LOS ANGELES (AP) - At least Carmelo Anthony didn’t have to switch uniforms in the middle of the All-Star game.
Everything else about the Denver Nuggets forward’s future was still profoundly unsettled Sunday night, with the New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks still vying to land him ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline.
After starting the day with another round of meetings on his future, Anthony contributed eight points and seven rebounds to the West’s 148-143 victory over the East in the 60th All-Star game.
Anthony had said he hoped to resolve his future this weekend while the entire basketball world gathered in Los Angeles, but ‘Melo seemed mellow about missing that soft deadline.
“It didn’t overshadow anything for me,” said Anthony, a West starter. “I had a great time. I had fun. I still enjoyed this weekend, regardless of what was going on and what has been said. Me and my family and my friends had a blast this weekend. … I said I hoped to have a word by today, one way or another. I’ve been up early dealing with this and all the festivities, but the night is still young on this side (of the country).”
In the latest episode of the NBA’s biggest soap opera, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said he still believes they’re in the race for Anthony _ and if not, Prokhorov thinks at least they made it harder for the Knicks.
Meanwhile, the Knicks insisted they’re on the same page in their pursuit _ and that Isiah Thomas isn’t involved in it.
Prokhorov told CNBC on Sunday he had a “fantastic” meeting with Anthony on Saturday night. The Russian billionaire had pulled the Nets out of talks last month, and even after they were recently renewed he said he originally had no plans to meet with Anthony during the All-Star weekend.
“As you know, my instinct was to stay away and I still think that is (the) right decision,” Prokhorov said. “But when the meeting was fixed, (Nets general manager) Billy King called me and said, ‘We need you.’ I was convinced and I still think I’m right to stay away, but we have teamwork so sometimes we need to be all together.”
Asked at Staples Center before the All-Star game if he had any news on a deal, Prokhorov said: “I don’t care.”
The Nets still believe Anthony would agree to sign a contract extension with them that would be a prerequisite to making the deal, despite previous reports that he would only do so if traded to the Knicks.
“I was just listening,” Anthony said of his meeting with the Nets. “I didn’t give anybody a definitive answer. It was a good meeting to have. I’m not going to talk about the selling points and all that stuff. It was interesting. It’s hard for me to sit here and talk about what the Nets can do, because I’m not in a Nets uniform.”
Even if they can’t get an agreement from Anthony, Prokhorov sees value in the Nets’ return to the trade talks.
“I think we made a very good tactical decision to force (the) Knicks to pay as much as they can,” Prokhorov said. “So it’s very good, it’s very interesting, it’s very competitive.”
And it created reports that the Knicks’ negotiations had been taken out of the hands of team president Donnie Walsh by Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan _ with Thomas advising him. The team attempted to shoot them down with a statement Sunday.
“We want to make it abundantly clear that we have been in constant communication throughout this process and the three of us are in complete agreement with everything that we are currently working on. Together, we will do what is best for the long-term success of the franchise,” said the statement, which was attributed to Dolan, Walsh and coach Mike D’Antoni.
Walsh has been patient in his approach with Anthony, who can become a free agent after the season. The Knicks could just sign him then without having to give up any of their young core in a trade with the Nuggets, but Anthony would prefer a deal during the season so he’d be eligible for the three-year, $65 million extension he’s refused to sign with Denver.
“An extension will come into play, regardless of the situation,” Anthony said. “I haven’t talked to anybody today from the Denver Nuggets organization, so as of right now, I’m still a Nugget.”
The New York Daily News reported Dolan met Thursday with Anthony in Los Angeles, and Yahoo! Sports reported the Knicks had increased their offer to the Nuggets to include three starters, triggering speculation that the owner was overruling his basketball people because he wanted a trade done before Thursday’s deadline.
Walsh previously had said he didn’t understand the fuss about Dolan’s involvement, since ownership always is when a trade becomes closer.
But Dolan’s presence has sparked further belief _ along with some panic and outrage by Knicks fans _ that he is relying on Thomas, the team’s former president and coach during a tumultuous 4 1/2 years.
Though a plan to rehire Thomas as an official consultant fell through last August because his position as coach of Florida International University prevents him from being employed by an NBA team, Dolan said at the time that he would “continue to solicit his views.”
But the Knicks say that’s not happening on this deal.
“In addition, we want to make it clear that no one from outside our organization has been involved in this process in any way,” the statement read.
The Knicks said they would not have any further comment.
Anthony said Friday he hoped for a quick resolution, perhaps even receiving an offer before the end of the weekend. But his wife, actress La La Vazquez, said on the pregame magenta carpet she thought it would come at the last minute _ if it comes at all.
“I do, I do, I really do, because I’ve been hearing about this for so many months and I was thinking, ‘OK, something’s going to happen,” she said. “So at this point, I do believe that it probably is going to go down to the wire. If anything, who is to say, it’s just not, stay where you are? You know?”
Anthony echoed his wife’s sentiments before heading out on the town in Los Angeles.
“The deadline is Thursday, so obviously something’s going to happen,” Anthony said. “Whether I stay in Denver or whether they trade me, the end (of this situation) is here. I’m excited for all this stuff to be over with. I’m pretty sure everybody is.”
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