It appears that Carmelo Anthony has come to his senses. The Nuggets all-star forward is reportedly open to negotiating a contract extension with Denver after demanding to be traded.
Regardless of who helped Anthony see the light, this is welcome news for the NBA—unless you’re not a Nuggets fan and wanted to see No. 15 in your favorite team’s colors.
Anthony belongs in Denver. He’s been a good fit ever since the Nuggets drafted him as a teenager with the third overall pick in 2003—the same year the Cleveland Cavaliers took LeBron James No. 1.
Just because the LeBron–Cleveland marriage ended in a nasty divorce after seven seasons without an NBA title doesn’t mean the Anthony–Denver union has to end the same way.
Nuggets fans used to love Anthony. But they’ve booed him this season, because of his trade demands.
Anthony can win the fans back if he signs an extension and allows Nuggets management to concentrate on putting better players around him.
Two years ago, the Nuggets gave the Los Angeles Lakers a tough six-game series in the Western Conference finals. With Anthony, the team isn’t that far away from being on the short list of contenders for an NBA title.
But Anthony somehow forgot all that.
Earlier this season, it appeared that Anthony was close to being traded to the awful New Jersey Nets. The end of those trade talks was a blessing in disguise for Anthony.
The New York Knicks then entered the picture. But to get Anthony, the Knicks would likely have to give up swingman Wilson Chandler, forward Danilo Gallinari, and more. That would make a team with Anthony and fellow All-Star Amar’e Stoudamire weaker than it was before.
That’s the same problem with the latest Anthony-to-the-Lakers rumor. If Kobe Bryant’s team were to trade often-injured center Andrew Bynum to get Anthony, the Lakers would have no low-post presence at either end of the court.
Yes, Pau Gasol would still be a Laker. And he’d still be a 7-foot finesse player. Just last week, Bryant called out Gasol, urging him to emulate Natalie Portman’s killer ballerina and play like a "black swan.”
But that’s like asking Anthony to become a defensive stopper. That’s not who he is. Anthony is a prolific scorer, just like Bryant. Anthony is a player who needs the ball, just like Bryant. But unlike Bryant, Anthony is not one of the NBA’s five best players. Anthony doesn’t play much defense, and despite being 6-foot-8, he’s a weak rebounder.
Anthony can do the things he does best—score, and eventually find open shooters against defenses bent on limiting his scoring—in a Nuggets uniform. Having danced with other suitors, he’s better off at home.
Cecil Harris is the author of three books, including Charging the Net: A History of Blacks in Tennis from Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe to the Williams Sisters.
Image: RAY STUBBLEBINE/Reuters/Landov