EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The post-Carmelo Anthony era started for the New Jersey Nets with a simple apology.
General manager Billy King addressed the team at practice Thursday and apologized for the way he and the Nets handled things in their efforts to acquire Anthony from the Denver Nuggets.
While King wasn't around to tell the media exactly what he said, coach Avery Johnson said the GM was upset how negotiations played out publicly and disrupted the lives of the players.
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov brought the negotiations to an end Wednesday night when he instructed King to break off talks with the Nuggets because the proposed deal was hurting the team and had gotten too expensive.
"Some of it he could have controlled, some of it he can't," Johnson said of King. "It's part of the process. But he's got a job to do as a general manager for the organization, and he's going to continue to do it."
With roughly half the season to be played, the Nets (11-31) seemingly are going to develop their current roster and try to improve via free agency and the draft. New Jersey has a bunch of salary cap room and it will have five first-round draft picks over the next two years.
The only trade on the horizon is the one to ship veteran power forward Troy Murphy and his expiring $12 million contract someplace. Murphy has asked for a trade and the Nets have told him to stay home until a deal is worked out.
If there is a problem for New Jersey, it might be with some of the players who were dangled as trade bait in the proposed three-team deal that involved as many as 15 players between New Jersey, Denver and Detroit.
The major players on the Nets' side were point guard Devin Harris and rookie power forward Derrick Favors, the third pick overall in the April draft.
Harris smiled talking to the media on Thursday, but it seemed he was keeping his guard up in case another deal is developed. When asked what King said in his apology, Harris surprisingly said: "You don't want to know."
He then answered:
"He said we were complete professionals and he appreciated the way we carried ourselves throughout this whole process," Harris said. "We're going to move forward and try and win some of these games. He said it's unfortunate some of the things that came out with guys' names and such, it was tough for some of us, but he was glad the way we handled it."
Prokhorov, who took over the team last year, wasn't happy the way things played out. He said the proposed deal took way too long and cost the Nets some wins, especially on a recent four-game road trip where they lost every game.
"Yes, it becomes a distraction at some point when it's constantly talked about," Harris said. "For the time being, all we can do is focus and try and improve our record."
Favors looked relaxed on Thursday and said he felt great.
"This is a big relief because I don't have family members and friends calling and asking me about it, and reporters asking me about it all the time," Favors said.
During the trade frenzy, Favors said he stopped watching television. He actually played one of his better games Wednesday, collecting 12 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes in a win over Utah that allowed the Nets to snap a six-game losing streak.
"It's been a learning experience," Favors said. "If it comes up again, I'll be prepared."
Veteran forward Kris Humphries thinks the players probably can put the Anthony situation behind them. However, there is still a trading deadline looming on Feb. 24.
"Nothing is ever over and done," Humphries said. "I mean there are always trades. I don't know about this exact situation. This is the NBA. Who knows? Some sort of trade can happen tomorrow. We don't know."
The Nets will get some help on Friday against Detroit, when shooting guard Anthony Morrow returns to the lineup for the first time since being sidelined with a hamstring injury in mid-December.