SALT LAKE CITY - The Knicks' pursuit of Carmelo Anthony remains very much alive, as the highly publicized trade talks between the Nets and Denver Nuggets have yet to produce a result.
In fact, a person with knowledge of the situation said that while the Nets "are obviously a player in this," the Knicks are "more in the game than people think."
The Knicks are returning home after a four-game West Coast trip that ended Wednesday night against the Jazz.
Newsday reported Wednesday that Donnie Walsh has been quietly working to put pieces together - likely involving at least one other team - to come up with an offer to present to the Nuggets before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. The Nuggets reportedly were frustrated with the Nets allegedly leaking information about their trade talks, which included the Detroit Pistons as a third team. The Knicks are trying to keep their efforts in strict confidence, but there has been a change in attitude about the Knicks' chances to land Anthony.
One NBA source said the Nets are "overstating their case a little bit" with how far their negotiations with Denver have progressed.
And according to a report by Yahoo! Sports, Amar'e Stoudemire sent a text message to Anthony earlier this week to dispel any misconceptions made by at least one media outlet that Stoudemire doesn't want Anthony in New York.
A person close to Stoudemire confirmed there has been communication between the players, but the two are friends, so that isn't anything out of the ordinary. When asked directly about sending a text message to Anthony encouraging him to turn down the Nets and join him with the Knicks, Stoudemire was notably coy with his response.
"I've got so many friends that I talk to throughout the league," he said, "but I haven't really talked to Carmelo at all."
When asked specifically if he not talked but sent a text message to Anthony, Stoudemire replied, "Yeah, no, I haven't talked to him."
He then said, "I don't know what Carmelo is doing. The situation is kind of hard for me to explain. I'm not sure what his camp is thinking, I'm not sure what his thoughts are as far as the situation goes. Hopefully he'll make the right decision for his family."
After he signed with the Knicks in July, Stoudemire spoke openly about recruiting other stars such as Anthony to join him in New York. But once the season started, Stoudemire has downplayed that kind of talk mainly out of respect to his current teammates and to avoid the appearance that he was making any demands or putting pressure on Walsh to get a trade done.
The caveat to any deal is that Anthony would have to agree to signing a contract extension and multiple sources have told Newsday that Anthony never has given any indications that he would - or would not - sign with the Nets. No one involved has ever denied that his preferred destination is the Knicks and Madison Square Garden.
What remains to be seen is if Anthony will use the leverage of the extension as a way to force the Nuggets to exclusively deal with the Knicks. Anthony could opt out after this season to become a free agent, though he is being advised by his representatives that it could cost him millions of dollars because a new contract would come under what is expected to be a very restrictive new collective bargaining agreement. But Anthony also knows the Nuggets do not want to risk losing him for nothing.
Notes & quotes: Toney Douglas, who has a strained AC joint in his left shoulder, dressed for the game but was only expected to play if needed mainly to allow him to rest. He was only in uniform as an emergency backup in case Raymond Felton, who has a high ankle sprain, had a setback.
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