Has the first LeBron-sized domino fallen for 2011? Sure has if Carmelo Anthony really is planning on leaving Denver.
Hello, Big Apple.
Melo is no doubt the headliner a year from now should he hit the open market. The All-Star forward owns an early termination option, which will be exercised if Anthony decides to bypass the three extra years — and $65 million — the Nuggets are hoping to tag onto his current contract.
Many league observers, especially around Denver, figured Melo signing the max-level extension would be a matter of when, not if. Well, he hasn’t signed, giving Nuggets fans the same sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach felt last month in Cleveland.
ESPN’s Ric Bucher suggested the writing on the wall for Anthony’s Denver divorce can be traced to his wedding last month:
But both Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke and Anthony already are well aware that they don’t have a future together, sources say. That became clear to Kroenke at a reception after Anthony’s July 11 nuptials to La La Vasquez in Manhattan.
A series of toasts at the wedding reception, initiated by New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul, suggested Anthony leave Denver for the New York Knicks. Paul suggested it playfully, one source said, but subsequent guests — including Knicks power forward Amare Stoudemire and Anthony’s brother, Robert — made the point more forcefully.
Then Kroenke stood up to give a toast and the room was filled with an awkward silence, one wedding guest said. Kroenke tried to make light of the situation by suggesting Paul could come to Denver but that elicited no response.
How about a Mile High panic? By not signing an extension, Melo could be taking a huge risk with a lockout possibly on the horizon after this season. The Nuggets, according to Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla, are already taking steps not to get “LeBron’d.”
The Nuggets are now considering a strategy to part ways with their 26-year-old star forward, according to a league source.
After quietly gauging trade interest in Anthony for weeks, the team’s consternation has only risen as he has made no move to accept a $65 million offer for a three-year contract extension that was formally presented more than a month ago.
The Nuggets don’t want to get LeBron’d.
LeBron James toyed with anxious minds in Cleveland before ripping out the hearts of Cavaliers fans by announcing a departure from his home state on live television. As was first reported by The Denver Post in June, the Nuggets are prepared to trade Anthony rather than watch him opt out of his contract next summer.
Melo would headline the free agency crop of 2011. At least he’ll give the Nuggets one more year than LeBron gave the Cavaliers.