Good morning. Like most days, the sun rose in the East today, and there was a bunch of news on the Carmelo Anthony trade front.
News, but no trade.
A New Jersey-Denver-Detroit megatrade is indeed in the works, with the Nets extraordinarily confident that Anthony will agree to a deal sending him to Newark, where he would team with Chauncey Billups (maybe), Richard Hamilton, Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries to form a starting five that should have a decent shot at competing for the No. 8 seed in the East, after which Billups will turn 35, Hamilton will turn 34, and another season will be spent in purgatory while the Nets cross their fingers and pray that their new arena in Brooklyn (originally scheduled to open more than five years ago) will be ready to go in the fall of 2012.
Things that make you go "Hmmmm"?
That'll serve as the preliminary question, and here are five more follow-up questions to ponder as we go through our respective Mondays awaiting definitive word from Anthony himself on whether or not he'll agree to sign the three-year, $65 million contract extension that will lock him up through the 2014-15 season.
Question No. 1: Will the trade happen?
Possibly yes, possibly no. But when Anthony was asked after last night's loss to New Orleans whether he believed he had played his last game for the Nuggets, he uttered the same phrase five times: "Not at all. Not at all. Not at all. Not at all. Just not at all." Pressed on whether that means he hasn't agreed to sign the extension with the Nets, he replied: "I haven't heard anything on that. It's just been speculation as of right now. Masai (Ujiri, Denver's executive vice president of basketball operations) and Josh (Kroenke, the Nuggets president) are not even here. So I don't see that happening.'' Not happening for how long, Carmelo? "I'm just saying I don't see it happening right now.''
Question No. 2: What is the key factor holding up the trade?
The Nets need to get a commitment from Anthony that he'll sign the extension, and they received word Sunday (not the first time they've been told this) that Anthony was amenable to the deal. But did they hear that from Anthony himself? Or from his representatives, Leon Rose and William Wesley? Because at the end of the day, no matter how many people in Anthony's camp are telling him and/or pressuring him to sign off on the deal, it still comes down to whether Anthony himself says "Yes" or "No."
Question No. 3: What do the Knicks think of all this?
They are best described as flabbergasted, for the following reasons: The know they are Anthony's preferred destination, and they are flummoxed by the notion that Anthony would give up all his leverage in early January with the trade deadline still six weeks away, postulating that the fatigue from all the drama and the pressure from those in Anthony's camp may have worn him down. They also are perplexed as to why Anthony's representatives are pushing for a trade to a destination where their client does not want to go.
Question No. 4: Why would Rose and Wesley push for a trade to the Nets when the Knicks are their client's preferred destination?
Good question, and there is no clear answer. But here is something to consider: Anthony signed his current contract when he was represented by BDA Sports, which continues to collect a commission on Anthony's salary, meaning CAA (Rose and Wesley's agency) has not made a dime off Anthony's salary since wooing him to join their megastar client list, which includes LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Chris Paul. If Anthony agrees to the New Jersey trade and signs his extension, he becomes a revenue producer for CAA (the industry standard is for agents to collect 4 percent of their client's salary).
Question No. 5: What will Anthony do?
No definite answer for that one, either. But consider this: One of the players Anthony would be traded with, Chauncey Billups, wants no part of the Nets, and he has presumably made this known to the player who sits across from him in the Nuggets locker room. Another player who would end up in New Jersey, Richard Hamilton, is also repped by Rose and Wesley, and it's fair to say Hamilton would prefer to be anywhere but Detroit, where he has lost his starting job and logged just 19 and 18 minutes in the Pistons' last two games. If he agreed to go to the Nets, Anthony would be in a starting five with Lopez, who grabbed just one rebound in a loss to Milwaukee on Saturday night in which Andrew Bogut did not play and Ersan Ilyasova started at center for the Bucks. The notion that he'd be a part of a championship-contending team? Preposterous.
So we'll wait and see what happens.
And if you want to discuss the matter further, I'll be available to do just that in my weekly NBA chat, which begins at 2 p.m. EST.