Today marks the 10-year anniversary of when the New York Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony in a trade from the Denver Nuggets.
The former Syracuse star was part of a blockbuster multi-player deal that sent him to the Big Apple, along with Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter and Renaldo Balkman, in exchange for Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, a 2014 first-round draft pick and cash considerations.
Anthony recently discussed a top-secret meeting in Los Angeles during the weekend of the 2011 NBA All-Star Game that led to an agreement between the franchises ― along with the Minnesota Timberwolves — on “The Woj Pod” with ESPN senior NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski.
According to Wojnarowski, the meeting included Knicks owner Jim Dolan, former Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri, Anthony, his former agent, Leon Rose, as well as longtime friend and business partner Robert “Bay” Frazier.
The meeting was called as a last-ditch effort after several attempts to complete the deal. Anthony said he had previous conversations with the Nuggets before that season and had a pretty solid idea on which players were leaving, who was staying and how the team would be broken up.
Anthony said he didn’t want to be part of a rebuilding year in his seventh season in the NBA, especially following his best season with the franchise that resulted in an appearance in the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, which was a team rumored to acquire the future Hall of Famer, along with the Utah Jazz and New Jersey Nets.
The proposed deal with New Jersey was interesting because the Nets were scheduled to move to Brooklyn – Anthony’s birthplace – in 2012.
“I remember everything about it,” Anthony told Wojnarowski. “(The) New York Knicks come in at the 25th hour and we have the ‘infamous meeting’ at 3 o’clock in the morning and it’s just, ‘What are we going to do?’ At this point, we have to make this decision. If New York is going to be the place, we might as well sit down, break bread, let’s figure this out and let’s make this happen.”
Wojnarowski pointed out that the 10-time All-Star essentially watched and listened to both parties negotiate the trade right in front of him.
“It was a lot,” Anthony said. “It was a lot from the Denver side. At this point, they were saying New York doesn’t have anything that we would want back. At first, (Denver) was like, ‘We’re not going to just give up Melo for anybody, so you guys gotta come to the table with something.’
“I’m hearing what Denver wants and I’m hearing what New York doesn’t want to give up. I’m sitting there like, ‘Are we about to nix this trade because of this player? Like, I’m not worth that to you guys?’ This is what I’m thinking as a player at that point in time because I’m in the room and at the table at this negotiation.”
Mozgov was later revealed as the “dealbreaker” in the trade between the Knicks and Nuggets, Anthony said.
Anthony also wanted to clarify that he never wanted to leave the Nuggets, but the addition of new front office personnel entering the organization and the Nuggets’ plan to not re-sign Billups and trade J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin made it difficult, combined with his desire of not wanting to be a part of a roster rebuild.
“I never wanted the narrative to be ‘Melo forced his way out of Denver,’ ” Anthony said. “I never said I’m not showing up, trade me or I’m not going to come around … I was still there early. I was still there late. I was still making sure everyone was good.”
In six-plus seasons with the Knicks, Anthony averaged 24.7 points and 7.0 rebounds over 412 games. He led the franchise to three-consecutive playoff appearances until his time ended after four-straight losing seasons.
Since then, Anthony’s basketball journey has brought him from the Oklahoma City Thunder, to a handful of forgettable games with the Houston Rockets, to the Portland Trail Blazers, where he provides an offensive spark off the bench — averaging 13.1 points and 3.5 rebounds.
The meeting that led him to New York, however, will be an unforgettable moment.
“That will probably be one of the most memorable meetings I’ve ever, ever had,” Anthony said.
Anthony also talked about the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the birthplace of the possibility of teaming up with LeBron James and other All-Stars in free agency during the summer of 2010.
He said he signed a five-year deal with the Nuggets — while James and Dwyane Wade signed three-year contracts — because he felt the most comfortable and confident since the team he was building had already been successful.