As has been reported, Carmelo Anthony desperately wants out of Denver and is likely heading to Brooklyn by way of New Jersey. But getting his wish might ultimately backfire on him.
As the Carmelo Anthony-wants-out trade rumors began to heat up late last month, I wrote a column for SB Nation Denver proudly titled "Denver is NOT Cleveland." And a week before that, I wrote an open letter to Anthony explaining why Denver provides him his best shot at an NBA Championship.
I still stand by everything I wrote in both pieces because from my (admittedly biased) vantage point, nothing has changed on this end. The Nuggets remain two seasons removed from the cusp of the NBA Finals and one season removed from winning 53 games in spite of losing their coach to cancer and best defender to injury. The Nuggets are one season away from having tremendous salary cap flexibility. The Nuggets are owned by two basketball-obsessed men who desperately want to win, while doing so with some fiscal responsibility (hey, there are only four or five organizations that will spend at all costs to win, so it's nice to have owners that will spend at all). Denver is one of the country's best sports cities - there's a reason why non-Colorado natives like John Elway, Joe Sakic, Dan Issel and countless other former Denver sports stars still call the Mile High City home. And while no one will mistake the 2010-11 Denver Nuggets as championship contenders, they could be a J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin trade away from being in that conversation again.
So, Carmelo, what gives?
The myth being tossed around these pages that Carmelo Anthony is a loyal guy and is all about winning should have completely evaporated by now. Anthony is a fine player, yes, one of the NBA's best and probably not replaceable no matter how many prospects and picks are thrown our way. But that doesn't mean he's a great guy and it certainly doesn't mean he's a team-first, win-first guy. You can forget all that now. Melo's lack of commentary on this whole situation in of itself speaks volumes: #15 doesn't want to be in Denver. I guess we're just not good enough for him.
So if Denver - a great place to be a professional athlete while raising a family - is not good enough for Carmelo Anthony, then what the hell does this guy want? As asked by Denver Stiffs reader "Thursty" in a FanPost today: what is Melo thinking?
Well, we really don't know. But we can surmise that it has much to do with playing in the biggest market possible for Melo's out-sized ego to fit into and - and I can say this with great confidence - he has clearly been co-opted by those around him, namely Worldwide Wes, the Creative Artists Agency, his wife LaLa and god only knows who else. In other words, Melo isn't just believing his own bullshit of being the biggest star in the biggest market, but he's buying into the stuff being shoveled all around him, too.
Rather than continue to build on seven great years in Denver with a fine organization, a legendarily great coach and a quality cast around him with a bright future (after some bad contracts come off the books), should Carmelo Anthony land in New Jersey he'll be asked to save a perennially losing franchise while playing in the world's biggest media market for one of the meanest SOB coaches in the NBA. A coach, by the way, who demands a defensive effort on every possession.
Meanwhile the Nuggets, with a roster likely including Andrei Kirilenko, Chauncey Billups, Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nene, Ty Lawson, Chris Andersen, Kenyon Martin and a young, eager-to-learn pup named Derrick Favors, coached by a two-time cancer survivor who should be an inspiration to us all, will give Nuggets fans everywhere a lunch pail / blue collar-type team worth rooting for. And yes, they'll make the playoffs in 2011.
If Carmelo Anthony becomes a Net by weekend's end as is being reported now, the joke will ultimately be on him.