While Ron Artest and Geoff Petrie alike are in denial regarding the former’s mooted move to Manhattan (with the latter telling the Times’ Howard Beck, “if people want to have conversations with themselves, go for it. Ignorance is generally its own reward,”), the Newark Star-Ledger’s Dave D’Alessandro reports free agent F Mikki Moore might well be signing elsewhere.

Rod Thorn sounded as though the team and Mikki Moore are drifting apart. The Nets’ initial offer to Mikki Moore — roughly $10 million over three years, according to a player agent who required anonymity because he doesn’t represent the forward — was rejected by Mark Bartelstein.

“We have a different idea of where the market place is, basically,” Thorn said last night. “So he’s running around looking for what he’s looking for. And if he finds it, I’m sure he’ll take it.”

Bartelstein called Thorn’s statement “an unfair characterization,” and suggested that Moore was merely exercising his right to shop around.

“Mikki made it clear he wants to be with the Nets, but (after the initial negotiation) they said they’re looking at other things,” Bartelstein said. “We had told the Nets that Mikki had a couple of visits, and that he wanted the opportunity to hear what teams had to say, and the Nets said they’re basically moving on and will try something else.

“I just want the fans in New Jersey to know it’s not true Mikki is demanding a certain amount of money. That’s not the case. He just wanted a chance to finish some meetings, that’s it. We’re not demanding it has to be X amount.”

But even if Moore is looking for someone’s midlevel exception — that extra $5.9 million fund that clubs over the cap can earmark toward free agents — there are signs that his options are shrinking. Chicago (targeting Joe Smith) and Memphis (Anderson Varejao) seem to be looking elsewhere, and most teams — at least so far — seem reluctant to invest their exception money.

Though this enormously successful (and modest) correspondent will claim credit (by proxy) for a bit of Matt Bonner stalking during last spring’s SXSW, full credit to the Fanhouse’s Tom Ziller, who has uncovered video testimony from the Spurs’ superscrub regarding the purchase of a Pontiac Grand Prix.  “White,” insists Bonner, “is pretty cool,” (sure thing), while stressing the importance of leg room and good mileage.