Published February 17, 2011
NEWARK, N.J. – New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has not changed his mind about the franchise's pursuit of Carmelo Anthony.
The Russian told team executives last month to end drawn-out trade talks for the Denver Nuggets All-Star forward and nothing has changed with the NBA trading deadline a week away, his spokeswoman said Thursday.
There were reports on Wednesday that the Nets and Nuggets had renewed talks about a deal for Anthony. However, Prokhorov spokeswoman Ellen Pinchuk said in an e-mail that the billionaire maintains his stance, despite the reports.
"Mikhail has not changed his mind," Pinchuk wrote.
When asked if that meant Prokhorov does not want the Nets to reopen talks with Denver at this point, the spokeswoman said:
"What I said is what I said," she insisted. "Not what you said."
Prokhorov stunned NBA followers last month during a visit to New Jersey when he told the team to end trade talks for Anthony just a day before he was to have a sitdown with the player. At the time Prokhorov said the much ballyhooed, 15-player, three-team deal that also involved the Detroit Pistons had become too become too expensive. The negotiations had also become too public and the constant rumors were hurting his team.
Prokhorov also said at the time there was no chance the talks would be resurrected.
A league official with knowledge of the Nets told The Associated Press on Thursday that Denver recently contacted New Jersey to see if there would be any interest in acquiring Anthony, who can become a free agent at the end of the season. The official asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak for the Nets.
The Nets and Knicks have been mentioned as the most likely future home for Anthony, should he be traded. And Anthony has been quoted several times that he would love to play for the Knicks.
But the Nets might have more to offer the Nuggets. Rookie power forward Derrick Favors, the No. 3 pick in the draft, has tremendous upside as a 19-year-old. His first season has not been overly impressive because of foul problems and a general learning curve. New Jersey also has five first-round draft picks over the next two years to offer.
Prokhorov and Nets general manager Billy King are expected to be in Los Angeles for the All-Star game this weekend, and Prokhorov might get a chance to say hello this time to Anthony. Of course, any trade to New Jersey would be contingent on Anthony signing a $65 million contract extension that's been on the table since June.
Anthony also would have to know that coming to New Jersey probably would end his playoff hopes. The Nets have a 17-40 mark entering the break and are 8½ games out of a playoff berth with 25 left.
The Nuggets (32-25), meanwhile, have the seventh best record in the West.