The Nets insist that the collapse of their Carmelo Anthony trade fantasies won’t stop them from trying to trade veteran forward Troy Murphy.
But Nets general manager Billy King is adamant that it’s not because Murphy is demanding a trade.
Amid Wednesday’s chaos spawned by Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov announcing that the Nets were walking away from five months of Melo negotiations, King had informed New Jersey-based reporters that Murphy -- no longer heading to Detroit as part of the proposed three-team swap -- was granted permission to leave the team after asking to be traded.
On Thursday, though, King told ESPN.com that he described the situation incorrectly.
King says he and Murphy had reached a mutual agreement to try to find the 30-year-old Jersey native a new home -- preferably with a playoff contender -- if the Melo deal fell through and Murphy’s $12 million expiring contract was not needed to clinch the Pistons’ participation in the trade.
“I probably worded it a little bit too harshly,” King said.
He then proceeded to explain that he told Murphy some time ago that he sympathized with the lefty’s plight in Jersey, where the rebuilding Nets have made the development of younger players such as Kris Humphries and rookie bruiser Derrick Favors bigger priorities than making sure vets like Murphy get plenty of minutes.
There would be unquestioned interest in Murphy if he went the buyout route and became a free agent -- starting with Orlando, Dallas and San Antonio -- but the Nets are hoping to swap him for a similar expiring contract before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. And Murphy naturally wants to land with a contender to end his run as the guy who has appeared in more games than any other active player (639) without tasting the playoffs.
“I’ve been very up front with him,” King said of recent conversations with Murphy, who has appeared in only 18 games with his hometown team. “I told him it’s unfortunate but there’s just no minutes here for you, so I’ll try to accommodate you [with a trade].”
The most interesting aspect of the whole situation, however it plays out, is that the Nets say they’re actively looking to trade Murphy now when it was assumed for so long that he would have to be part of any Anthony trade because his sizable expiring contract could provide the Nuggets with financial relief. Should King find a deal that gets Murphy somewhere he can get more minutes, we’ll have our surest signal yet that Prokhorov was serious when he said New Jersey is no longer part of the Melo Sweepstakes.