The Knicks took off for Milan on Wednesday for some an exhibition tour/Danilo Gallinari-related revenue grab, but Donnie Walsh had a bit of business to take care of before the team headed for the land of milk and Barolo.
He spoke with Marc Berman of the New York Post to refute an ESPN.com report that the Nuggets were upset about the Knicks doing "back channel recruiting" of Carmelo Anthony this summer. Presumably, the Nuggets are ticked because their attempts to trade Melo have gone nowhere -- that much-rumored Nets deal is as dead as Bruce Ratner's original proposal for Atlantic Yards -- as teams sit back and wait for him to hit the open market rather than pay the king's ransom the Nuggets desire. Walsh was emphatic in his denial.
"We weren't. Pretty quickly, we didn't think they saw a trade with us. We haven't been that involved in it since. I've never heard that before. We didn't do it. This is the first I've heard of it and I've talked to their general manager a couple of times."
Who knows what conversations go on behind closed doors, but there's very little reason to not take Walsh's words at face value. Why would the Knicks bother tampering when anyone paying attention to basketball knows that they would be thrilled to welcome Anthony into their fold. There's no need to explicitly tell him that because neither Anthony nor his agents are stupid enough to have missed the way the Knicks have done business the last two years. They've moved heaven and earth to put themselves in position to land a superstar, so there's no need to hang a sign up on the Garden marquee announcing it.
The Nuggets' real problem is with the facts of their situation. Their window is closing because of the age of their supporting cast and because other teams are rising around them. Anthony doesn't need anyone to tell him that and he doesn't need anyone to tell him that the Knicks are going to want him whenever and however he's available.
The most ridiculous thing about the report is that the Nuggets are said to be turning up their nose at any discussion with the Knicks because of the recruiting which would make it all the likelier that they wind up losing Anthony for nothing WHILE he winds up in New York. If the Knicks don't make a deal, they'll have this year to work an intriguing core of Amare' Stoudemire, Gallinari, Anthony Randolph and Raymond Felton into a unit that could look mighty good to a guy like Anthony who would like to contend for some titles in the future. Throw in the Chris Paul/Tony Parker chatter and that plays right into the Knicks' hands.
It would seem to be far better for the Nuggets to lead a deep interest in some combo of the younger Knicks so that pressure in New York builds for them to pull the trigger. As it is right now, Walsh has tons of cover for not pursuing a trade because the Nuggets are making demands the Knicks can't possibly meet.
That's just as well. We're eager to see how this new Knicks group, Randolph in particular, fare this season while laying the groundwork for the next step in the return to contention.