Carmelo Anthony is the talk of the town these days.
He's actually the talk of several towns—not just Denver, but also New York City, Chicago, Newark, and Houston. These are the cities that Carmelo has quietly indicated are his preferred destinations after leaving Denver.
For reasons that we still don't know (Carmelo can't publicly discuss this topic), Anthony wants to leave the team for which he's played for the past seven seasons. He seeks greener pastures, apparently.
Possibly inspired by the control that his buddies LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh exerted over their destinies, Anthony has dreams of uniting with Amare Stoudemire in New York and forming a rival "superteam."
If that can't happen, then maybe a superteam with Derrick Rose in Chicago, with Yao Ming in Houston, or with Brook Lopez in New Jersey.
Some are speculating that Anthony wants to return to his northeast roots, making New York and New Jersey his preferred destinations.
That theory, of course, is undermined by his "people" recently communicating that the Bulls are running "1-A" in the race. Chicago is not located in the northeast, so this suggests that maybe the desire for a superteam is the real motivator.
Another problem—he's reportedly not opposed to New Jersey, but teaming up with Brook Lopez just doesn't scream "superteam!" at me.
Ahh, then there are those reports (not confirmed by the "people") that maybe Carmelo would be happy in Los Angeles. These rumors are driven by the fact that his wife, La La Vasquez, has said that she loves it there.
The bottom line is that no one seems to know anything other than that Carmelo is apparently unhappy in Denver for some reason.
He seemed happy there for the past seven years, and with good reason.
Joining a team that had won just 17 games the season before his arrival, Carmelo has been to the playoffs each of his seven seasons with the team. The list of teams to do that is not long. The Nuggets won at least 50 games the past three seasons. Again, not a lot of teams have done the same.
Denver advanced to the Western Conference Finals in the 2008-09 season, losing to the L.A. Lakers. The 2009-10 season started off looking like the Nuggets would again challenge the Lakers for conference supremacy. Carmelo Anthony was playing the best basketball of his career. Then the wheels came off. Coach George Karl left the team after the All-Star break, and the team limped into the playoffs where they were eliminated in the first round.
The core of the Nuggets is intact, they just need to get healthy. They have their coach back. They have one of the premier leaders in the NBA (Chauncey Billups) running the point.
What more can the kid ask for?
Yes, that word "kid" is the key to my argument. Carmelo is just 26 years old. He's thinking like a kid.
The Nuggets have offered him a three-year extension on his contract. Assuming he plays it out, he'll still be just 30 years old.
Let's also assume that the Knicks, for either sentimental or superteam reasons, are his top choice. Let's say that he really, really wants to play for the Knicks.
Why not just sign the extension, play in Denver a few more years at maximum money and see how far he can take them, then move to the Knicks when the situation is more favorable?
The reality is that the Knicks do not have the pieces to make a deal with Denver work. New Jersey won't be an attractive option for another couple of years. Why settle for his second, third, or fourth choice when he could just be patient and hold out for his first choice?
It's pretty hard to assume that we are hearing Anthony's honest desires when he's not allowed to speak on the subject himself. It would be still hard even if he did, but still, New York seems to be his preference.
If he really wants to end up in New York playing with Amare (not a bad idea), why not just stay in Denver until that can happen? Otherwise, any team that deals for him and fails to meet his expectations will probably end up in the same situation Denver faces now. Remember, that extension is only three years.
In the meantime, he needs to instruct his wife and his "people" to keep their mouths shut. There is nothing wrong with wanting to play somewhere else, but having it come across like he wants to play anywhere else rubs a lot of people the wrong way.