NEWARK, N.J. – The New Jersey Nets are apparently in Carmelo Anthony's past.
As for the future, is it New York? Denver? Another team?
"I don't know. I really don't know," Anthony said Monday night.
What he can say is that he was willing to meet with the Nets management about a deal. He still won't reveal whether he would have agreed to actually play for them.
"I would take that meeting. As far as anything else, I really can't speak on that," Anthony said.
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov pulled his team out of trade discussions with the Denver Nuggets before it ever got to that point. Though he said it was because he was unhappy with the way the talks had gone, there were reports it was because the Nets knew Anthony would have refused to sign a long-term extension that would have been a prerequisite for New Jersey to go through with the deal.
"I really don't know where that came from, as far as if I was to come here the extension wasn't going to be signed. I really don't know who started that," Anthony said. "There's a lot of things that are being said out there that I don't know where they came from. Sources, I guess. As far as the extension, if that trade were to go through, who knows what would've happened. I can't really answer that."
So for now Anthony remains with the Nuggets, who lost 115-99 to the Nets in their first meeting since trade talks collapsed for the second time this season.
Anthony said he doesn't know how much longer he'll be with the Nuggets — or even if he'll ever leave. But he said he hasn't spoken recently with general manager Masai Ujiri and team president Josh Kroenke, who have to decide if they want to move their superstar before the Feb. 24 trade deadline or deal with this situation straight into the offseason.
"When something starts brewing, or something starts going on, then I'm pretty sure Masai and Josh will come to me and let me know what's going on," Anthony said.
Before the game, coach George Karl said he still believes he might be coaching Anthony all season.
"I've always felt from the very beginning of the season that the chance of that happening was greater than all you all thought," Karl said. "I just felt that way from the first day of training camp, from September, I've always felt that way."
Asked his basis for that belief, Karl said: "Just my experiences in the NBA. Just making a big trade in the middle of the season is not an easy thing to do."
The Nuggets and Nets have tried twice, but both multi-team deals fell apart. It was after the most recent one, which also would have involved the Detroit Pistons, that Prokhorov instructed his management to call off their pursuit of the All-Star forward.
New Jersey had been willing to offer an attractive package to the Nuggets, including No. 3 overall pick Derrick Favors, point guard Devin Harris and multiple first-round draft picks. Denver may not find another offer that good and instead may opt to just hold onto Anthony, who would then have to decide if he wanted to risk free agency next summer when a new collective bargaining agreement could cost him millions.
"The CBA is in the back of my mind, but as far as being afraid to play this out, I'm not," Anthony said. "If that's what it's going to take, then so be it. I'm with that."
But the risk could be substantial.
He is under contract for about $18.5 million next season, and the three-year extension worth about $65 million that Denver has offered him would kick in starting with the 2012-13 season, meaning he'd be scheduled to earn about $83.5 million if he signs this season.
Owners are seeking to slash contract values and lengths, as well as guarantees. Should they get their wishes and Anthony were to leave for New York, his reported preference, he could be looking at a maximum three-year deal worth perhaps less than $40 million.
"If I sit here and tell you I'm willing to lose $15 to $20 million, then I'd be lying to you. But at the same time, this has never been about money," Anthony said. "In my career so far I think I'd have made enough money that I can focus on just trying to win a championship. That's the only thing that's on my plate and on my mind right now."
The Nets hoped he would think he could do it in Brooklyn, where Anthony was born and where they are scheduled to move in the summer of 2012. The Nets posted three pictures of their Barclays Center in the hallways of the Prudential Center, one to show that they've broken ground in their new home and two that demonstrate what the finished product will look like.
"That was interesting," an amused Anthony said.
He insists he's not thinking about where he'll be playing on Feb. 25 or next season, and he had no trouble focusing on basketball Monday, when he scored 37 points while being booed every time he touched the ball in the early going.
"He's our foundation, he's our horse and we're having a damn good year, so he should be given a lot of credit for that," Karl said.