Nuggets rolling as Anthony trade talk intensifies

The Denver Nuggets are rolling after two straight routs, finally

clicking on the court the way that Nuggets coach George Karl has

always envisioned.

And now his team just might be on the verge of being

dismantled.

No matter how well the Nuggets are performing, how much

chemistry they’re developing, it’s hard to put much stock in them

as bona fide contenders with trade talks involving Carmelo Anthony

heating up in recent weeks.

Denver may have a radically different look by the Feb. 24 trade

deadline.

Soon starting at forward for Denver – Nets rookie Derrick

Favors?

Anthony’s future has been the topic of intense speculation ever

since he rebuffed the Nuggets’ three-year, $65 million contract

extension over the summer.

The most recent talks have Denver native Chauncey Billups and

former Detroit teammate Richard Hamilton reuniting in New Jersey

along with Anthony in a blockbuster deal that includes three teams

and more than a dozen players.

In return, the Nuggets would receive Favors and point guard

Devin Harris, along with possibly two first-round picks.

The discussions are still ongoing and the parties involved

remain hopeful a deal can be worked out by next week.

But it could be contingent on whether Anthony signs the

extension, so he doesn’t leave next summer and become the headliner

of the 2011 class. Anthony has yet to give any indication if he

would agree to sign it and go to the Nets should a deal be

completed.

That might be one of the snags holding up the mega deal. Yahoo!

Sports recently reported that Anthony wants to be sold on the Nets

before agreeing to anything.

Another layer of drama.

The Nuggets have become used to this, dealing with the

distraction for the better part of five months.

Karl said he can’t even begin to imagine coaching the San

Antonio Spurs, where things are usually quite calm.

”My characteristics of my seasons have probably been more

stormy than smooth and sunny,” Karl said after a light practice

Friday. ”But I would like to have some smoothness.

”We’re in a good place through a tough year. … Hopefully, we

can continue to play like we’re playing right now.”

Karl hasn’t sweated over the what-ifs should Anthony be dealt.

Sure, he’s taken a look at Favors’ game, just to see what the young

player has to offer.

But as far as bracing for change, that’s not on his priority

list.

All the speculation is wearing on him, though.

Always quick with a quip, Karl had nothing witty to add when

asked if an overhaul to the roster would be a frustrating

proposition, especially after blowing out the Phoenix Suns and a

Miami Heat team missing LeBron James in back-to-back games.

”I’m getting tired of coming up with analogies and stories,”

said Karl, whose squad hosts Cleveland on Saturday. ”I’m running

out of gas a little bit. Maybe I can just become blase.”

That didn’t last.

”NBA coaching is always somewhat a rough sea – it’s never

smooth,” Karl said. ”It’s when you’ve got the 20-foot waves and

20-foot undertow that sometimes you have to worry.”

In this case, the undertow would be the undercurrent of a

possible deal involving Anthony.

Just when Karl has all his pieces in line, too.

Anthony has been one of the top scorers in the NBA, while

Billups continues to recover from a torn ligament in his shooting

wrist, dishing out a season-high 13 assists against Miami.

Kenyon Martin has steadily progressed from offseason knee

surgery, Arron Afflalo has emerged as a scoring threat and speedy

Ty Lawson brings a fast-paced element off the bench.

And then there’s J.R. Smith, who both fascinates and frustrates

Karl. Smith finished with 28 points against the Heat, hitting eight

3-pointers, but Karl was less than pleased with his shot selection,

terming some of them ”ego 3s.”

”I definitely think I should talk to him about what happened in

that game, tone him down or tune him down a little bit,” Karl

said.

Over their last two games, the Nuggets have registered 61

assists, played solid defense and spread around the scoring in

winning by an average of 31 points.

Sure, it’s a small sample size, but this is what the Nuggets

could resemble down the road, once they get completely healthy.

They could be a strong postseason factor.

Of course, it comes with the caveat that Anthony sticks

around.

”We probably would want better circumstances,” Karl said after

a 130-102 win over the Heat on Thursday. ”But we’ve done our job

pretty damn well all year to get messed up on what-ifs.

”I still think there’s a window of what-if we’re all together,

what-if we become a really good team? Until that (doesn’t) exist,

I’ve got to keep the guys playing every game in that mentality of

get better, get smarter and do our jobs – and our job is to

win.”