Carmelo Anthony trade: NY Knicks owner James Dolan reportedly negotiating with Stan Kroenke

The prospect that Carmelo Anthony will be dealt before the February 24 trade deadline just got better. Following hot on the sneakers of reports about a possible three-team deal involving the Knicks, Nuggets and Timberwolves comes word that New York owner James Dolan is talking directly with Nugs counterpart Stan Kroenke.

The New York Daily News' Frank Isola got the skinny on the Dolan-Kroenke talks from a "source familiar with the negotiations." Isola surmises that Dolan is being nudged by former Knicks president Isiah Thomas, who's maintained a relationship with his ex-boss despite leaving the organization in the wake of a sexual harassment lawsuit and a horrendous on-the-court record.

More evidence of progress on the Melo front: The Knicks' hiring of onetime Nuggets GM Mark Warkentien, which we told you about over a week ago, has become official. Warkentien's title is director of pro player personnel, but plenty of observers feel he'll likely step in as general manager for Donnie Walsh sooner or later.

In the meantime, the Nuggets' front office spin is epitomized by comments made to Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla by Nuggets vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri in a piece published today. The talk leads Kiszla to conclude the following:

1) The Nuggets stubbornly refuse to believe they will be forced to ship Anthony to the Knicks on terms dictated by New York.

2) Although the possibility of establishing a franchise tag in the new collective bargaining agreement that could bind Anthony to Denver seems a risky proposition, Nuggets management will seriously contemplate it before settling for a less-than-satisfactory trade.

3) The Nuggets are convinced the market for Anthony as a rental player contributing to a contender's playoff run is destined to be strong.

Clearly, coming off as confident at this stage is key: If Ujiri seems panicky, the offers for Anthony will get worse. Plus, the fifty points Melo dropped on the Houston Rockets last night (in a losing effort) certainly underscores his value. But if such bravado truly reflects feelings within the organization, execs are living in a dream world. Forcing Anthony to remain a Nugget via a franchise tag is a recipe for disgruntlement on a scale that's hard to measure -- and the Knicks are in the stronger position in regard to a trade than are the Nuggets. That's why Dolan's involved -- and why a deal is likely to go down before the 24th.

And if it doesn't? Check out the following post for more about that prospect.

More from our Sports archive: "Carmelo Anthony trade: What if deal with Nets, Knicks, Lakers or Mavericks doesn't happen?"

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