NBA AM: Will Mikhail Prokhorov Budge?
The Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes seemed to take another interesting turn last night when the Denver Nuggets and New Jersey Nets had reportedly re-entered advanced talks to complete the blockbuster.
The rumored deal would send Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Renaldo Balkman, Melvin Ely and Shelden Williams to New Jersey in exchange for Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Troy Murphy, Ben Uzoh and four first-round draft picks, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
But just as talk of a potential meeting between Anthony and Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov started to surface, the billionaire made it clear that he hasn’t had a change of heart since withdrawing his team from negotiations last month.
While Denver’s preference is to deal with the Nets because their offer is substantially better than those of other potential suitors, Prokhorov made it clear that he would not budge from his previous stance.
"Mikhail has not changed his mind," said Ellen Pinchuk, who serves as Prokhorov’s assistant and public relations counsel.
Pinchuk has been described as one of Prokhorov’s most trusted aides, and serves as his spokesperson. While Prokhorov could be bluffing and controlling the message, this does line up with the accounts that Prokhorov originally withdrew from the talks to protect his pride and image.
Even though the Nuggets and Nets are once again communicating, sources close to the situation maintain that Prokhorov is hesitant to re-enter talks because he doesn’t want to face the embarrassment associated with crawling back to the table after making such a spectacle during his press conference last month.
Also, Prokhorov isn’t sold that Anthony wants to play in New Jersey and doesn’t feel that he should have to beg the superstar to extend with the Nets. Prior to pulling out of trade talks, one source said that Prokhorov felt disrespected throughout the process and the idea of meeting with Anthony just to sell him on the situation annoyed the owner.
After meeting each of Denver’s new demands that were added throughout the course of talks, he wasn’t pleased that selling Anthony on the state of the franchise was yet another daunting obstacle. But if Prokhorov decides to change his mind, he’ll be in the right place. The owner will be attending the Board of Governers meetings in Los Angeles and could meet face-to-face with Anthony, although such meetings have yet to be arranged, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.
While this story will likely involve more twists and turns over the course of the weekend, the odds of Prokhorov budging are seemingly slim based on the comments made by his assistant and the portrait painted by those close to him.
UPDATE: According to Al Iannazzone of The Bergen Record Denver and New Jersey have agreed to the terms of a deal that would land Melo in Jersey. Apparently the only stumbling block is Anthony must agree to an extension with the Nets. Whether he will or not is still up in the air.
Earl Clark Becoming Fan Favorite: When Earl Clark was traded to the Orlando Magic along with Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson, his goal was to prove that he wasn’t simply a throw-in.
He wanted to contribute and prove he could do more than just make the salaries work in the deal. Clark saw reports that failed to acknowledge his presence in the trade and vowed to change the perception that followed him from Phoenix, where the Suns passed on his option earlier in the year, to Orlando.
Now, eighteen games later, Clark has made the most of his opportunity and is playing a significant role off of the Magic’s bench. He now has a clear-cut role and routine that he can follow, which has helped him make huge strides.
"It’s way easier because you can prepare for things," Clark told HOOPSWORLD. "It’s just playing. Every game you find your rhythm, know when you’re coming in and what you’re coming in to do. Basically, you just know your role. That’s much easier."
After the Magic announced that their trade with the Suns was official, several Magic players admitted that they didn’t know anything about Clark. He was the wildcard in the trade because every other incoming player – Gilbert Arenas, Turkoglu and Richardson – had a close relationship with Magic team president Otis Smith. With his solid play, Clark believes he has gained the confidence of his teammates and coaches.
"I definitely think I have just based on the comments that my teammates have made to me. Coach has done the same. It always feels good to know that these guys have your back. They know that when we go out there, they can look me in the face and know that I’m ready to go to war with them," Clark said.
His success story and energizer role have already made him a fan favorite in Orlando. He has been a trending topic on Twitter, campaigns to give him more playing time have emerged and fans have even started "Earl Clark" chants in the Amway Center.
"It feels good just to be out there and for them to show me some love when my name gets called," Clark said. "When I go out there, I’m always going to play hard for my teammates and the fans. It’s great having so much support from everybody so that’s what I try to do."
Fans approach Clark on the street more than ever to discuss one of two things: his outstanding play or his long hair. His hairstyle has drawn comparisons to Mickael Pietrus’ – who won a $17,000 bet last season that he could go one year without a haircut – and prompted jokes about Clark not being able to find a barber since moving to Orlando.
But as long as he continues playing well, the long hair won’t be going anywhere. Clark says that the fans love it and he’s too superstitious to get rid of it now. After all, sticking to a routine has worked well for him so far.
Magic vs. Bird on Broadway: The rivalry and relationship between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird has been well documented over the years. Books, movies and television specials have all chronicled their lives and discussed how they came to be inextricably linked throughout the duration of their careers.
Now, their stories will be relived like never before. Their rivalry and friendship will be the subject of a new Broadway play titled "Magic/Bird" by the same playwright that recently created another sports-themed play based on the life of Vince Lombardi.
The play will chronicle their lives starting with their rookie seasons in the NBA, and cover their on-court battles and friendship that developed over the years. The play will debut in 2012 and the two legends will be involved in the creative process.
Producer Fran Kirmser spoke to the Associated Press about the project and said that the success of "Lombardi" motivated the involved parties to focus more on sports in the future.
"We’ve been fired on by the experience to keep on going and feel that it can be a really thriving series," Kirmser said. "Here are these two, amazing at their craft, inspiring to watch, and yet they couldn’t be more different people. There was a fierce competitiveness between them and yet such a great love and respect."
But how will the play appeal to basketball fans? This isn’t chronicling the life of a motivational head coach. An accurate portrayal would have to feature athletes and reenactments of the moments that made their rivalry so riveting. As the project continues to develop, it seems that the play will be more geared to the theater-goer than the casual sports fan.
"For us, it’s finding the right property," said Tony Ponturo, the play’s second producer. "We do like building this series of sports biography projects, but at the end of the day, you do have to have something that’s compelling for the theater-goer."
Regardless, the idea is intriguing and has potential. At the very least, NBA fans will have another interesting way to get their basketball fix should a lockout shorten next season.
All-Star Weekend Updates: With the All-Star festivities kicking off later today, the NBA took time last night to announce several updates pertaining to the events.
Tim Duncan will replace Yao Ming and start at center for the Western Conference All-Stars. This will be Duncan’s 12th consecutive All-Star Game in which he will start. Yao was voted into the starting lineup by fans, but will miss the remainder of the season due to a stress fracture in his left foot.
Tyreke Evans will miss the Rookie Challenge with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. The event’s reigning MVP will be replaced by James Harden. Also, Blake Griffin will still play for the Rookies despite some reports that he would skip the event because of his packed All-Star schedule.
The NBA also announced the Taco Bell Skills Challenge participants that will try to keep Chris Paul from winning the event two years in a row. Derrick Rose, John Wall, Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry will participate in the Skills Challenge in addition to the other events that they’ll be competing in throughout the weekend.
Twitter: HOOPSWORLD has launched a new Twitter module where we will be releasing more breaking news and insider-type information via Twitter. Make sure you are following all of our guys to insure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @jfleminghoops, @TheRocketGuy, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @alexraskin82, @stephenlitel, @TommyBeer and @YannisHW.
NBA Chats: There are two NBA chats on today’s schedule. I’ll host my weekly NBA chat at 1:00 p.m. EST, and I encourage everyone to get their questions in early. Salary Cap guru Larry Coon will host another NBA Salary Cap chat at 8:00 p.m. EST. Susan Bible will host her weekly NBA chat tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. You can always find the next chat here: Upcoming NBA Chats.