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The Utah Jazz are involved in a potential four-team trade that would send forward Andrei Kirilenko to Denver in return for Charlotte forward Boris Diaw, multiple sources told The Salt Lake Tribune on Friday.
Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor would not comment when asked about the deal.
Denver forward Carmelo Anthony is at the center of the trade, which ESPN first reported. But Anthony who has declined a three-year, $65 million extension with the Nuggets must first agree to sign an extension with New Jersey for the deal to go through, a league source said.
However, the proposal has moved past the preliminary stage and has "serious legs."
"This is real and it could very well happen," the source said.
The Tribune was informed Friday night that Anthony was leaning toward to agreeing to the trade, although details were still being worked out.
The Jazz would trade Kirilenko and his $17.8 million expiring contract to the Nuggets, with Utah obtaining Diaw, who is set to make $9 million each of the next two seasons. The Jazz reportedly would also receive New Jersey guard Quinton Ross.
The Nets would acquire Anthony, while Denver would pick up rookie forward Derrick Favors and multiple first-round picks, as well as Kirilenko. Guard Devin Harris would go to Charlotte. A late addition to the deal could see point guard D.J. Augustin sent to New Jersey as a replacement for Harris.
But the complexity of the trade combined with Anthony's required approval could prevent it from going though.
A former Western Conference general manager said "a four-team deal is a no-team deal," when asked about the probability of the trade being completed.
The Jazz have shown interest in Diaw in the past, a league source said, but have previously been unable to pull off a deal for the seventh-year forward who has also played for Phoenix and Atlanta.
Diaw, 28, was set to be shipped to Toronto as part of a three-team trade last summer. That deal was killed because of Bobcats coach Larry Brown's fondness for Diaw. But Charlotte now has a logjam at the forward position featuring veterans Gerald Wallace, Tyrus Thomas and Eduardo Najera making Diaw expendable.
Diaw has averaged 9.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists while shooting 49.6 percent from the field during his career. His best season came in 2005-06, when he averaged 13.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists for the Suns and hit 52.6 percent of his field-goal attempts.
Diaw struggled at times the last two years, though, and has often been viewed as playing out of shape.
If Utah moves Kirilenko, it would primarily be a cost-saving move. The small-market Jazz are above the NBA's salary cap ($58 million) and luxury tax ($70 million), and are expected to possess a 2010-11 roster valued at about $75 million unless the team makes changes before training camp begins next Tuesday. Utah is forced to pay $1 for every dollar it is above the cap, limiting the team's ability to sign high-caliber players.
Trading Kirilenko and acquiring Diaw and Ross would bring Utah slightly below the tax, putting the Jazz in an ideal position with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and a possible lockout looming this summer. The move would also likely improve the team's long-term chances of keeping All-Star guard Deron Williams.
O'Connor said Sept. 16 that Kirilenko is "on our team," and that the Jazz were not looking to make any moves involving the ninth-year forward. But O'Connor added that he would not hesitate to explore a deal that would improve Utah's chances in the highly competitive Western Conference.
Kirilenko, 29, has averaged 12.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.1 blocks during his career. His production has slipped in recent years, though, as he has struggled with injuries and inconsistency.
Brian T. Smith