Carmelo Anthony shrugs off talk
DENVER -- 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."
A source told ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan that the Knicks have made significant progress in recent days in their efforts to acquire Anthony.
After a period of dormancy following the collapse of a four-team trade late last month between New Jersey, Denver, Utah and Charlotte, the Knicks got back in on the bidding about two weeks ago after Anthony made it known to the Nuggets that he would not budge on his refusal to sign a three-year, $65 million contract extension with Denver.
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The offers the Knicks have proposed have always centered around packages including Anthony Randolph, the expiring contract of Eddy Curry and a first-round draft pick they would acquire from a third team, and New York has softened its stance on including forward Danilo Gallinari in a trade.
The most recent obstacle, according to the source, was for the Knicks to use one of those assets, likely Randolph or Gallinari, to acquire a player from a third team that the Nuggets value more highly than either of the Knicks forwards. The source said that obstacle can now be overcome, with the Knicks confident they can get their hands on a player the Nuggets would prefer.
The source also cautioned that the Chicago Bulls remained in the Melo mix, although the contract extension Chicago reached earlier this month with Joakim Noah would preclude him from being included in any deal the Bulls would put together for Anthony.
Also, New Jersey has faded from the Anthony sweepstakes, growing disinclined to include rookie Derrick Favors in a trade, a league source told ESPN.com's J.A. Adande.
"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 superteam along with Amare Stoudemire to counter the Miami Heat's terrific trio of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
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.
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."
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."
Karl insisted the trade talk isn't detracting from his team's preparation.
"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 has 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."
Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan was used in this report.
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