Posted Sep 28 2010 6:27PM - Updated Sep 29 2010 6:04AM
DENVER (AP) -- Carmelo Anthony is focused on hoops, not the hoopla surrounding his future in Denver.
Anthony joined his Nuggets teammates on the first day of training camp Tuesday, calling the court his "safe haven," a place where he doesn't have to "deal with all the other stuff."
For now, Anthony remains a member of the Nuggets after a person with knowledge of the discussions said a four-way deal that would have sent Anthony to New Jersey was "dead." The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly about the trade.
Still, Anthony's days in Denver could very well be numbered.
Anthony's powder blue jersey, soaked in sweat after a more than two-hour practice, was proof of an honest day's work Tuesday.
The All-Star forward became almost agitated when asked if he might give anything less than 100 percent considering his uncertainty with the team.
"I love the game too much to disrespect the game like that," said Anthony, who averaged 28.2 points last season in leading the Nuggets to their second straight Northwest Division title. "Anytime I step on the court, I'm going to give it my all, regardless of what's going on, what's the situation.
"This is basketball. I focus on basketball - it's something I know how to do and I love to do. As far as my effort on the court, nobody can question that."
Nuggets coach George Karl gave Anthony an "A" for his effort after practice, saying he thought his star was "very professional, very mature."
Karl remains hopeful that Anthony will stick around.
Anthony has yet to sign off on a three-year, $65 million extension that's been on the table since June, leading the Nuggets to explore trade options. The potential trade involving Denver, New Jersey, Charlotte and Utah hit a road block over the weekend and then withered when a deal wasn't reached by an imposed deadline of Tuesday.
"The perfect storm in my mind is to keep Melo, convince him that this is the best place for him, that this is where he has to win a championship," Karl said.
Karl made his return to practice Tuesday after missing the end of last season while undergoing treatment for throat and neck cancer. His voice still raspy, Karl carried around a whistle to get the attention of his players. But he only used it in a joking manner.
"It's fun to be back. It's fun to get the butterflies," Karl said. "It's fun to interact with your basketball family."
Karl couldn't chat for long - four minutes at a time tops. With such a veteran team, though, he really didn't need to do much instructing.
"All he has to do is say it once," Anthony said, grinning. "He sounds good, he looks good."
Just how much longer Karl might be coaching Anthony remains unclear. The two are hoping to get together for a chat sometime this week.
Anthony has one caveat: The conversation must remain on hoops - no sales pitches.
"I want to focus on basketball right now," Anthony said. "If he wants to sit and talk to me about what to do tomorrow at practice or the next day, then we can sit down and talk about that."
One of the reasons forward Al Harrington signed with Denver over Dallas in July was because of the chance to suit up with Anthony.
Even with trade rumors swirling, Harrington, a 13-year veteran, still believes Anthony will stay put.
"I'm optimistic," he said.
New Nets coach Avery Johnson hasn't gotten caught up in the trade speculation and talk, preferring to go about the task of turning around his team.
"I know that I love our guys, love the guys who are here," Johnson said. "We're not a distracted team at all."
Johnson said first-round draft pick Derrick Favors hasn't been bothered by the trade talk. Favors was one of the principal players in the Anthony deal.
"Favors has been one of our best players so far," Johnson said. "He's doing a nice job."
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