Melo says he’s like LeBron, not like Bosh

Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony warms up at the Pepsi Center in Denver on November 16, 2010.    UPI/Gary C. Caskey Photo via Newscom

The Melo Watch continues. The Nuggets are a somewhat disappointing 6-5 to start the season and are no doubt affected by the off-the-court drama involving Carmelo Anthony and his reported desire to play for a contender. In several chats with Peter Vecsey, Anthony compares himself to two of the three major players in last summer’s free agency frenzy.

“I’m not Chris Bosh,” Anthony declared. “We’re not the same person. What I do will be straight up. Management knows that.”

“I’m just like LeBron,” Anthony emphasized in the Nuggets’ locker room following Saturday’s practice. “It’s all about winning. That’s all I care about. I want the chance to compete at the championship level. All the other stuff is irrelevant.”

Bosh has become something of a punchline recently, but Melo’s decision to compare himself to the most reviled star in the NBA is a little puzzling. What Bosh did to the Raptors isn’t any worse than what LeBron did to the Cavs. In fact, you could argue that he handled his departure from Toronto in a better way because there weren’t any allusions that he’d be staying. On the other hand, until the moment LeBron uttered the words, “I’m taking my talents to South Beach…” Cavs fans believed that he was going to stay.

Maybe Melo was referring to the fact that Bosh has hinted that he wanted to play with LeBron and Dwyane Wade so that he’d get more television exposure or that he can now easily get the NBA League Pass, and by saying “It’s all about winning,” that’s probably the case. But it’s not a good idea to compare yourself to LeBron, not with the way he’s currently reviled in the city of Cleveland.

I’ve said it over and over — unless the Nuggets are sitting at .500 or below, it’s going to be tough to trade Anthony before the February deadline. It’s hard for management to sell the idea of trading away a team’s star when the team is safely in the playoff hunt. Fans are called fans for a reason — they’re fanatics, and are oftentimes delusional. (Seriously, just check some of the comments from Raptor fans when I insisted that the team should get what they could for Bosh early last season.)

Unless the Nuggets can somehow bring another star to Denver, they aren’t going anywhere this season, not with one-foot-out-the-door Carmelo leading the way. The best thing would be for the team to struggle early on, allowing both management and fans to realize that the team as it’s currently structured is a lost cause. Maybe then they can move on from Melo and get a few building blocks for the future.

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Carmelo Anthony speaks out about the extension

Denver Nuggets' Carmelo Anthony reacts in the second quarter of Game 4 against the Utah Jazz in their NBA Western Conference playoff series in Salt Lake City, Utah, April 25, 2010. REUTERS/Ramin Rahimian (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Per ESPN…

“I think my decision is my decision,” Anthony said, according to The Denver Post. “I don’t think it’s based on who is in the front office or anything like that. I’m going to make my decision based on my feelings.”

“I could wake up tomorrow and they could snatch it off the table,” Anthony said, according to the Denver newspaper. “I don’t know. I don’t know what their mind-set is.”

Anthony said his loyalty to the Nuggets’ fanbase and organization has never wavered.

“I’ve shown that over my seven-year stint here,” he said, according to The Denver Post. “I don’t think anybody can question that. But at this point in time, I have to do what’s best for me and my family. I’m just taking my time, figuring out if I want to take that extension or not.”

Lest there be any confusion, this is not a negotiating tactic to coax a better deal out of the Nuggets. Denver’s offer of $65 million over three years would give Anthony financial security in a time when there’s a new, owner-friendly collective bargaining agreement on the horizon. And let’s not gloss over the risk of injury either. If Anthony were to blow out his knee (a la Michael Redd), he could be leaving millions on the table.

If this were about money, Anthony would have already signed. This is about whether or not he wants to continue his career with the Nuggets. If he plays out the season without signing the extension, he’ll become the prize of the 2011 free agent class and could potentially ‘take his talents’ to the Big Apple.

Most pundits feel that this is about the Knicks, and I tend to agree. He’d be a nice fit in Mike D’Antoni’s system with Amare Stoudemire and an outside shot at teaming up with Chris Paul in 2012. But don’t overlook the Nets, who will be moving to Brooklyn in two years and have several attractive young pieces — Brook Lopez, Derrick Favors, Devin Harris — who might appeal to Anthony.

However, if he does indeed become a free agent, the Knicks are the frontrunner — there’s no doubt about it.

If I were a Nuggets fan, I’d be very, very worried. The writing is on the wall, but it’s nothing that a run to the Finals can’t fix.

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 CBSSports.com. “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.

Melo to test free agency next summer?

Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony fouls out against the Utah Jazz during the fourth quarter of the first round playoffs game two at the Pepsi Center on April 19, 2010 in Denver. Utah beat Denver 114-111 to even the series at 1-1.  UPI/Gary C. Caskey Photo via Newscom

Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD reported this yesterday…

Sources close to the situation don’t expect Carmelo Anthony to sign an extension with the Denver Nuggets this summer.

Anthony is leaning towards testing free agency next offseason, said sources on the same day that the Nuggets let go of Warkentien, Chapman.

Sources say that Carmelo isn’t too worried about next season’s potential lockout and he wants to explore his options next summer.

The Nuggets have been pretty good the last few years, but pretty good doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. It’s possible that Anthony saw what LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh did this summer and wants to form a ‘Super Friends’ of his own, potentially hooking up with Amare Stoudemire and Chris Paul in New York. Paul said as much in his toast at Anthony’s wedding a few weeks ago.

With an aging Chauncey Billups as Melo’s sidekick, the Nuggets don’t appear to be on the verge of challenging for a title. If they were serious about contending, they wouldn’t have given Marcus Camby away two summers ago. They did, however, sign 30-year-old Al Harrington to a mid-level deal this summer, which was a curious addition seeing as he’s something of a poor man’s Melo.

While the Nuggets have a couple of expiring salaries — Kenyon Martin ($16.5 M), J.R. Smith ($6.8 M) — they won’t have enough cap space next summer to re-sign Anthony and add another big-name free agent. Their best bet is to try to acquire a good player by dangling Martin’s expiring contract. Perhaps the Sixers would want to unload Andre Iguodala, whose defense and slashing ability would fit well with Melo and Billups.

The bottom line is that if Anthony ends up ‘testing’ free agency, he’s probably leaving. In all likelihood, if he doesn’t sign the extension, the Nuggets have until the February trade deadline to reshape the roster enough to convince him to stay.

Can the Knicks pull off a ‘Super Friends’ of their own?

DALLAS - FEBRUARY 13: NBA players Carmello Anthony (L) and Chris Paul attend the 23/25 Energy Space presented by Jordan Brand in Dallas, Texas on Februrary 13, 2010. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Jordan Brand)

Chris Paul apparently would like to get in on some of this ‘Big 3’ action and reportedly said as much in a speech at Carmelo Anthony’s recent wedding.

According to a person who spoke with wedding attendee Amar’e Stoudemire, Paul made the reference during a speech of a potential union of himself, Stoudemire and Anthony, saying, “We’ll form our own Big 3,” Paul allegedly said.

So how do the Knicks pull that off? Barring an unexpected trade, a few things would have to happen…

1. Carmelo Anthony can’t sign an extension with the Nuggets.
There is an offer on the table extending Anthony for three years and $64 million. Most people think that with a new collective bargaining agreement looming, he’d be nuts not to take the guaranteed money. But if winning is truly the most important thing, and he sees a future with the Knicks, he would let his current contract expire and become a free agent next summer.

2. ‘Melo signs a max or near-max deal with the Knicks.
Assuming Ray Felton makes about $8 million and Stoudemire makes around $19 million for the 2011-12 season, the Knicks would be on the hook — barring any new contracts — for around $44 million heading into that season. Assuming the salary cap jumps $2 million to $60 million, the Knicks would have around $16 million in cap space. That would be enough to sign Anthony, assuming he’d be willing to take a bit of a cut.

3. Chris Paul opts out of his contract and signs a max or near-max deal with the Knicks.
Depending on what the Knicks do with Danilo Gallinari, Anthony Randolph and Toney Douglas, they project to be on the hook for $32 million plus Melo’s deal ($16 million), or $48 million total. Assuming the cap jumps another $2 million, the Knicks would have about $14 million in cap space (or as much as $26 million depending on Gallinari, Randolph and Douglas).

Is it probable? No. Is it feasible? It looks like it.

One hangup might be the fact that Stoudemire’s contract is so large (five years, $100 million) that the Knicks won’t be able to afford to pay anyone else that much, so Anthony and Paul would have to agree to play for less when they are both arguably better players. Also, if the salary cap doesn’t rise at least two million a season, there won’t be enough room to sign both players without slashing salary elsewhere, and the Knicks appear to want to hold onto Gallinari, Randolph and Douglas. Lastly, a new collective bargaining agreement could radically change the salary cap and how free agency works.

Now that Knicks fans know that they aren’t going to get LeBron, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh, they can start looking forward to the Summer of Melo and the Summer of CP3.

Imagine an Eastern Conference Finals with the Heat (Wade, LeBron, Bosh) and Knicks (Melo, CP3, Amare) battling it out. As we learned last week, anything is possible.

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