Never-ending story: Anthony addresses latest speculation
As the media formed a semi-circle around Carmelo Anthony after practice Monday, rookie Gary Forbes stepped in to serve as his spokesman.
“Gary, as Melo’s representative, can you describe his mindset?”
“He's a professional, a tough-minded guy from Brooklyn-slash-Baltimore,” Forbes responded before Anthony quickly interrupted.
“See, you can't say things like that,” the veteran said with a smile.
Anthony and Forbes share Brooklyn roots, but Melo has been around the NBA long enough to know that anything that is said can be twisted and interpreted 100 different ways.
With the Nuggets mired in a mini-slump the latest round of trade rumors heated up over the weekend. Reports focused on a proposed multi-player deal that involved sending Anthony to the New Jersey Nets, who plan to move to Brooklyn in 2012.
“I'd be wrong if I'm sitting here thinking about that situation right now,” Anthony said. “I’ve got a game tomorrow against Phoenix. If I go out there thinking about the New Jersey Nets, that would be disrespectful to my myself, disrespectful to the organization and to the fans.”
Anthony’s future with the Nuggets has been a hot topic since August. Denver has offered him a reported three-year, $65 million contract extension – the maximum allowed under NBA rules – but Anthony said he wanted to keep his options open.
Asked if Denver was still among those options, Anthony said: “It’s in the air. It’s in the air.”
Despite the uncertainty surrounding their leading scorer and numerous injuries to key players, the Nuggets (20-16) have done a commendable job maintaining their playoff standing in the Western Conference.
“We’ve handled it very well,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “If you gave us a grade on handling it, it’d be in the A-minus, B-plus area for the season. If you give us a grade for the last three or four games, it might not be. Which one’s legit? For me, I’m going to respect them for handling a season of injuries, tough schedule, the drama. I’ve got to give them a high grade.”
Though speculation and rumors have existed for more than four months, the buzzards seem to circle whenever the Nuggets struggle. After winning four in a row, the Denver is on a three-game losing streak, which served as kindling for the latest round of trade talk.
“Maybe if we wouldn't have lost these three games, I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you to this extent,” Anthony said. “There’s so much desperation about what's going to happen tomorrow, the next day or next week.”
Regardless of how things play out, Anthony said he will give his full focus and effort while wearing a Nuggets uniform. Many fans interpreted his eight-point performance Sunday night as a sign that he had already checked out mentally.
“I don’t think anybody should question what I do out there on the court,” he said. “Not every night is a great night, but I still go out there and do what I do. I've been here eight years, been doing the same thing year in and year out, playing hard and winning games here for the Denver Nuggets. For anybody to question that … somebody should question them.”
Anthony might have to carry much of the load Tuesday against Phoenix.
Chris Andersen (right knee rehab), Al Harrington (lower back strain), Ty Lawson (sprained left knee) and Kenyon Martin (left knee rehab) are all listed on Denver’s injury report as day-to-day.
“Tomorrow’s a game that we can win and I think we are going to win,” Karl said. “Then we turn the pendulum back into the positive, which happens 15 or 20 times a year in the NBA. We still have plenty of time to regroup and start playing good basketball – hopefully winning basketball, too.”