NBA Saturday: Nets Won’t Re-Enter Anthony Talks
When the New Jersey Nets announced that they would no longer be involved in trade talks with the Denver Nuggets regarding Carmelo Anthony, executives around the league were hesitant to buy it.
After engaging in advanced talks for such a long period of time, it was hard to believe that Mikhail Prokhorov and the Nets were suddenly moving on. Others believed that Prokhorov was bluffing and just creating a spectacle with his press conference to gain the upper hand in negotiations.
With less than a month until the trade deadline, it appears that rival executives were reading too much into the situation. While Denver would love for New Jersey to come back to the table, sources in and around the situation all insist that the Nets will not re-enter talks with the Nuggets.
"It’s dead," said one league source. "The Nets won’t come crawling back after everything that happened."
But what happened exactly? When Prokhorov made the announcement, it seemed to come out of left field and he offered little explanation as to why the decision was made. While he described the process as being "too long and too expensive," it was hardly enough reason to pull the plug on the chance to land a superstar, especially when talks were seemingly progressing.
But prior to calling the press conference, Prokhorov’s experiences in Russia ultimately led to his decision to pull out of the talks.
During negotiations, the Nets did everything they could to appease the Nuggets and Anthony. Even as Denver continued to up their asking price, New Jersey remained patient and involved in the talks. When Anthony danced around questions regarding a potential future with the Nets, the team tried harder to sell the situation to his camp. New Jersey was trying their hardest to make everything work, but continued to face obstacles from all parties involved.
In Russia, Prokhorov’s peers were following the situation closely and letting him hear it. Was he really going to jump through hoops for some player that didn’t seem overly interested in joining his team? The general consensus among Prokhorov’s peers was that Anthony was playing the Nets and making the powerful man look desperate and pathetic. While the NBA is obviously a players league, that didn’t change how Prokhorov or those close to him perceived the situation. In their mind, a potential employee was being difficult and embarrassing Prokhorov and his organization.
Prokhorov had a reputation to protect and he wasn’t going to let Anthony ruin it. When the superstar appeared hesitant to meet with the owner and other Nets officials, it was the last straw for the billionaire. This, coupled with Anthony’s indecision regarding an extension, led him to decide that it was time to pull out of the discussions. He wasn’t going to let Anthony embarrass him by making him look desperate or flat out rejecting him down the road.
If Prokhorov and the Nets were to crawl back to the Nuggets and re-enter talks now, he would look more desperate than ever and his decision would be criticized and questioned by everyone.
Since his announcement, New Jersey has removed the distraction that cast a shadow over the team all season and won four of six games. The Nets have moved on and while they continue to work the phones, a trade for Anthony likely won’t be in their future. With Prokhorov protecting his pride and image, it’s hard to imagine that a deal with the Nuggets is anything but dead.
McGrady Feels Hamilton’s Pain: A well-known player goes from being a star to the last man on the bench. He’s no longer the focal point of the team, but rather a distraction that doesn’t play a single minute during games. The franchise is going in a younger direction and he knows a trade is likely in his future. But until that happens, he is in limbo and has no idea what’s going on.
Hearing that scenario, Richard Hamilton is likely the first player that comes to mind. But it’s also what Tracy McGrady went through last season with the Houston Rockets, which is why he has been able to relate to his new teammate in Detroit and help him throughout this process.
"It’s really about what that player has done for the organization, and what he has done when he’s on that basketball court," McGrady said. "He had the respect from the people upstairs and he’s done everything that he’s been asked to do while he was here. It’s a difficult situation to be in. I know who we’re talking about, we’re talking about Rip. It’s a difficult situation to be in because I was in that situation. Again, you just have to stay professional. I gave him advice to just stay professional, come in, do what you got to do, and cheer on your teammates. It’s tough though."
McGrady believes that these situations can be avoided if both sides are loyal throughout the process. In relating Hamilton’s situation to his own, he feels that things would have played out differently if all the involved parties had displayed loyalty.
"I take my situation in Houston and just the way things ended. It ended on a bad note, and it never should have went that way. The reason why? I don’t know. I think if you look at Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame speech and the words that he had for Chicago’s organization, it’s because he felt like they weren’t loyal. Everyone is going to have different opinions on loyalty, but who’s to say which is right and which is wrong?" he said.
While both players are veterans and understand that the NBA is a business, they feel that issues should be handled behind the scenes. McGrady made it clear that nothing good can come from a situation playing out in public. He feels that all matters should be dealt with by the two parties without involving others.
"That’s how it should be. It should be handled that way, but sometimes it just gets out of control. Then the media gets a hold of everything that’s going on and then you just have this crazy madness going on. It should be handled between two parties, and they should come together and work something out. If things are good for eight or nine years or however long that player was there, I think they should work something out so that both sides have an agreement and nobody is bitter about the situation," he said.
Once things do reach that point of no return, McGrady feels that the only thing a player can do is handle the situation professionally and hope they still have the support of the fans and media.
"Once you get the fan support, you’re good," McGrady said. "If you have the fan support you won’t look like the bad guy. But if you don’t have the fan support and you don’t have the media support, it’s a no-win situation for the player."
McGrady was ultimately dealt to the New York Knicks and was able to move on with his career. Whether or not Hamilton’s standoff ends in similar fashion remains to be seen, but at least has someone in his corner that knows exactly what he’s experiencing.
NBA Fight Night: No, that’s not the title of a new NBA video game or some corny promotion that a team is putting on. Rather, it describes the highlight package for Friday’s games, which featured one fight on each coast.
First, Shawne Williams and Marvin Williams went at it in Atlanta. In a game that featured plenty of trash talking and taunting, tempers flared in the final minute when a shoving match between the two forwards turned into a fist fight.
"I was coming across halfcourt, he bumped me, I bumped him and he mushed me in the back of my head," Shawne told reporters after the game. "I wasn’t really going to fight or nothing. I was going to let him know that I’m going to stand my ground. For him to swing, at me, that’s a different story. But I feel like I didn’t swing back. [I] felt I restrained myself but really I was just protecting myself."
Players broke up the fight fairly quickly, but Shawne believes that Marvin is the one that escalated the situation. Following the game, New York’s players and coaches watched film of the incident and agreed that while Williams had his fist cocked back, he didn’t throw a punch.
"Cocking your fist and throwing a punch are totally different," Shawne said. "I know for a fact that he threw a couple of punches at me."
But the league office is going to have a busy night because another fight between two forwards took place in Phoenix. Channing Frye and Kevin Garnett had to be separated in the fourth quarter and the altercation led to Garnett’s ejection.
Garnett channeled his inner Bruce Bowen and placed his foot underneath Frye as he was landing from an attempted jump shot. But it wasn’t until Garnett did it a second time shortly after, this time extending his hand and hitting Frye in the groin, did the Suns’ forward lose his cool and get in Garnett’s face.
While Channing didn’t discuss the information in-depth to reporters after the game, he did discuss the incident with teammate Jared Dudley on his web series, JMZ.
"Somebody felt like they needed to make a play. They made it, but I didn’t feel like it was an appropriate play to make. Other than that, I kind of have no comment," Frye told Dudley.
When Dudley said that he had never seen Frye land like that, referring to Garnett’s foot placement, the forward nodded and replied, "You need to check out the film."
"It’s a game, but sometimes people feel like they need to do certain things. Other than that, I’m glad we got a win. It’s not about what happened on those two plays. It’s just about us winning and I hope it doesn’t deter from that," Frye said.
While neither fight escalated into a brawl, the two incidents on Friday night definitely filled up the highlight reels and gave fans something to talk about.
HOOPSWORLD Chats: There is one chat on today’s schedule. Susan Bible, who covers the Oklahoma City Thunder and NBA for HOOPSWORLD, will be taking your questions at 11:00am EST. As always you can check out our entire upcoming chat schedule here.