Sources: Carmelo Anthony talks messy
The Nuggets went so far as to tell the Nets that they would deal their star to the New York Knicks if New Jersey continued to leak information on trade talks, Yahoo! Sports reported on Tuesday. But sources told ESPN.com that while the Nuggets were indeed unhappy, threats of a deal with the Knicks couldn't be confirmed.
Anthony himself doesn't believe that the Knicks are in play, despite his proclaimed interest in the team.
"Who wouldn't want to play in New York?" Anthony said. "I told you that last year. I think that's how all this stuff started, by me making that comment. New York is playing well right now. I don't think they're looking at me, they don't want me to come in here and mess what they have up. That's what I've read."
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As of late Sunday night, sources said, New Jersey believed it was poised to receive Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton from Detroit. Denver would land two future first-round picks and six players -- Nets rookie power forward Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and Anthony Morrow, with the threesome of Quinton Ross, Ben Uzoh and Stephen Graham included for salary-cap purposes.
Detroit, meanwhile, would get Nets big man Johan Petro and the expiring contract of forward Troy Murphy. Sources said Detroit agreed to take a future second-round pick from New Jersey as an enticement to absorb the two years and remaining $6.75 million on Petro's contract.
Hours before leaving for a four-game West Coast road trip, Nets coach Avery Johnson said Tuesday he didn't expect any roster changes during the trip.
"This is the team that will be playing on the whole road trip," Johnson said.
Johnson backed off the comment when asked if that meant a potential trade was on hold.
"I don't make guarantees," he said. "That's not my job. I don't make guarantees. No. I don't even know if I was that good when I was in the media at making predictions. I had a few right, and the few that I got right I let everybody know about them consistently. But the other ones that I didn't get right, we don't talk about those. The point is, we're going to have this team throughout the road trip."
Johnson said he would adjust if either owner Mikhail Prokhorov or general manager Billy King told him something different.
"I know what's going on behind the scenes," Johnson said. "So, just because somebody else reports something, I know what the truth is."
Getting a deal done may force the Nets (10-27) to play short-handed, especially if more than half of their 14-man roster is traded. Players have 48 hours to report and pass physicals.
The Nets players won't have a day off until Jan. 18, which is roughly the day before Prokhorov is expected to return from Russia to watch his team play against Utah.
"They're fine," Johnson said of his players. "Win or lose, it won't be because they're distracted. I thought they were distracted a little bit against Milwaukee [Sunday]; I haven't seen that look in the last two days."
Murphy missed practice for the second straight day Tuesday because of a virus, and he will not make the trip that includes stops in Los Angeles, Portland and Oakland.
With the exception of injured rookie Damion James, everyone else on the roster will travel, including Morrow, who has been sidelined almost a month with a hamstring injury.
Besides not being happy with the public nature of the talks, Denver threw another monkey wrench into the proposed deal Monday by saying that it had to unload the four years and $28 million left on Al Harrington's contract in an Anthony deal, sources told ESPN.com.
The Nets balked, forcing them to search for a fourth team to take on Harrington.
Anthony said Monday that he doesn't expect to be traded anytime soon.
"That's my feeling. I don't think so. I don't want to elaborate on that anymore. That's just my own personal feeling," Anthony said following practice.
Asked if he would sign his three-year, $65 million extension to facilitate a trade to the Nets, Anthony said: "I really don't know."
Billups, a Denver native, is just one Nugget to express frustration at the developments -- even saying he'd like to have his contract bought out if he's dealt to New Jersey.
"I've been doing this for a long time. It's part of business," said Billups, whose team hosts the Suns on Tuesday night. "You've got to try to come to work and do your job, see what happens."
Anthony expressed remorse Monday that Billups was linked to trade talk. He understands how beloved Billups is in this city and how entrenched Billups, his wife and three daughters are in the community.
"I really respect and appreciate the fact that Melo is concerned with my future and my life and my family. That just shows what kind of person he is," said Billups, a local high school grad who was a standout at the University of Colorado. "We have a big brother-little brother type of relationship. He knows what's important to me.
"So for him to be even thinking about that in such a crazy time for him, it means a lot," Billups added. "Unfortunately, the business of basketball is a little bigger than Melo and myself and whoever else, any name out there. It's how the ball bounces."
Nuggets coach George Karl is trying to keep the focus on the court where Denver has lost three straight.
"We're all affected by it," Karl told reporters, according to The Times. "But in the same sense, it has been around for four months. We've handled it pretty well."
Anthony, who had only eight points in 34 minutes and heard boos in a home loss to the Hornets on Sunday, also said he's trying not to focus on the talks.
"I'll be wrong if I'm sitting here thinking about that situation right now," Anthony said. "If I go out there tomorrow thinking about the New Jersey Nets, that would be disrespectful to my myself, disrespectful to the organization and to the fans out here."
Information from ESPN.com's Marc Stein, ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard and The Associated Press was used in this report.