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(AP file photo)SALT LAKE CITY -- ESPN'S leading multiple reports indicating a four-team NBA blockbuster trade is awaiting only Carmelo Anthony's approval on a long-term extension with the NJ Nets.
Utah's Andrei Kirilenko is among the key components of the deal, but he told me late Friday afternoon, "I know nothing about any trade. I'm planning on flying back to Utah Sunday."
Then AK chuckled, "I guess I better go call my agent."
When we reached Kirilenko's agent, Marc Fleisher, he also expressed surprise, saying, "I've had no contact from any teams -- Denver or Utah or anybody. There are no indications that this is going to happen."
Then when I texted AK for clarification a little later, he responded, "My agent says it's just a rumor, nothing to it." When pressed he repeated what he's said for months, "I didn't want to go anywhere."
Whether driven by facts of just hopeful anticipation, if this complicated trade is in the final stages of happening, it would seem Kirilenko was just an innocent bystander, never consulted by any of the teams. When I first called him, it was clear Andrei had no idea his name was being mentioned in any trade scenario.
The blockbuster would send Anthony to the Nets, NJ rookie Derrick favors and Kirilenko to Denver, Boris Diaw would come to the Jazz from Charlotte, and Nets point guard Devin Harris would go to Charlotte.
The Bergen Record reported Friday afternoon that the Nets would also receive Bobcats guard D.J. Augustin, with New Jersey's Jarvis Hayes accompanying Harris to Charlotte in a sign-and-trade. Nets swingman Quinton Ross would go to Utah, and Denver would get a 1-to-7 protected first-round pick in 2012 that New Jersey received from Golden State.
Clearly trading AK and his $17.9 million salary, while taking back Diaw's $9 million, would drop the Jazz out of the luxury tax threshold, saving millions of dollars. But it would also cost them (maybe dearly) on the court this season -- unless Jazz General Manager Kevin O'Connor has other deals up his sleeve.