The lengthy Carmelo Anthony trade talks that the New Jersey Nets engaged in this season have cost the Nets wins, franchise owner Mikhail Prokhorov said during his eye-popping press conference announcing that the team had withdrawn from negotiations for 'Melo.
Prokhorov was adamant that the public nature and length of the talks had left a toll on the Nets.
It has been played out in public and it certainly has taken a toll on the players and I believe that it has cost us several games. I think management did a great job, but there comes a time when the price is simply too expensive. I'm instructing our team to walk away from the deal.
The Nets are just 10-31 on the season, No. 14 in the 15-team Eastern Conference. New Jersey had the league's worst record last season when Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire with dodgy rumors and a certain mystique following him everywhere, bought the team. The Nets were in position to make a huge splash in free agency, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar'e Stoudemire and others all in play. Instead, New Jersey landed Travis Outlaw, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar and Johan Petro, hardly an All-Star team in the making.
In response to the soft summer haul, the Nets made an early play for 'Melo, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The Nets plan to relocate to Brooklyn for the 2012-13 season; momentum and a star would certainly help build excitement for the borough's debut as an NBA home. But the Denver Nuggets requested much of the Nets, and there had never been any assurance 'Melo would agree to sign a contract extension with New Jersey.
The negotiations and rumors dragged for five months before Prokhorov put a very public boot to them on Wednesday. The Nets should have cap space to work with come July, depending on how collective bargaining shakes out. Either way, the Net is still looking for momentum and a star. Perhaps the centerpiece of the rumors from the non-'Melo perspective -- rookie Derrick Favors -- can help answer those calls.