What are we going to do when we run out of superstars for our local basketball teams to spend entire seasons pining for?
Last year was all about LeBron and it is pretty clear we'll be closer to the 2011-2012 season by the time Carmelo Anthony actually gets to put on a new uniform. Varying reports about the status of the trade proposal from the Nets and a meeting between Mikhail Prokhorov and Anthony dominated the early part of Wednesday, but they quickly gave way to a pair of new turns in the proceedings.
The bigger one, by far, was the second. Prokhorov, in town for Wednesday night's Russian culture celebration at the Nets game in Newark, said that he was not meeting with Anthony during his trip to the U.S. What's more, he's pulling his team out of the chase for Anthony entirely.
"Really, I am not happy with the way the deal has gone until now. It has taken too long. It has been played out in public. The uncertainty has taken a toll on the players. And I believe it has cost us several games — games I believe our team for sure could win in this period of time. So I think the management of the team did a great job. But there comes a time when the prize is simply too expensive. I am instructing our team to walk away from the deal, and the meeting that was supposed to be held by our management in Denver with Carmelo is hereby canceled."
Two thoughts on what Prokhorov had to say. The first is that he is a smart man to walk away from the table. His team has the best offer at the moment and they were being asked to give up more and/or take back bad salaries from Denver. That's ridiculous and any good businessman would walk away and force the Nuggets to come back to them with hat in hand. On top of that, Anthony's reticence about signing with them is not something that Prokhorov can look upon kindly. If someone doesn't want you, you don't sit there trying to change their mind like a pathetic suitor.
The other isn't so positive. The Nets were so desperate for Anthony and offering so much for him that their inability to get the deal done makes them look awful. That's not a huge concern right now because, let's face it, no one pays much attention. When it is time to move to Brooklyn they need a big draw in order to make any kind of meaningful dent in the Knicks' grip of the city. If the Knicks wind up with Anthony, something that seems a lot more likely if Prokhorov's edict remains in place for the next month, that might not even be possible.
Prokhorov's announcement steals the thunder of the other big Wednesday development. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Anthony's representatives are trying to get the Bulls involved in trade talks for their client. Chicago was an early entrant in the lottery for Anthony's services, but their unwillingness to include Joakim Noah in a trade meant that they fell behind even the Knicks in the bidding process. The Bulls would prefer to include Luol Deng, but his contract and rather unappealing skill set don't interest the Nuggets.
Mostly it seems the interest in getting the Bulls involved comes from William Wesley, a.k.a. World Wide Wes, the Zelig of the NBA who now works as an agent for CAA. One of his clients is Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and, like any good agent, Wesley is trying to get his man what he needs. The Bulls have a good team, but they lack the kind of go-to scoring touch that Anthony would provide. If they landed him to go along with Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer, you'd have another serious title contender in the Eastern Conference.
CAA also reps Anthony, as it happens, and this is hardly the first time the wishes of his agents have come into play during this process. Anthony's current contract was negotiated by other agents, which means that CAA isn't getting paid off Anthony. Naturally, they want their share of the $65 million extension that he can't sign after the season and they don't want to roll the dice on a work stoppage that could result in a big cut in the maximum NBA salary.
With no Nets in the mix, at least for the moment, this scenario becomes more interesting. If the Nuggets are forced to lower their bar for a trade, then the Bulls are almost certainly back in play along with the Knicks. The trade deadline is February 24th, boys and girls, and it doesn't seem like there's any end to this drama before then.