Carmelo Anthony: Trade Rumors Just 'Speculation'
That's right. Five times.
Asked if Sunday's 96-87 loss to New Orleans at the Pepsi Center was his last game with Denver due to numerous reports about a possible imminent exit, the forward said, "Not at all. Not at all. Not at all. Not at all. Just not at all.''
OK, he did vary the last phrase a bit.
Pressed for some new material, Anthony then was asked if that's an indication he hasn't agreed to sign an extension with New Jersey, which many believe is the only way the Nets would deal for him.
"I haven't heard anything on that,'' Anthony said. "It's just been speculation as of right now. Masai (Ujiri, Denver's executive vice president of basketball operations) and Josh (Kroenke, the Nuggets president) are not even here (at Sunday's game). So I don't see that happening.''
Pressed for a time frame during which Anthony doesn't believe he will be traded, he said, "I'm just saying I don't see it happening right now.''
"No,'' Anthony said.
There have been a number of reports saying Anthony and teammate Chauncey Billups soon could be shipped to New Jersey in a three-team trade that also would include Detroit. The Bergen (N.J.) Record, which first reported the talks between the teams Friday, reported Sunday a source saying a deal was "very close to happening.''
The paper reported 14 or 15 players could be in the deal, and there are still some moving parts. But the Nuggets would end up with Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and at least two first-round picks, the Nets with Richard Hamilton from Detroit and the cost-shedding Pistons would receive Troy Murphy's expiring contract from New Jersey.
"I don't know nothing new,'' Billups said when asked about his possible inclusion in a deal. "So I don't have nothing new to tell you all. I sure don't.''
Anthony has not signed a three-year, $64.47 million contract extension that has been on the table since June and can opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer. That's why the Nuggets are looking to trade him by the Feb. 24 deadline.
However, a source told FanHouse on Dec. 20 that Anthony didn't want to sign an extension with New Jersey, a likely requirement for the Nets being willing to trade for him. Asked before Sunday's game by FanHouse whether he would be willing to sign an extension with the Nets, Anthony said, "I ain't talking about that.''
There's also possible issues with Billups, a Denver native and hometown hero who doesn't want to be traded. His agent, Andy Miller, told FanHouse on Saturday that Billups would seek a buyout from his contract by next summer if traded.
Ujiri did not return a phone message left Sunday. Nuggets coach George Karl said before the game he didn't know anything about Anthony and Billups soon being traded to New Jersey. Afterward, Karl was asked if he's surprised Anthony heard boos on a night in which he shot 3 of 11 and scored eight points as Denver lost its third straight.
"Yes,'' Karl said. "I'm not an expert on where we're at right now. This is a strange place I think for everybody.''
Anthony played Sunday against his good friend, Chris Paul. The Hornets point guard said he has no inside knowledge on what Anthony might do and is waiting to find out like everybody else.
There has been speculation that Paul, who can become a free agent in 2012, might eventually want to join a team with Anthony. Asked about that, Paul said, "I don't know anything about that.''
Asked about a toast Paul gave last summer at Anthony's wedding in which Paul said he, Anthony and New York forward Amar'e Stoudemire one day would join forces on the Knicks, Paul said, "That was last summer. We just moved into sole possession of sixth (in the Western Conference playoff race).'' Anthony has said the toast was a joke.
However, the general belief is Anthony does want to play in New York, which doesn't have the trade assets New Jersey does for Denver. If Anthony waits until the summer to sign with New York as a free agent, he runs the risk of losing a lot of money under a new collective agreement.
In the short term, the Nuggets (20-16) are having big-time troubles. They fell behind by as many as 19 points before making a run to get within three late.
The Nuggets were playing without forward Kenyon Martin, center Chris Andersen and guard Ty Lawson, all resting bad knees. Martin and Lawson both vowed to be back Tuesday against Phoenix while Andersen certainly has a shot to return by then himself.
Anthony expects to be in a Nuggets uniform with a chance to redeem himself against the Suns.
"I was in a little bit of a funk in (Sunday's) game,'' Anthony said. "I take responsibility for this loss. I think I was a little bit too unselfish and a little bit too selfish just for the simple fact that over the last couple of days we talked about passing the ball. And I think I was a little bit too selfish by not being as aggressive as I normally would be on the offensive end. Just passing the ball a little too much and passing up shots that I should have took... For me to take 11 shots, that's out of the norm for me.''
Anthony denied his poor play had anything to do with distractions about possibility being on the verge of being traded.
"I don't care about that,'' he said. "I've been playing through distractions this whole season. When we're winning, it's no distraction. Now, when we lose a couple of games, I don't want nobody thinking it's distractions. It's something we're not doing as a team... We're not playing hard... But we'll figure it out.''
Distraction or not, trade rumors will continue to hang over Anthony.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson