When Carmelo Anthony didn’t immediately jump at the chance to sign a three-year, $65 million contract extension with the Nuggets this summer, rumors began to spread that maybe he wasn’t all that thrilled about staying in Denver beyond next season.
Those rumors have now become fact, thanks to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports that says Anthony and his agent have told the team in no uncertain terms that he wants out.
And at this point, even the “next season” part appears to be in serious jeopardy.
According to the report, Anthony’s representatives, William Wesley and Leon Rose, had told Nuggets’ ownership that they’d be better off trading the team’s best player weeks ago. Anthony echoed those sentiments in a meeting on Sunday, one that apparently went so poorly that it may have solidified his future in Denver — or lack thereof.
"This wasn’t a productive, nor particularly pleasant, meeting and multiple sources said it could turn out to be the point of no return for Anthony and the organization. Sources insist it’s no longer a matter of if the Nuggets trade Anthony, but when, where and for whom he’s traded for," Wojnaroski wrote. Anthony effectively demanding to be dealt out of town comes at a strange time for the organization. Before head coach George Karl was forced out of action due to undergoing throat cancer treatment late last season, the Nuggets appeared to be the team best suited to challenge the Lakers in the Western Conference. Without Karl there, however, Denver limped to the regular season finish line, and the club was unceremoniously bounced out of the playoffs in the first round at the hands of the Utah Jazz. Now, after parting ways with former Executive of the Year Mark Warkentien and just recently hiring former Raptors executive Masai Ujiri, the team is faced with potentially being forced to completely rebuild the franchise if they end up trading Anthony for nothing more than young talent and draft picks.
It’s very similar to what took place in Phoenix this offseason, with Steve Kerr and David Griffin resigning after Kerr and Suns owner Robert Sarver couldn’t come to an agreement on a new contract. The Suns were left without any tenured front office leadership to guide them through the tricky Amar’e Stoudemire free agency period, and once Amar’e left for NYC and the max contract that he deserved, the team that finished last season just two games from the Finals was left with a former agent in Lon Babby scrambling to replace Stoudemire with the likes of Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress, and Hakim Warrick.
With untested front office leadership in Denver, there’s no telling how this will turn out for the Nuggets. Anthony reportedly gave the team a short list of his preferred destinations, which included the Nets, Clippers, Warriors, Rockets, and Bobcats — all teams that have some combination of young pieces and picks that the Nuggets might convince themselves is enough in return for Anthony.
But in all reality, it won’t be. And a team that was seemingly on the rise to the level of legitimate contender a season ago might start this next campaign in a significantly worse position.