Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Timofey Mozgov may be the most important player in the NBA right now.
But you wouldn’t know it by his aw-shucks attitude Monday after Knicks practice.
“How I feel it?,” Mozgov, an undrafted 7-foot-1 rookie from Russia, told a slew of about 20 reporters with a smile.
“Thank you. You tell me this, I didn’t know. I don’t know. It’s great, but I don’t feel lucky.”
Mozgov is reportedly involved in two major deals related to the all-consuming Carmelo Anthony trade.
The Knicks are reportedly willing to send Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler and the Knicks’ 2014 first-round pick to Denver for Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams and Renaldo Balkman. The Knicks would also deal Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry’s expiring contract to the Minnesota Timberwolves, who would then deal Corey Brewer to Denver.
The Nuggets are also pushing the Knicks to include Mozgov in the deal, but the Knicks reportedly aren’t willing to do so.
“If I were traded, for me [it would be] some new experience because in Europe before they do it, I think you’ve got to speak with the agent, sign paperwork, have a new contract,” Mozgov said.
“Anyway, if I were traded, it will be a great experience for me. I will know how it works.”
Chris Broussard of ESPN The Magazine also reported Monday that the Nets could make a trade with the Nuggets even if they do not land Anthony.
Under the parameters of that deal, the Nets would acquire either Gallinari, Felton or Chandler from the Nuggets plus Mozgov for two first-round draft picks. The Nets would also have to send additional contracts or cash back to Denver in order to make the salaries match.
The Nets reportedly see this as a way to simultaneously tweak the Knicks and strengthen their team if they are unable to land Anthony.
Anthony’s preference remains joining the Knicks.
Asked how he would feel if he were dealt across the Hudson River to the Nets, Gallinari said, “I will do the best I can. You gotta control what you can control. You cannot control all the other stuff, so I can control the fact to come in the gym every day and work and try do my best and get better as a player.”
He conceded it would be disappointing if he were traded. Head coach Mike D’Antoni played in Milan with Gallinari’s father, Vittorio, and the Knicks selected Gallinari No. 6 overall in 2008.
“To be honest with you, it’s tough to leave New York,” Gallinari said. “It’s tough. It’s a part of the NBA life and a part of how the NBA works, so you gotta live with that.”
The NBA trade deadline is Thursday.
Knicks president Donnie Walsh did not attend practice Monday. Neither did Curry or Amar’e Stoudemire, who scored 29 points for the East Sunday in the All-Star Game in Los Angeles.
“I think everybody’s waiting the next three days to see what happens, to see if it’s cosmetic, see if it’s big, see whatever,” said D’Antoni, whose team hosts the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday. “We’re ready for anything but we do business as usual.”
D’Antoni declined to comment on whether he would favor trading three starters.
He did concede that his players remained on edge with all the uncertainty.
“I’m sure they are really on edge,” he said. “No doubt it, as everybody else. You have to be. I was talking to Raymond before. His phone blew up over the weekend. That’s part of the business now. It’s not great, but we’ll deal with it.”
Both Felton and Chandler left practice before speaking with reporters.
Mostly, D’Antoni said he’s looking forward to Thursday, when the trade deadline passes at 3 p.m.
By then, Anthony could be a Knick or a Net.
“Thursday will be a good day,” D’Antoni said. “That will be a good day.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.