Carmelo Anthony will take Manhattan. Maybe. That or the money.

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CAnthony_stares.jpgSitting in front of Carmelo Anthony is a three-year, $65 million extension to stay in Denver. But like a high school student with his algebra homework in front of him, Anthony is dreaming of a far off place.

New York, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.

Anthony, an ideal fit for the Knicks, already has told confidants this summer that he’s eager to explore playing in New York. His dilemma is whether to turn down a three-year, $65 million extension offer from the Nuggets with only 10 months left in the current collective bargaining agreement. The new deal is expected to be much less lucrative for players. Sources say owners who were rattled by this summer’s free-agent frenzy — orchestrated by CAA, which represented James, Wade and Chris Bosh — are determined to clamp down not only on player salaries in the new agreement, but also player movement.

Anthony’s desire to play in New York is so strong, sources say, that those close to the three-time All-Star have scoffed at the efforts of executives touting themselves as being able to deliver him.

“Carmelo already wants to play in New York,” one person with knowledge of his plans told CBSSports.com. “He doesn’t need anybody to bring him there. He’s a gunslinger. That situation is perfect for him.”

First things first — the owners are the ones to blame for this summer’s free agent frenzy, not CAA. It was not CAA offering Darko Milicic four years, $20 million. It was not CAA giving Rudy Gay and Joe Johnson max deals. It was the Knicks themselves that knew they had to overpay to get Amare Stoudemire. And the list of guys getting big tickets continues on down to Amir Johnson and others. A lot of guys got overpaid who had nothing to do with Miami and CAA. It’s on the owners.

If the owners want to clean up the NBA salary situation, they need to start with that guy in the mirror.

As for Anthony, his decision is simply how bad does he want to go to New York. He’s a gunner — a not terribly efficient gunner — and that could mean a big payoff on the court in New York. He could pair very, very well with Amare Stoudemire. There’s a lot to like.

Unless you want the most money you can get. Then you sign the $65 million deal in Denver. Because whatever the new economic reality is after the next lockout ends, it will not be as good for the players as it is now. Carmelo’s offers next summer may be max but they will be less per year. The end of the deal may not be guaranteed. A lot of things can happen, but most won’t be good.

So, take the money, or is it bright lights, big city? We may not find out until next summer, but the drama will keep building.