Nuggets new general manager Masai Ujiri hasn’t given up on Carmelo Anthony just yet. That’s probably smart since he’s just been on the job about a day.
Ujiri took the gig knowing whatever happens with Melo would go down on his watch. Might the first defining moment of Ujiri’s regime be losing Denver’s franchise player? Talk about the hot seat.
So it’s no secret what’s Job No. 1 for Ujiri in his first chat with the media Friday:
“The Denver Nuggets want to keep Melo, and that’s our priority. Carmelo is the Denver Nuggets, he’s the city of Denver. He’s done so well on this team. So we’re going to deal with the issue full force.”
Ujiri, the NBA’s first African-born general manager, expects to meet with Anthony soon. The two have a solid relationship dating back to Ujiri’s first stint with the team from 2003-07.
Ujiri also knows what it’s like to lose a franchise player with little in return. He was the Toronto Raptors’ assistant GM the last two years, witnessing firsthand this summer’s defection of Chris Bosh to Miami.
The Nuggets don’t want to repeat that mistake with Melo. And while trading a Top 10 player like Melo is never easy, Ujiri may be backed into a corner if Anthony continues to pass on the $65 million extension sitting before him.
So in the meantime Ujiri hopes for the best, as he told Aaron Lopez of Nuggets.com:
“I know Melo. I’m not going to try to use anything on him. I’m just going to go there and be myself. I know Melo knows I’m a loyal person. Melo is a loyal guy. Different things have occurred within the last couple years and he’s feeling a certain way. Sometimes it takes time to think about it some more and breathe. Melo’s a positive guy.”