Published January 13, 2011
DENVER – George Karl caught a glimpse of New Jersey rookie Derrick Favors' game on television while holding out hope the viewing was nothing more than an exercise in futility.
Despite all the rumors and reports, the Denver Nuggets coach remains optimistic that Carmelo Anthony will stick around beyond the trade deadline of Feb. 24.
Just in case Anthony is dealt to New Jersey in a blockbuster trade being discussed, Karl checked out the player that he would be getting in return for the All-Star forward, watching Favors play against Phoenix on Wednesday night.
It never hurts to look, especially with the Anthony trade speculation intensely blowing.
Yet Karl is hoping it all turns out to be bluster.
"I think the chances of this team being somewhat what it is, is probably just as much as the possibility of it not being (what it is)," Karl said after morning practice Thursday prior to a game against the Miami Heat. "That's my reality, my thought process of the drama. I don't like the drama and I'm not an expert on the drama."
Karl doesn't ask for constant updates on the status of his star player, preferring to leave the Anthony negotiations — whatever they may be — to general manager Masai Ujiri and team president Josh Kroenke.
"I don't want daily detail. Don't confuse me," said Karl, who had Ujiri and Kroenke stop by the court Thursday. "For me, coaches are paranoid, coaches get tunnel vision over what-ifs. It's just best for me to stay strong that somehow, someway this could be our team. I think we could be a really good team.
"In my paranoid world, I think that's a hell of a possibility."
But this lineup could also be drastically altered, should a proposed three-team deal take place.
The most recent talks has floor leader Chauncey Billups and former Detroit teammate Richard Hamilton reuniting in New Jersey along with Anthony. The Nets would send Favors, point guard Devin Harris and first-round picks to Denver in exchange for Anthony, Billups, Hamilton, Shelden Williams and Terrico White.
The Pistons would receive veteran Troy Murphy and his $12 million expiring contract, along with center Johan Petro.
The deal would largely rest on whether Anthony will sign his extension so the Nets can have him as their cornerstone for years to come. Anthony has given no indication if he would agree to sign it and go to the Nets.
Billups has grown weary of chatting about all the rumors, even more so now with his name being dragged into the mix.
Asked Thursday if the team leaves Anthony alone with all the rumors floating, Billups sighed and said: "I'm done talking about that.
"We don't talk to him more or less," added Billups, a Denver native who has made it known that he would like to finish his career with the Nuggets. "It's been the same way all year. It's been the same. We don't give it any extra energy."
That goes for Karl as well.
"If something would happen, you'd have a moment of sadness. I would be very sad," Karl said. "Then there would be a moment of excitement. I'm a big believer in the proverb of your success will all be determined by having another challenge. If that would happen, if something would happen, we'd have another challenge."
That's why he watched Favors against the Suns. Other than when Denver hosted the Nets in November, Karl hasn't seen the Georgia Tech product play that much.
Against Phoenix, Favors finished with 12 points in a little more than 18 minutes.
"I didn't watch it studiously," Karl said. "He's fine."
As for whom Favors compares to, Karl simply responded: "I would not be able to be an expert on that."
In spite of more than five months of constant speculation concerning Anthony, Karl doesn't think his squad has lost their focus, their edge.
Even more, he feels he's still retained their attention — at least for the most part.
"Do you think every coach in the league has the full attention of their team?" Karl said, grinning. "In the moments you have to be there, they've been there.
"I can't deny that there have probably been moments you'd like a little more camaraderie, a little more concentration. But that happens if it snows outside. We've had more happen than just it snowing outside."