Denver's preference for the Nets' offer -- which reportedly would send Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Melvin Ely and Renaldo Balkman to New Jersey for Derrick Favors, Troy Murphy's expiring contract, Devin Harris, Ben Uzoh and four first-round picks - gives Anthony an ultimatum: agree to an extension with the Nets or risk not getting one at all.
Multiple media outlets reported on Saturday that Anthony has been telling associates that he was not interested in signing an extension with New Jersey. However, a high-ranking league source said the Nets have not been told of Anthony's refusal to sign an extension and still believe they are in the race.
Anthony met with Knicks owner James Dolan on Thursday in L.A., and the New York Daily News reported Saturday evening that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and minority owner Jay-Z met with Anthony in Los Angeles.
However, a spokeswoman for Prokhorov released an update earlier Saturday saying that Prokhorov had not met with Anthony and has no plans to meet with the All-Star forward.
Anthony ducked most questions about New York and New Jersey at the NBA's media availability Saturday. Sitting on a table alongside LeBron James and Chris Paul, Anthony kept the conversation light. Paul polled a group of reporters on where they thought Anthony would wind up, and asked Anthony if he wanted to play in New Orleans.
"I ain't going to no muddy waters," Anthony said.
"For real?" Paul replied.
"Who is your owner?" said Anthony. "David Stern is your owner."
At one point, Anthony turned to Paul - who gave a toast at Carmelo's wedding last summer, suggesting the two team up with Amar'e Stoudemire in New York -- and jokingly said, "You know this is all your fault, right?"
While retaining Anthony for the rest of the season remains a possibility, James suggested the Nuggets should trade Anthony to make sure they get something in return.
"What would you do?" James said. "If you're the owner of the Denver Nuggets or you're the GM of the Denver Nuggets, and you don't know for sure if Carmelo's going to sign the three-year extension, what would you do? Would you try to get something for him, or would you just let him walk?"
I would get something, a reporter answered.
"That's what I think," James said.
Anthony did admit that the possibility that whatever team gets him will have to gut its roster of most of its young talent and future draft picks was becoming a concern.
"If anything was to happen with whatever team, of course I would want a team to be able to compete with," Anthony said. "As far as all the players that's in the deal, that's supposed to be in the deal [with New York and New Jersey] -- that's a lot of players for one guy."
If Anthony rejects New Jersey, the Nuggets could still accept an offer from New York that is believed to include Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton and a first-round pick. The Knicks deal would also be contingent on Anthony signing an extension, which he is widely believed to be willing to do.