The Denver Nuggets and New Jersey Nets are once again in advanced talks on the framework of a blockbuster trade for Carmelo Anthony(notes). And once again, Anthony must be sold on agreeing to a three-year, $65 million contract extension to push these long, winding negotiations to completion.
The Nets and Nuggets are discussing a deal that would send Anthony, Chauncey Billups(notes), Melvin Ely(notes), Renaldo Balkman(notes) and Shelden Williams(notes) to the Nets for Derrick Favors(notes), Devin Harris(notes), Troy Murphy(notes), Ben Uzoh(notes) and four first-round draft picks, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Thursday night.
The Nuggets are expected to move Murphy and his $12 million expiring contract to a third team and sweeten the deal with one or two of the Nets' draft picks.
Now, the pressure could be back on the New York Knicks to sweeten their offer and get Anthony before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Knicks president Donnie Walsh has seemed willing to let Anthony go into free agency, when New York can try to sign him in the summer. The Knicks and Nuggets have negotiated steadily in recent weeks, but Denver has been frustrated with New York’s reluctance to part with key young players in a deal.
For the Nets, the next step would be for owner Mikhail Prokhorov to meet Anthony in Los Angeles during All-Star weekend and sell the Nuggets star on a future with the Nets. The New York Daily News reported that Prokhorov and Knicks owner Jim Dolan both have meetings scheduled with Anthony during the weekend.
With the Nets having twice previously thought they were close to completing a deal for Anthony, the Nuggets have been the more aggressive pursuer in this round of talks. Nuggets officials have long preferred New Jersey's assets to those of New York, but it remains to be seen if Denver – and Anthony – is merely trying to use the Nets as leverage.
Sources said Anthony’s agents didn’t even know until Tuesday or Wednesday that the Nuggets and Nets had restarted talks. The teams resumed negotiations over a week ago when Denver called back the Nets in the aftermath of Prokhorov’s abrupt ending of talks on Jan. 19.
This is still a steep price for the Nets to pay for Anthony, and far more than the Knicks seem willing to give up. Among the draft picks the Nets are expected to give the Nuggets are their own 2011 first-round selection, the 2011 first-round pick they acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers, a future conditional first-rounder from the Golden State Warriors and another future first-rounder.
Walsh probably hasn't given the Nuggets his best offer yet, and has been reluctant to include Danilo Gallinari and Landry Fields in a package. The Daily News reported Denver wanted the Knicks to include point guard Raymond Felton in a bigger package that would send Anthony and Billups to New York.
"Melo's camp is very frustrated with the Knicks because they don't believe they've stepped up to get this done the way they expected they would," said a league executive who's been in contact with Anthony's representatives. "Once the Nets dropped out of this, they think that New York has gotten a little greedy thinking 'Melo will just end up there, one way or another."
One Eastern Conference GM thinks the Nuggets would be better off keeping Anthony than taking a below-value offer.
"I don't understand why Denver would take any offer from Knicks relative to just keeping him," the GM said. "The Nets deal at least gives them something. I think it's the Nets deal, or Denver keeps him."