Knicks’ front office fractured over Carmelo talks?

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes that Knicks management may be at odds over what is a worthwhile deal to make for Carmelo Anthony.

The Nuggets are selling the idea they’ll be content to keep Anthony through the Feb. 24 trade deadline if no one meets their demands. The Nuggets want to package Anthony and Chauncey Billups for a deal that includes Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, the expiring contract of Eddy Curry and a draft pick, the New York Daily News reported. Another source said Denver is still pushing for more Knicks players, including rookies Landry Fields and Timofey Mozgov, in the package.

“This is like the Nets talks all over again: Denver keeps moving the goal posts,” one league source said. “They don’t know what they want there.”

As the Daily News reported, the wild card is Knicks owner James Dolan and the looming possibility he could overrule his president and cut a deal with Denver himself. There are fears that Dolan is listening too much to former president and coach Isiah Thomas and possibly agents and representatives for Anthony who have agendas to undermine Walsh.

“Donnie isn’t going to make a one-sided deal and gut his team to get this done now,” said one league source who regularly speaks to Walsh. “He’ll end up with two unhappy stars because they have no supporting cast. But if Dolan gets more involved in this, he could really makes a mess of this.”

The reason a deal isn’t already done is because Donnie Walsh is exercising great patience. He knows that the Nuggets’ bargaining position isn’t as strong as they’d like people to believe. He thinks he can get Anthony and Billups for Gallinari, Felton and a first round pick (or Anthony Randolph), but it sounds like the Nuggets are continuing to ask for more.

But time’s a wastin’. The Nuggets aren’t likely to let the trade deadline pass without getting something for Carmelo. The team isn’t playing well and they aren’t a threat to make a strong playoff push with a fractured locker room. If Denver balks at a trade with the Knicks, then the Nuggets risk going the way of the Cavs or Raptors…and look at those teams now.

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Your obligitory Carmelo trade talk update

Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony warms up at the Pepsi Center in Denver on November 16, 2010. UPI/Gary C. Caskey

And the beat goes on…

Fred Kerber of the New York Post writes that the Nets could soon reenter the fray.

But around the NBA, there is a strong undercurrent that the Nets, while idle now and certainly not viewed as favorites in the hunt, are anything but done if there indeed is a trade in the Carmelo Anthony saga.

Though multiple sources said there is nothing going on at present, there exists a growing feeling the Nuggets will contact the Nets again while playing the drama out until the Feb. 24 trading deadline.

I don’t know about this one. Mikhail Prokhorov had a meeting set up with Carmelo when he elected to instruct management to stop pursuing a trade with the Nuggets. Why would he start the saga again? What’s changed?

Meanwhile, the Denver Post is reporting that Carmelo may be willing to sign an extension with the Nuggets if he isn’t traded by the trade deadline.

Anthony said he would “take a real hard look” at signing a three-year, $65 million contract extension that has been on the table since June if he is not dealt by the Feb. 24 trading deadline.

The team’s all-star said he hasn’t heard any updates from management about a possible trade, though team officials are talking to potential suitors throughout the league. Though Anthony has always said he was keeping his options open, he hadn’t talked publicly about possibly signing until Wednesday.

“As the days go on, that’s something that I think about, that nothing might happen, that I’ll be here, whether I have to deal with the free-agency market or re-sign the extension here with the Nuggets,” he said.

Asked specifically to clarify whether he might sign the extension if not traded, Anthony said, “Yeah.”

What? The Nuggets’ extension has been on the table for months and Carmelo has refused to sign it. Now that we’re just over two weeks away from the trade deadline, he’s suddenly willing to think about re-upping with Denver?

I don’t buy it. This has to be a ploy to get the Knicks (or Lakers) to step up and make a good trade offer. The Knicks may be sitting back thinking that they can get Carmelo as a free agent in the summer, but if he floats the idea that he may stay in Denver, it would encourage the Knicks to get something done now.

As for the rumored Carmelo/Bynum swap with the Lakers, Bynum isn’t thinking about it, per ESPN:

Bynum said that he has not been in contact with anyone within the Lakers organization about the possibility of being traded.

“I think they would [contact me] if it was more than a rumor,” Bynum said. “No one’s really said anything.”

Bynum has never been traded, so I’m not sure if his “they’d tell me” line of thinking is entirely accurate. Like anything else, management will wait as long as they can before informing a player/employee about something of this magnitude. They wouldn’t want to disrupt his morale until a move was definite.

But again, the Laker rumor was probably just a ploy by Anthony’s camp to encourage the Knicks to get something done. Of course, if I were Laker GM Mitch Kupchak, I’d trade Bynum for Anthony in a New York minute.

Rumors and innuendo are fun to discuss, but at this point, I just want something to happen so we can put Carmelo Anthony’s future to bed, at least for a while. I’ve said all along that the Nuggets should have traded him last summer instead of waiting until midseason when all the trade talk would become a distraction for the team. The Nuggets are just 30-23 and are in the #7 spot in the West. They’re on pace for 46 wins, and considering the franchise has been a 50-win team over the past three seasons, the rumor mill is clearly having a negative impact on the franchise.

Chris Sheridan predicts the end of the Carmelo saga

Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony (L) moves against the New York Knicks guard/forward Landry Fields during the first quarter at the Pepsi Center in Denver on November 16, 2010. UPI/Gary C. Caskey

The ESPN writer says that the Knicks are not a shoe-in to land Carmelo, but still thinks that he’ll land in New York.

The guess here is that if the Knicks acquire Anthony, they will give up Chandler or Gallinari (not both), Fields, Walker, Anthony Randolph (or a No. 1 obtained through a Randolph trade), Eddy Curry, plus an additional No. 1 pick (perhaps New York’s own 2014 pick), with the Knicks getting back an additional big body — something they’ve been scouring the league for throughout December and the first half of January. And I’m not necessarily saying the Nuggets would be taking on all those pieces, because a three-team trade might make it easier for everyone to walk away satisfied.

Sheridan also mentions the possibility that Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke, who is reportedly still irked about Chris Paul’s now-infamous toast at Carmelo’s wedding last summer, may be stubborn enough to not trade Anthony, and leave the three-year extension on the table until June 30 to see if Carmelo is really willing to leave all that money on the table. Anthony is up against the clock — if he doesn’t sign this extension with the Nuggets (or the Knicks or the Nets, or any other team), he stands to walk away from an estimated $83 million in guaranteed money, and it might result in a contract under the new CBA that is $30-$40 million less. The kicker is that he has to be traded by Feb. 24 to re-up with a new team. Otherwise, he’ll be under contract with the Nuggets.

Is he willing to sacrifice all that money to play for the Knicks instead of the Nets (or the Nuggets)?

We may find out.

Carmelo forcing his way to Knicks?

Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony (L) moves against the New York Knicks guard/forward Landry Fields during the first quarter at the Pepsi Center in Denver on November 16, 2010.    UPI/Gary C. Caskey Photo via Newscom

It became pretty clear once Carmelo Anthony declined to sign the Nuggets’ three-year extension that he wasn’t going to be in Denver next season. The question was when he would leave and where he would go.

My position has always been that if Anthony went into the season as a Nugget, that it would be tough for new GM Masai Ujiri to trade him before the February deadline since it would essentially signal to the team’s fan base that he was giving up on the season at a point where they’ll probably be comfortably in the playoffs. Without a public statement from Carmelo indicating that he wanted a trade, the fan base could revolt.

Now, as Chris Sheridan writes, Anthony is making his attentions clear, but he’s not going public…

Carmelo Anthony has told the Denver Nuggets he will not sign the nearly $65 million contract extension he has been offered unless he is traded to the New York Knicks, a source told on Sunday.

And while other franchises might be able to make better offers, Anthony will not agree to sign anywhere long-term unless he is dealt to New York, according to the source, who has been privy to private discussions between Anthony, his representatives and the Nuggets organization.

So who is releasing this information? One would think that to be “privy to private discussions,” the source would have to be a part of Anthony’s camp or a member of the Nuggets. I don’t think that the team would leak this info unless they want to prepare the fan base for a less-than-fair-value trade. More likely, this is Carmelo greasing the wheels for a trade to the Big Apple by putting pressure on the organization to swing a deal.

For what it’s worth, the Denver Post has sources that refuted Sheridan’s claims:

A source told that Anthony will sign a three-year, $65 million contract extension only if he’s traded to the Knicks. But on Sunday afternoon, multiple sources refuted this alleged ultimatum to The Denver Post.

The same piece has a quote from Ujiri that sums it up:

“I have a special relationship with the kid. It’s been a joy. In your mind, you wish it was different, but the situation is what it is. Yes, I love (Melo) to death, and sometimes you wish it was different. But I have to do my job.”

“…but the situation is what it is.”

That pretty much says it all. It looks like ‘Melo will be a Knick (or maybe a Net) by the end of February.

Melo says he’s like LeBron, not like Bosh

Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony warms up at the Pepsi Center in Denver on November 16, 2010.    UPI/Gary C. Caskey Photo via Newscom

The Melo Watch continues. The Nuggets are a somewhat disappointing 6-5 to start the season and are no doubt affected by the off-the-court drama involving Carmelo Anthony and his reported desire to play for a contender. In several chats with Peter Vecsey, Anthony compares himself to two of the three major players in last summer’s free agency frenzy.

“I’m not Chris Bosh,” Anthony declared. “We’re not the same person. What I do will be straight up. Management knows that.”

“I’m just like LeBron,” Anthony emphasized in the Nuggets’ locker room following Saturday’s practice. “It’s all about winning. That’s all I care about. I want the chance to compete at the championship level. All the other stuff is irrelevant.”

Bosh has become something of a punchline recently, but Melo’s decision to compare himself to the most reviled star in the NBA is a little puzzling. What Bosh did to the Raptors isn’t any worse than what LeBron did to the Cavs. In fact, you could argue that he handled his departure from Toronto in a better way because there weren’t any allusions that he’d be staying. On the other hand, until the moment LeBron uttered the words, “I’m taking my talents to South Beach…” Cavs fans believed that he was going to stay.

Maybe Melo was referring to the fact that Bosh has hinted that he wanted to play with LeBron and Dwyane Wade so that he’d get more television exposure or that he can now easily get the NBA League Pass, and by saying “It’s all about winning,” that’s probably the case. But it’s not a good idea to compare yourself to LeBron, not with the way he’s currently reviled in the city of Cleveland.

I’ve said it over and over — unless the Nuggets are sitting at .500 or below, it’s going to be tough to trade Anthony before the February deadline. It’s hard for management to sell the idea of trading away a team’s star when the team is safely in the playoff hunt. Fans are called fans for a reason — they’re fanatics, and are oftentimes delusional. (Seriously, just check some of the comments from Raptor fans when I insisted that the team should get what they could for Bosh early last season.)

Unless the Nuggets can somehow bring another star to Denver, they aren’t going anywhere this season, not with one-foot-out-the-door Carmelo leading the way. The best thing would be for the team to struggle early on, allowing both management and fans to realize that the team as it’s currently structured is a lost cause. Maybe then they can move on from Melo and get a few building blocks for the future.

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