Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony has been hounded by rumors of an impending trade basically since the earliest days of the 2010-2011 NBA season.
There have supposedly been two separate deals in place that would have shipped the explosive forward to the New Jersey Nets, with numerous other players, teams, cash and draft picks involved. Yet none of it has come to fruition as of yet as the NBA's February 24 trading deadline quickly approaches.
The New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets have all been linked with making a pitch for Carmelo Anthony's services.
Yet few have truly considered the possibility that the Denver Nuggets, the only team he's ever known, could swoop in and actually lock up Anthony on a contract extension that keeps him in Denver for the foreseeable future.
Anthony himself confirmed that he'd "take a long look" at the possibility of staying in Denver, but what could the Nuggets do (besides, obviously, not trading their star) to keep 'Melo around for a few more years?
I'll go over 10 scenarios in which Denver could gain the upper hand and win Anthony back over, and convince him to prolong what's been a largely successful career with the Denver Nuggets.
One thing that Carmelo Anthony explicitly said in the interview where he revealed that he might revisit the possibility of signing the Nuggets' three-year contract extension reportedly worth $65 million was that he wanted to be clear on what direction the Nuggets intended to go in in the near future.
Specifically Anthony raised the Nuggets' desire to create a younger roster, which is usually code for, dump all the seasoned veterans with expiring contracts in favor of untested young guys that cost less and offer roster flexibility.
Anthony is in win-now mode wherever he might end up on his next contract, and it's clear he wants to be on a team built to contend.
So that means that the Nuggets would have to forget exploring trade possibilities for vets like Kenyon Martin or J.R. Smith or Nene unless they managed to find a way to bring in other quality pieces that could contribute to winning in 2011 in Denver.
The Nuggets won't keep Anthony if they start moving the guys around him for pennies.
Nuggets head coach George Karl has never had the most lovey-dovey relationship with his team's star player, but he and Carmelo Anthony have been together since almost the beginning of Anthony's career in Denver.
And the two's relationship was said to have improved recently, ironically in what are expected by most to be Carmelo's last days in Denver.
So now might be the ideal time to have coach Karl step in and try to guide Anthony towards re-upping with the Nuggets for three more years.
He could sell Carmelo on his desire to win a title with his longtime pupil, as well as his commitment to sticking around and trying to build a strong team in Denver.
It's been a foregone conclusion of sorts that Carmelo is only interested in playing for the New York Knicks, either going there via trade and then signing an extension, or hitting free agency and signing the Knicks' offer.
But Denver might benefit from trying to plant the seed in Anthony's mind that the Knicks don't actually want Carmelo as much as is presented in the media and among the fans.
After all, the Knicks have maintained the desire to not overpay and deconstruct much of their roster in a trade for Anthony.
Does that mean the Knicks don't want him? No not at all, but it is ammunition for the Nuggets to try and say to Anthony that perhaps the Knicks don't truly want to move heaven and earth to acquire you.
It's a stretch, but the Nuggets could use it to try and convince Anthony that Denver is a team that truly wants to build around him and will do whatever it takes to keep him on board.
The Nuggets are currently the number six seed in the Western Conference with a 31-23 record, but they're not comfortably positioned within the West's playoff picture.
Only 2.5 games in the standings separates them from being outside the playoffs looking in, so they are in no way guaranteed to be playing in the postseason.
A hot streak that pushes Denver into the playoffs more comfortably, though, could convince Anthony that the Nuggets offer him the best chance to get into the playoffs every year and actually have a shot to make a run towards the NBA Finals.
In this case, a surge during this season could be a selling point to Melo to keep him in the Rocky Mountain city a bit longer.
Earlier I wrote that Denver needed to avoid dismantling their veteran roster, but I think they still could be boosted in their hopes to retain Carmelo Anthony by perhaps adding a veteran presence that could increase the Nuggets' likelihood of winning late in the 2010-2011 season.
Perhaps a veteran big man can be found to bolster Denver's front line? Or maybe there's a shooter or guard out there available to bring in and draw defenses off double teaming Anthony due to his presence.
Making a move before the deadline could very well help Denver convince Anthony that they are serious about winning now, and therefore increase their viability in his eyes as a team to stay a part of going forward.
Carmelo Anthony seemed to have no interest in joining the New Jersey Nets, be it this year or over the next three seasons.
The allure of being a part of the first team to play professional basketball in Brooklyn, his home town, did not seem to get him too excited about signing an extension with the Nets.
So perhaps Denver can try to re-orchestrate a move to New Jersey, even despite first year owner Mikhail Prokhorov declaring that the team was no longer interested in acquiring the dynamic small forward.
If they re-engage the Nets and perhaps acknowledge that they're open to and adamant about accepting the Nets' package without further concessions like New Jersey also taking highly overpaid Al Harrington back with Anthony, perhaps a deal gets the closest to completion as of yet in this drawn out negotiation.
If Denver tells Anthony that his choices are potentially be traded to New Jersey and be wooed by the Nets to sign an extension, or take their extension offer and stay put, perhaps Carmelo is more enticed to sign on with the Nuggets.
He certainly doesn't seem to be in a rush to sign up for a career with the Nets.
The Nuggets have a number of contracts set to expire at this season's end, so it might help them lure Carmelo Anthony to stay by offering him a boost in salary from what they've long held as their final extension offer of three years valued at $65 million.
If they increase the dollars to Carmelo over the life of the deal and sell him on adding further quality pieces around him, that's a lot to say no to for a player without a firm future contract in place.
Carmelo has long been associated with a strong desire to sign a three year deal relatively soon, stating that it's a big issue for him in his career, and that stems from the fact that it's no guarantee that NBA basketball starts up on time for the 2011-2012 season.
Nor is it clear what the collective bargaining agreement will look like between the league's owners and the players' association.
If Denver plays up the doom and gloom possibilities of a lockout or extended work stoppage, combined with a restructured CBA that keeps Anthony from earning the maximum value he could earn by signing an extension, that could put the fear in Carmelo.
If he's truly worried about his potential to earn the most and protect himself from suffering from the league's labor situation, Denver could exploit that and get him back in the fold going forward as a result.
The NBA is dominated by the background influences of agents and advisers.
In the case of Carmelo Anthony both those entities have driven the bus in his maneuvering for a trade out of Denver, specifically led by his agent from CAA, Leon Rose, and Rose's adviser William "Worldwide Wes" Wesley.
Rose represents superstars like LeBron James, to name one, and is considered an opportunistic and powerful force in the NBA, especially when working in tandem with Worldwide Wes.
They reportedly spearheaded the effort to create the mega-trade that would have sent Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton to the Nets along with Carmelo Anthony.
If Denver can find a way to get them onto the periphery and work things through with Melo directly, they might be better off in terms of making progress towards getting Anthony's mind open to an extension.
Dynamic point guard Chris Paul is a free agent in the near future, and he and Carmelo Anthony hold a strong friendship.
There have been plenty of rumors and speculative words spent on the toast that Paul made at Anthony's wedding this summer, where he supposedly made a joke about playing with Carmelo on the Knicks.
Why don't the Nuggets try to take advantage of this friendship and this harmless joke, by making it known to Anthony that they strongly target Paul and would love to acquire him to run the offense and create for his friend Anthony?
Even if Denver can't get Paul onto their roster immediately, just the gesture might be enough to get Melo interested in re-upping in Denver.
It's a big move and commitment to make a run at a player of Paul's caliber, and the gesture might be enough to sway Anthony into signing an extension.