We didn’t see this coming — Denver cleaning out its front office. It comes right at the time reports are surfacing that Carmelo Anthony is leaning toward exploring his free agent options next summer, lockout and new Collective Bargaining Agreement be damned.
Coincidence? Probably not.
Mark Warkentien — the 2009 NBA executive of the year — and his right hand man Rex Chapman have both been let go by the Denver Nuggets, according to the team. Here is the explanation from the official press release.
“Mark and Rex have played important roles in our success over the past several seasons,” KSE Executive Vice President Paul Andrews said. “However, after meeting with both individually in recent weeks, we decided it would be best for all parties to go their separate ways. We appreciate everything that each has done for the organization and wish them nothing but the very best in the future.
“We are in the process of evaluating and restructuring the Nuggets front office and have begun a search for possible replacements as we prepare for the upcoming season.”
NBA.com reached Warkentien but he declined to make any comments.
Warkentien was one of ‘Melo’s biggest supporters in the organization and one who set up the three-year, $65 million extension that was offered to Anthony. The one he has ignored.
And the one he is not likely to sign, according to Alex Kennedy at Hoopsworld. He tweeted that Anthony is not too worried about the lockout and any money lost in the new CBA negotiations and wants to test the free agent market next summer.
Anthony just became the New York Knicks fans new free agent obsession.
It is possible that Warkentien and Chapman being let go as it becomes clear Anthony is plotting to leave is a coincidence. Not likely, but possible.
What is more likely is that the Nuggets are doing what Dell Demps is trying to do in New Orleans with Chris Paul (the other New York obsession) — convince him that the organization is changing its ways and wants to build a contender around him here. It may not be an easy sell, Stanley Kroenke has never been a big spender in the way that the Knicks have (which is largely a function of market size).
One thing to watch — Josh Kroenke, the owners’ son, may well take a larger role on the basketball side. That is something that has been rumored for a while and now there seems to be a spot for him. Whether that encourages ‘Melo to stay or go remains to be seen.