That's been the story from day one, since Carmelo declined to sign a three-year contract extension.
Read through the rest of the Melo Trade Timeline at nba.com. It's littered with statements from Melo and none of them show him saying he's going to New Jersey.
So what's the problem?
The problem is that despite what the Miami Heat's free agents did this summer, NBA reporters and analysts refuse to believe that players will take less money to sign with the team they want. They can't seem to fathom that Carmelo would leave a three-year contract on the table for whatever uncertainty awaits him in New York on the other side of a lockout.
I think that problem exists because of a bigger issue. The bigger issue is that the usual suspects amongst established NBA reporters and analysts don't have sources close to today's young NBA stars.
Who broke the story about where Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James would sign last summer? The guy whose contract with ESPN wasn't renewed—Stephen A. Smith.
When ESPN's NBA reporters finally figured out what was going on, who reported it? Chris Broussard.
Michael Wallace, one of ESPN's new reporters for the Heat Index, has sources in Dwyane Wade's family.
Who did Wade, Bosh and LeBron agree to TV interviews with when they announced their decisions? Michael Wilbon.
What do all three of those reporters have in common? They're black men in a predominantly white business. Coincidence? Perhaps, but it could be something else, too.
White NBA reporters and analysts don't appear to have the contacts or sources close to today's young NBA stars to accurately report on them when it comes to their business off the court.
The story Marc Berman wrote about Carmelo's wedding doesn't cite someone that attended the wedding as a source. It cites someone that just spoke to Amare Stoudemire about the wedding. That's a little different than the sources Michael Wallace has in Dwyane Wade's family.
Ric Bucher admitted he doesn't have any sources close to LeBron James on a podcast with Bill Simmons. Simmons cited a source in his latest column about Melo that also doesn't appear to know young, black stars like Melo and LeBron.
How do I know this? First, Simmons was completely wrong on where LeBron James would sign last summer. Second, Simmons' source called the Knicks a pipe dream as if it can't happen when it can easily happen. It doesn't matter if the Nuggets trade Anthony's contract to another franchise. Once the season's over, Melo's a free agent and can sign with any team that has the cap space.
The Knicks will only have $42.5 million committed to player salaries for the 2012 season, according to hoopshype.com. The salary cap this season was $58.044 million, according to NBA salary cap guru Larry Coon.
So all of this 'Melo drama is just that—drama. It's people who don't have access to the real story trying to sell a fake one.
This shift in reporting power is similar to what happened in the NFL over the last few seasons when reporters and analysts with player sources, like Adam Schefter and Jay Glazer, began breaking more stories than the old, established reporters with team sources like Chris Mortenson and Peter King.
The balance of power in NBA story-telling is shifting from journalists like Ric Bucher who have access to older stars like Kobe Bryant to journalists like Chris Broussard with access to dominant stars from the draft class of 2003 (LeBron, Melo, Wade and Bosh).
Chris Broussard's latest story on the Melo trade rumors reported the following:
'He has not agreed to go to New Jersey,' said the source, who speaks regularly with Anthony. 'I have never heard him, in all the times we've talked, say he's willing to go to New Jersey. Not once. Personally, I would be stunned if he went there and signed an extension.'"
That's all you need to know. Everything else is just white noise.
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