By Jeff Lenchiner

LOS ANGELES, CA — While the main attractions of 2011 NBA All-Star weekend are the on-court festivities, the off-court topics have been the same here as they have in the prior weeks and months of the regular season.

Everyone wants to know where Carmelo Anthony will go. High-up NBA employees with very legitimate connections are as unsure as fans wandering the streets in search of photos with stars and autographs.

The general consensus remains the same: The Nuggets, rather than losing Anthony like the Cavaliers lost LeBron James and the Raptors lost Chris Bosh, are likely to trade him before the February 24 trade deadline. In order, the Nets and Knicks are the favorites.

And then there’s a dreaded lockout looming which could wipe out some or — gasp — all of the next NBA season. Big meetings are going on this weekend between representatives of the owners and players to try to sort out the mess, but things still sound bleak.

Etan Thomas, who is on the Players Union executive board, told Friday that the two sides are “goal-posts apart.” No one else I spoke to had anything more positive to say about it.

That’s during All-Star off-time. The good news is, as players are hitting incredible shots and performing in the actual events, it’s safe to say that no one is thinking about all that other stuff and just focused on having a good time. John Wall dished 22 awesome assists Friday night in the Rookie Challenge, and as fans flew to their feet cheering the great plays, only excitement and appreciation for the spectacle was in mind.

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