Anthony saga overshadows Knicks loss

NEW YORK -- The sight to see Friday night at Madison Square Garden was not on the court, but in the stands.

Leon Rose, the agent for Carmelo Anthony, was in the house and was sitting in the seat usually occupied by Knicks assistant general manager Allan Houston to get an up-close look at one of the teams trying to acquire his client from the Denver Nuggets.

And for those who were scrolling the Web during one of the Knicks' worst performances of the season, a 93-83 loss to the Sacramento Kings, there was this tantalizing nugget from a certain Nugget:

"That's the ultimate dream at the end of the day," Anthony said of playing in New York. "Who wouldn't want to go back home to play?"

Anthony was not borough-specific in verbalizing his desire to play in the city where he was born, and for the first time he acknowledged giving some consideration to being the foundation of the Nets' eventual move to Brooklyn.

But it is no secret that Anthony's preference is to play at the corner of 33rd Street and Eighth Avenue, and Rose's presence was seen by many as a signal that talks between the Knicks and Anthony's camp will now heat up.

"We're back to the 'Senate Investigation Committee,'" Knicks president Donnie Walsh said as he was surrounded by reporters prior to the game. "I haven't heard one question about our team."

Walsh would not comment on any trade discussions, other than to express his disbelief at the amount of attention the Anthony story has created. (Apparently, they were teaching Latin and Greek but not logic at Fordham Prep when Walsh was attending high school in the Bronx in the late 1950s.)

"I don't understand this frenzy that we go through here two or three times a year over these kinds of things," Walsh said. "And it looks one minute it's this way, the next minute's that way."

The specter of an Anthony trade wasn't to blame for the Knicks' abysmal showing against the team with the second-worst record in the NBA.

Coach Mike D'Antoni, Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton all said the Knicks' body clocks were out of whack after arriving back from their four-game Western road trip at nearly 6 a.m. Thursday, and it certainly seemed as though the Knicks had no legs and no energy as they shot a season-low 31.5 percent, turned the ball over 16 times and had 13 of their shots rejected.

Stoudemire (6-for-22), Felton (2-for-15) and Wilson Chandler (4-for-14) were the main culprits behind the offensive struggles, and the defense against Beno Udrih (29 points on 11-for-14 shooting) was practically nonexistent as Sacramento won for just the ninth time this season.

"This was mostly energy; this was not a practice issue. It's not we don't know what we're doing or we were not together. It's just that we weren't focused with the energy. A lot of times when you come back from the West and you get in at 5 or 6 in the morning and you have to play the next day, that's what happens. I understand it, we tried to guard against it and it just didn't work out. We'll come out Monday [against Phoenix] ready to roll."

Monday also is when the Knicks expect to have Danilo Gallinari back from a sprained knee, provided he looks OK at practice Sunday. The game against the Suns will be No. 6 in a stretch of 10 consecutive games against opponents from the Western Conference, the latter three coming next week when New York plays three games in four nights at Houston, San Antonio and Oklahoma City.

There is no telling whether there will be a resolution to the Anthony situation by then, but one Knicks official conceded that crunch time in the trade talks appears to have arrived -- and a major factor will be whether Anthony sticks to his guns and tries (by refusing to agree to a contract extension with the Nets) to force a trade to his preferred borough: Manhattan.

Anthony, in an interview with ESPN's Colleen Dominguez, admitted he's had a difficult time dealing with all of the trade rumors.

"It's kind of hard for me to even watch sports right now," Anthony said. "That's all they're talking about right now. I haven't had a good night's sleep since Thanksgiving."

The Knicks can only hope he wasn't watching them on this particular night -- a night that could produce an ultimate nightmare for the superstar who finally went public about where he wants to spend his future, calling it his "ultimate dream," as two of the men who can make that dream come true -- Walsh and Rose -- sat just a few seats away from each other, across from the entry/exit tunnel that the Knicks hope Anthony will be running through for them before too long.

Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN.com and ESPNNewYork.com.