NEW YORK (AP) — Chauncey Billups has grown so immune to the constantly swirling trade rumors involving Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony that he simply tunes out the chatter.
Even when his own name surfaces.
The Denver native and Nuggets point guard has been mentioned in the most recent trade rumors to pop up. The New Jersey Nets are reportedly trying to get the Detroit Pistons involved in a deal to acquire Anthony, and Billups would be thrown into the mix as well.
The Nuggets wouldn’t comment on the speculation.
The proposed three-way trade would end up sending Anthony, Billups and Pistons guard Richard Hamilton to New Jersey, with the Nuggets possibly receiving rookie Derrick Favors, guard Devin Harris and two first-round picks. But Detroit’s interest in the current deal is lukewarm at best, according to ESPN.
Billups brushed off the speculation after practice Saturday, saying he would concentrate only on what he can control — his play on the court.
“My grandma taught me that a long, long time ago,” Billups said. “I can’t control it, I control this (basketball) the best I can. I kind of worry about that. It (speculation) really has no bearing on what I do out here.”
Billups’ thoughts are squarely focused in lifting the Nuggets out of their funk after the team dropped two straight road games to the Los Angeles Clippers and Sacramento Kings, who have a combined 19 wins.
“Our defense just wasn’t good enough — simple as that,” Billups said. “We didn’t compete hard enough. We didn’t take it as serious enough defensively.”
Nuggets coach George Karl refuses to press the panic button just yet, saying lulls like this are typical throughout a season.
“You always have at least three or four mini-crises every year,” Karl said. “Disappointed in how we reacted in Sacramento, how we played? Yeah. But we weren’t that far away from being a good basketball team. Just got to, as much as anything, keep the funk out of your team, the frustration.”
Karl doesn’t think all the speculation over Anthony was affecting the psyche of his team. To him, the Internet rumors amounted to nothing more than barbershop gossip.
“You don’t know what’s true or isn’t true at the barbershop,” Karl said. “I don’t have time to figure these things out. My job is to prepare.”
That’s a sentiment shared by Billups.
However, being a hometown kid who was a high school legend and then a star at the University of Colorado, he’s made it known he would like to stay in the Mile High City.
“I’ve been very clear about that,” Billups said. “I also know this is professional sports and this is a business. I hope that I’m here. Everybody knows that. If I’m not, I’m going to do the best I can with whatever happens.”
Billups has been bothered lately by a partially torn ligament in his right wrist, but said the injury is on the mend and no longer affecting his jumper. He’s averaging nearly 17 points and five assists a game.
As for management mentioning anything to him to quash the rumors, Billups said nothing has been vocalized.
Not that he’s worried.
“It’s always a chance, always a chance,” Billups said. “But you can say that for anybody in this room.”
Anthony has been the constant subject of trade speculation since he spurned the Nuggets’ three-year, $65 million extension over the summer, saying he wants to keep his options open.
The All-Star can become a free agent next summer, but Denver would likely attempt to deal him before the trade deadline in February rather than risk losing him for nothing.
Many believe Anthony could end up with the New York Knicks or the Nets, a team that had a potential mega-deal in the works in September before it hit a snag.
One of the likely stipulations of any team willing to trade for Anthony would be that he signs the extension, so he doesn’t bolt next summer and become the headliner of the 2011 class.
Anthony also has made it clear the importance of a contract extension, especially with the collective bargaining agreement expiring next summer. The NBA wants major salary cuts in the next deal.
Asked if the Nuggets are trying to make a last-gasp effort to entice him to stay around with their solid play on the court, Karl said: “My thought process is you don’t get overly excited or disappointed one way or the other. We’ve got to win games.
“The more we win, the more chance we have at figuring that out.”
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.