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Long-anticipated Carmelo trade expected to happen next week

By David Aldridge, TNT analyst
Posted Jan 13 2011 11:56PM

DENVER -- Two sources said Thursday evening that the long-anticipated trade of Carmelo Anthony, barring last-minute snags, was expected to be consummated next week.

The three-team deal between Denver, the Nets and Detroit would send Anthony and Chauncey Billups, along with other players, to New Jersey, with the Nets sending first-round pick Derrick Favors and two future firsts to Denver. Pistons guard Rip Hamilton would join Anthony and Billups in New Jersey, with forward Troy Murphy going to Detroit. Additional players from New Jersey would go to Detroit and Denver to make the deal work.

It remains unknown whether Anthony will commit to signing an extension with the Nets if he is traded there. New Jersey owner Mikhail Prokhorov is confident that if he can acquire Anthony -- which would allow him to finally speak directly with the three-time All-Star -- he can convince Anthony on the merits of playing with the Nets. The franchise is expected to move into its new arena in Brooklyn in two years, and Anthony, through intermediaries, has made his desire to play for the Knicks well known.

But the Nuggets are determined to exhaust every possibility before making the deal, which is why the trade could still fall through. They know that the trade talk has impacted their team -- "it's been draining the team," guard J.R. Smith said Thursday morning -- but they also know they are only going to trade their franchise player once, and they're determined to get it right.

Until the deal is official, though, the talk will continue, leaving players and coaches frustrated that a team less than two years removed from the Western Conference finals--and is finally getting healthy-won't be able to try and get back to that level.

"Last game [against Phoenix on Tuesday] was the first game we all played together," Billups said Thursday morning. "First game all year, you know what I'm saying? I do believe [Denver can make a run if kept intact]. I do believe that."

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