DENVER (AP) — Denver Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri put the kibosh on the latest rumors and reports that star forward Carmelo Anthony was headed to the New Jersey Nets.
“There’s nothing going on. Nothing,” Ujiri told The Associated Press as he walked out of the Pepsi Center with team president Josh Kroenke following Denver’s impressive 111-94 win over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night.
“I would think if ‘Melo was getting traded, he’d know that right? He’s earned that,” Ujiri said as Kroenke nodded in agreement.
The first Anthony heard of the latest buzz of a big trade to the Big Apple was from reporters crowded around his locker and checking their smart phones after he scored 35 points in the win over the Magic.
“Who? I haven’t heard that one. Am I? I don’t know, dawg. This is new,” Anthony responded when a reporter relayed a report that he would be headed to New Jersey on Wednesday.
“I haven’t heard that. I’m officially saying I know nothing about it,” Anthony added. “When I have some more information, you guys will know.”
Asked if he expects to be at the Pepsi Center on Thursday night when Denver faces the Spurs, Anthony said: “I’ve got a game here Thursday night against San Antonio and that’s what I’m focused on. All that other stuff, I’m not even paying attention to right now. I don’t even know, you just caught me by surprise with that one.”
A day earlier, Anthony denied an ESPN report that he had told the Nuggets he would only accept a trade to the New York Knicks.
Talk has been swirling around Anthony ever since last summer, when he declined to sign a three-year, $65 million contract extension with the Nuggets, whom he’s led to the playoffs seven straight seasons since turning pro after winning the national title at Syracuse as a freshman in 2003.
Anthony was born in Brooklyn and married TV personality LaLa Vasquez in an elaborate New York City ceremony last summer.
Fueling the latest speculation was the three-team trade agreed to Tuesday between New Jersey, Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers that netted the Nets two more first-round draft picks for potential use in a deal for Anthony.
“Oh, that’s why y’all” are asking, Anthony said.
Growing tired of the trade talk, Anthony told the scrum, “You want to ask me about Orlando?”
He said he banged his right thumb during the game, but “I’ll be all right come Thursday.” He added that he’s healthy now that he sat out a few days with a sore knee and the flu.
Asked if he was sentimental at all if this was his last game in Denver, Anthony replied, “Are you sending me out?”
Just relaying the reports, he was told.
“I’ve been listening to reports all summer,” Anthony retorted. “I ain’t thinking about that. I’m here. You’ll see me suited up Thursday night.”
In a Nuggets uniform?
“Of course,” he said. “You’ll see me here Thursday night, all right? Anything else?
“See you guys.”
Magic star Dwight Howard said he would welcome Anthony to the Eastern Conference if that’s what ends up happening.
“I haven’t thought about that. I know he wants to go home. Whatever he does I’m happy for him, whatever decision he makes,” Howard said.
If this indeed was Anthony’s farewell, it was a good one.
The Nuggets pulled away in the final five minutes to beat the Magic despite J.J. Redick’s career-high 29 points. With Denver leading 92-91, Arron Afflalo’s 3-pointer jump-started the Nuggets on a 19-3 run to close the game.
Anthony hit 14 of 21 shots from the field and pulled down 11 rebounds. Nene had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, who were coming off a 1-3 trip and improved to an NBA-best 11-1 at home.
Anthony’s three-point play put Denver on top 98-91 moments before Nene and Howard drew a double-technical for shoving each other under the Magic’s basket. Anthony added a rim-rattler of a dunk that sent the satisfied fans streaming to the exits with two minutes left and his free throw with 1:34 left capped his night.
Howard had 21 points and 14 rebounds for Orlando.
Ty Lawson started at the point for Denver with Chauncey Billups out after aggravating his sprained right wrist at Toronto last week and he had 16 points and six assists.
With Denver leading 82-78 early in the fourth quarter, Redick hit a 3-pointer and was fouled by J.R. Smith, whose argument also drew a technical. Redick made the technical free throw, then the bonus to complete a five-point trip.
The Nuggets outscored the bigger Magic in the paint 46-22 and outrebounded them 40-34.
“I think they have a great rebounder” in Howard, Nuggets coach George Karl said. “But I don’t think they’re a great rebounding team.”
Or a defensive one right now.
Orlando has dropped five of six with an increasingly shaky defense.
“We’ve got to play defense. It’s got to be everybody,” Howard said. “The wings have to do a better job not allowing their man to get to the rim on every play. It puts a lot of pressure on the bigs. It’s hard for the big guys to help when a guy takes one dribble and he’s at the rim. It’s very tough.
“I like blocking shots but if a guy’s one dribble and he’s there and I’m all the way on the other side, I can’t fly over there. I don’t have a cape in real life.”
Notes: Karl was presented a golden ball trophy in pregame ceremonies to commemorate his 1,000th win last week in Toronto. … Magic G/F Michael Pietrus sat out and will have an MRI on his sore left knee, Van Gundy said. F Quentin Richardson (sore left elbow) didn’t play. Karl said he hopes Billups will be back against Minnesota on Saturday. … Redick’s point total was two more than his previous career high set Nov. 1, 2009, against Toronto.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)