This Carmelo Anthony trade talk is becoming cheap, cheap stuff.
It’s time for somebody to walk the walk. Everyone involved would prefer it be the Denver Nuggets, who seem content to once again drag their feet.
Much like in September, when Anthony’s seemingly inevitable departure to New Jersey was halted by waffling from inside the Denver front office, discussions of a trade involving the three-time All-Star crested on Monday, only to roll back downhill after Nugget officials reportedly wielded some unexpected leverage.
According to AOL FanHouse, which cited a “source with knowledge of the negotiations,” Denver’s negotiating arm, lead by 30-year-old team president Josh Kroenke and rookie executive Masai Ujiri, is insisting that any deal involving Anthony must include Al Harrington, who is promised $28 million through the 2015 season.
Another source told ESPN.com that Denver officials are also upset at the fact that so many details concerning the proposed deal have become public in an attempt, they claim, to force the hand of Kroenke and Ujiri.
The stubbornness — or shrewdness, as some may see it — of Kroenke and Ujiri is surely agitating the New Jersey Nets and Detroit Pistons, but the Nuggets appear to be operating with a method behind their madness.
"It wouldn't surprise me at all to see them walk away from the table again and frustrate everyone," an executive not involved in the three-team discussions told FanHouse on Monday afternoon. "But the last time they frustrated everyone, their offer got better. Everyone can bitch and moan about how it's going, especially (the Nets) ... but (the Nuggets) are trying to do what's best for them.”
But can the offer, which already includes Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, Ben Uzoh, Quinton Ross, Stephen Graham, and a pair of first-round draft picks going to Denver as part of one of the largest deals in NBA history, really get any sweeter?
Denver is assuming it can, all the while biding its time attempting to devise ways to unload salary and maximize the value of Anthony, who figures to be on his way out of Denver prior to the Feb. 24 trade deadline, anyway.
Currently, the Nuggets preside other their chessboard of options, which also include Anthony’s preferred suitor, the Knicks, Houston, and Dallas, among others.
However, as convoluted as the whole scenario has become, it seems clarification is only a head-nod away, assuming the Nets can find a fourth team to appease Denver’s demands by agreeing to acquire the overpaid Harrington.
A prerequisite for any deal involving Anthony and the Nets is his willingness to sign a three-year, $65 million extension with New Jersey — something he seems entirely opposed to in Denver.
And the Nets are poised to make it an easy decision for Anthony, who can opt of his contract to become a free agent this summer. According to sources who spoke with ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Chris Broussard, the team is prepared to propose a plan in which the Nets would acquire New Orleans’ Chris Paul to join Anthony in New Jersey by the summer of 2012.
The idea is that Anthony would ultimately agree to an extension with New Jersey prior the ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement in the NBA, which is expected to reduce the maximum length allowed to contracts, thus bypassing the risk of receiving a smaller payday in free-agency later his year.
This would explain why Anthony’s agents, who also represent Paul, appear so adamant about their client signing with an Eastern Conference doormat, as opposed mulling over a possible future deal involving the Knicks.
But this saga only makes sense in a perfect world, monetarily or logically.
Perhaps we’ll know more after Anthony meets with Kronke and Ujiri later this week. Maybe we won’t.
On Monday, the man himself was non-committal when asked in which direction he thought the talks might go.
"I really don't know,'' said Anthony, who added that the choice of signing an extension with the Nets had yet to be presented to him. "After the meeting, I'll let you know how the meeting went.''
We’ll be waiting.