As Final Pitches Are Made, Carmelo 'Just Wants It to Be Over With'
Last weekend, in a move not found in many etiquette books, it was the Denver forward taking a hat off "to myself'' for the way he has handled this endless trade speculation. On Sunday night, it was Chicago guard Derrick Rose doing the honors.
"I take my hat off to him,'' Rose said in an interview with FanHouse after his East team fell 148-143 to Anthony's West outfit in the NBA All-Star Game at the Staples Center. "He's handling the pressure but still playing well. Man, he's doing good. I definitely couldn't go through it.''
Perhaps it would elicit a chuckle if Rose was playing off what Anthony had said last weekend, but he said he actually hadn't read that quote.
Speaking of hats, it's still up in the air if he'll soon be donning one for an Atlantic Division team at a press conference as Thursday's trade deadline approaches. The hours are ticking down before the Nuggets will trade Anthony to New York, try to convince him to agree to a contract extension for a deal to get done with New Jersey, or roll the dice and keep him in Denver.
Then again, with as much craziness as this Anthony situation has had, maybe some other team will throw its hat into the ring
"I just want it to be over with,'' Anthony said.
For much of this month, Anthony said the stress over the situation has been keeping him from sleeping. He still has been able to average 33.8 points over his past six games.
But insomnia might have caught up with Anthony on Sunday. He didn't do a lot in his fourth All-Star Game, shooting 4-of-10 for eight points and grabbing seven rebounds in 23 minutes. Afterward, he admitted he was drained.
"Yeah,'' Anthony said. "Just from like answering all these questions, answering the same questions. I'm drained from that.''
Anthony also has been going to meetings. He confirmed sitting down with the Knicks, with the New York Daily News having first reported he met with team owner Jim Dolan last Thursday in Los Angeles. That paper also had first reported Anthony meeting Saturday with New Jersey owner Mikhail Prokhorov.
The Nets' meeting is of far more interest since it's generally believed Anthony wants to be dealt to New York by the trade deadline, and that scenario remains the most likely. But the Nets can offer the Nuggets the best trade package, one that could include young prospect Derrick Favors and as many as four first-round picks, so they'd love to ship him to New Jersey.
"They were good,'' Anthony said of the meetings. "They were just meetings, generic meetings. Finally, we got the (New Jersey) meeting over with. That meeting had been looming over everybody here for a long time. So it happened. I was just sitting there and listening to him, what they had to say.''
Anthony wouldn't offer much on what long has been the biggest question in all of this trade madness: Is he willing to sign an extension with the Nets?
"I don't know,'' Anthony said. "At the end of the day, when something happens, it's going to happen.''
A source told FanHouse on Dec. 20 that Anthony didn't want to sign an extension with New Jersey, and there still has been no indication anything has changed. There was no indication Anthony was champing at the bit to sign for the long haul with the Nets after a meeting in which he said Prokhorov and other Nets officials didn't ask him specifically about the extension.
"It was a fantastic meeting, trust me," Prokhorov said in an interview with CNBC.com. "No words, live music, excellent atmosphere. We looked into each other's eyes. Just real man talk.''
OK, now for what might be a more realistic view of the meeting.
"I think we made a very good tactical decision to force (the) Knicks to pay as much as they can," Prokhorov told CNBC.com.
The Knicks have improved their offer in recent days, with CBSSports.com having sources describe Sunday what it reported as the final offer New York will make. That would be Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton and a 2014 Knicks first-round pick going to Denver for Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams and Anthony Carter. Also, New York would send Eddy Curry's expiring contract and Anthony Randolph to Minnesota, and the Timberwolves would ship Corey Brewer to Denver.
It should be noted Carter would have to approve the trade due to being on a one-year contract and being in line to have Bird rights this summer. Carter, who last season had told FanHouse before the trade deadline he wouldn't agree to be moved, has not been willing to answer that question lately by FanHouse.
"I can't say that I'm mad that Denver is asking for everything and the kitchen sink,'' Anthony said regarding whether he's worried about being traded to a team depleted due to the assets it sends the Nuggets. "I can't be mad at that.''
There's no indication at this point a deal will get done early this week. Anthony said he expects to play in Tuesday's home game against Memphis, and Anthony has been right during all the numerous times since December he has been predicting he would play in upcoming games when some thought a deal might be imminent.
If Anthony plays in Denver's game after that, Thursday against Boston, it will mean the trade deadline would have passed with Anthony going nowhere.
"It's a possibility,'' said Anthony, who claimed he "won't be upset at all'' if he remains this season with Denver. "We'll see.''
But that possibility has been looking more remote in recent days. The Nuggets appear ready to rid themselves of Anthony, who has yet to seriously entertain re-signing with the team, and a deal with the Knicks could allow Denver to move Billups. The 14-year veteran is due $14.2 million next season, which the cost-cutting Nuggets likely would buy out for $3.7 million after the season if he's still with them.
Anthony had gone into All-Star Weekend hoping to get a resolution on his status but that didn't happen. He also had hoped for some good news at Friday's labor meeting but he didn't get any as it continues to appear very likely there will be a lockout when the collective bargaining agreement expires June 30.
If Anthony becomes a free agent this summer, he could end up losing tens of millions of dollars if the NBA is able to significantly curtail salaries. For the first time Sunday, Anthony spoke with some regret about not signing a contract extension in 2006 that would have led him to become a free agent last summer. That was the path taken by fellow 2003 draftees LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who all hooked up last July in Miami.
"I think about if I would have took that three-year deal back then,'' Anthony said of the extension that kicked in for the 2007-08 season. "But I really wasn't knowledgeable (about) the CBA and all that stuff. I really didn't believe that we had a chance to go on lockout."
Still, all would not be lost for Anthony's pocketbook if he's not dealt by the trade deadline. The Nuggets still could do a trade between the end of the season and June 30 if Anthony agrees to sign a contract extension with the team he is dealt to or he agrees to not opt out of his contract in 2011-12, the second scenario much less likely.
One doesn't get the idea, though, Anthony wants the endless speculation to continue.
"It can be stressful for me," admitted Anthony, who said he still "had fun'' during All-Star Weekend. "This whole situation I've been dealing with since last summer. So right now it's coming down to the wee hours of the trade deadline. Me, personally, I just want some direction.''
While Anthony has praised himself with how he's dealt with the stress, other All-Stars have agreed.
"It's tough,'' Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki told FanHouse. "I hated it. I was a free agent for two days this summer, and I already hated it. I can't imagine what it's like every day in the locker room all year. It's got to be tough. But he's handled it pretty well. He's been playing well."
Nowitzki quickly re-signed with the Mavericks last summer, the only time the 13-year veteran ever has been a free agent. As for Utah guard Deron Williams, he's never been a free agent but could go through what Anthony did next season since he can opt out of his contract in the summer of 2012.
"I thought he handled it great,'' Williams said of Anthony dealing with the speculation. "He hasn't given people much to go off. He keeps you guessing. I think he's having a little bit of fun. But, at the same time, I know it's been stressful. I know he wishes it would end.''
Although they didn't actually say it, one could presume Nowitzki and Williams would be willing to take their hats off to Anthony.