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FILE -- Will the Warriors be able to pull off a trade that will help its young backcourt of Monta Ellis, left, and Stephen Curry? Or will one of the guards be used for trade bait? (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The mere concept of a titanic trade involving Carmelo Anthony has New Jersey Nets fans jumping and down, even though the deal may never get past the conceptual stage.

You can't blame them. They haven't had much to cheer about recently. Their team is 10-27. That's a vast improvement over last season, when it lost 70 of 82 games.

If the rumored deal -- including as many as four teams and 15 players -- somehow reaches fruition, it would dramatically transform the Nets. They would receive the New York City-born Anthony, a 24.7 points-per-game career scorer, plus guards Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton. It would cost them eight players, most notably point guard Devin Harris, and three draft picks (two No. 1s).

NBA insiders have a standard two-word response to this kind of trade. We can report only that the first word is "Holy."

Thus, it's easy to imagine all this whooping and hollering drawing the attention of Warriors fans and easier still to imagine them wondering when it will be their turn to jump and down.

Warriors general manager Larry Riley has seen a few half-court traps in his day. He knows exactly where this is headed.

"The next question would be, 'Are you close to a trade?' " he said after the team's practice Tuesday afternoon.

"No, we're not."

But they're working on it, which is, well, something. See, the topic isn't hot just because the mega-Melo deal has grabbed everyone by the imagination. It's timely because new Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber burst through the door a couple months ago vowing to upgrade the roster at their earliest convenience.


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Or maybe Lacob's remark to the opening-night crowd about the Warriors' 1974-75 championship banner looking "awfully lonely up there" was just an idle observation.

Riley didn't read it that way.

"Sometime early in the ownership period, I would think there will probably be some kind of action," Riley said. "I don't know when, but I know that they want us to be working on major deals. Their intent is to be very active."

And there is a third reason to be having this discussion now. The NBA trade deadline is closer than it may appear -- Feb. 24, to be exact.

How active management chooses to be over the next six weeks could depend on how the team plays. The Warriors are five days into a seven-week stretch during which they'll play 18 of 22 games at home. The team is about as healthy as it has been all season.

In other words, we're about to get an extended look at this roster's best-case scenario. This doesn't mean the Warriors' lonely championship banner will be getting any company this year. But Riley should get a more refined accounting of the roster's assets and liabilities, and how he might use the former to mitigate the latter.

He warns not to expect activity just for activity's sake. That goes double for big deals.

"There's nothing in the bylaws that says when the trade deadline comes up we have to make a deal," he said. "Although some people view it that way."

In fact, Riley is suspicious of trade offers that pop up out of nowhere as the deadline nears.

"I would like to spend as much time as I could from now until the trade deadline working on issues that maybe have some kind of a chance," he said, "rather than get right down to the last 24 hours and have someone call me and say, 'Hey, I got this deal for you, what do you think?'

"The way you get that call where it's legitimate is somebody has done a trade and some rosters have changed. Then there's some rationale. But when somebody is sitting there with the same roster that has not changed, that kind of makes me a little gun-shy."

If it makes you feel better, Lacob was part of the Boston Celtics ownership group when Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were acquired. The result of that sparkling bit of proactive thinking was the Celtics' 17th championship banner.

Speaking of company.

"I would not promise our fans that we're going to make a big trade," Riley said. "I will promise them we will exhaust every opportunity to make our team better.

"That's kind of a company line, isn't it?"

Only if we're still hearing it six months from now.

Contact Gary Peterson at gpeterson@bayareanewsgroup.com.