Carmelo Anthony, Not LeBron James, Is A Cancer To The NBA

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Carmelo Anthony, Not LeBron James, Is A Cancer To The NBA
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Kevin Garnett was wrong.

After his team the Boston Celtics defeated the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 2, Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva sent out a tweet accusing Garnett of calling him a "cancer patient" during the game. 

Villanueva suffers from Alopecia Areata, a disease that has admittedly made him resemble a patient undergoing chemotherapy.

In reply, Garnett issued a statement that he only accused Villanueva of being "cancerous" to his team and the NBA, not of being an actual "cancer patient."

Whether KG did or didn't use those words is irrelevant: He's wrong in either case. Villanueva is not a cancer to the NBA.

With his paltry averages of 13.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 0.8 assists coming off the bench for the lowly Pistons, Villanueva is more of a dingleberry—a nuisance that should be wiped clean and flushed away, but not by any means threatening to the health of the league.

No, the real cancer of the NBA is Carmelo Anthony.

Signing a five-year, $80 million extension with the Denver Nuggets in 2006, Anthony has since made it public that he would rather play for his hometown New York Knicks, despite still under contract with the Nuggets.

Who is the real cancer of the NBA?

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So far he has spurned the Nuggets' three-year, $65 million contract extension offer, a max-contact deal that will likely be more lucrative than any contract allowed under a new Collective Bargaining Agreement once the current one expires this season.

Rightfully worried they will lose their franchise player with nothing in return like the Cleveland Cavaliers when they lost LeBron James to free agency this past summer, the Nuggets have been frantically shopping Anthony around the league to get at least something in return for their star player.

A major hiccup to their plans have been Anthony's resistance to agree to sign the contract extension with another team. This reluctance has been the major deal-breaker for interested teams as getting Anthony through trade is worthless if he bolts at the end of the season.

So far, the team that was most serious in a trade with the Nuggets for Anthony was the New Jersey Nets. With their planned move to Brooklyn in the 2012-13 season, they had wanted Brooklyn native Anthony to be the face of franchise.

However, Anthony's reported reluctance to sign an extension with the Nets and his public refusal of attending a Nuggets-arranged meeting with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov prompted the Nets to publicly bail out of the trade talks despite having worked on the deal for the past three months.

Now, the Nuggets are back to the drawing board and having to again call around the rest of the league to entertain trade offers. Only now, they are in a much weakened position, with teams reluctant to take any talks seriously having seen how the proposed Nets trade played out.

What should the Denver Nuggets do?

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Other teams in the league know how desperate the Nuggets are, which puts them in a severely disadvantaged position in negotiations. 

With the trade deadline a month away, the Nuggets are under the gun to make a deal soon and interested teams know they can pressure the Nuggets to give up Anthony for much less than they are asking for.

All this "Melo-drama" has been cancerous for the team's record, their fans, and for the league.

Having been one of the top Western Conference squads the past few years, the Nuggets finished last season as champions of the Northwest Division and was tied for the fourth seed in the Western Conference.

Go back another year and the Nuggets were not only Northwest Division champions but had the second seed in the West, making the Western Conference Finals before being defeated by the eventual NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.

This season, however, the Nuggets are currently third in the Northwest Division and seventh in the Western Conference. 

All the trade talk has been a huge distraction for the team. George Karl, coach of the Nuggets, has said the trade rumors have affected the team's practices and singled out Anthony as playing "very distracted"—not surprising as Anthony is scoring five points fewer per game than he did last season.

What should Carmelo Anthony do?

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Anthony's teammates have also been greatly affected as many of them have been discussed in the proposed deals, most notably Denver native and Nuggets starting point guard Chauncey Billups. All this has contributed to the drastic decline in the team's play.

Given that Anthony signed his extension in 2006 and has been reaping huge financial rewards from the Nuggets, his behavior has poisoned the Nuggets' season, making his entire team hostage to his whims, and robbing the team's fans of any joy in supporting the team. 

While LeBron James has been much criticized for his free agency debacle, one thing that can be said for him is that he waited until his MVP season was over and fulfilled his contract before wreaking havoc. That allowed the Cavs to have a meaningful season in achieving the best record in the league for the second year in a row and reaching the second round of the playoffs.

By allowing this trade drama to seep in DURING the season, Carmelo Anthony has become a cancer to his team, his teammates, his owners, the league and most importantly, the team's fans, and all on his team's dime to the tune of $17,149,243 this season.

What Anthony should have done is to tell the Nuggets not to trade him, that he won't sign a contract extension with any team and that he wants to play out his contract to the end of the season. 

While inevitably that would limit the Nuggets to a sign-and-trade deal at season's end to get something back in return for Anthony, it at least allows for the team to play out the season without these unnecessary distractions. And if the Nuggets were able to make a deep run in the playoffs, who knows whether that would have had any bearing on Anthony's decision.

Which team does Carmelo have a better chance at winning the championship?

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Now all that has happened is the Nuggets will unlikely find another team that would be willing to give up as much as the Nets to get Anthony, and possibly they might agree to a low-ball offer from a contender that just wants Anthony for the rest of the season and don't require that he signs an extension to make the trade.

The winner out of all this, ironically, is the Nets. By terminating talks for Anthony, they keep all their valuable draft picks and young talent that they would have lost mortgaging their future for a selfish player that doesn't want to play for their team.

Not surprisingly, after a six-game losing streak during the height of the trade drama, the Nets beat the Utah Jazz, one of the top teams in the West, immediately after Prokhorov announced they were no longer interested in trading for Anthony.

After the cancer that Carmelo has brought onto his team, his teammates and his fans, you have to wonder what team still is.

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