Carmelo Anthony is not living the High Life

Denver Nuggets Carmelo Anthony (R) and Chauncey Billups watch the scoreboard during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Pepsi Center in Denver on January 21, 2011. The Lakers beat the Nuggets 107-97. UPI/Gary C. Caskey

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In case you haven’t heard, Carmelo Anthony was traded to the Knicks last night. If you haven’t heard, count yourself lucky (and completely oblivious), because all of this “Melodrama” got old a full month ago. A quick search at Twitter shows just how sick everyone was of the speculation.

You see, Carmelo didn’t ask to be traded. Or maybe he did, we don’t really know. He wouldn’t admit to the press that he asked for a trade, instead putting the onus on the Nuggets for wanting to trade him away. After what happened to LeBron’s image last summer, he didn’t want to be painted as the bad guy, but his act has worn thin. Everyone knows he wants to play for the Knicks. He wants to play in New York so badly that he doesn’t care that his new team had to give up the farm to get him. He just wants to be a Knick. Oh, and he wants a three-year, $65 million extension too. Let’s not forget about that.

There was another team pursuing him — the New Jersey Nets. But New Jersey (who will soon move to Carmelo’s hometown of Brooklyn) wasn’t good enough for this guy. The Nuggets and Nets worked out a trade, but the only thing holding up the deal was Carmelo’s unwillingness to sign the aforementioned extension. Who can blame the Nets? Why would they trade for him if he’s just going to leave after the season?

All of this drama would be enough to keep High Life from sponsoring Carmelo. But he recently took his hat off to himself — seriously — for playing through all this speculation. Here’s the mind-bending quote from FanHouse:

“I think it takes a strong-willed person, a strong-minded person, to deal with the stuff that I deal with and still go out there and go to work every day and perform on a nightly basis,” the Denver forward said about trade rumors that have swirled all season as the Feb. 24 trade deadline approaches. “I take my hat off to myself for dealing with all this stuff that’s going on and still be able to go out there and play at the high level that I can play at. I really don’t think an average person can walk in my shoes. I don’t think that.”

Somehow, in Carmelo’s World, he was the victim of circumstance. Not his team of eight years, the Denver Nuggets, who had no leverage and were forced into making a suspect deal because he was only willing to play for the Knicks.

Fortunately for the Common Man living the High Life, this NBA nightmare is now over. We can all go back to our lives and not be inundated with Carmelo rumors on SportsCenter.

Because it’s painful to watch a guy who refuses to live the High Life.

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Carmelo Trade Reaction

East All Star Amare Stoudamire (R) of the New York Knicks laughs with West All Star Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets during the NBA All-Star basketball game in Los Angeles, February 20, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Michael Wilbon, ESPN: Even with all the analysis of the Knicks we’ll be indulging in for the next few weeks, the club is so much better off post-Carmelo than pre-Carmelo. Goodness, if anything the Knicks should probably be criticized for not simply getting down to business and making this deal six or eight weeks ago. The team could have played 20 games with Billups-Fields-Anthony-Stoudemire already. If the Knicks hadn’t goofed around until nearly the trade deadline, they probably could have made a deal that excluded Mozgov. But they let the New Jersey Nets set the terms, which likely pushed Denver’s price higher. Still, after a lot of false starts the Knicks appear to be actually on the road to contention — how serious we’ll find out soon enough. Miami’s all-new cast needed close to 30 games to figure out how to play with one another. Stoudemire, Anthony and Billups do have different skill sets and don’t have to examine everything they’ve done for years the way LeBron James and Dwyane Wade had to do. Then again, James and Wade are adept passers; Stoudemire and Anthony are not, which is why Billups, intimidated by nothing and calm in the face of all kinds of NBA drama, is better off running the point with this group than Felton, whose shoulders have no stripes.

Dave Krieger, Denver Post: As excited as NBA officials may be about the resurrection of the Knicks in the league’s biggest market, they cannot ignore the dire straits in which smaller-market teams find themselves as the old labor agreement expires. Denver joins an unfortunate club that already included Cleveland and Toronto. Three of the game’s biggest stars — Anthony, LeBron James and Chris Bosh — abandoned these markets for brighter lights in the last eight months.

Mike Lupica, New York Daily News: The Knicks get Carmelo Anthony even after giving away all the leverage they had in this thing, and what feels like half their roster. The player only wanted to come to New York, only wanted to get his huge contract extension here, didn’t want to go to Jersey or anywhere else. The Knicks – meaning Walsh – always had the Nuggets where they wanted them, and should have been able to make this deal with Wilson Chandler and Eddy Curry’s big, fat expiring contract and some other junk thrown in. Instead they give up Raymond Felton and Danilo Gallinari and Chandler and Timofey Mozgov, too. If the trade deadline were next Thursday instead of this Thursday, Denver could have gotten James Dolan to throw in Mike Breen and Clyde Frazier, too. Clearly Dolan still has Isiah Thomas as his muse, apparently because all the good ones were taken.

William C. Rhoden, New York Times: Nearly all of the burden of proof rests on Anthony’s shoulders. He asked for this situation and now he has it. If he knows the Knicks’ history, Anthony knows that with the possible exception of Bernard King, no New York City player has ever come back as a Knick and turned the place upside down — in a positive way. He will have something to prove to the legions of fans who consider him a one-dimensional player who lacks the skills and the drive to play defense or make his teammates better. Anthony is not the answer, but he is unquestionably a building block. He led Syracuse to a national championship and was a vital component for the United States when it won an Olympic gold medal in Beijing. He could be a winner on a properly outfitted team, something the Knicks, with Stoudemire, are becoming. And now that the Knicks have two star players in place, a player like Chris Paul is much more likely to leave cash-strapped New Orleans for well-heeled New York.

J.A. Adande, ESPN: The Nuggets did well for themselves … which is more than the Cleveland Cavaliers or Toronto Raptors could say when LeBron James and Chris Bosh bolted for South Beach. The Cavs and Raptors made last-minute sign-and-trade deals for picks and trade exceptions, but those are just possibilities and cap space. The Nuggets have more tangible assets. They have three players averaging at least 16 points per game in Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari and a 7-footer in Timofey Mozgov. They got a first-round pick and two second-round picks. I know the Nuggets were attracted to all of the first-round picks the New Jersey Nets offered, but I’d rather have the known in proven players than the unknown in picks of undetermined order. Plus that $3 million, in addition to the $13.2 million in luxury tax payments they’re no longer on the hook for, plus whatever cut they’ll receive from the taxpaying teams. This is the reward the Nuggets get for holding out until the end, for refusing to yield to pressure from around the league and a weary NBA media and fandom to just put this to a halt. This whole process dragged on longer and had more false endings than “The Return of the King.” But the Nuggets benefited from the early start, getting the initial lowball offers out of the way before Thanksgiving, learning what the minimum was and working from there.

Carmelo could be traded to Knicks tonight?

Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears has a source that thinks the Carmelo deal is almost done.

Is this finally over?

Carmelo is expected to give Nets an answer today

East All Star Amare Stoudamire (L) of the New York Knicks and West All Star Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets look for a rebound during the NBA All-Star basketball game in Los Angeles, February 20, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

The New York Post has the story:

Carmelo Anthony is expected to inform the Nets by today at the latest whether or not he will accept a trade to New Jersey and sign an extension to play there, sources told The Post last night.

There were reports that the Nets’ meeting with Carmelo didn’t go all that well, but owner Mikhail Prokhorov called the meeting “fantastic” and thinks his team has a shot. (Doesn’t this sound like “The Decision: Carmelo Anthony” at this point?)

Per ESPN, Prokhorov seemed content with having driven up the price for the Knicks.

“I think we made a very good tactical decision to force [the] Knicks to pay as much as they can,” Prokhorov said. “So it’s very good, it’s very interesting, it’s very competitive.”

I mentioned that this might be his strategy in a post from last Thursday.

This could turn out to be a savvy move by Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. He felt like his team was getting played by the Nuggets and/or Carmelo, and he ordered management to back off. Now that the trade deadline is quickly approaching, he sees that the Knicks may get Anthony for nearly nothing, and by reentering trade talks, at the very least he should be able to drive the price up on any forthcoming Knicks/Nuggets trade, hurting the rival Knicks long term.

At the very least, Prokhorov’s involvement upped the ante for the Knicks and hurt them long term by forcing New York to give up an extra starter or two.

The Nuggets have a game on Tuesday, and if Carmelo suits up and plays, it means that nothing is close to getting done. I’d expect the Nuggets to hold him out of Tuesday’s game just to be safe. After all, the trade deadline is on Thursday — why take on the injury risk?

Your Sunday morning Carmelo update

The Nets had their chance to pitch Camp Carmelo on their plans for the future when the two sides met at a Los Angeles restaurant, per ESPN.

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and minority owner Jay-Z spent the 40-minute session informing Anthony of the club’s short-term and long-term vision, centered upon their scheduled move to Brooklyn for the start of the 2012-13 season and their confidence in building a championship-caliber team around him, largely through free agency.

Sources said Anthony was noncommittal after hearing the Nets’ presentation, declining to say whether or not he would sign the three-year, $65 million contract extension that New Jersey has established as a prerequisite for completing a trade with Denver.

According to Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski, the Nets were not confident after the meeting.

After Carmelo Anthony sit-down with New Jersey ownership, “The Nets didn’t come away very confident,” a source briefed on meeting tells Y!

Wojnarowski also published a column early Sunday morning that outlines the growing influence that Isiah Thomas — yes, Isiah Thomas — has over owner James Dolan, who has taken over the Knicks’ trade negotiations with the Nuggets.

“Isiah is calling the shots for New York,” said one front-office executive with knowledge of the Anthony trade talks. “It’s a disgrace. Donnie should walk.”

Dolan has overruled Walsh in these trade talks and undermined his authority. Walsh has never wanted to give away Raymond Felton for an aging Chauncey Billups and throw Danilo Gallinari into the package, too. This is all Isiah, all his influence.

This all comes down to Carmelo. While most stars wouldn’t want his future team to be gutted in order to acquire him — remember those Kobe-to-Chicago rumors from a few years ago? — Carmelo just wants the Knicks to give the Nuggets enough to get this deal done before Thursday’s trade deadline. He wants to play for the Knicks and he wants his three years and $65 million in security. A supporting cast is a distant third on his wishlist, apparently. Unless he’s suddenly willing to re-up with the Nets, he’ll be a Knick by the end of the week.

As for the reemergence of Thomas as the de facto GM in New York — well, that’s just disturbing. Isiah can evaluate talent and had a pretty good run of drafts when he ran the Knicks, but in every other area of the job he was a complete disaster. Knicks fans have to be troubled by these recent developments.

Ric Bucher says that any deal won’t get done until Monday because the league does not want the awkward situation of Carmelo playing in Sunday’s All-Star Game for the West, when he actually belongs to a team in the East.

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