Carmelo extension hinges on N.Y. trade

NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony has told the Denver Nuggets he will not sign the nearly $65 million contract extension he has been offered unless he is traded to the New York Knicks, a source told ESPN.com on Sunday.

The source, using the most definitive language possible, confirmed what has been widely speculated around the NBA over the past two months as Anthony has been at the center of trade talks involving numerous teams.

And while other franchises might be able to make better offers, Anthony will not agree to sign anywhere long-term unless he is dealt to New York, according to the source, who has been privy to private discussions between Anthony, his representatives and the Nuggets organization.

The source spoke to ESPN.com after Denver's 129-125 loss to New York on Sunday afternoon as the Knicks won their eighth straight game.

Anthony was again coy in discussing his future, but he did move the needle somewhat in making a prediction that the Nuggets will not trade him to a destination that is not on his wish list.

"I don't think so. I don't think that will happen," Anthony said.

Asked why he would make such a definitive statement, Anthony demurred "I don't want to answer that. I don't want to talk about that."

Anthony received a standing ovation from Knicks fans during player introductions after hearing their pleadings on the streets ever since the Nuggets arrived in Manhattan late Friday night.

"Everybody's yelling out the windows: 'Melo we need you in New York.' Of course that feels good when you know someone out there wants you to come and represent their team and represent their city. That's what I took from that," Anthony said.

The New Jersey Nets have been holding out hope that their offer of Derrick Favors, Troy Murphy and two No. 1 draft picks would be the best offer available to the Nuggets, but the news that Anthony will not agree to sign with them long-term effectively knocks them out of the bidding.

Anthony is under contract for the 2010-11 season at a salary of $17.14 million and holds a player option for $18.52 million in 2011-12. If he remains with Denver until the end of the season and exercises his early termination option, he would become an unrestricted free agent. Anthony has not publicly ruled out the possibility of staying with the Nuggets long-term, acknowledging only that he is weighing all his options.

Signing the extension would put him under contract through the 2014-15 season, and if the Knicks were to acquire him they'd pair him alongside Amare Stoudemire and fulfill the goal they've worked toward for more than two years:

Having two max-salary players as the cornerstones of their team.

"Whatever decision I make, that is going to be the first thing that gets done," Anthony said of signing the extension.

So the question now becomes more of a "when" than an "if."

The Knicks and Nuggets have discussed several variations of trades that would include Eddy Curry's expiring contract, Danilo Gallinari and other pieces, including a No. 1 pick the Knicks are confident they can acquire from a third team through a trade.

Denver also would have interest in Knicks rookie Landry Fields, who has started at shooting guard in all 25 games for the surging Knicks (16-9). New York also is known to have held trade discussions with several teams involving Wilson Chandler and Anthony Randolph, and some combination of the above-mentioned players would have to be agreed upon by the Knicks and Nuggets to make the deal happen sometime between now and the NBA trade deadline of Feb. 24.

"In my gut right now, I can't say. I don't know. With these things you never know," Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri said. "I'm still assessing the situation, still figuring out a lot of stuff. He's still here, and I'm sure everybody thought he was going to be gone in training camp. So it's promising that he's still here."

Stoudemire has scored at least 30 points in eight straight games, a team record, and New York has won 13 of 14 since losing at Denver in mid-November.

"When we played them in Denver the first time, they looked like a totally different team than right now," Anthony said. "They've got a lot of rhythm going out there, it seems like everyone's on the same page, and they're rolling right now."

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