After all the rumors, all the posturing and all the bluster about a deal being imminent, New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has advised his management team to end the pursuit of superstar Carmelo Anthony.
The Nets, owners of a 10-31 record, have been sliding recently, losing six straight games and 20 of their last 24. At 4-6, the team started out the season alright, but have gone off the deep end lately.
Many believe this is the result of the endless speculation about players being moved—a distraction that can be hard for an athlete to deal with for a week, let alone an entire season.
Prokhorov stated that all the talk has cost the team games, and that any potential trade has taken far too long to come to fruition.
He's right on both counts. Injuries have hurt the Nets, but there is also no doubt that the constant chatter surrounding players like Devin Harris has affected their performance.
Harris' name has been brought up in just about every possible trade for Anthony, and his shooting percentage is currently well below his career average. The team also went through a recent stretch of getting consistently blown out before playing closer games over the past week or so.
Now that Harris and the rest of the players can simply focus on basketball, these close losses could turn into wins.
With the Nets now out of the running, smart money seems to be on Anthony going to the New York Knicks.
Anthony recently stated that Denver Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri knows which teams Anthony would be willing to sign an extension with. Anthony called playing in New York his "ultimate dream" as he was born in Brooklyn and lived there until he was eight.
Being sent to the Knicks, or possibly signing there as a free agent over the summer, would allow him to return to his hometown.
The Nets are still likely to be involved in some manner of a trade, although it does not appear that such a monstrous deal as the one for Anthony will take place.
Veteran power forward Troy Murphy has been excused from the team, and his expiring contract makes him a movable asset. The fact that he won't even be practicing with the team or sitting on the bench makes it clear that he is not in New Jersey's plans for this season or the future.
Andrei Kirilenko of the Utah Jazz has been mentioned as a player on the Nets' radar, and he is said to be good friends with Prokhorov. New Jersey reportedly views him not only as a potential player, but as someone who could eventually move into a front office role.
There haven't been any serious trade rumors about Kirilenko and New Jersey, but he will be a free agent at the end of the season. Kirilenko and Anthony both play small forward, New Jersey's biggest hole, and pursuing the Russian import over the summer would allow the team to keep its core of Harris and Brook Lopez together.
Some fans will surely be disappointed about the fact that Anthony will not be coming to the Nets, but giving up the chase is the right move for the team to make.
It has simply taken too much of a toll on the players, and Denver's asking price is too high. It's also still possible for the Nets to make a run at Anthony in free agency, assuming he doesn't sign an extension with Denver and/or get traded to another team.
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