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Nets still in best spot to land ‘Melo in trade

by Peter Vecsey

NEW YORK — Last week, the Carmelo Anthony-less Knicks lost by 27 points in Philadelphia and the Carmelo Anthony-less Nets lost by 15 at Boston.

So, let’s skip discussing the humdrum here and now for the moment and examine the NBA’s bracing badlands whose first commandment is, “Thou Shalt Covet Thy Neighbor’s DisenFranchised Player” every day and twice on Sunday.

Despite the topical torrent of published pap, the Knicks, their merchandise unchanged, are no closer to extricating Carmelo from the Nuggets than they were weeks ago . . . whereas the asset-affluent Nets, whose sought-after accomplices fluctuate daily, remain the leading aspirant to arrange acceptable compensation.

Other than what the Nets are prepared to part with in order to appropriate ‘Melo’s hallowed services, there don’t appear to be any participants (Jazz and Bobcats) or pieces (Andrei Kirilenko, Boris Diaw) left over from the original four-team scheme . . . that never got as close to happening as we were led to believe at the time.

The Nuggets, I’ve come to discover, were in no way tempted on two fronts, maybe three.

Owner Stanley E. Kroenke and son, Josh, were against paying (one person) Kirilenko $17,823,000 owed for the final season of his contract; they already have one too many obscenely overpaid ($16.8 million) brittle big men in Kenyon Martin.

Devin Harris’ $27 million for the next three seasons was similarly unappetizing.

Conversely, acquiring a point guard that was locked in long term appealed to the Trail Blazers, who tried to make it into a five-team transaction by sending Andre Miller to the Bobcats. While the 11-year veteran’s enduring value is indisputable, it’s equally undeniable he’ll be 35 on March 19 and has logged 32,200 minutes. What’s more, he’s a rising free agent.

Another Nuggets’ hitch was Derrick Favors. Neither management nor the coaching staff was sold on his potential pike being all that high going into training camp and nothing he did during the exhibition season (7.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in 19.6 minutes) served to justify being the central figure in a swap for ‘Melo.

However, contrary to a fictitious ESPN (and Newsday) report that contended the Knicks had made “significant progress” in trade talk for ‘Melo, and that the Nets had removed Favors from the table, the draft’s third pick can still very much be had . . . along with free agents-to-be Troy Murphy ($11.968 million) and/or Chris Humphries ($3.2 million).

I know what’s bothering you; you’re wondering how come the Knicks (or the Bulls, ‘Melo’s other preferential team) can’t beat or at least match the Nets’ proposition of talent and expiring contracts?

Considering Walsh’s ingenuity and patience (he managed to trade rowdy Ron Artest to the Kings for Peja Stojakovic the season after the Malice in the Palace), I’m sure that’s very doable.

Especially in view of the Garden fresh news that the deal reputedly is being brokered by Spike Lee.

Except for several minor details; it’s virtually impossible for the Knicks (or Bulls) to top the Nets in terms of presenting alluring first-round draft choices to the Nuggets. New Jersey is offering this June’s unprotected slot as well as the Warriors’ selection, protected through the fifth pick.

Additionally, the Nets, using Harris, can fix it so a crisply recruited collaborator rewards the Nuggets with a select small forward and maybe even a third No. 1 pick.

The Knicks’ draft assets are so minimal (this decade, anyway) Brett Favre stopped texting them.

Peter Vecsey covers the NBAfor the New York Post.