One of the final significant hurdles for a blockbuster four-team trade that would send Carmelo Anthony to the New Jersey Nets hinges on the All-Star forward’s willingness to agree to a contract extension with the Nets, two front-office executives involved in the deal told Yahoo! Sports.
The Denver Nuggets and New Jersey are having ongoing discussions centered on No. 3 overall pick Derrick Favors(notes) and the Nets’ 2011 first-round pick and a protected 2012 first-rounder the Nets received from the Golden State Warriors going back to the Nuggets. The proposed trade also would involve the Utah Jazz and Charlotte Bobcats. Under the proposal, league sources said the Nets would also send point guard Devin Harris to the Bobcats, who would move forward Boris Diaw to the Jazz, who would send forward Andrei Kirilenko to the Nuggets to complete what one front-office source described as a “very complicated” deal.
One more potential hindrance to the trade is the Nets want point guard D.J. Augustin from the Bobcats to help offset the loss of Harris, league sources said. So far, Charlotte has shown a reluctance to part with the young point guard in this trade. General manager Rod Higgins and coach Larry Brown want to try to keep him to play behind Harris.
The Nets would have only Jordan Farmar, who left the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer as a free agent, as an experienced point guard.
“That could still be a sticking point,” one source told Yahoo! Sports.
Still, the Nets are motivated to smooth over everything else should they get a commitment from Anthony to sign an extension with them. A league source said Anthony has until the end of the weekend to decide whether he’ll agree to an extension with the Nets.
The Nets have reshaped the franchise under new Russian billionaire owner, Mikhail Prokhorov. They have resources unmatched in the NBA, and will move out of the decrepit Meadowlands arena and into the state-of-the-state Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., this season. The Nets are likely to spend two years in Newark before moving into their eventual new arena in Brooklyn.
New Jersey will try to sell Anthony on the promise of center Brook Lopez and the track record of new coach Avery Johnson. Still, the Nets are coming off a franchise-worst 12-70 season. For Anthony, a Baltimore-native, the prospects of returning to his East Coast roots are appealing.
William Wesley, an agent with CAA and NBA power broker, has been pitching the Nets’ case to Anthony. League sources said Worldwide Wes has made incremental progress in convincing Anthony.
One league executive said the Nets believe they’re “getting there” on a trade, but they won’t agree to a deal for Anthony without him first agreeing to an extension. The Nets are pressing to get the deal done because league sources said the Nuggets would like to make one final attempt at convincing Anthony to stay when he’s scheduled to report to training camp on Monday.
Anthony still has his heart set on the New York Knicks, but he could discover the Nets are a compromise he’ll have to accept to get his $65 million extension and get into the metropolitan N.Y. market. League sources said the Knicks haven’t given up trying to land Anthony, but their inability to provide first-round draft picks in their offer will make it difficult to get a deal done.
Anthony also prefers a trade to the Chicago Bulls, but Denver refuses to do a deal with the Bulls that doesn’t include center Joakim Noah and so far Bulls officials have refused to put him into any trade.
Anthony has refused to sign a three-year, $65 million extension with the Nuggets and has made it clear to team officials he’s not comfortable with the franchise’s stability. There’s unrest within the organization, where George Karl’s top assistant, Tim Grgurich, has left, league sources said. Grgurich has told friends he’s angry about the franchise’s refusal to retain former GM Mark Warkentien. Karl is now without his two most trusted confidants in the organization, Warkentien and Grgurich.
Forward Kenyon Martin and guards J.R. Smith and Arron Afflalo will be free agents after this season and center Nene could join them if he opts out of the final year of his contract. Point guard Chauncey Billups also could hit the market because the Nuggets are obligated to pay only $3.7 million of his $14.2 million salary for 2011-12 if he’s waived at the end of the season.
With so much uncertainty surrounding the Nuggets, Anthony would like to be traded before the season starts.