“I’m here today… Whatever the future holds, it holds. I’m leaving my options open right now.
That was Carmelo Anthony today, sounding a lot like LeBron James a year before.
What the Denver Nuggets want to avoid is a LeBron repeat — an entire season of speculation followed by losing their best player and getting nothing in return.
But Anthony came out Monday at Nuggets media day and took a page from LeBron’s strategy. He said he never asked for a trade, he planned to stay a Nugget this season and that he was “keeping his options open” until the end of the season. Which could really force Denver’s hand.
There are reports that Anthony is willing to sign off on playing for the Nets and that trade is picking up steam again, that it is now the Nuggets who are dragging their feet. If true — and that is a mighty big “if” — then Denver has to seriously consider it. Because there are not better deals coming from their end.
“I never once said anything about trade talk…. There’s been a lot of speculation going on”
“I’m leaving my options open. At the end of the season, I’ll sit down with my team, I’ll sit down with the Nuggets”
“I’ve been a Nugget for seven years. This is where I started my career. Tomorrow the ball goes up and we get started.”
First, technically he did not request a trade publicly, if he did that he’d be fined. That’s why agents and back channel folks force these things. Be very clear that he did push for a trade, just not in public because he didn’t want to write a massive check.
Aside that, Melo sounded like LeBron about keeping his options open. And sounding like LeBron is not good for the Nuggets (see what happened to Cleveland).
If he is planning to wait until the end of the season to decide (if the Nets trade does not happen), Denver may be stuck in the situation they wanted to avoid. They would like to keep him, and if they are seriously close to geting him to sign an extension then trading him becomes hard. If they think he’s gone they’ve got to move him to get something back, but the days of driving a hard bargain like they did the last few weeks — demanding Joakim Noah from the Bulls, for example — may be gone.
The only teams that would take Anthony are the ones where he would sign an extension. If that really is just the Knicks and Bulls, then Denver has only a couple partners here. They can send him where he wants to go and get pennies back on the dollar, or they can do nothing and get nothing back.
Chauncey Billups admitted this all would be a distraction, but that he didn’t expect it to impact Anthony on the court.
George Karl spoke of making the NBA’s final four teams, while general manager Masai Ujiri gave the company line about adding players if needed to be a winner. Ujiri added, “I love Melo.”
We’ll see soon if Nuggets fans still feel the same way.