When Mikhail Prokhorov first appeared on the scene as a globetrotting playboy known for lavish parties, Jet Ski tricks and enormous wealth, he was compared to a Bond villain.
That analogy is feeling even more true at this hour. Like any good Bond villain, just when you thought Prokhorov was dead he springs back to life to try and see his plan through to fruition. According to multiple reports, the Netsare back in the running for Carmelo Anthony a month after Prokhorov said the team was no longer interested in dealing for the Nuggets forward.
The deal that's on the table right now is a pared down version of the one that the Nets thought they were close to sealing on a couple of other occasions this season. It would send Derrick Favors, Troy Murphy's expiring contract and multiple first round picks to Denver for Anthony. There would be no Rip Hamilton or extra teams to make things work, and the lack of extra moving parts would seem to make things easier to pull off.
Or much more difficult. The word earlier was that Anthony needed players like Hamilton and Chauncey Billups to join him in Newark in order to satisfy his need to play for a good team. Unless you believe that the core of the Nets roster is fantastic, a very difficult argument to make, Anthony would be going to a weak sister in hopes that they can improve rapidly without any good young talent on hand or coming down the pipeline.
That's why it is hard to believe that the timing of this leak doesn't have more than a little to do with the Knicks. The one thing the Nuggets have made clear throughout this process is that they aren't satisfied unless they "win" the trade and they've driven an insanely hard bargain with both local teams as part of the process.
Favors and a couple of picks is not as good a haul as they might hope to get from the Knicks, but since they keep asking for every rotation player other than Amar'e Stoudemire there isn't much chance of making that deal happen in a vacuum. That's just what it's been for the last month as the Knicks sit alone at the table across from the Nuggets and refuse to budge in deals that would decimate their roster.
But if the Nets seem like a viable alternative, that just might make James Dolan overrule his basketball people and throw everything into the pot to make Anthony a Knick. That feels like what's really going on here, although Prokhorov and Anthony will both be in L.A. for the All-Star Game so perhaps they can finally meet and find a way to work together.
Either way, the re-entry of the Nets all but confirms that this is going down to the wire. Thankfully, that's only a week away and then we'll all have to find something else to talk about.