Nets Drop Out Of Carmelo Trade Talks

 

~ It’s back to the drawing board for the New Jersey Nets as they have reportedly scratched Carmelo Anthony off of the wish list. In a press conference, 1st year team owner Mikhail Prokhorov announced that he has decided to withdraw his Nets from the recent trade talks involving the Denver Nuggets superstar.

 “There comes a time when the price is simply too expensive,I am instructing our team to walk away from the deal. Really, I am not happy with the way the deal has gone until now, It has taken too long. It has been played out in public. The uncertainty has taken a toll on the players … and I believe it has cost us several games.” … Mikhail Prokhorov, New Jersey Nets Owner

Okay, so here is the bottom line with this. The Nets basically sat down and reached the conclusion that after all the back & forth, all the players who were mentioned as trade bait (14 names), even with Jay-Z involved in the picture, it still wasn’t enough to overcome one glaring hurdle … Carmelo never confirmed to anyone he would want to play for them in the first place. In order for any of the trade possibilities to become a reality, Anthony would have to agree to signing a 3 year extension on his contract. The only teams that Anthony has reportedly expressed serious interest in are New York & Chicago. Don’t get me wrong here, the Nets did what they were supposed to do in this if you’re looking to build a winning team and winning enviroment. They went aggressively at one of the best players in the league and for awhile were willing to try and sell him on staying with them long term. Sometimes it just does not work out and it was getting more and more clear as the days turned into weeks and soon to be months, that Carmelo Anthony does not appear ready to make that kind of commitment to a team such as the New Jersey Nets.

Prokhorov showed me in that press conference why he’s a successful business man. Not a lot of people in his position as a team owner would have so aggresively went after someone who never really expressed interest in coming to play for them. Those same people in his position also would not have so aggressively withdrew from a potential deal such as the one for Anthony. Prokhorov knew the longer these talks were going to continue, the more of a strain it would have on his franchise. What they don’t get in Carmelo Anthony, they do get in more time to come up with a eqaul or even better solution in the long term. The Nets have a lot of room on the salary cap and five 1st round picks over the next 2 years. As poorly as they are playing right now, those draft picks are going to be high.

Where does this leave Carmelo Anthony now? My guess is either a surprise deal to Chicago or New York by the All Star Break or playing the season out and looking to come to the Knicks as a Free Agent. Only he really knows though and at least he now gets to concentrate a little bit on basketball. New Jersey fans should not feel too bad about this deal falling through though. They now have a owner who clearly is focused on looking to put a winning product on the court without being over aggresive and knows win to walk away from a bad deal. That’s something sports fans in the tri-state area are simply just not used to seeing around here with it’s basketball teams.

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AFC & NFC Championship Games Are Set

 

~ The road to the Super Bowl is narrowed down to four teams as the AFC and NFC Championship games are now set. The Green Bay Packers will head into Chicago to face the Bears for the right to represent the NFC. The New York Jets will look to continue what has been one of the great post season runs  in recent history as they head to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers for the right to represent the AFC.  Seeding has played a very small factor this season as 2 of the 4 #6 seeded teams (Jets & Packers) are now 1 game away from the big game in Dallas.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger isn’t Tom Brady or Peyton Manning when it comes to flash or style on the football field. I give the guy respect though because he just goes out and gets it done and sometimes it’s not pretty. In the Steelers playoff win over the Baltimore Ravens, Roethlisberger led his team back from a 21-7 Ravens lead with that blue collar-like approach that represents his style of play. It’s been a long and tough season for the Steelers’ quarterback. He was suspended the first four games of the season following sexual assault allegations that weren’t prosecuted. His image was badly damaged from it, however he has come back to help lead Pittsburgh to 12 wins this season and securing a 1st round bye in the playoffs and now his team is 1 game away from a Super Bowl berth. In a season where so much of the focus has been on Michael Vick and his performance on the field for the Eagles, Roethlisberger’s story has been mostly under the radar. It’s been that way for him since he was drafted actually. The talk of the draft that year was Eli Manning, then the draft day trade of Manning for Phillip Rivers. Somewhere within all of that the Steelers drafted Roethlisberger and he’s proven to be a winner with 2 Super Bowl rings as proof. The win over Baltimore was Roethlisberger’s 7th straight over them and for the Ravens this one had to hurt the most. Costly turnovers dropped passes and not enough big plays when it mattered most took the Ravens out of this game in the second half.

How about those Jets?  2 years for Rex Ryan as head coach and 2 years in the AFC championship game, not bad at all. If you would have told me a couple of weeks ago that the Jets were going to beat Peyton Manning and the Colts then Tom Brady and the Patriots, both on the road … I would have just sat there in front of you with a Bill Bellichick facial expression. Well, the Jets did just that and are now 1 game away from the Super Bowl. People can say what they want about the Jets back dooring into the playoffs this season or being a 6th seeded team. Do they talk a lot? Yes … they talked so much heading into New England, it would have been a major setback had they came out of there without a win. I give credit to Rex Ryan for what he’s done as Head Coach the last 2 weeks for the Jets. Ryan put the spotlight on him,  he told the media that the Colts game was “personal”. Ryan then tells the media the Patriots game is “Rex Ryan vs. Bill Bellichick”. It was a bold strategy that took the spotlight off the team and allowed them to go out and just play. As much as Rex the Promoter is known for his talking, Rex the Coach has put in some of his best work the last couple of weeks in stopping Manning and Brady. The fact of the matter  is not many NFL teams are going to beat the Colts and the Patriots in consecutive weeks on the road. They head into the AFC title game playing with house money. I’m not making the mistake of putting Ben Roethlisberger under the radar. Between the Jets and Steelers, I have to give momentum to New York right now.

Over in the NFC, I was never really convinced that the Atlanta Falcons were for real & I’ve grown more and more convinced that the Green Bay Packers are for real. There is no other starting quarterback among the 4 left in the playoffs that is playing as well as Aaron Rodgers is right now. The Packers have found a running game to go along with Rodgers and the passing attack and it’s defense has been making big plays throughout the playoffs. The latest big play  by cornerback Tramon Williams was a 70 yard touchdown run after intercepting a Matt Ryan pass that ended the first half and bascially the season for the Falcons. This Green Bay team is dangerous and I still can’t believe I didn’t take them seriously during the regular season. The Chicago Bears put the Seahawks away early, and while it was good while it lasted for Seattle’s playoff run, Green Bay-Chicago is a much more attractive game. Two teams that don’t really like each other in the oldest rivalry in the NFL.

Two good games for the right to go to the Super Bowl and I’m going to go with the two teams who are playing the best football right now. The Jets and Packers are heading to Dallas after this weekend.

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