LOS ANGELES - First LeBron James spurned the Knicks. Is Carmelo Anthony about to pass on the chance to call the Garden home as well?

The Nuggets have been working on a complicated three-team blockbuster trade that would send Anthony to the Nets; the lone condition is that he would have to agree to sign an extension with the Nets.

Multiple outlets reported Sunday that the trade was close to being completed, but later in the night, there was some hesitation on the Nuggets' end. Then, after Denver's 96-87 loss to New Orleans, Anthony was asked about the trade and told reporters, "I don't see it happening.''

A person with knowledge of the situation reiterated that Anthony's "desire is to get to the Knicks with the extension," but the Nuggets haven't engaged in meaningful talks with the Knicks. The sides have been in contact in the last few months, but the source said that when the Knicks have asked Nuggets executive Josh Kroenke and general manager Masai Ujiri what they would want in return, the response has been: "They don't know."

Clearly, they do know what they want from the Nets: multiple first-round picks. According to the Bergen Record, the Nets would send at least two first-round picks to the Nuggets along with Devin Harris and rookie Derrick Favors, plus other players, with Anthony and veteran point guard Chauncey Billups going to New Jersey. The Nets would send Troy Murphy (expiring contract) to the Pistons, who would send Richard Hamilton to the Nets to change three-fifths of their starting lineup with one deal.

Nets GM Billy King has been aggressive in his pursuit of Anthony since August and thought he had a deal in place before the season started. But the Nuggets have been slow to trade Anthony because they held out hope he would agree to a three-year, $65-million extension to remain in Denver. But Anthony has made it clear that his intention is to opt out of his contract to become a free agent after this season.

That is exactly what the Knicks have hoped will happen, because with a 21-15 start to their season, they believe they have the makings of a potential contender. "We have a solid team right now," Amar'e Stoudemire said Friday in Phoenix. "We don't really need much."

Stoudemire and Anthony are close and regularly keep in touch, and in the summer, they discussed the potential of teaming up with the Knicks. Though the Knicks would be aggressive in a trade offer for Anthony, their best-case scenario has always been for him to go into free agency so they could sign him without losing any of their significant young talent.

But Anthony's representatives from Creative Artists Agency have outlined the strong potential that Anthony could lose millions if he simply opts out of his contract this summer. The current collective-bargaining agreement will expire after the season and the next deal is expected to be much more restrictive. If Anthony were to opt out, he not only would lose the three years and $65 million on the table but would walk away from the final year and $18.5 million left on his current contract.

If Anthony goes to the Nets, the Knicks are likely to get active on the trade market to use the few assets they are willing to deal to fill in other areas of need, such as at center (Marcus Camby?) and backup point guard (Luke Ridnour?) to make a strong run at the playoffs. But there will be some major disappointment in failing to convince Anthony to wait it out and join them as a free agent.

The Nuggets have put off making this deal and initially didn't plan to get serious until closer to the Feb. 24 trade deadline. But the team's recent slide - which coach George Karl has attributed to the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over the team - has changed the thinking.

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