Posted Jan 13 2011 1:15PM
The saga that is the Carmelo Anthony Sweepstakes has seemingly roped in most of the league's teams and players -- at least it feels that way -- so, naturally, the All-Star Game is now caught in the mix.
'Melo is going to be an All-Star. The question is for the West or the East?
Anthony is currently in the running to represent Denver and start for the Western Conference, coming in second among forwards in the latest returns released Thursday. Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant continues to lead that category entering the last 10 days of voting.
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers is still the overall vote leader with 1,757,216. Orlando center Dwight Howard and Miami teammates LeBron James (forward) and Dwyane Wade (guard) round out the top four. Since the last returns on Jan. 6, Durant, Derrick Rose (Chicago), Rajon Rondo (Boston), Amar'e Stoudemire (New York) and Kevin Garnett (Boston) have joined the above four with more than 1 million ballots cast.
Antony's lead over third-place Pau Gasol (Lakers) is a healthy 94,000 votes, leaving 'Melo in good position to start for the West, but that's not the only race in play. There's also the East and Stoudemire to consider if/when the Nuggets' franchise player is dealt.
If 'Melo is indeed headed to New Jersey or New York or anywhere else in the East, his votes also make the trek across country. Anthony remains on the Western Conference ballot, but his votes would be counted in the East.
A similar situation took place with Allen Iverson the last two years. Traded from Denver to Detroit during the 2008-09 season, A.I. had enough support from NBA fans to start for the East after beginning the voting process on the West ballot. It happened again the following year after going from Memphis to Philadelphia. Iverson actually pulled the trick earlier in his career going from Philadelphia to Denver in 2006-07, except that time he was voted onto the All-Star team by West coaches.
'Melo currently has 945,720 votes. Stoudemire has nearly a 200,000-vote edge on Anthony if these two were in the running for an East spot. Garnett is also up more than 100,000 on 'Melo. Considering he's the league's ninth-leading scorer, Anthony would certainly be a shoo-in to be selected an All-Star reserve by the East coaches if he is indeed traded.
Anthony isn't worried about the All-Star Game or the trade rumors right now.
"When I'm here in this arena, in this gym, nothing else matters," he told NBA TV earlier this week. "Regardless of what uniform I have, I'm going to go out there and give my all and play as hard as I can and do what I've got to do to win that basketball game."
The East team has seen its first two changes to the five leaders since the first returns were released on Dec. 16. Stoudemire has overtaken Garnett for one of the two forward spots to join LeBron. Rondo, now ahead of Rose, and Wade are in the backcourt, with Howard down low.
The tightest race is at East guard with Rose about 54,000 votes short of Rondo. Stoudemire has a lead of about 94,000 on Garnett at East forward.
The West is still Bryant and Chris Paul (New Orleans) at guard, Durant and Anthony at forward and injured Houston center Yao Ming. It appears likely NBA commissioner David Stern will choose the West starter at center.
Fans can continue to vote for the starters at the 60th NBA All-Star Game through paper balloting in arenas, online at NBA.com or through texting. Arena voting ends Jan. 17, while online and wireless wraps up Jan. 23.
The All-Star Game, on TNT, is Feb. 20, 2011 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Starters will be announced live on TNT on Jan. 27, during a special one-hour pregame show (7 p.m. ET) before the Miami-New York and Boston-Portland doubleheader.
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