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The Nets wanted Anthony and believed they would get him, hoping the Brooklyn native would be the face of their franchise when they open their new Barclays Center in that borough in 2012. But though he never publicly confirmed the speculation that he wouldn’t have extended with the Nets, he did note Friday during the All-Star weekend in Los Angeles that the Knicks were further along after acquiring Stoudemire _ his good friend _ last summer.

Anthony met with both Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan over an All-Star weekend that was often overshadowed by the trade talks and hoped there would be a resolution before he returned to the Nuggets. That indeed happened _ he was excused from practice Monday so he could remain in California to appear on Conan O’Brien’s show.

The Nuggets made out well, considering they could have lost Anthony for nothing in the summer. The Nets‘ offer, centered on rookie Derrick Favors and draft picks, would have meant a rebuilding situation, while the players they acquire from New York could keep them in postseason contention in the Western Conference. The Nuggets host Memphis on Tuesday night.

“I think they play exciting basketball, exciting young players,” Karl said of the newcomers. “How we rebuild our team and reconstruct it _ there will be some tough moments, but it will be fun how fast it can come together, how fast it can grow up and how fast it can prove itself to being a playoff-caliber team, which my hope and my desire is to continue to be a playoff team.”

Karl said he’ll miss Billups, a hometown favorite and consummate professional who helped Denver reach the Western Conference finals in 2009-10, when the Nuggets nearly eliminated the eventual champion Lakers.

“I think Chauncey will go down as one of the greatest winners,” Karl said. “His record of seven or eight conference finals is, I mean, that’s incredible. I think that’s who he is, that’s what he stands for. He brought one of them to us. Last year we had a miserable ending. I think there’s many people, including myself, that will be sad for Chauncey. I know he loves Denver and we love him, but things happen. There’s decisions that have to be made.

“I’m 100 percent behind the decision we made, even though it will be dangerous and there won’t be the veteran point guard back there,” Karl added. “Felton, I thought was having a great season this year. But I think Ty (Lawson) and Felton are going to have a great challenge to live up to what Chauncey has given us in past years.”

Asked who his starting point guard would be, Karl said, “Probably Ty,” then got into his maroon SUV and drove away.


AP Sports Writers Pat Graham and Arnie Stapleton in Denver and Jon Krawczynski in Fort Myers, Fla., contributed to this report.