Amid a flurry of conflicting reports that hit like a January snowstorm, the Knicks are operating under the assumption that the Nets return to the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes is a very real threat to their plans to land the superstar before the Feb. 24 trade deadline, according to multiple sources.
A person with knowledge of the situation said there is still confidence that Anthony won't agree to anything with the Nets as long as the Knicks are still actively pursuing him. At this point Anthony holds the leverage of the contract extension, which the Nets would want as a condition of any deal they make. The Nuggets could threaten to hold onto him through the deadline if he doesn't accept what they feel is a more favorable deal with the Nets, which would then put Anthony in position to potentially lose millions as a free agent this offseason under a new collective bargaining agreement.
That would be a major risk for Denver to take because they could still wind up like the Cavaliers and Raptors and watch Anthony walk away for next to nothing in return.
So it appears like it will be a battle of wills, a game of chicken and of course the Nets should get involved here. They could wind up benefitting from a panic move by Anthony.
Or the Nuggets could benefit from the Knicks giving up more than they wanted to.
Let's catch you up on a crazy few hours that went down while the Fix was aboard Delta Flight 2263 to LAX:
- Yahoo! Sports posted a story that said the Nuggets and Nets had framework in place for a deal that would send rookie Derrick Favors, veteran guard Devin Harris, Troy Murphy and Ben Uzoh plus four -- four! -- first round picks to Denver for Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Melvin Ely, Renaldo Balkman and Shelden Williams. Yahoo! said the next step was for Anthony and Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov to meet in L.A. to discuss whether or not he'd sign an extension and the Nuggets were trying to get Anthony to agree to meeting.
- But as this report surfaced, the Associated Press ran a story that said Prokhorov had not changed his mind about pursuing Anthony. Those were the exact words of his spokeswoman, Ellen Pinchuk, who said in an email that, despite reports that the Nets have re-engaged talks for Anthony, "Mikhail has not changed his mind." No source there, a straight on-the-record quote.
- Then the Daily News reported, via sources, that not only is Prokhorov scheduled to meet with Anthony, but Knicks owner James Dolan, is also expected to meet with Anthony. We reported that Donnie Walsh and Mark Warkentien won't be in LA, but Allan Houston and MSG Sports president Scott O'Neil will be here along with Dolan. Why would the Knicks need to meet with Anthony if it's widely known he would accept a contract extension? The better question is, why would the Nuggets agree to let Anthony meet with the Knicks -- remember, they have to give permission -- unless they felt a deal was in place?
- The night ended with our old friend Ken Berger throwing a wrench into the works by saying, according to sources, that Anthony has not agreed to any meetings during all-star weekend. Perhaps his representatives have set things up without his knowledge, but, again, in the end it all matters to Anthony.
And clearly this will come up later today when the NBA all-star players have their media availability. A lot more to come on what promises to be a busy day, if not weekend, so keep checking the Fix.