The news is this: A high-level NBA source assures me that the New York Knicks are confident they can acquire a 2011 first-round draft pick, if they need one, as part of a package they would put together and offer in exchange for Carmelo Anthony if the Denver Nuggets decide they are going to trade him. (Currently, the Knicks can only offer a first round pick in 2014, because Houston owns their 2012 pick, and NBA rules prohibit teams from going consecutive years without a first-round pick).
Knicks president Donnie Walsh tried over the summer to acquire Rudy Fernandez from Portland for Wilson Chandler, but the Blazers said they would prefer to do a three-team deal that would net them a 2011 draft pick that figured to end up in the teens in next June's draft. (Portland had several teams offering exactly that caliber of pick back on draft night last June, but they did not pull the trigger -- a move the Blazers are no doubt regretting even more after Fernandez gave a one-man clinic earlier this week on how to obliterate one's own trade value in less than 7 minutes.)
So the Knicks had been shopping Chandler around, but there were apparently no takers nine days ago when Walsh, in discussing the need to have future first-round draft picks to facilitate any trades, said: "I need to go out and see if I can get one, and I don’t know how to do that yet.”
But my source says Walsh has now found another doable deal that would net him a No. 1, though the source would not disclose whether Chandler would be the piece the Knicks would give up (a package of Toney Douglas and Bill Walker, for instance, might be more enticing to some teams).
And then there's the side question of whether New York could outbid New Jersey, which has already shown a willingness to move Derrick Favors, their own No. 1 pick in 2011 and a Golden State 2012 No. 1 pick (with 1-7 protection in 2012; 1-6 protection in 2013 and 2014) as part of a trade package for Anthony.
In any case, the trade talk surrounding Anthony is currently dormant.
But don't be surprised if it picks up later this month -- especially if Anthony sticks to his guns and makes it clear to the Nuggets that he has no plans to play for them after this season, and they risk losing him for nothing if they fail to trade him. (It is notable that Anthony would not even allow coach George Karl to make a recruiting pitch when the two met yesterday in Denver.)