Carmelo Doesn't Believe Trade Imminent, Denies Ultimatum About Knicks
DENVER -- Rumors once again have intensified about star forward Carmelo Anthony not being long for Denver. But sources close to the situation and Anthony himself said Monday that no trade will happen soon.
Asked in an interview with FanHouse if he believes a deal is imminent, Anthony said, "No.''
Anthony, who has yet to sign a three-year, $64.47 million extension that is on the table and can become a free agent next summer, was back in Denver after scoring 31 points Sunday against the Knicks, the team many believe he wants to join. ESPN.com reported after the Knicks' 129-125 win at Madison Square Garden that Anthony has told the Nuggets he only would sign the extension if traded to New York .
But Anthony emphatically denied that report.
"No,'' Anthony said when asked if there's any truth to it. "I haven't talked to Masai (Ujiri, the Nuggets executive vice president of basketball operations) about who I would sign an extension with, and who I want to sign with. I've never had that conversation.''
Ujiri said he prefers to keep all conversations with Anthony private. Sources close to the situation agreed with Anthony that he hasn't told the Nuggets the only team he will sign an extension for is the Knicks.
Still, there is a growing belief New York is a possible destination for Anthony soon if the Nuggets can't convince him to sign the extension by the Feb. 24 trade deadline. That New York (16-9) has won 13 of 14 games and now has a better record than Denver (14-9) and that Anthony got a nice ovation Sunday at Madison Square Garden hardly can be considered good news for the Nuggets.
In the interview, Anthony said there will be a resolution by the Feb. 24 trade deadline. That would seem to eliminate the possibility of Denver keeping Anthony if he hasn't signed the extension by then.
"Something will have to be resolved one way or the other (by the trade deadline),'' Anthony said. "Our conversations (between Anthony and Nuggets president Josh Kroenke and Ujiri) will continue to happen. So that's a good thing.''
Anthony said returning to Denver is still a long-term option.
"Yes,'' Anthony said of there still being a possibility he could sign the extension with the Nuggets. "Yes, it is. My options are open. That doesn't mean I'm not (going to sign it with Denver). That doesn't mean I am. My options are open.''
Anthony continued to decline to say what it might take for the Nuggets to be able to keep him in Denver.
"I don't know,'' Anthony said. "That's for us to talk about when I have those meetings with (Kroenke and Ujiri).''
Speaking to reporters in New York on Sunday, Anthony said he doesn't expect the Nuggets would trade him to a team for which he wouldn't want to play. He was asked Monday to elaborate on that.
"Me and Masai and Josh are all on the same page right now,'' Anthony said. "If anything was to happen (with a trade), I don't think that they would ship me to the Kansas City Royals or anything like that. That's just my take on it. I don't know. They might be thinking something different.''
Prior to speaking with FanHouse, Anthony spoke to several reporters. He was asked if he wants to stay in Denver.
"Of course,'' said Anthony, who said he's feeling much better after missing the two games prior to Sunday with knee inflammation. "I've been here, man, for seven years. It's my eighth season. I call this thing home. If you've been any place for eight years, that's going to be home. That's what you call home. So this community embraced me like I was one of their own. So, of course.''
Asked later why, if he said "of course'' he wants to stay in Denver, he hasn't signed the extension, Anthony backed off.
"I just said what I said, man,'' Anthony said. "I said what I said.''
While no trade of Anthony is imminent, the situation could be a distraction as the trade deadline approaches. That's even if Nuggets coach George Karl didn't want to use that exact word.
"I'm not sure it's a distraction as much as the heat will get more intense,'' Karl said. "I don't think there's any question that we realize that.''
Karl earlier this season spoke with optimism about being able to convince Anthony to stay. He was asked if he's now less optimistic.
"I stay away from that information, that gossip, that Internet action, reaction,'' Karl said. "I can't deny that New York (on Sunday) had a lot of cameras there, a lot of attention (on) him. ... Melo as long as he's a Nugget, I'm going to coach him and be happy with him.''
Karl is determined that all the rumors surrounding Anthony won't mess with his holidays.
"Melo's not going to bring my Christmas down,'' Karl said. "He's been a blessing in my career. He's been a great player for me. ... I'm going to keep coaching him up and coaching him in a place to win, and if the decision is made (to trade Anthony), that's all we can do.''
Also weighing in Monday on Anthony was Orlando center Dwight Howard, his teammate on the 2008 Olympic gold-medal winning outfit. Howard's Magic play at Denver on Tuesday.
"Just do whatever's best for you,'' Howard said in an interview with FanHouse about what advice he would give Anthony. "At the end of the day, that's the only thing that matters. People are always going to have opinions and be upset about whatever decision you make. So I support any decision he makes. He's a great person and a great player.''
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson