Denver, Anthony still mulling what to do (AP)

Aug 17th, 2010 | By sportsnews | Category: Sports

DENVER (AP)—Just how much longer will Carmelo Anthony(notes) play for the Denver
Nuggets
?

He can opt out of his contract after the upcoming season and become the
headliner of the 2011 free agent class or he could play out the final two years
of his contract and put off the wine-and-dine tour for a year.

He could sign a three-year, $65 million extension that’s been on the table
all summer and would keep him in Denver through 2015.

Or maybe he’s already played his last game for the Nuggets, who don’t want
to be spurned like the Cleveland Cavaliers were when LeBron James(notes) went on
national TV to divorce them for a fresh start in Miami.

The All-Star forward who won a national title as a freshman at Syracuse and
a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics—but has been able to guide Denver out of
the first round of the playoffs just once in his seven NBA seasons—could be
dealt before the season starts if team owner Stan Kroenke decides to jump-start
a rebuilding program.

With a sign-and-trade deal, ‘Melo would get the money he may not be able to
earn with a new collective bargaining agreement while the Nuggets land players
to help them get on with life after ‘Melo.

Kroenke might choose to deal the face of his franchise at the February trade
deadline, too.

The secluded owner likes to operate out of the public limelight, so his
intentions aren’t clear.

Neither are Anthony’s.

Some observers, however, see plenty of signs pointing toward his exit:

— He didn’t jump at the chance to sign his extension.

— He’s put his 25,000-square-foot mansion in suburban Denver up for sale.

— At Anthony’s New York wedding to television personality LaLa Vazquez this
summer, New Orleans point guard Chris Paul(notes) reportedly toasted the newlyweds by
predicting a future Knicks dream team made up of himself, Anthony and Amare
Stoudemire to counter the one in South Beach featuring James, Dwyane Wade(notes) and
Chris Bosh(notes).

Anthony, who grew up on the East Coast, dismisses the Big Apple speculation
as “rumors.”

“I’ve been hearing that for five years. So, rumors,” he said last weekend
at his annual basketball camp. “I’m a Denver Nugget. I’m here. I’m with the
Nuggets. I don’t become a free agent until next year, if I decide not to take
that extension.”

Like any competitor, Anthony wants to win a ring, and the Nuggets have
slipped back into the pack a year after reaching the Western Conference Finals,
where they had the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers on the ropes.

When coach George Karl had to take a sabbatical in March to fight throat
cancer, the Nuggets floundered under assistant Adrian Dantley and were bounced
in the first round of the playoffs by Utah.

They parted ways this month with Mark Warkentien, the NBA’s Executive of the
Year in 2009 after engineering the Allen Iverson(notes)-Chauncey Billups trade, and Rex
Chapman, vice president of player personnel, and they have yet to replace them.

Karl hopes to return to the sideline in September, his fitness and stamina
permitting, and he’ll find a team struggling to regain its own health.

The Nuggets don’t know when Kenyon Martin(notes) and Chris “Birdman” Andersen
will be recovered from offseason knee surgeries, so their desire for a big man
took center stage this summer.

They were unable, however, to move back into the draft this summer to grab a
big man, then struck out in their dogged pursuits of free agents Jermaine
O’Neal
(notes),
who went to Boston, and Udonis Haslem(notes), who stayed in Miami.

So, they decided to change the way they play.

They signed Al Harrington(notes), a power forward who likes to run and shoot and
will start at power forward with Nene, who is coming off a leg injury in the
playoffs, moving to center.

That means the Nuggets will have to play a run-and-gun style like Mike
D’Antoni’s old Phoenix Suns teams when the season starts.

In which case, they’d love to have Anthony’s 28 points a game.

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