Would Denver trade Carmelo Anthony? Maybe…

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Thumbnail image for Anthony_game.jpgCarmelo Anthony is the Denver Nuggets right now.

He is the face of the franchise. He is the best player. He is the guy capable of leading them deep into the playoffs.

He is also the guy that could be a free agent next summer. So far, Anthony has been the anti-LeBron, saying he wants to stay in Denver and starting to negotiate with the franchise about an extension. A three-year, $65 million offer is on the table.

Melo told Denver he wants to see a commitment to winning before he signs it.

If he doesn’t sign it, the Nuggets may trade his rather than face the possibility of losing him for nothing as a free agent next summer, according to the Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla.

While their offer of a hefty contract extension proves the Nuggets hope Anthony will remain the face of the franchise for years to come, the team is prepared to trade Melo rather than let him walk as a free agent next summer, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

First off, leaking this could be just the Nuggets trying to put pressure on Melo to sign the deal in front of him.

If not, it’s a move that would send the Nuggets into a rebuilding mode (with Chauncey Billups likely only to play a handful more seasons it would not be that hard to start over). Because you never get equal value when trading a superstar, the Nuggets would be better with young players and picks that would jump-start the process.

But that is a long ways off, because Anthony will sign an extension this year.

What Anthony does not want is to be the first big free agent under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that will be hammered out — and likely locked out — next summer. Whatever the max is under that CBA, it will be less than now. Better to sign this deal and get at least three more years of money under this deal.

That does not preclude a sign-and-extend to another team. But that also would be the last resort for both sides. Stanley Kroenke and family have shown a good and steady hand at ownership, and have made moves to win in the past. They will again.

And unlike some current free agents, it’s hard to picture Melo in anything but powder blue.