The focus was on the tangible facts available at the present moment, rather than the possibility of a contract extension that hasn’t been signed or trade proposals that haven’t come to fruition. Carmelo was in the Pepsi Center, wearing a Nuggets NFL jersey, and as the Nuggets addressed reporters in the noon hour, that was pretty much the extent of it.
“Melo is a Nugget now, and we’re excited about that,” Nuggets executive vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri said.
“I’m here today,” Anthony said. “Whatever the future holds, it holds.”
They didn’t disclose details of their morning meeting, and they didn’t comment on a potential trade. More significantly, neither side proclaimed that Anthony wasn’t going anywhere, and Anthony didn’t utter anything remotely close to Chauncey Billups’ statement that, “I’m under contract right now with the Nuggets, and hopefully that’s for the rest of my career.”
The only indication that Carmelo would even consider playing out the final season of his contract in Denver came when he said, “Right now I’m leaving my options open. At the end of the season, I’ll sit down with my team, sit down with the Nuggets and go from there.”
That was probably out of habit more than anything else, after seven MLB jerseys years of starting and ending the NBA calendar with the Nuggets. And any linking of his future to the Nuggets’ was likely mere courtesy. After all, he was in their building, with their logo on the backdrop, their back-from-cancer coach in the room and with Nuggets executives Josh Kroenke and Bret Bearup lingering in the press room and the hallway outside.
“I’m here, of course I have to be committed, 100 percent,” Anthony said. “This is going to be a great year for me, a great year for the Nuggets, a great year for the NBA as a whole.”
Notice that he listed himself and the Nuggets as separate entities, not “us.”
The only thing Anthony wanted to clarify was, “I never said I wanted to be traded.”
Then again, he never said he didn’t.
He wants to be gone by whatever means, the sooner the better for all involved except the Nuggets, who hold out hope that being back in Denver surrounded by his teammates and coaching staff will weigh on Carmelo’s sentimental side and cause him to reconsider.
Then again, how effective can that be when the franchise is in flux on multiple levels? Ujiri is in after the Nuggets dismissed Mark Warkentien and Rex Chapman over the summer. George Karl’s trusted assistant coach, Tim Grgurich, left last week. There could be major roster turnover after the season, including Billups, the ballast.
Karl couldn’t guarantee he will be in Denver beyond this NFL jersey season, but he did say he feels well enough to coach all 82 games after debilitating cancer-fighting treatments caused him to miss the end of last season and the playoffs. He called Denver the best city in the country, and said he hopes to retire here.