With Trade Rumors Swirling, Anthony Expects to Meet With Nuggets Brass
DENVER -- Denver star forward Carmelo Anthony expects to meet soon with team management. At that point, more will be known on when or whether he could be traded to New Jersey.
"I'm waiting to see Masai (Ujiri, Denver's vice president of basketball operations) and Josh (Kroenke, the team president), wherever they're at,'' Anthony said after practice Monday about the two Denver executives who were not at Sunday's 96-87 home loss to New Orleans.
"I'm pretty sure they're working on whatever they're working on right now. ... I'm just patiently waiting until they get back so I have a sitdown with them.''
Whether Anthony agrees to sign a contract extension with New Jersey is the most significant obstacle on whether he will be traded to the Nets in a three-team deal that also would include Detroit. Anthony said the choice of whether or not he would sign to stay long-term with the Nets has yet to be presented to him, and he wouldn't tip his hand on his thinking.
"I really don't know,'' Anthony said, later adding, "After the meeting, I'll let you know how the meeting went.''
Anthony said no meeting is scheduled as of yet. Ujiri did not immediately return a message.
Sources said Monday no trade is imminent. Anthony is expecting to play Tuesday for the Nuggets at home against Phoenix.
After Sunday's loss, Denver's third in a row, Anthony said he didn't expect a trade this week. He said Monday he still believes that.
"That's just my feeling,'' Anthony said. "I don't think so. I don't want to elaborate on that anymore. That's just my own personal feeling.''
Anthony, who has yet to sign a three-year, $64.47 million extension with the Nuggets and can opt out his contract and become a free agent this summer, didn't rule out the situation dragging on until the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
"It could go on to the trade deadline,'' he said. "I have no idea about that.''
Anthony continued to not rule out signing the extension with Denver.
"It's in the air,'' he said.
What would have to take place for Anthony, in his eighth season with the Nuggets, to stay?
"I think that's something for me and the front office to keep talking about,'' said Anthony, a three-time All-Star with a 24.7 career scoring average.
For now, the Nuggets have been talking about a deal with New Jersey and Detroit that would involve Anthony and guard Chauncey Billups going to the Nets and likely more than two dozen players involved. The Nuggets would get rookie forward Derrick Favors, guard Devin Harris and at least two first-round draft picks. The Nets also would receive Richard Hamilton from Detroit while sending Troy Murphy and his expiring contract to the cost-cutting Pistons.
Billups, a Denver native and hometown hero, doesn't want to be traded. And Anthony said he would be fine seeing Billups stay in Denver.
"The whole thing with the whole Chauncey situation, it's ... kind of hard for me to see him involved in that knowing what (the Nuggets) did to get him here in Denver, and knowing he's from Denver, knowing this is home and he represents the city of Denver,'' Anthony said. "To see him in all this stuff that's going on right now, I feel bad about it. But I guess that's just the business of basketball.''
Billups was not at practice Monday, with Nuggets coach George Karl saying he was under the weather. His absence was not to believed to have anything to do with the trade situation.
"We talked to him about 10 o'clock,'' Karl said about one hour before Denver's practice started at 11 a.m. MST on a snowy day. "We just told him to stay home.''
There has been ample speculation Anthony's preferred destination is New York, which doesn't have the trade assets New Jersey has. Anthony was asked if he wants to join the Knicks.
"Who wouldn't want to play in New York?'' Anthony said. "I told (the media in New York) that last year. I think that's how this stuff started, by me making that comment. New York is playing well right now. I don't think they're looking at me. They wouldn't want me to come in there and mess what they have up. That's what I've read so.''
Anthony then was pressed on whether his preference is to play with the Knicks.
"I'm here, man,'' he said. "Like I said, until something happens, I'm a Denver Nugget.''
Anthony could sign with the Knicks this summer as a free agent, but he would run the risk of perhaps losing a lot of money under a new NBA collective bargaining agreement. If Anthony indeed does prefer the Knicks over the Nets, some have wondered why Anthony wouldn't want the situation to continue to drag out to give the Knicks more time to come up with a suitable deal.
Anthony was in a good mood Monday. Despite the team's three-game losing streak, he was laughing and joking and said, "I'm happy.''
When told he could have played with Billups and Hamilton in Detroit if the Pistons hadn't drafted Darko Milicic ahead of him in 2003, Anthony cracked about the Detroit executive, "Joe Dumars messed that up.''
Not in as good of a mood Monday was Karl, who said players questionable for the injury-riddled Nuggets for Tuesday are Kenyon Martin, Chris Andersen and Ty Lawson with bad knees and Al Harrington, who missed practice Monday with a lower back strain after scoring 20 points Sunday. Karl's frustrations have a lot to do with Denver having been outscored by an average of 14.0 points during its three-game losing streak.
"It's been around for four months,'' Karl said of trade rumors surrounding Anthony. "So I think we also know that we've handled it very well. If you gave us a grade on handling it, it would be it A-minus, B-plus area for the season.
"If you gave us a grade for the last three or four games, it might not be. So which one's legit? For me, I'm going to respect that for handling a season of injury, a tough schedule, the drama. I got to give (the Nuggets) the high grade.
"As a coach, you never really know what's going to happen in your future. I think now the players may be feeling a little bit of (distractions). But in a sense (Tuesday) is a game that we can win and I think we are going to win. Then we turn the pendulum back to the positive. We still have plenty of time to regroup and start playing good basketball.''
It remains to be seen how long the situation will drag out involving Anthony.
"I'm hearing the same things you guys are hearing,'' Anthony said of trade rumors. "It's funny that maybe if we wouldn't have lost these three games, I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you to this extent.
"There's no desperation about what is going to happen tomorrow or the next day or the next day.''
In the meantime, Anthony, who heard boos when shooting just 3-of-11 for eight points in the loss to the Hornets, insists he's focusing mostly on bouncing back Tuesday.
"I got a game (Tuesday) against Phoenix,'' Anthony said. "So, if I go out there (Tuesday) thinking about the New Jersey Nets, that will be disrespectful to myself. That would be disrespectful to this organization and to the fans out there.''
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson