Johnson not holding breath waiting for Nets trade
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Listening to Nets coach Avery Johnson, the monster deal to bring Carmelo Anthony from Denver to New Jersey might be on hold.
Hours before leaving for a four-game West Coast road trip, Johnson said Tuesday he didn't expect any roster changes during the trip.
Johnson refused to guarantee there wouldn't be any changes, but it might be tough to make a deal involving more than a dozen players, including eight from the Nets, with the team playing four games in six days.
The much-publicized deal would have the Nets sending point guard Devin Harris, rookie power forward Derrick Favors, veteran Troy Murphy and others to either Denver or Detroit in a swap that would land Anthony in New Jersey with Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton and others.
Murphy missed practice for the second straight day Tuesday because of a virus, and he will not make the trip that includes stops in Los Angeles, Portland and Oakland.
With the exception of injured rookie Damion James, everyone else on the roster will travel, including shooting guard Anthony Morrow, who has been sidelined almost a month with a hamstring injury.
"This is the team that will be playing on the whole road trip," Johnson said.
Johnson backed off the comment when asked if that meant a potential trade was on hold.
"I don't make guarantees," he said. "That's not my job. I don't make guarantees. No. I don't even know if I was that good when I was in the media at making predictions. I had a few right, and the few that I got right I let everybody know about them consistently. But the other ones that I didn't get right, we don't talk about those. The point is, we're going to have this team throughout the road trip."
Johnson said he would adjust if either owner Mikhail Prokhorov or general manager Billy King told him something different.
"I know what's going on behind the scenes," Johnson said. "So, just because somebody else reports something, I know what the truth is."
Getting a deal done may force the Nets (10-27) to play short-handed, especially if more than half of their 14-man roster is traded. Players have 48 hours to report and pass physicals.
Beside Harris, Favors and Murphy, the other Nets being mentioned in the trade are Morrow and fellow guards Ben Uzoh and Quinton Ross, swingman Stephen Graham and center Johan Petro.
The Nets players won't have a day off until Jan. 18, which is roughly the day before Prokhorov is expected to return from Russia to watch his team play against Utah.
"They're fine," Johnson said of his players. "Win or lose, it won't be because they're distracted. I thought they were distracted a little bit against Milwaukee (Sunday); I haven't seen that look in the last two days."
After failing to sign LeBron James or any of the big names in the star-studded free agency market this summer, the Nets turned their attention to Anthony, who will become a free agent this summer.
The Nuggets have offered him a three-year, $65 million contract extension, but he has refused to sign it.
Denver and New Jersey were close to a deal for Anthony in training camp before the negotiations broke off. The talked regained momentum over the past week.
The NBA trading deadline is Feb. 24.
"Between now and Feb. 24 I have to coach this team, and if this team does not change before Feb. 24, that's OK," Johnson said. "We still have a plan."
Harris, who also was a centerpiece of the trade talks before the season, issued a statement after refusing to talk to reporters after practice.
"I can't comment on speculation or rumor," he said. "My focus right now is getting ready for Phoenix tomorrow night."
Harris missed the Nets' game against Milwaukee on Sunday with a bruised leg. He is expected back in the lineup.
New Jersey is five games out of a playoff berth nearing the halfway point of the season.
"We have to start playing some consistent basketball," Johnson said. "We've only had one stretch of our five-game block where we've won three out of five. For us, it's not about winning, but how you perform."