Signs Pointing Stronger to Carmelo Anthony Joining Knicks
The chances of the New Jersey Nets getting Anthony do not appear high and Anthony sure didn't sound like someone Saturday with much interest in remaining long-term with Denver. That would leave the Knicks to try to complete a deal with the Nuggets by Thursday's trade deadline.
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said through a spokesperson Saturday he had no plans to meet here during All-Star Weekend with Anthony, and Anthony also said he had no plans to meet with Prokhorov. However, the New York Daily News reported that the two met Saturday night in Los Angeles. ESPN.com later confirmed the report, and reported Anthony was noncommittal after the meeting.
Regardless, it still doesn't appear Anthony has much of a desire to sign a contract extension with the Nets. Sources told FanHouse on Dec. 20 that Anthony had no interest in signing long-term with the Nets, and there has been no indication anything has changed.
What looks to have changed is any public stance Anthony has made about wanting to remain long-term in Denver. Anthony's stock line has been that remaining with the Nuggets is one of his options and he said Feb. 9 he would "take a hard look'' at that if not dealt by the trade deadline
Speaking Saturday after an All-Star practice, Anthony was asked if it remains an option to stay in Denver, and he wouldn't provide an answer. All he would reveal is that he has met this weekend on more than one occasion with Nuggets president Josh Kroenke.
"Me and Josh had great conversations throughout this weekend,'' said Anthony, who has been on the trading block due to his unwillingness to sign a three-year, $64.47 million contract extension that has been on the table since last June and who can opt out of his contract and become a free agent next summer. "That's the only thing I can (say) ... It was a generic meeting. He was at an event I was at. He was at the players union meeting (Friday). I saw him. We talked.''
Anthony had said Friday the Nuggets had yet to offer him a vision for the future, and he's wary about the team cutting costs and going young. He declined to say if Kroenke finally addressed that vision to him, and Kroenke did not return a message seeking comment. But Anthony did say Kroenke has told him "there's nothing right now'' in terms of a possible deal close with any team.
The Nuggets and Knicks have talked about a trade in which Anthony would go to New York along with Chauncey Billups and filler players and the Knicks would send back a package including Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Eddy Curry's expiring contract and a first-round pick.
Anthony does seem a bit hesitant about the possibility of going to a team that would have gutted its roster to get him.
"If anything was to happen with whatever team, of course, I would want a team to be able to compete with,'' he said. "As far as the players that's in that deal, that's supposed to be in the deal, that's a lot of players for one guy.''
At least the Knicks still would still star forward Amar'e Stoudemire and New Jersey's roster situation after a possible trade for Anthony wouldn't be better. The Nuggets would prefer to deal with the Nets because they can provide talened young prospect Derrick Favors and as many as four possible first-round picks.
The Nets have been linked to Anthony all season even after Prokhorov said Jan. 19 he was done dealing with Denver for the star, who will start at forward for the West in Sunday's All-Star Game.
"I told you that first,'' Anthony said of Prokhorov declaring Saturday he wouldn't meet with Anthony. "I don't know what Prokhorov thinks, man. He's probably tired just like I'm tired of going through this.''
Anthony said he has been willing to meet with Prokohrov.
"I would have broke ground with him,'' Anthony said before reports of a meeting occurring broke. "I would have drunk some water with him. Took a shot of water or something.''
Anthony said Friday he also would be willing to meet with New York owner Jim Dolan. The New York Daily News reported that meeting already took place on Thursday night in Los Angeles, with Anthony declining comment Saturday on that report.
Anthony was in a jovial mood after the All-Star practice. He chatted freely with reporters with Miami star LeBron James on his left and New Orleans star Chris Paul on his right.
"(The media has) speculation about the man every single day and he knows just as much as you all know,'' James said. "It's just a tough situation what he's going through right now, to have to answer these questions every single day and still try to lead his team to victory every night and play at a high level. But he's showing right now, averaging 31 points in the month of the February, that he can do these things at a high level and still listen to you guys ask him the same damn questions every day.''
Anthony said Friday the stress he's facing as the trade deadline approaches is causing him to lose much sleep. But he was doing plenty of joking around Saturday and even said, "I enjoy you guys,'' referring to the media.
Anthony joked with Paul, who said he should come to New Orleans, by saying, "I ain't going to no muddy waters,'' and that "(NBA commissioner) David Stern is your owner, man.'' The NBA recently took over operations of the Hornets.
When Jazz guard Deron Williams yelled over to Anthony, "Would you consider Utah?'' Melo, responded, "Would you consider Utah?'' He was referring to Williams, recently blamed by some for the resignation of legendary Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, being able to opt out of his contract and become a free agent in the summer of 2012.
It's hardly a secret Anthony's preference long has been New York. He could join the Knicks for next season as a free agent, but he runs the risk of losing tens of millions of dollars if a new collective bargaining agreement results in salaries being cut significantly. That's why many believe Anthony's preference is to be dealt to the Knicks by Thursday, and sign the three-year extension with them.
Anthony had talked Friday about wanting to get some more clarity about collective bargaining by going to a negotiating session between the owners and players. When asked Saturday if he learned anything that made him feel as if it would be less of a risk to become a free agent this summer, Anthony said, "No.''
"I've been dealing with the risk this whole past six months,'' Anthony said of the prospect of taking a big contract hit if he were to become a free agent.
While Anthony was discussing that, James was by his side. It was James, a fellow 2003 draftee, who signed a contract one year year shorter than Anthony did and was able to become a free agent last summer. Other 2003 picks Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh followed James' lead when those deals were signed in the summer of 2006. They're all on the Heat, locked in fresh six-year deals, and don't have the fears Anthony does of what a new CBA might do to future earnings.
"All of our situations are different,'' James said. "I think myself, I chose the shorter contract to have a little flexibility this past offseason and Melo did something different. We're both right. It wasn't a wrong decision of whatever we decided to do.''
Also different was James, who became a free agent after last season and ending up going from Cleveland to Miami in a sign-and-trade, deciding early last season to not talk about free agency to the media. But James said the timing is really the difference since speculation over James' future reached its crescendo during the offseason.
"It's totally different because when I was going through my situation I was able to hide a little bit because it was the offseason when it got heavy,'' James said. "This guy is traveling every day, he's has to play, he still has to put on a uniform and still represent the Denver Nuggets the right way and still listen to you guys ask him every single day what is he doing and where is he going.''
James was asked what he would do if he represented the Nuggets.
"Me personally, if I'm a GM and I'm an owner, I wouldn't want to lose one of the best players in the league,'' James said. "One of the top 10 best players in the league. You try to do anything in your power to keep him.''
If the Nuggets are fearful of perhaps losing Anthony for nothing, James said, "Then you got to try to go get something... That's just reality.''
The Nuggets are already considering rebuilding without Anthony, one reason they have been willing to trade Billups. The Nuggets don't want to pick up Billups' contract next season for $14.2 million, and whatever team he is with at season's end can buy him out for $3.7 million.
When Billups' name surfaced in a possible trade to New Jersey last month, Anthony came out to say his hope is the five-time All-Star would get his wish and be able to finish his career in his hometown of Denver. There were no such declarations Saturday from Anthony.
"I don't control Chauncey Billups,'' Anthony said. "I can't control that situation. Obviously, he got to deal with that situation on his own ... (Anthony said he has changed his tune because) that was early on when it was all me and all of a sudden Chauncey Billups' name came about with all the trade talk.''
One could suggest Anthony wouldn't mind Billups remaining his point guard in a possible move to New York. While Anthony tried to be guarded in his discussions about the Knicks, he did say he does like the up-tempo system of New York coach Mike D'Antoni.
"If that (a trade to the Knicks) was to happen, that's a great system for me,'' Anthony said. "That's a great system he has.''
There has been plenty of speculation that Anthony's point guard in New York eventually will be Paul, who could become a free agent in the summer of 2012. But Paul did what he could to deflect such talk
"I don't even think about that,'' said Paul, who reiterated along with Anthony on Saturday that both 2008 Olympians plan to again play in the 2012 Games in London. "That's 2012. There's a whole 'nother season to play.''
It was Paul who offered a toast at Anthony's wedding last July in New York that one day he, Stoudemire and Anthony all would join forces on the Knicks. So it was only fitting what Anthony said when reporters starting asking him questions Saturday.
"This is all your fault, right?'' Anthony said to Paul.