The Nets ended their four-game West Coast road trip the same way they started it: with a loss and questions about Carmelo Anthony unanswered.
That’s how most road trips have gone for the Nets this season, most games for that matter. Their 109-100 defeat at Golden State was the Nets’ sixth loss in a row, 11th in 12 games and 19th in 20 road contests.
Wow. The Nets are better than last season, or I should say, more competitive than last season, but this does feel a little like last year all over again.
The truth is the Melo-drama has been overshadowing how bad the Nets are. But that's all Nets have going for them. It’s not the potential of their players; it’s the potential for the Nets to make a trade for a high-scoring small forward.
Is there any wonder why the Nets are pushing so hard for Anthony and probably willing to give up more than what their fans want to get him? Look at this team and their record after 41 games: 10-31. They battle much more than last season, but that gets you nothing at the end of the day.
I have been consistent in saying the Nets have to do whatever it takes -- within reason -– to work out an agreement with Denver. Fans want to hold on to most of the picks, Derrick Favors, Damion James -- whoever it is. But you don’t win consistently in the NBA with young, unproven players and by hoarding draft picks. The only way you do win is if one of those guys is Kevin Durant or maybe Blake Griffin. We’re still waiting to see what the future holds for the Clippers, but there’s no denying Griffin is a stud and Durant is one of the top players in the NBA. You cannot say that about Brook Lopez, Favors or anyone on the Nets’ roster.
The Nets have some good players, some talented players, but how long can they wait for Favors to develop or for Lopez to be a consistent force inside who dominates games at both ends and leads his team to victory? The Nets were done waiting before the season began, which was when they started pursuing Anthony, and rightfully so.
Like everyone else, I think this needs to end. The story is tired. Readers, fans, viewers, editors, executives, team employees -- everyone is frustrated by the Anthony talks, negotiations, reports, rumors, information and misinformation.
Here’s what we know for sure as of right now: the Nets are a really bad team and are on pace for 20 wins, but they have the assets and flexibility to engage the Nuggets seriously in conversations regarding Anthony. After that, there’s been some conjecture and bad information. For example: the recent stories that the Nets have been granted permission to speak to Anthony. I had heard they had been granted permission, but league sources said no permission has been granted formally.
Who do you believe? I know who I believe. I believe an agreement on the three-team trade with Detroit and Denver was close last weekend until the Nuggets asked for more. And I believe the Nets and Nuggets are working toward an agreement now, as we speak, and will continue Monday night and Tuesday.
The Nets want this done with Mikhail Prokhorov flying in for 'Russian Culture Night' on Wednesday. They want him to meet with Anthony if that’s what it’s going to take to get him to sign an extension. They want Prokhorov here to give Anthony the red-carpet treatment in a presentation and ultimately a press conference.
But first the Nets and Nuggets have to reach an agreement before all of that can happen. So the Nets came home from the West Coast the same way they left last week –- on a losing streak, with Anthony hanging over their heads and everything still unsettled.
“Offensively, I thought we had our moments. For a team that’s been pretty anemic offensively in certain situations, I thought we had our moments offensively on this trip and we had some good moments defensively. We just couldn’t put them all together at the same time.”
- Avery Johnson on the trip
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Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)