Nuggets, Anthony mull future
Star offered 3-year $65 million pact
Just how much longer will Carmelo Anthony play for the Denver Nuggets?
He can opt out of his contract after the upcoming season and become the headliner of the 2011 free agent class or he could play out the final two years of his contract and put off the wine-and-dine tour for a year.
He could sign a three-year, $65 million extension that’s been on the table all summer and would keep him in Denver through 2015.
Or maybe he’s already played his last game for the Nuggets, who don’t want to be spurned like the Cleveland Cavaliers were when LeBron James went on national TV to divorce them for a fresh start in Miami.
The All-Star forward who won a national title as a freshman at Syracuse and a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics — but has been able to guide Denver out of the first round of the playoffs just once in his seven NBA seasons — could be dealt before the season starts if team owner Stan Kroenke decides to jump-start a rebuilding program.
With a sign-and-trade deal, ’Melo would get the money he may not be able to earn with a new collective bargaining agreement while the Nuggets land players to help them get on with life after ’Melo.
Kroenke might choose to deal the face of his franchise at the February trade deadline, too.
The secluded owner likes to operate out of the limelight, so his intentions aren’t clear.
Neither are Anthony’s.
Some observers, however, see signs pointing toward Anthony’s exit:
■He didn’t jump at the chance to sign his extension.
■He’s put his 25,000-square-foot mansion in suburban Denver up for sale.
Like any competitor, Anthony wants to win a ring, and the Nuggets have slipped back into the pack a year after reaching the Western Conference finals, where they had the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers on the ropes.
In an article released yesterday, James spoke of how widespread criticism of his decision — and how he chose to make it a television event — is fueling him this offseason.
But perhaps his sharpest words were reserved for Gilbert, the owner who lashed out at him shortly after James announced that he would be joining the Heat.
“I don’t think he ever cared about LeBron,’’ James is quoted as saying. “My mother always told me: ‘You will see the light of people when they hit adversity. You’ll get a good sense of their character.’ Me and my family have seen the character of that man.’’
Gilbert did not immediately respond to a request for comment.