Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
 
Tag:Masai Ujiri
Posted on: December 12, 2010 5:17 pm
 

Source: Melo will only accept trade to Knicks


NEW YORK -- The Carmelo Anthony saga took a bold step closer to a resolution Sunday, with a person familar with the three-time All-Star's strategy confirming to CBSSports.com that he will only accept a trade to the Knicks.

ESPNNewYork.com reported after the Knicks beat Anthony's Nuggets 129-125 that Anthony has told Denver officials that he will only sign a three-year, $65 million extension if he is traded to New York. Two people familiar with the Nuggets' internal discussions with Anthony disputed the part about Anthony having informed the Nuggets of his exclusive preference for a trade to the Knicks. But one of those people, who has direct knowledge of Anthony's position, confirmed to CBSSports.com that if Anthony is traded, the Knicks are the only potential suitor with whom he'd agree to re-sign.

Anthony sidestepped questions about his future Sunday after scoring 31 points in a losing effort against his hometown team. The Brooklyn-born Anthony has declined to sign the Nuggets' extension offer for months, though he told CBSSports,com Saturday that he informed team officials last week that he hasn't ruled out re-signing with the Nuggets, who drafted him in 2003.

Sources told CBSSports.com last week that Nuggets management has all but decided to trade Anthony if he does not signal his intentions to re-sign with them before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. With the information now public that Anthony will only accept a trade to the Knicks, the situation now appears poised to enter a final critical stage that will test the Nuggets' new management regime of GM Masai Ujiri and executive Josh Kroenke.

Anthony does not have a no-trade clause in his contract, but has a certain amount of leverage to dictate the outcome because the Nuggets would obtain far fewer assets from a team Anthony won't extend with. For example, the best straight-up offer for Anthony that Denver has received so far -- Derrick Favors, Troy Murphy and two first-round picks -- has always been contingent on Anthony signing an extension to trigger the deal. Without having Melo under contract beyond this season, such an offer would be pulled off the table.

Enter the Knicks, whose assets and lack of quality first-round picks have not impressed the Nuggets' brass, according to sources. In fact, even if the Knicks were able to parlay Anthony Randolph into a first-round pick in a separate trade, sources tell CBSSports.com that it wouldn't make a difference from Denver's standpoint.

But if Anthony is successul in his effort to orchestrate a trade to the Knicks, the Nuggets would have no choice but to engage in discussions or risk losing Anthony as a free agent after the season, when he can opt out of his $18.5 million contract for the 2011-12 season.

Posted on: December 11, 2010 4:17 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2010 4:21 pm
 

Melo: 'I'll think about' signing Denver deal

NEW YORK – Carmelo Anthony tested his sore knee during practice Saturday on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and then gave Nuggets fans a tantalizing bit of information.

“My mind is not made up,” Anthony said after completing his first full-speed drills after missing two games leading up to Sunday’s noon ET tipoff against the Knicks, one of his suitors via a trade or free agency – whichever comes first. “My mind is just to focus on this game [Sunday]; that’s really all I’m focused on right now. My mind is not made up. Where that’s coming from, I don’t know. But my mind is not made up.”

Three times Anthony said it, perhaps to drive home the point that he hasn’t mentally checked out on Denver. Not yet, anyway. After the interview scrum at the Reebok Sports Club broke up, he told CBSSports.com that this was the precise message he delivered to Denver management about a week ago. With 2 1-2 months to go before the Feb. 24 trade deadline, Anthony said he told Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri and executive Josh Kroenke that he hasn’t ruled out signing a three-year, $65 million extension offer that has been on the table since the spring.

“I met with them last week and I told them I’d think about it,” Melo said. “Which is more than I’ve said. We’ll see. We’ve been having a lot of great conversations.”

Indecision and inertia have defined the Melo saga since his representatives at Creative Artists Agency informed Nuggets officials in September that he was seeking a trade or would strongly consider opting out of his $18.5 million contract for the 2011-12 season and become a free agent. The Nuggets, in front-office turmoil at the time, decided not to move forward with a four-team trade that would’ve sent Anthony to the Nets – who are moving to Anthony’s birthplace, Brooklyn, in a year-and-a-half.

Though Anthony has maintained frequent dialogue with Ujiri and Kroenke in the weeks and months since then, direct public comments from him on his intentions have been rare.

How this latest clue should be interpreted depends largely on the perspective or agendas of the teams and executives involved. By telling Ujiri and Kroenke that he’d “think about it,” was he trying to express a softening of his desire to orchestrate a trade to the Nets or Knicks, his two preferred destinations? Or is the fact that he's still thinking about staying in Denver for $65 million -- presumably far more than he'd get as a free agent under a new collective bargaining agreement -- only bolster the belief that he's as good as gone?

CBSSports.com reported Wednesday that Nuggets management has all but decided to trade Anthony for the best possible package of young assets if he does not signal his intentions to sign the extension before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Privately, Nuggets officials still hold out hope they can keep the three-time All-Star, and believe the team’s strong start and the way they’ve explained their plan to him represent a show of good faith on their part to move forward with him as the centerpiece of a contender.

But sources also told CBSSports.com in recent days that the Nuggets will not fall into the so-called Cleveland trap. The Cavs sacrificed plenty to surround LeBron James with players they believed could help him win a championship, only to watch James head to Miami as a free agent anyway. According to people familiar with his strategy, Ujiri is determined not to sacrifice the future by acquiring such players – aging, expensive pieces like Antawn Jamison, for example – in what might end up being a futile effort to keep Anthony.

At the same time, the Nuggets believe they need clarity from Anthony before the trade deadline so they know how and when to proceed with their plan. Anthony, however, told CBSSports.com Saturday that he doesn’t believe he needs to sign the extension before Feb. 24.

“I don’t think so,” he said.

One way or another, Anthony said Saturday he believes the situation will be resolved by Feb. 24, though he was cryptic in his explanation of how it will go down.

“I think it’ll be decided one way or the other,” Anthony said. “… We’ll have an agreement one way or another.”

The basketball eyes of New York are on the Knicks, who have turned their season around with 11 wins in 12 games heading into Sunday’s matinee with Melo. Anthony, a native New Yorker, agreed that it’s good for the game when the Knicks are good and even took some credit for a pep talk he had with Amar’e Stoudemire when the Knicks – struggling badly at the time – played in Denver last month.

“Obviously what I said to him in Denver has really crept in on him, has really sunk in," Anthony said. "He’s doing everything I told him to do."

Which was?

“To get them boys on track, to do what he’s got to do,” Anthony said. “At that time, they had lost a lot of games in a row and were on a little losing streak. So I just told him to get everybody together and lead that team.”

The wild card in the equation is whether Anthony would agree to an extension with New Jersey as part of a trade to the Nets. Sources say the best trade proposal Denver has received remains the offer from New Jersey centered around No. 3 overall pick Derrick Favors and two first-round picks. Anthony provided no clues on that front Saturday, and he counted himself among those who are curious as to whether the Nets can rise to prominence in the same city with the Knicks when they move to Brooklyn in time for the 2012-13 season.

“We shall see,” Anthony said. “Man, I think that’s what a lot of people are waiting for, for that team to move to Brooklyn and see how it’s going to turn out -- if it’s going to be a Lakers-Clippers type of situation or what. I think a lot of people are anticipating that move.”

And Anthony himself? What does he think?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m one of the guys that are waiting to see how that’s going to turn out.”

Spoken like a much-sought-after superstar who remains undecided on a lot of issues that will determine his future.

Posted on: December 8, 2010 7:51 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 11:03 pm
 

Post-Ups: Nuggets ready to move Melo

After weeks of speculation and despite a strong start by the Nuggets, Carmelo Anthony's last days in Denver may finally have arrived.

The Nuggets have all but decided to trade Anthony if he does not sign an extension with the team by the trade deadline, and Denver's management team believes Anthony is fully prepared to play out the season and become a free agent, multiple sources told CBSSports.com.

The Nuggets’ strong start, coupled with George Karl’s inspirational return from cancer treatment and positive discussions about a contract extension for the soon-to-be-1,000-win coach, have the organization feeling they've done everything possible to persuade Anthony to stay. But according to people with knowledge of the team’s strategy, if Anthony doesn’t agree to sign the three-year, $65 million extension by the Feb. 24 trade deadline, the wheels are all but certain to be put in motion to part ways with the three-time All-Star rather than lose him as a free agent and get nothing in return.

According to people in contact with the Nuggets’ management team, there is far more clarity today about what the team is seeking in a potential Anthony trade than there was in September, when new GM Masai Ujiri was thrust into the tempest in his initial days and weeks on the job. Executives believe the Nuggets have decided they would like to receive the best possible package of young players and are not interested in stopgap options that would hamper their flexibility. Acquiring a high-priced veteran player -- such as Andre Iguodala, whose talent the Nuggets value but not his contract -- would only hurt the team’s ability to build around youth while maintaining payroll flexibility into the uncertainty of a new collective bargaining agreement.

The Nets’ package of 2010 No. 3 pick Derrick Favors, guard Devin Harris, the expiring contract of Kris Humphries and two first-round picks remains the most attractive option to the Nuggets, sources say. Additional trade partners such as Charlotte and Utah are not eager to get involved in the discussions again, but wouldn’t necessarily be needed this time.

The wild card remains Anthony’s desire to sign an extension with the Nets, who obviously would not be willing to offer the same package without such a guarantee. While rival executives continue to doubt that Anthony would be willing to spend the next season-and-a-half in Newark, N.J., sources who have been in close contact with the power brokers in Anthony’s camp -- William Wesley and Leon Rose -- say the Nets remain an option for Anthony.

Anthony and the Nuggets will play Sunday at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks, which remain his top choice via a trade or free agency -- even though the latter option could cost him millions depending on how successful owners are at imposing salary reductions in the new collective bargaining agreement. Sources say Anthony is so fixated on winding up with the Knicks that Denver management has become convinced that he will tempt fate and the new CBA by playing out the entire season in Denver and signing with the Knicks as a free agent on July 1 – or after the lockout. The only way that scenario could be positive for Denver would be in a sign-and-trade deal. But such an arrangement – like the pennies-on-the-dollar deals that sent LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami – would not be nearly as beneficial as what the Nets are offering now.

The Knicks, playing their best basketball in years with free-agent acquisition Amar’e Stoudemire, have believed that their best chance of landing Melo was for the process to play out slowly – and they’ve gotten their wish so far. But the Nuggets, sources say, are not sold on the young players New York could offer such as Anthony Randolph, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. Point guard Raymond Felton -- who has been on an offensive tear since gaining chemistry with Stoudemire and who becomes trade-eligible on Dec. 15 -- also does not interest the Nuggets, who view him as a halfcourt player who wouldn't fit their style.

Nuggets officials are said to be coming around to the idea that Harris could play in the backcourt with Chauncey Billups, who often played shooting guard this past summer with Team USA. But if Anthony is traded, sources say management also wants to show Billups -- who came to the Nuggets not just to come home, but to win -- the proper respect by engaging him in conversations about whether he'd prefer to be traded.

Other than hoping to persuade Anthony to sign the extension and stay in Denver, the biggest variable for the Nuggets is the sliding scale of quality on the Nets’ own first-round pick they’d convey in the trade. (They also would include Golden State’s protected 2012 first-rounder). The sooner the Nuggets trade Melo to New Jersey, the better the Nets get and the worse the pick gets. But that is a matter of timing and patience. As far as willingness to deal, it appears that the Nuggets are finally open for business.

And so are we in the rest of this week’s Post-Ups:

• With the Trail Blazers' obvious struggles and the health challenges (that's putting it mildly) of Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, two people with knowledge of the team's strategy told CBSSports.com that Portland management is contemplating trading older players and going young. The obvious targets for such a purge would be Marcus Camby (36), Andre Miller (34), and Joel Przybilla (31). Roy isn’t old, but his knees are -- though one of the sources said Portland would find no takers for the five years and $82.3 million remaining on Roy's contract, given the state of his meniscus-less knees. Przybilla ($7.4 million expiring contract) and Miller (whose $7.8 million salary in 2011-12 is fully non-guaranteed) are eminently moveable. Another candidate to be dealt, though not because of age or health, is Rudy Fernandez, who has wanted out of Portland for some time. Sources caution that the Blazers have engaged in only internal conversations about this strategy, and it is contingent upon the team (10-11) continuing to struggle. But the writing certainly is on the wall for major changes in Portland.

• Multiple NBA team executives told CBSSports.com this week they believe a significant number of college underclassmen will stay in school rather than risk losing a year of development (and pay) in a lockout. College coaches making the pitch to underclassman to stay in school will have more leverage than ever before. “They’ll have the hammer,” one exec said. “To lose a year of development at that stage of your career, that’s huge.” This could have a dramatic impact on a team like No. 4 Kansas, which in an ordinary year would have as many as three first-round picks: freshman Josh Selby (serving a nine-game NCAA suspension for accepting improper benefits); and juniors Marcus Morris and Tyshawn Taylor. Sophomore Thomas Robinson also impressed NBA execs scouting the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

• Speaking of Madison Square Garden, rival execs agree that New York would be a logical landing spot for Andre Iguodala, and they believe the Sixers will be more than open to discussing trades for the dynamic but high-priced swingman as the Feb. 24 deadline approaches. The Knicks, one of the few teams in a position to absorb salary in the uncertain labor environment, also would be looking for an attractive piece to pair with Stoudemire in the event the Nuggets follow through with an Anthony trade prior to the deadline. Team president Donnie Walsh would have to decide if, short of Anthony, Iguodala is the best option that will be available to him between now and 2011 free agency -- if and when that happens. And also, if Iguodala is worth giving up the cap flexibility he's toiled three years to create. Pricetag notwithstanding -- the 26-year-old is due $56.5 million over the next four years -- Iguodala would be an excellent fit for Mike D'Antoni's high-octane offense and would instantly become the best defender on the roster by a mile.

• With details of the National Basketball Players Association's July proposal finally becoming fully public Wednesday, the question of how prepared the union is for a lockout is naturally going to come up. According to sources familiar with the union's financial documents, the NBPA currently has just shy of $100 million in liquid assets in its war chest in the event of a lockout. The funds have been accumulated largely through players agreeing to put aside licensing money they receive from the league -- something they are doing again this season to the tune of about $30 million. If you add non-liquid assets, such as property, the union will have about $175 million on hand. This is a lot of money to you and me, but not to 450 NBA players. Consider that the players' salaries (without benefits) last season totaled about $2.3 billion -- with a "b." Now consider that players are paid 12 times during the season -- twice a month for six months. That means the NBPA's total war chest is enough to cover the players' first paychecks during a lockout in the 2011-12 season.

• With trade discussions typically heating up around the 20-game mark -- and also around Dec. 15, when summer free agents become trade-eligible -- execs league-wide are curious to learn what sort of trade climate will exist in light of the labor uncertainty. Many predict that teams that have typically been willing to take on salary between December and the trade deadline (Feb. 24) will be less willing (or unwilling) to do so in this environment. Similarly, teams performing below management's internal expectations (Houston, the Clippers, the Blazers) have a tough decision to make. They could try to fix their problems now, but without knowing what the rules will be under the new agreement, they don't know what conditions they’re planning for. Of the aforementioned teams, the Blazers are in the best position to dump salary because of the attractiveness of the contracts they'd be moving. Plus, Miller's value is not only in his contract, but in his ability to push a contending team in need of a steadying point-guard presence over the top. Full disclosure: this is my idea, not anybody else's, but Orlando would be the perfect landing spot for Miller depending on what the Magic would be willing to send back.


Posted on: November 9, 2010 3:04 pm
 

How will Nuggets' shakeup affect Melo?

The ouster of adviser Bret Bearup from the Nuggets' basketball operations was a long time coming, according to rival executives who have dealt with the team's dysfunctional front-office structure for years. But the real question is: How will the latest shakeup in Denver affect Carmelo Anthony?

Answer: Too early to tell, but it certainly doesn't make it more likely that he'll be traded.

Let me explain.

Bearup, an unofficial adviser to outgoing owner Stan Kroenke, is said to have been a proponent of trading Anthony rather than losing him as a free agent after the season and getting nothing in return. So Bearup has been an active voice in trade discussions, sources said, seeking out potential suitors and scenarios even as newly hired GM Masai Ujiri was preaching patience.

So it's significant that Stan Kroenke's son, Josh, who has been handed nearly complete control of the organization, was able to move Bearup out of the picture. Sources say rival executives had been told in recent days that Bearup was no longer authorized to discuss the team's personnel decisions, a stunning development to teams that had become accustomed to Bearup wielding significant power due to his close relationship with Stan Kroenke.

When I caught up with Stan Kroenke in September after a Board of Governors meeting in New York and asked him for his thoughts on trading Anthony, he said, "That's going to be Josh's decision." The fact that Stan had handed that much responsibility to Josh at such a critical juncture for the organization may have been the first sign that Bearup was on the outs.

"I think with Josh taking over, he was able to start with a clean slate," said one executive who has dealt with the Nuggets on personnel issues in the past.

But will this shakeup, first reported Tuesday by Yahoo! Sports , ultimately determine whether Anthony is traded or not? That's a stretch. One thing for sure is that the Nuggets' brass will now operate more secretively and from a unified power source, which has not been the case in recent years. The lack of clarity rival executives ran into this past summer in communicating with Denver officials was nothing new; it dated back to the awkward duo of Mark Warkentien and Rex Chapman, who did not get along and were ultimately let go in the first phase of this purge.

One thing to remember in all of this: Ujiri was stung by Chris Bosh's departure from Toronto as a free agent and clearly wants to avoid a similar situation with Melo. Whatever the Nuggets do, they're likely to be more transparent about it than they have in the past. If nothing else, when GMs call Denver now, they'll at least be able to figure out who's making the decisions.


 

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