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Tag:Carmelo Anthony
Posted on: November 1, 2010 8:54 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2010 12:45 am
 

Post-Ups (UPDATE)

By not completing a trade for Carmelo Anthony before the start of the season, the Nets knew they were faced with a calculated risk. What could’ve been a coup for them – the Nuggets being awful out of the gate and Anthony making the situation untenable for coach George Karl – hasn’t happened. But something else has gone the Nets’ way as they’ve continued to keep the trade talks alive.

Derrick Favors, the centerpiece of a four-team deal sending Melo to New Jersey that fell apart last month, has shaken off a poor preseason and made important strides toward proving that he’s worthy of inclusion in a franchise-shaping transaction like the one Denver is considering. It’s only three games, but the No. 4 overall pick is shooting 58 percent from the field while averaging 10.3 points, 10 rebounds and only one turnover per game. His talent is raw, and his defensive instincts are nonexistent. But at the very least, Favors hasn’t done anything in this ridiculously small sample size to infect the Denver front office with any serious doubts.

One executive who has watched Favors went so far as to say, “His stock as skyrocketed,” which is true any way you look at it. (After the up-and-down preseason Favors had, one way to look at it is this: There was nowhere to go but up.) The Nuggets, according to sources, are still in wait-and-see mode. And they’ll be seeing plenty before the key date in this saga, Dec. 15, when summer free agents become trade-eligible.

One of the aspects of this decision that GM Masai Ujiri is evaluating is how competitive his team will be with Melo on board. The next two weeks will be telling, with five games against teams that made the playoffs in the West last season – Dallas (twice), the Lakers, Suns and Trail Blazers. Rival executives have speculated that in some ways, Ujiri’s job becomes more difficult if the Nuggets get off to a strong start. If that happens, it will be exponentially more difficult to sell an Anthony trade to the paying customers. Given that Anthony left no doubt that he’s leaving Denver one way or another when he told Yahoo! Sports last week, “It’s time for a change,” a catastrophic start to the season would’ve been a far easier environment in which to justify trading him.

Until then, the Nuggets, Nets and Knicks – Anthony’s preferred destination – are in limbo until more tradable assets flood the market in six weeks. Which gives us a chance to flood the market with the rest of this week’s Post-Ups:

• As interesting as it will be to watch the first head-to-head matchup between John Wall and Evan Turner, the top two picks in the 2010 draft, the more intriguing figure in the Wizards’ backcourt hasn’t played a minute yet this season: Gilbert Arenas. The artist formerly known as Agent Zero is likely a no-go against the Sixers Tuesday night as he prepares to undergo further tests on his injured right ankle. He’s already seen foot-and-ankle specialist Mark Myerson in Baltimore. While the Wizards hold out hope of making a Wall-Arenas backcourt work, the scant hope that Arenas and the $80 million he’s owed can be moved before the trade deadline requires Arenas to return to the court, be productive, show signs that his All-Star talent remains intact, and prove that he’s no longer a locker-room risk. None of that can happen until teams see a significant sample size of Arenas on the court.

• A person with knowledge of the situation confirmed Denver’s interest in Portland swingman Nicolas Batum in a potential Anthony trade, but those overtures have fallen on deaf ears among the Trail Blazers’ brass. Portland isn’t about to include the talented, versatile Batum in a deal unless they’re getting Melo, which isn’t happening. Having said that, the Blazers have a tremendous asset in Batum if and when they get involved in any trade discussions as the deadline nears. Batum is not only affordable – he’s still on his rookie contract – but his value is much greater to faster-paced teams. With their grind-it-out style, the Blazers understand that they don’t take full advantage of Batum’s open-court abilities.

• Commissioner David Stern went easy on the Knicks over the Isiah Thomas fiasco, allowing Thomas and then the Knicks to announce the death of their failed attempt at a reunion via a blatantly illegal consulting arrangement. Stern could’ve really embarrassed Garden chairman James Dolan on that one, but elected to allow the Knicks and Thomas to clean up the mess themselves and then say there was no need for the league office to take action. Pending the outcome of a league investigation of alleged illegal workouts with draft prospects – some perpetrated under the Thomas regime as team president, according to Yahoo! Sports – the NBA office is not likely to be so kind this time around. While there is no precedent for forfeited draft picks for such violations, those alleged to have been committed by the Knicks in the Yahoo! report would be the most extensive and persistent on record. The league has hired outside counsel to investigate the allegations, and the Knicks plan to cooperate fully. All of this was simply another lesson that re-hiring Thomas in any capacity was a bad idea whether it was against NBA rules or not.

• I am justifiably puzzled by the Heat’s apparent pursuit of a point guard to get Miami’s offense running more smoothly until floor-spacer Mike Miller returns from injury. I could see the usefulness of a Derek Fisher-type in that role, but short of that, the Heat’s offense would run just fine with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James acting as interchangeable wings initiating the offense. Coach Erik Spoelstra could play that way now, if he wanted to, by benching Carlos Arroyo for James Jones – who would fill Miller’s role as the shooter until Miller returns. The problem with Jones is his lack of defense, but the rest of Miami’s defense is so smothering, I’m not sure Jones-for-Arroyo wouldn’t be worth examining. Something tells me the Heat will eventually realize that they don’t need a point guard, simply because they’ve already got two of them: Wade and LeBron. Besides, after signing the top three free agents on the market and turning the NBA upside-down this summer, it strikes me as gluttonous for the Heat to be out on the market pursuing more pieces. Dear Coach Riley: I think you’ve got enough.

UPDATED 12:45 a.m.

• Though most 2007 draft picks were not getting extensions by the midnight Tuesday ET deadline, the Suns agreed to a five-year, $22.5 million deal with Jared Dudley, said his agent, Mark Bartelstein. ESPN the Magazine reported that the Grizzlies signed Mike Conley to a five-year, $45 million deal. With hours to go before the deadline, only Kevin Durant, Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Dudley and Conley had received extensions amid uncertainty over a new collective bargaining agreement that makes it difficult to assess such players’ value.

• It cannot be overstated that the public truce between the Blazers and Rudy Fernandez is no indication that the Spanish star is happy spending this season – and next, now that his fourth-year option has been picked up – in Portland. While sources say Fernandez is resigned to the fact that he’s a Blazer for the foreseeable future, efforts by Fernandez and his agent, Andy Miller, to tone down the rhetoric will go a long way toward making the situation more fertile for a trade. If nothing else, the fact that Fernandez now has two years left on his contract makes him far less of a flight risk if he’s traded. The Blazers remain steadfastly opposed to giving Fernandez his wish and releasing him from his contract so he can return to Spain. So for now, Fernandez appears content to accept his minutes and role while allowing trade inquiries from other teams to progress naturally.

Posted on: October 22, 2010 6:40 pm
 

Source: Melo not afraid to test new CBA


The NBA's labor talks have been big news in the days leading up to the tipoff of the 2010-11 season. Cutting player salaries by one-third ... contraction ... doomsday rhetoric from the commissioner to the union and right back at him. Oh, and by the way: the Heat play the Celtics Tuesday.

All of this affects some 400 players, 30 billionaires, and you ... the fan. But it affects one player perhaps more than any other: Carmelo Anthony.

The Nuggets star is days away from starting the season with a team he no longer wants to play for, and that's his own choice. But the dilemma is this: If Anthony can't compel Denver to trade him to a team of his liking, he has to be prepared to stare $65 million in the face and say, "No, thanks."

Or does he?

That is one of the unspoken uncertainties inherent in the NBA's labor fight. If the league insists on imposing a hard salary-cap, and if it follows the NHL model of rolling back existing contracts to make them fit the new system, Anthony's three-year, $65 million extension offer from Denver is a mirage.

An NHL-style rollback would result in Anthony's extension (if he signed it) and every other existing deal in the league being reduced to fit the new model.

Maybe that is why a person familiar with Anthony's strategy told me that Melo is fully prepared to spend the entire season in Denver without signing an extension and then take his chances under the new deal.

"Carmelo is not afraid to go into next year and test the CBA," the person said.

That seems like a bold statement, but in a way, maybe it isn't. What would be the point of begrudgingly accepting an extension with a team he doesn't want to play for just to get the money under the current deal when the new deal may very well wipe it out anyway with a rollback?

My former Newsday colleague, Alan Hahn, covered the 2004-05 NHL lockout and has been all over this angle as it applies to the NBA labor talks.

Several sources involved in the Anthony trade discussions continued to maintain Friday that the Nuggets will likely decide to move him after Dec. 15, when numerous players become trade-eligible -- thus widening the field of assets at Denver's disposal. But no team is going to take Anthony on a rental basis. More to the point: If Anthony believes there's a chance he'll have to accept a pay cut anyway under a hard-cap system with rollbacks, why not wait it out and sign with the team he really wants to play for, the Knicks?

It's a risk, sure. It's a lot of money to leave on the table -- or maybe it isn't, depending on how determined owners are to slash player expenditures. And based on commissioner David Stern's statement Thursday that owners want to take a $750 million to $800 million bite out of payroll -- a one-third reduction -- they seem sort of serious.

Stern was asked Friday for the second consecutive day about all things labor, this time on his preseason tipoff conference call with NBA media -- which typically is a chance for the former deli worker-turned-sports titan to spread his unique brand of sunshine on the masses. One of the more interesting questions was about Anthony and other stars trying to force their way to other teams, and whether that's good or bad for the sport.

Stern said it didn't bother him "in the least," so at least he's consistent. In the months leading up to the free-agent summer of 2010, Stern applauded the free-agent rights players had negotiated in the CBA while pointing out that the system was built to give the home team an advantage by paying more money.

Well, the system didn't work in the case of LeBron James and Chris Bosh, who took less money than their existing teams were offering to team up with Dwyane Wade in Miami. That was their right. And the home-team advantage won't exist in the hard-cap world Stern's owners are trying to create. A hard cap will only lead to more player movement; just look at the NHL, where Stanley Cup champions are routinely blown up soon after the victory parade.

"The players have no obligation to sign a contract," Stern said Friday. "And I remember these guys -- what were their names? -- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who actually asked to be traded; Patrick Ewing, who asked to be traded. Here we have a player who's keeping his options open. That's his right under the collective bargaining agreement, and I don't think it's fair to hold him to a higher standard."

I agree. I never had a problem with LeBron leaving Cleveland; it was the way he did it that bothered me. I have no problem whatsoever with Anthony deciding to bring his talents somewhere else. If there's a risk involved in that strategy, that's on him.

Stern embraced one concept Friday that may help in this regard, and it's one that I suggested here back in July : an NFL-style franchise tag.

"I think that the franchise player is an interesting concept," Stern said. "I think it's going to come up in our collective bargaining."

A franchise tag would build in protections for teams hoping to keep their stars under a hard cap. The players' union opposes all of it -- the hard cap because it would limit salaries, and a franchise tag because it would limit player movement. For the time being, we're stuck with a system that both sides enthusiastically agreed to only five years ago -- and one that has Anthony, one of the game's biggest stars, stuck in a self-imposed limbo.

Posted on: September 28, 2010 4:22 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2010 11:24 pm
 

Four-way deal dead, but talks will continue

The Carmelo Anthony saga moved to the next phase Tuesday, with the Nets trying to provide more cap relief to the Nuggets by finding a new home for Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith, CBSSports.com has learned.

It was a futile effort to revive this excruciatingly slow-moving blockbuster, which died Tuesday in its current form involving the Bobcats and Jazz. Sources say discussions will continue, however, on other fronts amid mixed priorities within the Denver front office and some lingering doubts about whether Melo will ultimately give his thumbs-up on a trade to New Jersey.

“I think he’s thumbs-sideways on it,” said one source familiar with Anthony’s stance. “He’s not 100 percent sold on it.”

Martin, whose $16.5 million expiring contract would be a valuable asset at the trade deadline, and Smith, who has a $6.8 million expiring deal and controversy wherever he goes, could be the final pieces that eventually compel the Nuggets to sign off on a divorce with Anthony. But that divorce isn't happening with the structure of the exhaustively reported four-way deal involving Utah and Charlotte. That framework, a person involved in the discussions said, is "dead." The Melo talks as a whole, however, will trudge forward.

If more cap savings is what the Nuggets want, they'd only have to take back $17.5 million under NBA trade rules for Martin and Smith, a savings of $5.8 million – twice that when you factor in luxury tax. Numerous scenarios have been explored to allow the Nuggets to send out both Martin and Smith, sources say. But despite a growing belief that the Nuggets finally are ready to acknowledge that a truce with Anthony is unattainable, conflicting priorities among Denver decision-makers have put a chill in the discussions for now.

“Denver keeps moving the goal posts,” said one person connected to the talks. “They say, ‘We want this,’ and New Jersey says, ‘We got it.’ And then Denver says, ‘Wait a minute, we want this and this.’”

Around and around they went, several weeks after the basic framework of the deal was hatched by old friends Kevin O’Connor, Larry Brown and Billy King. Sources say those three did the legwork on the four-team possibility involving New Jersey, Denver, Charlotte and Utah and brought it to the Nuggets as a potentially attractive way for them to part ways with their disgruntled superstar. O’Connor, the Jazz GM, is a former assistant coach under Brown at UCLA. Brown, the Bobcats’ coach, has known King, the Nets’ news president, since his college days at Duke – and the two worked together in Philadelphia.

Ironically, one person familiar with the negotiations said the deal probably would’ve been done by now if Charlotte hadn’t waived center Erick Dampier and his non-guaranteed $13 million contract – which would’ve been a home-run for Denver in an exchange for Martin. Including Dampier in the deal would’ve provided what a source described as “ridiculous savings” for the Nuggets – about $33 million when factoring in the tax, making the deal “a no-brainer.”

UPDATE: In the absence of that asset, the Nuggets – led by newly hired GM Masai Ujiri, 30-year-old executive Josh Kroenke and adviser Bret Bearup – insisted on trying to squeeze more out of the deal while also exploring offers from other teams. In addition to Martin and Smith, Denver officials eventually were trying to dump Renaldo Balkman in the trade. Ultimately, one executive involved in the talks said, Denver's never-ending efforts to make the deal better for them was what wound up killing it.

The other part of their protracted strategy – sitting down face-to-face with Anthony before media day Monday – may have backfired on them, too.

Ujiri, trying to take the high road in the Anthony matter, insisted on meeting with him in person before signing off on the deal – as any new GM would. Unfortunately for Ujiri, Anthony’s discontent with the direction of the organization pre-dates the new GM’s arrival – and also runs deeper than Ujiri was aware. One reason Ujiri declined to give any details of his face-to-face encounter with Anthony Monday, according to two people familiar with the exchange, was simply that there were no details. Anthony, not wanting to rehash old wounds with his new boss, politely declined to engage Ujiri in any substantive conversation about his future.

“He said, ‘I’m cool,’ and, ‘You’re going to have to talk to my reps about that,’” said one of the people familiar with the meeting. In addition, multiple reports indicated that Anthony did not participate in the promotional activities players typically perform on media day, and the Denver Post noted that his image was removed from a prominent ad on the Nuggets’ website – replaced by Ty Lawson.

As a result, one source maintained Tuesday that the Nuggets were “going to move him, like now, ASAP.” But after all the delays and frustration on all sides, that may be an optimistic take.

"The Nuggets are going to look at every single trade and they’re going to have to work with [Anthony]," another person familiar with the talks said. "And that’s really going to slow the whole process down.”

Further complicating matters, sources say Karl is not going to be as influential in trying to keep Anthony in Denver as first believed. With the departure of Karl’s biggest supporter, former GM Mark Warkentien, and his top assistant, Tim Grgurich, Karl is unsure where he stands in the organization as he returns from his heroic cancer fight with one year left on his contract. The result has been tension – or at least uneasiness – among Karl, his staff and the newly formed front office. Plus, while Karl knows that he has a 50-win playoff team with Anthony and a rebuilding team without him, sources say the 59-year-old coach is growing tired of the MeloDrama and isn’t relishing the strain that it could place on him and the team.




Posted on: September 27, 2010 3:01 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2010 3:13 pm
 

Melo plays the LeBron card (UPDATE)

In a media day appearance with far more news value than the one shown on ESPN from Miami, Carmelo Anthony expertly tore a page from LeBron James' playbook by saying, "I'm leaving my options open."

As talks progressed on a four-team trade that would send Anthony to New Jersey Monday, Anthony did, in fact, make his anticipated appearance at Nuggets media day -- wearing, of course, a Nuggets uniform. More important than how he looked was what he said. Those who followed the long national nightmare known as LeBron's year-long prelude to becoming a free agent will recognize that key phrase.

Also, this:

"At the end of the season, I'll sit down with my team. I'll sit down with the Nuggets."

It is no surprise that the same script given to LeBron by his Creative Artists Agency representatives also was provided to Melo on this very tense day for the Nuggets organization. No surprise, especially, to those who read this post from Matt Moore more than a month ago.

This, along with Anthony reminding everyone that he's never publicly spoken about wanting to be traded, is just the next inevitable step in this showdown.

But will it have the same ending? Does this mean Anthony will BE a Nugget at the end of the season? Hardly.

Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri, who offered no details on the face-to-face meeting with Anthony that he was finally able to arrange Monday, just experienced this kind of dance for an entire season with Chris Bosh in Toronto. Everyone knows how that situation ended, and how James' ended, too.

Does Ujiri intend to be held hostage by another superstar, only to lose him and receive sign-and-trade scraps in return? Evidently not, given that Ujiri successfully accelerated the trade talks with New Jersey, Utah and Charlotte over the past few weeks -- talks that moved closer Monday to the consummation of a deal.

There was no way any of this was going to be solved in a brief podium interview at media day. Anthony said the right things, said them well, and now the Melo trade machine marches on to its inevitable conclusion.

"I'm here today," Anthony said. "Whatever the future holds, it holds."

The nuggets from Anthony at the Pepsi Center podium came courtesy of Chris Tomasson , Benjamin Hochman and Chris Dempsey .




 



Posted on: September 27, 2010 12:36 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2010 10:39 pm
 

Nuggets' indecision 'a huge puzzle' (UPDATE)

Talks of a blockbuster trade that would send Carmelo Anthony to the Nets gained momentum Monday before getting bogged down again in the Nuggets' indecision, two people familiar with the negotiations told CBSSports.com.

One person briefed on the complicated, four-team talks described them as "moving along" after a weekend of inertia fueled by Denver's inability to make a final decision on trading its franchise player -- and Anthony's desire to make sure he was doing the right thing by signing off on a deal to New Jersey.

"Talking and waiting," was how another person with knowledge of the negotiations described them.

On Sunday, a person connected to the talks told CBSSports.com that there was a "more than 50 percent chance" Anthony is traded in the next 24-48 hours. The momentum gained Monday bolstered that prediction, with most of the focus on the original framework of the deal also involving the Bobcats and Jazz.

But as the discussions dragged on, frustration with the Nuggets' handling of the negotiations was building among the other executives involved in the deal. One person who has been briefed on the talks described the Denver team of GM Masai Ujiri, executive Josh Kroenke and adviser Bret Bearup -- consummating their first trade together -- as "a huge puzzle." A second person familiar with the discussions expressed frustration with "a lot of contingencies" the Nuggets were trying to place on the deal, and a third described the Nuggets as indecisive and hesitant.

Jazz GM Kevin O'Connor, speaking at Utah's media day , said, "If you're going to make that trade, it would've been done Friday."

The Nuggets have done this slow dance before, under different leadership, but the meandering pace of these trade talks has some execs marveling at how some things in Denver haven't changed.

As part of the scenario being discussed for weeks and tabled over the weekend while Denver executives strategized privately and sought other offers, the Nets would send No. 3 pick Derrick Favors and two first-round picks to Denver for Anthony. The Bobcats would get Devin Harris from New Jersey and send Boris Diaw to Utah, which could send Andrei Kirilenko and his $17.8 million expiring contract to Denver. Quinton Ross would go from New Jersey to Utah.

That basic structure "hasn't changed" since Friday, said one person who has been briefed on the talks.

As discussions progressed, however, sources confirmed reports that Utah was trying to get a second-round pick in the deal, and Charlotte was asking for cash or a pick for its involvement. Those issues were "being discussed" Monday, one of the sources said. At the same time, frustration was growing for Utah and Charlotte, although one executive with a hand in the negotiations pointed out that both teams would have something significant to lose if the deal fell apart: Charlotte needs a starting point guard, and Utah needs luxury-tax relief.

The Nuggets, who accelerated trade talks in response to ominous predictions of problems that would result from Anthony staying in Denver, convened for media day Monday -- and Anthony was there. Though that hurdle was far from a drop-dead deadline, it was nonetheless ideal from the Nuggets' standpoint to make considerable progress before being saddled with controversy and drama.

There was no hiding how torn Denver officials were Monday between trying to find a better deal and hoping that Anthony's camp could be persuaded to tamp down its trade rhetoric. After spending the weekend trying to determine if a better deal would emerge -- or if better assets could be acquired from the three other teams currently involved -- the Nuggets reached a tipping point in the most difficult decision a franchise ever has to make. That is one reason Denver tried to explore every angle and wanted to meet in person with Anthony before agreeing to trade him.

One avenue Denver pursued recently in the trade discussions was getting Gerald Wallace from Charlotte in the deal, a person involved in the talks told CBSSports.com Monday. But the Bobcats have insisted throughout that they'd only trade Wallace if it meant getting Anthony in the deal, and that's not happening based on Anthony's lack of interest in playing in Charlotte. For the same reason, Denver's interest in the Sixers' Andre Iguodala is a non-starter.

A package featuring No. 2 pick Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, the expiring contract of Jason Kapono and draft picks -- explored previously here -- also fails to pass the Melo test.

As the Nets' discussions continued to develop Monday, sources say one team that is more involved than commonly thought is the Knicks. After New York fell short in its pursuit of LeBron James and/or Dwyane Wade, it would be devastating for the Knicks to watch Anthony go to their cross-river rival -- especially since that rival is moving into the city limits to Brooklyn in two years. While Knicks president Donnie Walsh has been in far from panic mode, he has been "working every angle" in an effort to get back in the game with Anthony, according to a rival executive familiar with Walsh's approach.

"He's the master," the executive said. "I'll put it this way: If there's any way to get something done that he feels good about, he'll get it done. He'll leave no stone unturned."






Posted on: September 26, 2010 10:13 pm
 

Melodrama: Will Anthony be in camp Monday?

As the Carmelo Anthony trade talks careen toward an inevitable tipping point, the key question is this: If Melo isn’t dealt by the time the Nuggets convene for media day Monday, will the disgruntled superstar be there?

Despite noise coming from Anthony’s camp – in particular, according to sources, from influential adviser William Wesley – that Anthony either won’t show for camp or will make things ugly if he does, there was no word Sunday from Anthony himself as to whether he’ll be in Denver this week.

“If Melo doesn’t show,” said one person connected to the trade negotiations, “it’s disaster mode for them.”

While Nuggets officials are holding out hope that a face-to-face meeting with Anthony could change things, sources familiar with the hard-line stance being taken by Anthony and his agents at Creative Artists Agency see that as a combination of wishful thinking and desperation. It’s been a month since Denver hired former Toronto personnel man Masai Ujiri to replace Mark Warkentien as GM, and Ujiri still has not been able to arrange an in-person meeting with Anthony.

So Ujiri, facing his first major crisis as a top basketball executive, has spent more time meeting with Nets president Billy King – whom he and fellow Denver exec Josh Kroenke convened with in New York last week – than with Anthony himself. And that wasn’t the only meeting of importance in the past 72 hours, CBSSports.com has learned. Wesley, long an unofficial master of NBA maneuverings who is now a full-fledged CAA agent, sat down last week in New York with Nets minority owner Jay-Z in an effort to pave the way for Anthony’s arrival, a person with direct knowledge of the meeting said.

Anthony’s insistence on forcing his way out of Denver, the mounting pressure on Ujiri to get the best deal possible, and the prospect of an ugly scene with Melo in Denver this week had one person connected to the trade talks predicting Sunday that Anthony would be traded in the next 24-48 hours.

“Better than a 50 percent chance,” said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the teams’ business.

Given the lack of public fanfare that has surrounded Melo’s trade demand – the words “trade me” have never come out of his mouth – my personal prediction is that Anthony will show up at media day and training camp as long as he’s a Nugget. But even sources who acknowledge that Anthony would want to avoid the image hit that would come with a no-show or negative-show believe that any positive spin offered by Anthony in the coming days would only be for public consumption. As with Chris Paul in New Orleans, making waves publicly would only hurt Anthony’s chances of getting shipped to one of his ideal destinations because it would erode whatever leverage Denver has.

A desire to meet face-to-face with Anthony, however, isn’t the only factor keeping Denver from pulling the trigger on a deal. No, Nuggets officials don’t want to finalize a trade before hearing from Melo directly. But sources say there also are reservations among some of the decision makers in the Nuggets’ front office about accepting No. 3 pick Derrick Favors as the biggest asset in return for Anthony. Some Denver officials, sources say, have a strong preference for Joakim Noah or Blake Griffin. For that reason, it is believed that the Bulls or Clippers could jump ahead of the Nets in the sweepstakes if they’d agree to include one of those respective players. As of Sunday, however, there was no movement on either front.

Only more waiting, and the countdown to the next unofficial deadline in the Melo saga: His whereabouts when the Nuggets report for camp Monday.
Posted on: September 26, 2010 7:14 pm
 

Nuggets exploring their options

There was renewed hope Sunday that a four-team trade sending Carmelo Anthony to the Nets was still alive, with the framework of the deal possibly expanding to include additional players and possibly another team, CBSSports.com has learned.

But a weekend of inertia continued to frustrate the three teams Denver hastily recruited to accelerate Anthony’s departure, with executives standing firm in their belief that the longer the delay, the stronger the chance that the precarious structure of the trade could fall apart.

Among New Jersey, Utah and Charlotte, sources say least concerned were the Nets, who understandably have “no deadline” to pull off the blockbuster, franchise-shaping deal. The problem is with the pieces volunteered by the Jazz and Bobcats, who’d benefit the least from the arrangement and want to avoid unnecessary distractions heading into training camp this week. Charlotte’s role in the existing deal would be to send Boris Diaw to Utah and receive Devin Harris from the Nets, while Utah would send Andre Kirilenko to the Nuggets, who’d get No. 3 pick Derrick Favors and two first-round picks from New Jersey. Quinton Ross also would go from New Jersey to Utah.

“No one wants to go to camp with drama,” said one executive not involved in the pursuit of Anthony, who ignited the sweepstakes by refusing to sign a three-year, $65 million extension while his high-powered agents, Leon Rose and William Wesley, pushed hard all summer for a trade.

Sources say the Nuggets have been taking full advantage of the holding pattern in talks to listen to offers from other teams – though executives with knowledge of the situation do not believe a better offer has presented itself. The Bulls and Clippers, two teams with attractive assets and a realistic chance of persuading Anthony to sign an extension with them, have not progressed beyond the packages they initially brought to Denver’s attention. Some signs Sunday pointed to the revival of talks between Denver and Philadelphia with Andre Iguodala going to the Nuggets, but there was no signal from Anthony’s camp that he’d softened in his opposition to bringing his talents to South Philly.

Another player the Nuggets have targeted as a viable asset to recover in an Anthony trade, Anderson Varejao, remains a long shot for the same reason; Anthony isn’t going to Cleveland, the city that superstar LeBron James fled in July as though the Cuyahoga River were on fire.

So on the second front, the Nuggets are trying to determine whether another player within the current framework of the deal or even a fifth team would be able to further sweeten the reward for parting with the organization’s best player in two decades. The Nets are said to have “exhausted” the options available to the Nuggets in the current structure of the trade, with one possibility having Harris going to Denver instead of Charlotte. What Nuggets officials are weighing there, according to an executive with knowledge of the talks, is whether Harris might have more value as a trade chip than Kirilenko – an indication that Denver would view itself as being in full-blown cost-cutting and rebuilding mode without Anthony in the fold. Kirilenko, with a $17.8 million expiring contract, would seem to have more value than Harris, who is owed $27 million over the next three years. The Nuggets have not asked the Bobcats for Gerald Wallace, according to one executive familiar with the negotiations.

With nothing happening to push the discussions any closer to completion or extinction, Anthony could very well still be a Nugget during media day Monday at the Pepsi Center, which brings the saga to its next critical turning point. Anthony’s presence around the team will give GM Masai Ujiri his first chance to sit down face-to-face with the superstar and hear directly from him on his level of comfort with the best offer the team has received to move him.

Coach George Karl, whose ability to influence Anthony’s position should not be underestimated, also will have a chance to be in the room. This way, Nuggets officials will be able to hear first-hand from Anthony where he stands on the direction of the organization and his comfort level with joining a New Jersey team that would still be one major piece away from championship contention after adding Anthony. To this point, the vast majority of communication with Denver officials has come from Anthony’s advisers with Creative Artists Agency – most notable Rose and Wesley, who staunchly favor a trade to pastures they argue are greener than in Denver.

What the Nuggets are hoping, at the risk of jeopardizing the best offer they may get, is that Anthony’s angst will subside once he’s back with the only team he’s known during his seven-year career. He may conclude that he wouldn’t be much better off somewhere else.
Posted on: September 25, 2010 8:49 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2010 1:51 am
 

Melo deal in holding pattern

In the 24 hours since Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri and executive Josh Kroenke left New York City, where face-to-face negotiations with Nets officials rapidly transformed the Carmelo Anthony saga into a game of who blinks first, the discussions have stalled, according to officials familiar with the situation.

Two people with knowledge of the negotiations described them Saturday as stagnant, with a third person going so far as to say talks were "still developing." Anthony himself, watching the UCLA-Texas game from his Los Angeles home, was said to be telling friends simply that there was nothing new to report.

No news is ever good news with a trade this big and complicated, with stakes this high. And it appears that Denver's strategy to accelerate Anthony's trade demand into a full-blown poker game, with an unofficial deadline of Monday, could be jeopardizing the potential blockbuster that would send Anthony to the Nets.

"With every day that passes," said one executive not actively pursuing Anthony, "the bigger deals fall apart."

The talks were not there yet Saturday, with one source describing the slow-dancing tactic from Denver simply as "part of getting a deal done." But even management sources who've been confident from the beginning that Anthony would sign off on a trade to New Jersey recognize how many other things could go wrong in a trade of this magnitude.

As things stood Saturday, the Nuggets were still getting No. 3 pick Derrick Favors from the Nets and Andrei Kirilenko from the Jazz. Devin Harris would go from the Nets to the Bobcats, who would send Boris Diaw to Utah. New Jersey also would send two first-round picks to Denver -- its own and Golden State's protected first-round pick in 2012 -- and Quinton Ross to the Jazz. Charlotte continued to balk at sending point guard D.J. Augustin to the Nets, and New Jersey officials were seeking to expand the deal in the pursuit of a point guard to replace Harris.

Multiple executives monitoring the Melo developments believe that publicizing the four-team trade talks was an effort on Denver's part to solicit better offers from other teams. However, the list of teams believing they have a shot at getting Anthony to agree to an extension is short; he's made clear from the beginning that his first choice is New York, with Chicago, the Nets and possibly the Clippers also having a chance.

One team clearly not on Anthony's list, Cleveland, deserves to be mentioned nonetheless because sources indicate that Anderson Varejao is among the players Denver has targeted as an acceptable replacement asset for Anthony. The others are Kirilenko, Andre Iguodala and Gerald Wallace, a person with knowledge of the team's strategy said.

The anticipated avalanche of offers, however, did not appear to be forming Saturday. One team with an outside shot at getting Melo's approval was described by sources as "not trying." Also, an executive on the periphery of the talks described Denver's negotiating stance as "delusional."

Anthony's first choice, the Knicks, have the expiring contract of Eddy Curry and young players to offer, but lack the first-round picks Denver is seeking. However, team president Donnie Walsh is said to be in no frenzy to acquire an attractive first-rounder. Sources say Walsh is playing his own game of poker and is unwilling to jeopardize the progress he's made in rebuilding the Knicks' roster and cap position -- a monumental task over the past 2 1-2 years. He also knows that if Anthony wants to come to New York badly enough, he can arrange that as a free agent after the season.

The team with arguably the most attractive first-round pick to offer -- the Clippers, who own a 2011 first-rounder from Minnesota that is unprotected in 2012 -- were nowhere near the Melo talks Saturday, sources said.

While sources who predicted that completing the structure of the deal would be more difficult than getting Anthony's approval to re-sign with the Nets were validated with Saturday's developments, a significant roadblock on the Anthony front still exists. With Favors being sent to Denver in the proposed deal, leaving center Brook Lopez as the only potential All-Star on the roster besides Anthony, the soon-to-be-ex-Nugget was said to be "worried about going there by himself," according to one executive familiar with the situation.

Thus, a significant aspect of what Anthony is mulling is whether Chris Paul -- a fellow client of Creative Artists Agency's Leon Rose-William Wesley tandem -- would be willing to join him there. Anthony, however, would have to wait until 2012 when Paul can become a free agent. That would coincide with the Nets' move to Brooklyn, but a lot can -- and will -- happen between now and then: a new collective bargaining agreement, possibly a lockout, and two seasons for Anthony in Newark, which is only a few miles from the Seventh Avenue entrance to Madison Square Garden but is really light years away.

 

 
 



 
 
 
 
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