Carmelo prefers the Knicks or Bulls?

According to an ‘NBA source’ of Marc J. Spears, Carmelo Anthony wants to be traded to the Knicks or the Bulls.

The Knicks have limited assets to offer the Nuggets, which makes the Bulls a more appealing potential trade partner. The Bulls can offer a replacement small forward in Luol Deng, as well as two young forwards in James Johnson and Taj Gibson. New York officials would like to make a run at signing Anthony next summer if he were to opt to become a free agent.

The prevailing notion is that the Knicks don’t have much to offer in the way of trade, but I’d rather do a deal for Danilo Gallinari, Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry than trade for Luol Deng and his bloated contract, which is worth $51 million over the next four years. I swear some of these pundits don’t even look at the salaries when they throw around trade scenarios. Deng is a solid player, but at almost $13 million a season, I would take a pass.

So unless the Bulls are able to add a couple of first round draft picks, the Knicks’ (potential) offer of Gallinari and Randolph would be better for the Nuggets. Thus far, it appears that the Knicks have been unwilling to include Randolph in the deal, which is a little mind-boggling. This is Carmelo Freaking Anthony we’re talking about — the Knicks should be pulling out all the stops to acquire him now, especially since the Spears article also states that he wants to be traded before the season starts. If he lands elsewhere, the chances that he’ll sign with the Knicks next summer decrease dramatically.

Sure, he could get traded to the Clippers or the Rockets and become a free agent next summer, but will those teams really pony up the best offer without some assurance that Carmelo is going to re-sign? The Nuggets will get the best deal from a team that knows Anthony is a long-term acquisition.

One other item from the Spears piece — Carmelo has yet to meet face-to-face with Masai Ujiri since he was hired as Denver’s new GM. That’s not a good sign for those holding out hope that he’ll be with the Nuggets long term.

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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 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.

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