Report: Carmelo Anthony going to leave Denver

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canthony_arty.jpgYou thought I was kidding when I said Carmelo Anthony was going to be the next LeBron James.

Not on the court, there James is still vastly superior (to use one stat, Anthony had an All-Star level PER of 22.2 last season, while LeBron had a League-leading 31, and the last player other than James to have a PER over 31 was Michael Jordan in the 1992 season).

But like LeBron before him, Melo is about to be the lightning rod of free agent rumors for next season. He will be at the heart of countless rumors and hype.

The latest comes from Ric Bucher at ESPN — Carmelo Anthony is not going back to Denver.

League sources say it is now a matter of when, not if, Anthony and the Nuggets will go their separate ways.

Anthony is weighing whether to sign a three-year, $65 million extension offered by the Nuggets. His dilemma, league sources say, is what affords him the best chance of continuing his career elsewhere. Anthony could sign with Denver and convince the team to then trade him. His other option would be to not sign the extension, thereby forcing the team to move him rather than risk losing him next summer as a free agent.

League sources are usually people not with the Nuggets. Those may or may not be people with an interest in seeing Anthony on the move. But whether you choose to believe this particular report or not, there is now become a chorus of voices saying Anthony at the very least is seriously debating whether or not to come back to Denver.

If Anthony makes it clear to Denver that he is gone after this season, they would really have no choice but to make a trade to get some value for the superstar they would lose. There might even be a sign-and-trade for the three-year, $65 million extension that Anthony is now ignoring.

However, Denver wanting to do a trade and Anthony ending up where he wants — New York or another destination — are two different things. And a whole different set of rumors. Just like we saw with LeBron all of last season.