Nets: Carmelo Anthony talk 'fantastic'

LOS ANGELES -- The New Jersey Nets still believe they are in the race for Carmelo Anthony, and if not, owner Mikhail Prokhorov thinks at least they made it harder for the New York Knicks.

In the latest developments in the rivals' pursuit of Anthony,
Prokhorov essentially said at least the Nets drove up the Knicks price. And the Knicks hierarchy insisted they were unified in their pursuit of the the Denver Nuggets' All-Star forward amid reports Isiah Thomas was pulling the strings.

Anthony took meetings with the teams, gave no answers and ultimately got none, either.

The only team that seems to have any is his Nuggets.

"The Nuggets have known everything since day one [about my intentions], so just because we don't tell you guys everything, they know everything," Anthony said Sunday after the All-Star Game.

But a resolution to the season-long trade speculation could come at any moment, landing him with the Knicks or the Nets. Or it could go right until Thursday's deadline -- if it happens at all -- which is what his wife, La La Vazquez, thinks.

"I do, I do, I really do, because I've been hearing about this for so many months and I was thinking, 'OK, something's going to happen," she said before the All-Star Game. "So at this point, I do believe that it probably is going to go down to the wire. If anything, who is to say, it's just not, stay where you are? You know?"

Prokhorov told CNBC on Sunday he had a "fantastic" meeting with Anthony on Saturday night. The Russian billionaire had pulled the Nets out of talks last month, and even after they were recently renewed he said he originally had no plans to meet with Anthony during the All-Star weekend.

"As you know, my instinct was to stay away and I still think that is [the] right decision," Prokhorov said. "But when the meeting was fixed, [Nets general manager] Billy King called me and said, 'We need you.' I was convinced and I still think I'm right to stay away, but we have teamwork so sometimes we need to be all together."

Asked at Staples Center before the All-Star Game if he had any
news on a deal, Prokhorov said: "I don't care."

Anthony, meanwhile, told TNT's Craig Sager during the game that he will be with the Nuggets for Tuesday night's game against Memphis.

After starting the day with another round of meetings on his
future, Anthony contributed eight points and seven rebounds to the
West's 148-143 victory over the East in the 60th All-Star Game.

Anthony had said he hoped to resolve his future this weekend
while the entire basketball world gathered in Los Angeles, but
Melo seemed mellow about missing that soft deadline.

"It didn't overshadow anything for me," said Anthony, a West
starter. "I had a great time. I had fun. I still enjoyed this
weekend, regardless of what was going on and what has been said. Me
and my family and my friends had a blast this weekend. ... I said I
hoped to have a word by today, one way or another. I've been up
early dealing with this and all the festivities, but the night is
still young on this side [of the country]."

The Nets still believe Anthony would agree to sign a contract extension with them that would be a prerequisite to making the deal, despite previous reports that he would only do so if traded to the Knicks.

"I was just listening," Anthony said of his meeting with the
Nets. "I didn't give anybody a definitive answer. It was a good
meeting to have. I'm not going to talk about the selling points and
all that stuff. It was interesting. It's hard for me to sit here
and talk about what the Nets can do, because I'm not in a Nets

Even if they can't get an agreement from Anthony, Prokhorov sees value in the Nets' return to the trade talks.

"I think we made a very good tactical decision to force [the] Knicks to pay as much as they can," Prokhorov said. "So it's very good, it's very interesting, it's very competitive."

And it created reports that the Knicks' negotiations had been taken out of the hands of team president Donnie Walsh by Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan -- with Thomas advising him. The team attempted to shoot them down with a statement Sunday.

"We want to make it abundantly clear that we have been in constant communication throughout this process and the three of us are in complete agreement with everything that we are currently working on. Together, we will do what is best for the long-term success of the franchise," said the statement, which was attributed to Dolan, Walsh and coach Mike D'Antoni.

Walsh has been patient in his approach with Anthony, who can
become a free agent after the season. The Knicks could just sign
him then without having to give up any of their young core in a
trade with the Nuggets, but Anthony would prefer a deal during the
season so he'd be eligible for the three-year, $65 million
extension he's refused to sign with Denver.

But a New York Daily News report that Dolan had met Thursday with Anthony in Los Angeles, followed by a Yahoo! Sports report that the Knicks had increased their offer to the Nuggets to include three starters, triggered speculation that the owner was overruling his basketball people because he wanted a trade done before Thursday's deadline.

The Knicks' current offer is as high as they're going to go, leaving the choice of whether to accept up to the Nuggets, according to a report in Newsday.

"We're not going any further now," a source told Newsday. "It's out of our hands."

Walsh previously had said he didn't understand the fuss about Dolan's involvement, since ownership always is when a trade becomes closer.

But Dolan's presence has sparked further belief -- along with some panic and outrage by Knicks fans -- that he is relying on Thomas, the team's former president and coach during a tumultuous 4½ years.

Though a plan to rehire Thomas as an official consultant fell through last August because his position as coach of Florida International University prevents him from being employed by an NBA team, Dolan said at the time that he would "continue to solicit his views."

But the Knicks say that's not happening on this deal.

"In addition, we want to make it clear that no one from outside our organization has been involved in this process in any way," the statement read.

The Knicks said they would not have any further comment.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.