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Sources: Lakers, Melo press pause on deal talks

The Los Angeles Lakers and free agent Carmelo Anthony are pausing talks on a possible contract agreement unless the franchise makes a turn back toward pursuit of Western Conference playoffs contention, league sources told ESPN.

The Lakers had been leaning toward signing Anthony for the rest of the season — until losses in four of the past five games left the organization and Anthony’s camp wondering if it made sense to bring the veteran into an unsettled environment with suddenly so little chance of making the playoffs, league sources said.

Anthony, a 10-time All-Star, had been hoping to find a new team that would provide a positive conclusion to his season an abrupt stay with the Houston Rockets.

The Lakers’ 118-109 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Saturday left the franchise with a 30-33 record and bleak prospects to catch the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth seed in the West. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index forecasts the Lakers with a less than one percent chance to make the playoffs.

The Lakers also have considered signing a center to bolster its frontcourt, league sources said. The Lakers are one roster spot below the league’s maximum of 15.

Anthony, 34, parted ways with the Rockets after 10 regular-season games. He was traded to the Chicago Bulls as part of a financial deal on Jan. 22, and eventually was waived to become a free agent on Feb. 1.

Anthony has averaged 24 points a game in his 15 NBA seasons.

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