Melo headed to the Big Apple?

Denver Nuggets Carmelo Anthony reacts on the bench in the third quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 23, 2010. The Knicks defeated the Nuggets 109-104. UPI/John Angelillo Photo via Newscom

Ken Berger of CBS Sports writes that the main reason Carmelo Anthony hasn’t signed a three-year extension with the Nuggets is because he has a burning desire to play in New York.

Anthony, an ideal fit for the Knicks, already has told confidants this summer that he’s eager to explore playing in New York. His dilemma is whether to turn down a three-year, $65 million extension offer from the Nuggets with only 10 months left in the current collective bargaining agreement. The new deal is expected to be much less lucrative for players. Sources say owners who were rattled by this summer’s free-agent frenzy — orchestrated by CAA, which represented James, Wade and Chris Bosh — are determined to clamp down not only on player salaries in the new agreement, but also player movement.

Anthony’s desire to play in New York is so strong, sources say, that those close to the three-time All-Star have scoffed at the efforts of executives touting themselves as being able to deliver him.

“Carmelo already wants to play in New York,” one person with knowledge of his plans told “He doesn’t need anybody to bring him there. He’s a gunslinger. That situation is perfect for him.”

The new CBA is the wild card. Anthony may be leaving a lot of money on the table by turning down that extension, but playing in one of the world’s biggest markets would no doubt enhance his Q Rating and his ability to make money via sponsorships.

Fit-wise, the Knicks need a player like Anthony to build around. He and Amare Stoudemire would make a formidable 1-2 punch, and his ability to make jumpshots would be ideal for Mike D’Antoni’s offensive attack.

As it stands, the Knicks have plenty of cap space to sign Anthony outright if does indeed become a free agent next summer. The other team to watch in the race for his services is the New Jersey Nets, who project to have comparable cap space and a good young nucleus in Brook Lopez, Devin Harris and Derrick Favors. Next summer, the Nets might only be one year away from a move to Brooklyn, so if Favors shows star potential, Anthony could view the franchise as the best fit for his game.

As for the Nuggets — well, it looks like their run might be over. Chauncey Billups is 33, and other than Ty Lawson, there aren’t enough promising young players to convince Melo to stay put.

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