Tag:Kenyon Martin
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 23, 2010 4:44 pm

Preseason Primers: Denver Nuggets

Let the Melodrama begin. A little more than a year after a trip to the Western Conference finals, the Nuggets are on the verge of implosion. Superstar Carmelo Anthony wants a trade, but first he's going to have to show up at training camp Monday and answer questions about it for days on end. George Karl is back from his valiant cancer fight -- without trusted assistant Tim Grgurich and with a long list of issues. Karl, perhaps, is the Nuggets last, best hope to talk Melo out of wanting out.

Training camp site: Pepsi Center, Denver 

Training camp starts: Sept. 28 

Key additions: Al Harrington (free agent), Shelden Williams (free agent). 

Key subtractions: Johan Petro (free agent), Joey Graham (free agent), Malik Allen (free agent). 

Likely starting lineup: Chauncey Billups, PG; Arron Afflalo, SG; Carmelo Anthony, SF; Al Harrington, PF; Nene, C. 

Player to watch: All eyes are on Melo. If he’s not traded by the time camp opens Monday – and all signs point to not –then the Melodrama will only get thicker and thicker. There’s zero chance Anthony refuses to show up for camp; he is an image-conscious superstar who is going about his trade request professionally, as opposed to the Rudy Fernandez scorched-Earth approach in Portland, for example. (Plus, Melo doesn’t want to be fined, nor would he disrespect George Karl that way.) But how Anthony responds to the media attention, how he interacts with his teammates after weeks of news reports, and ultimately whether he’s able to reconnect with Karl will be the three biggest stories of camp for Denver. 

Chemistry check: This should be a happy time, with Karl returning to the bench after missing much of last season due to cancer treatments. As usual, Karl has a restless locker room to deal with – and Melo isn’t the only problem. Kenyon Martin openly questioned whether the Nuggets got better this summer. J.R. Smith needs to go. The Nuggets cleaned out their front office, too, jettisoning 2008-09 executive of the year Mark Warkentien and Rex Chapman and hiring Toronto assistant Masai Ujiri while giving more power to adviser Bret Bearup and executive Josh Kroenke. Oh, and Karl’s longtime assistant, Tim Grgurich, isn’t coming back. That’s all – so far. 

Injury watch: Martin and Chris Andersen are expected to miss the early part of the season as they recover from knee injuries. 

On the spot: Ujiri. While he technically won’t have final say on whether to trade Anthony, where to trade him, or for what, dealing the franchise cornerstone will be on his resume one way or another. 

Camp battles: Harrington, Williams and Renaldo Balkman are in the mix for playing time in the frontcourt while Martin and Andersen are out. 

Biggest strength: Well, that depends on whether you’re talking with Melo or without. With Melo, they have one of the top five or six players in the NBA paired with Billups, a savvy floor leader who probably has one more season of championship-caliber play in him. Without Melo, it depends on what they get for him. 

Glaring weakness: Stability. In a few short weeks, or at most, months, the momentum of seven straight playoff appearances (including one conference finals appearance) and three consecutive 50-win seasons could go up in smoke if and when they have to move Melo. In the short term, Denver’s weakness will be up front with Martin and Andersen out – which explains their pursuit of Erick Dampier, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and other bigs this summer.
Posted on: May 12, 2009 7:59 am

Dear Mark: Stop acting like an idiot

After witnessing the deplorable, embarrassing scene in his arena Monday night -- in which some Mavs fans did their best Mark Cuban impersonation -- Cuban had no choice. He had to issue an apology to Kenyon Martin for pointing and shouting at K-Mart's mother as he left the court after the controversial ending in Game 3.

Cuban's version -- and no one else has offered a credible one -- is that someone shouted that the Nuggets were "thugs" after Carmelo Anthony evaded a foul attempt by Antoine Wright and hit the deciding 3-pointer on Saturday. As Cuban stormed into the tunnel, he admits that he pointed to Martin's mother and said, "That includes your son."

Martin, of course, was furious, saying before Game 4 Monday night that he planned to meet "face-to-face" with Cuban.

"It's a little personal, and I'm going to take care of it," Martin said. "I'm not going to do the whole media thing, back and forth. That's his thing. I'm more of a face-to-face type of dude."

After some of Martin's family members were harassed at the game -- won in dramatic fashion by the Mavs -- Cuban decided to issue an apology to Martin in his blog. That's great. It was the right thing to do. Cuban also invited Martin's family to watch Game 6 -- if the series returns to Dallas -- in his suite with his family. If that wasn't acceptable, Cuban offered to give them their own suite.

A noble gesture. Just wondering, though. If Mavs fans hadn't acted like such jackasses Monday night, would Cuban still have felt compelled to apologize? Was he sincerely apologizing for his actions, or did he feel as though he had no choice but to apologize for the boneheaded fans who decided to act like him?

"When tempers and such start impacting the fan experience both in Dallas and Denver, and it requires special security, that's not what I want for Mavs or Nuggets fans," Cuban wrote. "No one takes more abuse and gets more threats on the road than I do. So I know exactly how it feels. I’ve also had my family and friends spit on at games in this series. So I know how unpleasant that is as well. It’s a dirty secret that all arenas need to do a better job of protection for visiting team fans, particularly during the playoffs. So at this point I would like to apologize to you and your mom, KMart, for my comment. I should have not said anything and I was wrong. Hopefully you will accept the apology and we can move on."

Cuban added, "We tried to have enough additional security for them tonight as well, but I know your family and friends didn’t feel as comfortable as they should. I apologize for that as well. This arena is my responsibility, we could and should do a better job."

That's all well and good. I just find it interesting that, while everyone -- including Cuban, apparently -- remains so quick to apply the "thug" label to NBA players, sometimes the real thugs and jackasses are the people sitting in the stands.

Cuban was right about one thing. As these playoff games get more and more heated and emotional, the NBA needs to make sure that its teams do whatever it takes to keep the responsible spectators safe from the knuckleheads. They need to make sure the players and their families, who sit in such proximity to the garden variety idiots, are not in harm's way. To this point, the most embarrassing and disgraceful moment in NBA history came when Ron Artest charged into the stands to retaliate against a fan who'd thrown a beer at him. If more attention isn't devoted to the issue of arena safety -- especially at a time when revenues and non-player payrolls are shrinking -- the next black mark on the NBA is going to be a player or his family being harmed in a visiting arena.

So I'm glad Cuban apologized and it's good that he put the spotlight on the issue of arena safety. Now if he wouldn't mind setting a better example for how fans are supposed to act, that would be even better. We expect boorish behavior from Joe Sixpack with a 12-pack in his belly. From a college-educated billionaire who has done a lot of good things for society, I don't think it's asking too much to expect a little more.

Category: NBA
Posted on: May 12, 2009 1:17 am

Denver should thank the Mavs, but ...

The dismantling of the Mavs is delayed another two days. The feud between Mark Cuban and Kenyon Martin's family lives to see another day. All that commotion behind the Nuggets' bench during Game 4 Monday night? Evidently, that was K-Mart's family being harassed by classy Mavs fans.

K-Mart exited the court after Dallas' series-extending victory shouting what most certainly were not pleasantries. I can only guess they were directed at Cuban.

But all that stuff is a sideshow. Two things jump out at me as this series moves to Denver for Game 5 Wednesday night.

One, Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke should thank the Mavs for extending the series another game. Another home playoff date equals another sellout crowd, lots of hot dogs, sodas, and beers sold at the concessions, and a free night of much-needed revenue.

Two, the Nuggets had better figure out how to close this series out Wednesday night without losing their cool. As I told Jason Horowitz earlier Monday, a Lakers-Nuggets conference finals is no sure thing for Kobe & Co. The Nugs are supremely talented, play underrated defense, have the kind of toughness under the basket that the Lakers lack as long as Andew Bynum remains invisible, and have Carmelo Anthony showing signs that he might be just as dangerous on the playoff stage as Kobe.

But the last thing Denver needs in a closeout game at home is to lose its composure. All it'll take is one flagrant foul -- and we all know how blurred that line as become -- to get somebody suspended for Game 1 of the conference finals.

So K-Mart & Co. need to leave their grudges with Cuban in Dallas. Forget about it. It's over. Focus on the game and what needs to be done to finish the series and keep it from going back to Dallas. And don't get anybody suspended for Game 1 against the Lakers.

There's a saying in sports journalism: When in doubt, be Dave Anderson, the venerable Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the New York Times. The Nuggets need to adopt a different form of that approach. When in doubt, be Chauncey Billups. This is why the Nuggets traded for Billups, because he knows how to close out teams and he knows how to win playoff series. Most importantly, he knows how to keep his composure in what has become a chippy, emotional, vindictive series. 

Get it over with and keep your cool. Let the security guards keep your family safe, let the NBA deal with Cuban, and play your game. 

Oh, and let your owner count all the free dollars that will flow into the bank by virtue of having to close this out at home. See, I'm an optimist at heart.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com