To acquire Anthony, the Knicks are sending Danilo Gallinari(notes), Raymond Felton(notes), Wilson Chandler(notes), the Knicks’ 2014 first-round pick, two second-round picks New York acquired from the Golden State Warriors in the David Lee sign-and-trade and $3 million. The Knicks will also trade Anthony Randolph(notes) and Eddy Curry’s(notes) expiring contract to the Minnesota Timberwolves, who will send Corey Brewer(notes) to New York and Kosta Koufos to Denver. The Knicks will receive Anthony, Chauncey Billups(notes), Shelden Williams(notes), Renaldo Balkman(notes) and Anthony Carter.
Anthony is expected to sign a three-year, $65 million extension with the Knicks. If all the players involved in the trade report on time and pass physicals, Anthony's first game with the Knicks is expected to be Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden. Billups can have the final year of his contract bought out after the season for about $3.7 million, but a league source said the Knicks plan to keep him.
"I'm extremely happy for 'Melo," said Anthony's agent, Leon Rose. "We are very appreciative to the Denver Nuggets organization for their efforts in assisting 'Melo to get to New York. 'Melo is excited and looking forward to playing for the Knicks."
The New Jersey Nets had interest in trying to acquire Felton and maybe Mozgov from the Nuggets for draft picks, but Nuggets officials said the team will keep all the players they acquired in the deal. The Nets will likely continue to try to move point guard Devin Harris. They've spoken with Portland about a possible deal that would send Harris and Troy Murphy's expiring contract for Andre Miller and Joel Przybilla.
Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri has reason to want to keep Mozgov: He's close with the young center’s agent, Bouna Ndiaye. Another Ndiaye client, Portland's Nicolas Batum, had been one of Ujiri’s primary targets in previous trade proposals, but the Blazers have been reluctant to part with the young forward.
Anthony didn't attend the Nuggets' practice on Monday, staying behind in Los Angeles after the All-Star Game to appear on Conan O'Brien's talk show. In an interview at the studio an hour before the trade was completed, Anthony told Yahoo! Sports he still didn't know where he would be traded.
Nuggets president Josh Kroenke and Ujiri had initially preferred the Nets' offer for Anthony, which was built around rookie forward Derrick Favors(notes) and four first-round draft picks, but Anthony was unwilling to commit to signing a contract extension with the Nets.
Nuggets coach George Karl had pushed team officials to make the deal with the Knicks over a straight trade with the Nets because it would better position the Nuggets to contend for the playoffs this season, a source with knowledge of Denver's plans said.
The trade is expected to be finalized by the league on Tuesday, bringing an end to the season-long drama which began when Anthony made clear before training camp he didn’t intend to sign an extension with the Nuggets because he was unsure about the franchise’s ability to win in the future. From the start, Anthony preferred a trade to New York, where he and his wife are from. He also would have been receptive to going to the Chicago Bulls, but it was unclear whether either the Knicks or Bulls would have enough assets to get a deal done.
With their abundance of draft picks, the Nets quickly engaged the Nuggets in trade negotiations in October and thought they were on the brink of landing Anthony in a four-team deal before talks stalled. The teams resumed talking and the Nets thought they had an agreement in principle last month to acquire Anthony. After Nuggets officials denied a deal was in place, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov abruptly canceled a scheduled meeting with Anthony and said his franchise would no longer pursue the All-Star forward. The proposed trade had become too costly for the Nets, Prokhorov said. The Nets also were skeptical of Anthony’s willingness to sign an extension with them.
Yet when Denver officials re-engaged the Nets two weeks ago, the talks began again. By Thursday, the Nuggets and Nets had put together the framework of a trade contingent on Anthony agreeing to an extension.
The Knicks had been conservative in their bid for Anthony, believing they could sign him in free agency if a trade didn’t materialize. But after the Nets re-entered the talks, Knicks owner James Dolan flew to Los Angeles on Thursday to meet with Anthony. The Knicks improved their offer the following day by including Gallinari in the proposal.
Prokhorov and Nets officials finally landed a meeting with Anthony on Saturday. Anthony gave the Nets no indication he’d be willing to sign an extension with them, and sources said team officials weren’t confident of their chances to sway him. Publicly, however, the Nets portrayed a more positive outlook. Even as late as Monday evening, the Nets continued to say they remained in the chase.
In an interview with CNBC on Sunday, Prokhorov described his meeting with Anthony as "fantastic." He also explained why the Nets hadn't stopped pursuing Anthony: "I think we made a very good tactical decision to force [the] Knicks to pay as much as they can," Prokhorov said.
The Knicks did again add to their offer by including Mozgov. Multiple sources said Dolan consulted former president Isiah Thomas throughout the negotiations even though the Knicks denied anyone from outside the organization influenced the trade. Though the Knicks released a statement on Sunday saying president Donnie Walsh and coach Mike D’Antoni had been in agreement with Dolan during the negotiations, sources continued to insist Walsh and D’Antoni are uncomfortable with how much the Knicks parted with for Anthony.
Anthony, however, received his wish. He’s going home now after spending seven-plus seasons with the Nuggets, who made him the No. 3 pick of the 2003 draft. Denver reached the playoffs in each of those seven seasons but advanced out of the first round just once.
In an interview with Yahoo! Sports after the Nuggets’ season opener on Oct. 27, Anthony explained, simply, why he was no longer committed to staying in Denver.
"I feel it's a time for change," he said.