Stoudemire tries to recruit Anthony
After hearing Carmelo Anthony(notes) express public doubts over the New York Knicks’ desire and need for him, Amar’e Stoudemire(notes) reached out to tell the Denver Nuggets star that he “wants him in New York,” a league source told Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday.
The Knicks’ forward recently contacted Anthony via text message with a two-fold agenda: Make sure Anthony knows that Stoudemire himself wants Anthony at his side, and push Anthony to resist a proposed trade to the New Jersey Nets. Stoudemire is sensitive to public suggestions that he would prefer to play without a Madison Square Garden co-star and has repeatedly expressed that to Anthony.
As momentum ground to a crawl for a three-team deal with the Nuggets, Nets and Detroit Pistons on Tuesday, the Knicks kept hope they could overcome several hurdles to make a deal for Anthony. And none remains bigger than the fact the Nuggets prefer the Nets’ package of players and draft picks over New York’s assets.
Anthony has delivered mixed messages on his desire to sign a contract extension with the Nuggets. He’s told two teammates he would ultimately be fine joining the Nets, and pushed his agent, Leon Rose, to help construct a package of players to go to the Nets with him. Nevertheless, Anthony has been wildly back and forth on his willingness to compromise with the Nets over the Knicks.
Denver general manager Masai Ujiri has twice moved to the cusp of a trade only to back away and press a reset button. It happened once in September in a four-team trade and again on Sunday night. Several rival team executives rolled their eyes over the Nuggets’ tantrum directed at the Nets on Monday, mocking Denver for its threat to punish New Jersey for perceived leaks by trading Anthony to rival New York.
“Just for the sake of sanity, what would Denver do if Jersey told them, ‘OK, go ahead and trade him to New York?’ ” one Eastern Conference front-office official said.
With so many moving parts, and so many people involved, that’s a difficult proposition in this digital age. What’s more, Ujiri has been making calls to Eastern and Western Conference teams trying to find a team to take New Jersey point guard Devin Harris(notes), league sources said. Harris is still a player the Nuggets don’t control, and yet he’s shopping him around the league. Those calls contribute to details escaping, but then Ujiri has never made a trade in the NBA and he’s been thrust into one of the most volatile in the league’s recent history.
Anthony is at the center of one more public brawl between the Nets and Knicks. New Jersey’s corporate public-relations flak sent out a photo update on the construction of the Nets’ new Brooklyn Arena with a declaration that it will be opening in the 2012-13 season. All along, Brooklyn has been the selling point for Anthony. He was born in Brooklyn and raised in Baltimore.
“They’ve sold him on being the ‘guy’ moving into Brooklyn, having the whole thing built and marketed around him,” one league official said. “That appeals to him, but the Garden is still the Garden. It’s New York.”
For the Nets, they have a better case to be made selling a grainy construction photo than the young 7-footer that they promised Anthony, 26, would be a pillar beside him for the next decade. The regression of Brook Lopez(notes) hasn’t gone unnoticed with Anthony. Lopez had been pitched to Anthony as a future 20-point, 10-rebound All-Star center. Only now, he’s averaging 18 points and 5.9 rebounds. One former Nets coach believes Lopez suffered with the loss of Vince Carter(notes) and would greatly benefit playing next to Anthony. “He needs someone to take the pressure off him offensively,” the coach said. “He’s not ready to handle all that defensive attention.”
Lopez’s rebounding has always been an issue, but this season’s drop has perplexed the Nets. Perhaps no player has struggled more with the trade cloud this season, but as one official said, “He’s the one guy who never has never been in the talks and never will.”
For now, the Nets stay in the discussions for Anthony, but the Knicks are still lurking in the distance. Amar’e Stoudemire sent one more message to the Nuggets star, and it was simple: Let’s do this, ’Melo.