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Carmelo Anthony denies report that was never really reported

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The notion that the Knicks might trade Carmelo Anthony still remains largely imaginary, at least as far as we have been told. The rumors of a potential Melo trade have numbered several since weeks before the deadline, but each of those reports fell short of saying the Knicks ever took any real step in that direction. This goes back to the initial Isola report ...

The Daily News has learned that the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers have discussed a blockbuster trade centered around Kevin Love. There were very preliminary discussions with the Knicks about expanding the deal to include Anthony, who would have to waive his no trade clause in order to facilitate a deal to the Cavs.

... and continued through today's Ian Begley report:

Prior to the trade deadline, the Boston Celtics expressed interest in obtaining Anthony via a trade with the Knicks, according to league sources with knowledge of the situation.

It is unclear if there were any formal discussions between New York and Boston and if those discussions ever reached an advanced stage. But Boston was informed that Anthony had no desire to leave the Knicks via trade to play for the Celtics, sources say.

Note the wordings. You know as much as I do about what "ver preliminary discussions" and passive-voiced phrases like "Boston was informed" really mean, but I see no reason to assume those carefully chosen words equate to the Knicks doing anything beyond picking up a phone. The Knicks are never described as the ones expressing interest or prompting discussions. We have no indication they were eager participants in any trade talks, nor do we have any indication they have ever approached Melo about waiving his no-trade clause.

And yet Melo's got asked about this today:

Carmelo Anthony denied that he blocked a potential blockbuster deal to the Boston Celtics last week, telling the Daily News that Knicks management never approached him about waiving his no-trade clause.

"No," Anthony said late Wednesday in Indianapolis. "Heck no."

The News reported two weeks ago that the Celtics, Cavs and Knicks had engaged in preliminary discussions about a deal. Those talks never progressed, however, because Anthony had made it clear he did not want to be dealt.

Nobody ever said Melo blocked any sort of deal, nor that management approached him. It is possible that is the case! But no reporter ever said that. It was not on the table to be denied.

My points, as they have been since before the deadline, are:

1. It is possible the Knicks want to trade Melo. It is possible they have mentioned that to Melo. It is possible he rejected that idea, either preemptively or after a particular deal became available. It is possible he will ask to be traded at some point. None of this can be affirmed with any confidence, because:

2. The words selected in describing these rumors are intentionally vague. "Boston was informed that Anthony had no desire to leave" could mean the Knicks picked up the phone and said:

"Thanks for calling, Danny, but we know Melo doesn't want to be traded so we're not having that conversation with you now."

... just as readily as it could mean they picked up the phone and said ...

"Oh, interesting, Danny. We might like to do that trade. We'll ask Melo. Give us a sec ... HEY! MELO! can someone get melo MELO! HEY! Oh hey sorry were you asleep buddy? Hey just wanted to know if you want us to trade you to the Celtics? You know we can't do that without your blessing. No? Okay. You sure? Okay, no problem. Go back to sleep. Sorry. You got a little drool on your shirt by the way. Hey, don't you have a bed at your house? Why are you sleeping in the front office? Seems weird. Never mind. Anyway -- hi. Hello? Danny? You still there? Hi Danny. He said no. Yeah. Thanks for calling, though."

These are distinct versions of a trade discussion, and we have not been given a clear answer on which is closer to the truth. And it's not for lack of reporting. Isola casually appends a supposed return package -- "a first round pick that originally belonged to the Brooklyn Nets" and "an additional draft pick as well David Lee's expiring contract and another player" -- yet cannot elucidate why that deal did not happen.

All we've been given is a lot of room to assume -- and for the beat to keep beating. You're not crazy to read the above as suggestion that the Knicks and Melo have talked about a trade. You're equally not crazy to read it as absolutely nothing. I do recommend you read very closely, though!