” to Davis.To give Sterling the benefit of the doubt, Clippers fans and the L.A. media have been making many of the same comments about Davis. During the preseason, new head coach Vinny Del Negro publicly criticized Davis for showing up out of shape.With three years and almost $42 million left on his contract, Davis’ L.A. homecoming has been a nightmare so far. Injuries and ineffective play have hampered Davis’ return, and his contract is now an albatross around the Clippers’ neck.With all of that said, the Clippers’ problems didn’t begin and they don’t end with Davis. The Clippers’ problems are more systemic, beginning and ending with Sterling.Despite having the most exciting young player in the NBA, Blake Griffin, the Clippes are out to a 5-20 start, and on a three-game losing streak, not all due to Davis.Perhaps Clippers fans should ask Sterling, “Why do you still own this team?”‘Melo’s next stop: The Big Apple?At this point, it seems like a done deal if Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony has anything to say about it. A free agent to be at the end of the season, Anthony has leverage over the Nuggets, and it looks like he wants to facilitate a deal to the Knicks.ESPN.com reported Sunday that if the Nuggets deal Anthony, the Knicks are the only team he would sign an extension with. Anthony didn’t come out and say he wouldn’t re-sign with any other team, but the impression that he won’t is sure to scare off teams such as Orlando and New Jersey who have expressed interest.Anthony obviously doesn’t want to stay in Denver. The Nuggets have placed a three-year $65 million deal on the table, but Anthony has declined to accept it despite the likelihood of a lockout next summer.Denver is clearly in a quandary. If they don’t trade ‘Melo, they risk repeating the off-season mistake the Raptors made by not dealing Chris Bosh while they could have got something for him and watching him leave in free agency. Eventually, the Nuggets should swallow hard and deal ‘Melo for the best package available. If that happens, I suspect they’ll shift into rebuilding mode and players such as Chauncey Billups, Nene and Chris Anderson would be on the trading block for contenders.Knicks fans are certainly ready for Anthony; they gave him a standing ovation during pre-game introductions in New York’s Sunday win against Denver. Hottest teams in the league Prior to Dallas dropping a Monday night home game to Milwaukee, 103-99, the Mavericks were the NBA’s hottest team with 12 wins in a row.The usually high-flying and scoring Mavericks have been known for several years as a team that tries to outscore opponents, however, Dallas (19-5) is winning differently this season. They’re ranked seventeenth in the league scoring just 99 points a game, but fifth in defense allowing 93 points. Dirk Nowitski has improved defensively while still scoring his customary 25 points a game. But the biggest impact has been made by center Tyson Chandler. Chandler’s shot blocking ability and rebounding has allowed players such as Caron Butler and Shawn Marion to become better defenders.Maverick’s perimeter players can play man-to-man and funnel players to the basket knowing that Chandler can alter shots and sure-up the boards.The Mavericks trail another hot team in the Southwest Division. The 20-3 Spurs have won five straight. The Spurs are a mirror image of what they’ve been in past years. Aside from fundamentals, they don’t do any one thing excellent, but instead, they’re just solid all-around.The biggest difference for the Spurs thus far has been the health of guards Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Tim Duncan has taken a more pedestrian role averaging 13 points and nine rebounds per game.Miami (18-8) has a 9-game win streak and Boston (19-4) has won 10 consecutive games. The resurgent Knicks (16-9) have also won eight straight.