‘Melo Goes About Business Amid Knicks Speculation
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DENVER (AP) — Carmelo Anthony keeps on preparing for the upcoming season unaware of, and ostensibly unfazed by, where that will be.
Amid the latest report that he could be headed to the Big Apple — this time, to the Knicks, not the Nets — Anthony said after practice Wednesday that he isn’t affected by the renewed trade talk swirling around him.
“I’m still able to wake up in the morning, smile, come here, laugh and joke with my teammates, play basketball and compete,” the Denver Nuggets’ star forward said. “That stuff doesn’t bother me.”
There was a report that the New York Knicks got back into the bidding after Anthony let the Nuggets know he wasn’t going to change his mind and sign a three-year, $65 million extension that’s gone without his signature since June.
Three weeks ago, a proposed four-team deal that would have sent Anthony to New Jersey fell apart when the Nuggets decided to seek a sweeter package of players and picks for the man who’s taken them to the playoffs in each of his seven NBA seasons.
“I’m too focused in on this season right now to let rumors or anything like that come in and take over,” Anthony said. “I’m focusing on playing basketball and doing what’s right for the team.”
And that’s the Nuggets, at least for now.
Coach George Karl said he, too, is leaving the trade talk to others.
“It’s not my expertise, he’s on top of it,” Karl said of general manager Masai Ujiri. “My job basically is to coach the guys I have, coach them hard, get them ready and along the way, maybe convince Melo to stay.”
It’s apparently a hard sell.
Not only has Anthony declined to sign the extension that would keep him in Denver through 2014, but he put his Denver area mansion on the market this year.
And at his elaborate, celebrity-filled New York wedding to TV personality LaLa Vazquez this summer, there was that now famous toast by New Orleans point guard Chris Paul about reuniting with Melo in Gotham to form a super-team along with Amare Stoudemire to counter the Miami Heat’s terrific trio of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
James bolted Cleveland and Bosh left Toronto for South Beach this summer, leaving the embittered Cavaliers and Raptors, neither of whom received any compensation for their All-Stars.
That’s a position the Nuggets don’t want to find themselves in next summer, when Anthony would be the headliner of the 2011 free agent class.
The Nuggets, then, have until the February trade deadline to deal him.
The Knicks have had their sights on Anthony since failing to lure James and Bosh last summer. It was the Nets who thought they had him last month, though, when they teamed with Charlotte and Utah on a proposal that would have sent Derrick Favors, the No. 3 pick overall in the draft, to Denver and at least one first-round pick to the Nuggets for Anthony.
However, the Nuggets nixed that notion after thinking it over, and the trade winds didn’t pick up again until this week.
Citing an unidentified source, ESPN reported that the Knicks’ proposal centers around packages including Anthony Randolph, the expiring contract of Eddy Curry and a first-round draft pick they would acquire from a third team.
Before Wednesday’s preseason game at Philadelphia, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni sidestepped the report.
“I can’t talk about it. I won’t talk about it,” D’Antoni said. “It’s an easy answer.”
Could the swirling speculation be a distraction?
“You’re in New York, so you put on a winter coat and let’s go,” D’Antoni said. “You want to be here, so you handle it, you be professional and they are.”
Amare Stoudemire dealt with trade rumors the past two seasons in Phoenix before signing with the Knicks in the summer.
“I haven’t really heard anything about it,” Stoudemire said. “I’ve been focused on playing basketball. But Carmelo is a great player, one of the tops in the league. We’ll see what happens.”
ESPN also said that the Chicago Bulls remain a potential landing spot for Anthony but Joakim Noah’s recent extension would preclude him from being involved in any deal.
There haven’t been any signs that the Nuggets want to deal Anthony before the season opener Oct. 27, although teams prefer to work in new players while the season is still young.
“I’ve got to figure them out. They’ve got to figure us out. They’ve got to figure each other out. So, there’s a lot of figuring out going on if a trade would happen,” Karl said.
Karl insisted the trade talk isn’t detracting from his team’s preparation, though.
“No one writes that maybe it makes you stronger,” he said. “Perseverance is a big part of coaching and success. I’ve been impressed with our guys’ mental toughness through this situation. And Melo has been a first-class pro. I think it’s better served for all of us not to worry about it that much.”
Anthony said none of his teammates have even brought up his situation.
“We really don’t focus on that. We’re just playing basketball,” he said. “Since that first day, media day, nobody has even mentioned it as far as teammates. They haven’t ever mentioned it, not once. And that’s a good thing.”
AP freelancer Dennis Georgatos contributed to this report.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.