LOS ANGELES — The Knicks appear to have drawn a line in the sand in their negotiations with the Denver Nuggets for Carmelo Anthony. A person with knowledge of the situation said Sunday the team will not budge any more than they already have with their offers to Denver.
“We’re not going any further now,” the source said. “It’s out of our hands.”
The Knicks have an offer on the table that, according to sources, includes Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Raymond Felton going to Denver along with a first-round pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves, for Anthony, guard Chauncey Billups and at least one other reserve player, plus $3 million in cash considerations. The deal the Knicks have in place will save the Nuggets as much as $6 million in luxury tax this season. The Timberwolves would absorb Eddy Curry’s $11.2-million salary slot and take Anthony Randolph, while sending a first-round pick to Denver.
The Knicks would sign Anthony to a three-year, $65-million contract extension as part of a trade.
Though the Knicks would prefer to sign Anthony as a free agent in the offseason, multiple sources say the organization has been made aware that Anthony has no interest in waiting for free agency, especially with the uncertainty that lies ahead in collective bargaining.
“He wants the money,” one source said. That complicates things for the Knicks, who might have been able to negotiate a more favorable deal if Anthony had used the threat of walking after the season to motivate Denver to trade him.
Knicks president Donnie Walsh, according to sources, has never been completely confident that Denver would ever come to a fair deal. Despite reports that suggest Walsh has been completely removed from the situation, multiple sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations insist that Walsh is very much involved “on the basketball side” of the decision-making. One source also said that Isiah Thomas’ reported involvement in advising Knicks owner James Dolan is not an effort to undercut Walsh.
“Isiah is not undermining Donnie,” said an NBA source with no connection to the Knicks or the Garden but with direct knowledge of the situation.
“It’s not an issue,” a source close to Walsh agreed.
The Knicks were apparently concerned enough about the reports and speculation that has arisen this weekend that the team released a joint statement from Dolan, Walsh and coach Mike D’Antoni on Sunday that said:
“We want to make it abundantly clear that we have been in constant communication throughout this process and the three of us are in complete agreement with everything that we are currently working on. Together, we will do what is best for the long-term success of the franchise.
“In addition, we want to make it clear that no one from outside our organization has been involved in this process in any way. We will have no further comment at this time.” Dolan’s involvement in this process is nothing new. One source said Dolan “has been involved since last August” when Anthony’s desire to be traded to the Knicks first surfaced.
“It’s not like he just jumped on board,” the source added.
Dolan is the president and chief executive officer of Cablevision, which also owns Newsday.
Multiple sources involved in the negotiations said Dolan this weekend played a positive role in the process. “He calmed Melo down,” one source said, adding that Anthony was concerned that the Knicks weren’t making enough of an effort to trade for him.
Both Anthony and the Knicks want to close the deal quickly, perhaps as early as after today’s All-Star Game. But multiple sources involved in the situation say the process is likely to get dragged out right up until Thursday’s deadline. A source said Anthony’s representation has been told to sit tight and let the process take its course.
Anthony has told confidants that the Knicks are his preferred destination, according to sources, but despite that bit of leverage, the Knicks can’t operate as if they are bidding against themselves. “They’re not bidding against themselves,” said a person with knowledge of the situation.
“There’s two other teams: the Nets and the Nuggets.” Anthony could just opt out as a free agent in the summer and sign with the Knicks, but multiple sources say his concerns about the potential for a more restrictive system in the next collective bargaining agreement is motivation to get the extension now.
And that’s why the Nets remain in the game.
The Nuggets prefer the offer from New Jersey — rookie Derrick Favors and four first-round picks — over what the Knicks are offering. According to a report by CBSSports.com, the Nuggets insisted that Anthony meet with the Nets, which took place here on Saturday afternoon, as a requirement for granting the Knicks permission to meet with Anthony on Thursday night. ESPN.com reported that Anthony made no commitments after the meeting and Yahoo! Sports said the Nets left the meeting without much optimism.
Josh Kroenke took over the franchise when his father, team owner Stan Kroenke, was officially installed as the new owner of the NFL’s St. Louis Rams. But while it’s against NFL rules for a team owner to be involved in another pro team, multiple sources insist that Stan is regularly briefed on the Anthony trade.
As much as the Knicks want to get a deal done for Anthony, there is great concern in giving up too much in the deal. But a source said it’s not as much about this season as it is next year, when this process will be repeated. The Hornets, Jazz and Magic will need to strongly consider trading Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard, respectively, before all three can opt-out.
So it’s not as much about having salary-cap space in the summer of 2012 as it is having enough assets to offer come the trade deadline in the 2011-12 season. And the Knicks firmly believe that if they can acquire Anthony, they have the inside track on luring Paul or Williams to take over the point guard position to complete a championship-caliber triumvirate.