DENVER — Carmelo Anthony doesn’t think a trade to New Jersey is imminent and he expressed remorse Monday that teammate Chauncey Billups’ name has been dragged into this drama.
A day after reports the Nets were closing in on a deal for the Denver Nuggets’ All-Star forward, Anthony said he doesn’t see himself heading to New Jersey anytime soon.
“That’s my feeling. I don’t think so. I don’t want to elaborate on that anymore. That’s just my own personal feeling,” Anthony said following practice.
Asked if he would sign his three-year, $65 million extension to facilitate a trade to the Nets, Anthony said: “I really don’t know.”
“I’m waiting to see Masai and Josh, wherever they at,” he added, referring to Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri and team president Josh Kroenke. “Pretty sure they’re working on whatever they’re working on right now. They haven’t been here. I’m waiting patiently until they get back so I can sit down with them.”
Anthony said he was sorry that Billups’ name has been brought up in a proposed three-team deal involving Detroit.
Billups is a Denver native who wants to stay in his hometown following his trade from the Pistons a couple of years ago. Billups has intimated that if he’s traded to the Nets, he might ask them to tear up his contract after the season so he could return to Denver.
“He was looking forward to retiring here, whenever he’s done,” Anthony said. “To see him and all this stuff that’s going on right now, I feel bad about it. I guess that’s the business of basketball.”
Billups didn’t practice Monday; the team said he wasn’t feeling well.
Despite Anthony’s skepticism, talks on the three-team trade with the Nuggets and Pistons continued Monday, a person with knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press.
The reported deal would reunite Billups and Richard Hamilton in New Jersey along with Anthony, the person said on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the talks.
New Jersey would send rookie power forward Derrick Favors, point guard Devin Harris and others to Denver in the deal that would get them Anthony, Billups, Hamilton, Shelden Williams and Terrico White, who is injured.
The Pistons would receive veteran Troy Murphy and center Johan Petro. Murphy has a nearly $12 million contract that will expire after this season.
The nucleus of Billups, Hamilton and Anthony could’ve been together in Detroit had the Pistons selected Anthony with the No. 2 draft pick in 2003. Instead, Pistons president Joe Dumars picked Darko Milicic, who never panned out, and the Nuggets grabbed Anthony at No. 3.
“Joe Dumars messed that up, man,” Anthony cracked.
Even with the rumors that his departure from Denver is fast approaching, Anthony was in a jovial mood at practice following one of the worst performances of his career.
He scored just eight points in a 96-87 loss to New Orleans on Sunday night, and the star who has led Denver to the playoffs in each of his first seven seasons drew boos like never before from the crowd at the Pepsi Center.
Anthony insisted he didn’t dog it and that the trade speculation had nothing to do with his poor performance.
“I don’t think anybody should question what I do out there on the court. Not every night is a great night. But I still go out there and do what I do,” Anthony said. “I’ve been here eight years, been doing the same thing year in and year out, playing hard and winning games here for the Denver Nuggets. For anybody to question that, somebody should question them.”
Anthony’s future has been the subject of intense speculation ever since he spurned the Nuggets’ contract extension last summer. He also put his Denver mansion on the market.
Many believe he wants to end up with the New York Knicks, either this season as part of a trade or in the summer, when he would be the headliner of the 2011 free agent class much like LeBron James was last summer.
“Who wouldn’t want to play in New York?” Anthony said. “I told you that last year. I think that’s how all this stuff started, by me making that comment. New York is playing well right now. I don’t think they’re looking at me, they don’t want me to come in here and mess what they have up. That’s what I’ve read.”
So, once and for all, does he want to go play in the Big Apple?
“I’m here,” Anthony said. “Until something happens, I’m a Denver Nugget.”
Nets coach Avery Johnson was asked at practice Monday whether he dreams of having Anthony in his lineup.
“I dream about our center getting 10 rebounds. I dream about us having a game where we get 25-plus assists in back-to-back games, that’s the kind of stuff I dream about right now,” Johnson said. “I dream about when we are wide open we make our shots. That’s what I dream about, those things.”
The possibility of Anthony wearing a Nuggets uniform past the Feb. 24 trade deadline may be little more than a pipe dream, but Anthony reiterated there’s a chance he might still sign with Denver.
“It’s in the air,” he said. “It’s in the air.”
Anthony said the trade rumors haven’t hampered his play or that of his team, yet the Nuggets are mired in a three-game slump that included confounding losses to the Clippers and Kings on the road, where they’ve won just five of 17 games.
Anthony said he’s all about basketball on the court, not business.
“I’ll be wrong if I’m sitting here thinking about that situation right now,” Anthony said. “If I go out there tomorrow thinking about the New Jersey Nets, that would be disrespectful to my myself, disrespectful to the organization and to the fans out here.”
AP Sports Writers Arnie Stapleton in Denver and Tom Canavan in Newark, N.J., contributed.