HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — While everyone else on the planet believes that Carmelo Anthony is headed to the New Jersey Nets any day now, Anthony remains skeptical that a deal is imminent.
In fact, Anthony doesn’t seem like a man convinced of anything right now. He’s waiting to hear from Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri and team president Josh Kroenke before he gives all these rumors anything but a roll of his eyes.
All these mixed signals do, though, is set Anthony up to be the fall guy in a debacle that could play out much like “The Decision” did for Anthony’s good friend LeBron James, with Anthony playing the unsuspecting villain this time.
Another of Anthony’s good friends, Nuggets point guard Chauncey Billups, seems to be the player most affected by this latest round of rumors, all of which include Billups joining Anthony and Rip Hamilton, among others, in New Jersey.
Billups, of course, is from Denver and a hometown hero, having won championships in high school and played for Colorado in college before moving onto a stellar NBA career. Billups has talked openly about wanting to not only retire as a Nugget but also about pursuing a position with the franchise after he’s done playing.
“He’s from here. This is his home. He was born and raised here,” Anthony said. “For him to come back here toward the end of his career, and almost seeing that light at the end of the tunnel, where he can have a chance to retire in his home place, and then to hear that he could be sent to New Jersey anytime soon, I’m pretty sure it could be tough on him and his family.”
What’s tough is spending another week trying to get a handle on a situation that seems to change by the second. Al Harrington is now rumored to be the deal breaker for the Nuggets. They want to unload the veteran forward, and the four years and $28 million he’s owed after this season.
Injecting Harrington back into the conversation is just one element of the show of force the Nuggets flexed Monday, when they changed the tenor of the conversation, per our main man Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who reported that the Nuggets went to far as to threaten to trade Anthony to New York for a weaker overall package if the Nets didn’t keep the details of the negotiations out of the public domain.
With the Nets and Pistons on board to finish this thing, the Nuggets are once again caught in the matrix — just as they were in September, when a deal seemed imminent and then fell apart when the Nuggets wanted to squeeze a little more out of the deal.
The Nets remain optimistic a deal will get done, per the rock-solid reporting of Al Iannazzone of The Record, but they are frustrated:
They’re in a similar position as in September when some thought a four-team deal for Anthony was close. But sources said this three-team blockbuster between the Nets, Nuggets and Pistons was much further along than the four-team scenario, and could happen in some form.
The Nets are frustrated but hopeful they can close this deal with the Nuggets, who are trying to get a little more from the potential trade that sources said was nearly agreed upon Sunday. It’s already a 14-player trade that could increase to 16, not including draft picks, before an accord is reached.
So we wait a little longer, until this “accord is reached.”
We wait until everyone feels good about what could end up being the league’s biggest, most complicated and most talked about trade of all time.
You have to wonder about the collateral damage, though. Someone’s reputation and image stands to take a hit from such a public negotiation. Our guess is Anthony becomes the easy pick for top honors.
Anthony’s going to be a hero to some (fans in the Jersey area) and a villain to so many others, if and when this deal finally gets done.