Nuggets want five picks for ’Melo

The Nets have so far balked at the Nuggets' steep demands for Carmelo Anthony

The Denver Nuggets believe the New Jersey Nets are so desperate to make a deal for Carmelo Anthony(notes) that they’re holding firm on a trade demand of five future first-round draft picks as part of a package to land the All-Star forward, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

“Denver needs to get real,” one front-office executive said. “That’s not happening.”

Even so, Nuggets owner Josh Kroenke and general manager Masai Ujiri privately insist they’re going to make a team pay a steep price for their franchise player. After a moratorium on Anthony talks because of the death of his sister and the holidays, the Nuggets and Nets will resume discussions next week. There’s still too much posturing to believe a deal can be consummated in the short-term.

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The Portland Trail Blazers and Cleveland Cavaliers have been part of the multiteam talks, but so far nothing has come together. Nevertheless, the Nets won’t back away: They’ll chase Anthony until they get him or Denver moves him somewhere else.

Ujiri came to Denver from a scouting background, and rival front-office executives believe he’s more comfortable trading for draft picks than veteran players. So far, that’s the advantage the Nets have over the New York Knicks – the control of several more future draft picks.

For now, the Nuggets want New Jersey to take Al Harrington(notes) and Renaldo Balkman(notes) as part of a package for Anthony, but they want the Nets to find another team for Troy Murphy(notes) and his $12 million expiring contract, and that’s proved fruitless so far. The Nuggets would love a package that includes New Jersey’s rookie forward Derrick Favors(notes) and Portland forward Nicolas Batum(notes), but Blazers GM Rich Cho has shown no inclination to include him in a deal.

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Cleveland is part of the talks because of its $14.5 million trade exception, and one rival front-office executive says, “they want [a lot] for it.”

The Nets would have to move Devin Harris(notes) to a third team as part of a bigger deal, but league sources say they’ve had trouble finding an arrangement where they could get a quality point guard in return. Andre Miller(notes) has been discussed, but that probably isn’t happening without Batum as part of a bigger deal.

The Charlotte Bobcats had been eager to trade point guard D.J. Augustin(notes) – and had considered separate deals with the Los Angeles Clippers and Blazers – but league sources say owner Michael Jordan has backed away from moving Augustin in the short term because new coach Paul Silas likes him and has been willing to let him play faster and looser than Larry Brown did.

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The Knicks are still in the picture for Anthony – and remain his preferred destination – but the Nuggets believe the best possible deal for the disgruntled star will come from the Nets. Anthony would have to be willing to sign his three-year, $65 million extension for the Nets to agree to a deal for him. The Knicks have salary-cap space to sign him as a free agent this summer, but that could cost him millions in future earnings once a new collective bargaining agreement is reached between the owners and players.

One way or another, Anthony will be traded before the Feb. 24 deadline and will sign an extension with his new team.