Our Friday post arguing that the New York Knicks victory over the Miami Heat made a Carmelo Anthony trade more likely has only been reinforced by a front office add reportedly made by NYC over the weekend. Against this backdrop, the Nuggets face off tonight against the trade-talks-jilting New Jersey Nets, following a performance versus the 76ers in which Melo seemed totally disinterested.
The addition? According to Yahoo! Sports, the Knicks have hired former Nuggets general manager Mark Warkentien to serve as a "high-level consultant."
Will he consult about how to acquire Anthony? Given the timing, it's impossible to reach any other conclusion. And if Warkentien truly is in the Knicks' corner, the Melo move will happen, period. Not if. When.
From the perspective of distractions, such a transaction can't close fast enough if last night's embarrassment against the Philadelphia 76ers is any indication. The Nugs got off to a fast start thanks to Chauncey Billups' rim-filling, but by late in the first quarter, turnovers and a lack of focus began to take their toll. So, too, did the absence of Kenyon Martin and Al Harrington, as well as the rust on Chris Andersen, who was responsible for the most hilarious moment of the game -- a put-back in which the ball went through the bottom of the hoop and out the other end. The Nuggets should feel grateful refs didn't erase two points from the board because of that one...
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As for Melo, he shot just three of twelve from the field, and as the game slipped away, so did his interest level. He subsequently told the Denver Post (in the piece linked above) that his knees tightened up during a stretch on the bench, and maybe that's true. But the number of contests during which he's seemed to mentally check out has been growing of late. His intermittent lack of intensity suggests he's figuratively punching the time clock until he's shipped to NYC.
That may not be the case tonight. Although Melo was careful not to rip the Nets in public, every NBA observer knows the real reason a New Jersey trade didn't happen is because of his reluctance to sign an extension to stay there for a longer haul. And while his reasoning is sound -- if his goal is to win a championship, why would he ink with a team worse than the one he's on? -- logic won't silence angry Jersey fans, who'll likely be in full throat tonight.
The boos Antony has complained about in Denver will likely be nothing compared to what's coming his way tonight. Bet he has a big night as a result.
More from our Sports archive: "Carmelo Anthony: During Pacers game, Nugs fans only boo when he misses -- which isn't often."