The Nuggets still aren’t aggressively shopping Anthony and haven’t withdrawn their long-standing offer of a contract extension, but numerous sources told ESPN.com that Denver officials have in recent days let other teams know for the first time that they will listen to pitches after previously resisting such discussions.
“I’m not sure how soon, but I do think they’re going to trade him [between now and February],” said one rival GM.
Said another source briefed on Denver’s plans: “There’s no doubt they are working on it. Eventually they’re going to pull the trigger.”
Reports have persisted for weeks that Anthony, who can become a free agent at the end of the coming season, wants out.
ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher reported Aug. 16 that it was “a matter of when, not if, Anthony and the Nuggets will go their separate ways,” while CBSSports.com quoted “multiple sources” last week as saying that the 26-year-old “has not wavered in his desire to be dealt” and that the New Jersey Nets are making the hardest active pitch for Anthony.
Several league sources on Monday told ESPN.com that they believe the Nets have emerged as the front-runner to secure Anthony. Not only is Anthony willing to sign a contract extension with the Nets, sources say the club is willing to make an intriguing offer of Derrick Favors (the No. 3 pick in this year’s draft), the expiring contracts of Troy Murphy and Kris Humphries, and at least one future first-round pick to Denver to land Anthony.
A source close to the Nets told ESPN.com that he wasn’t ready to concede that the Nets were the front-runners for Anthony’s services, nor was the source willing to confirm what the Nets would offer. However, the source did acknowledge that New Jersey was in serious consideration based on the Nuggets’ reluctance to trade Anthony to a Western Conference team and the Nets’ combination of expiring contracts, draft picks and a young player with serious upside.
A number of others teams including the Knicks, Bulls, Rockets, Clippers and Warriors have been pursuing Anthony as well. However, sources on several of those teams were pessimistic that they could match what the Nets have to offer.
“They’ve got what the Nuggets want,” one general manager told ESPN.com. “We’re trying to put a package together that matches what the Nets can offer, but it’s tough.”
Although Anthony has not made any such declarations publicly, it appears that Nuggets management is growing increasingly resigned to the fact that it won’t be able to change its franchise player’s mind.”
We’ll keep you posted as the situation develops, but it looks like New Jersey may have the early lead in the race for Carmelo Anthony.