Carmelo Anthony Likely To Stay With the Denver Nuggets Through 2010-11 Season

Rich Kurtzman@@RichKurtzman Senior Analyst INovember 11, 2010

On Tuesday, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears reported that the Denver Nuggets front office is once again shrinking.

After the firings of Mark Warkentien and Rex Chapman in August, Bret Bearup—adviser to the Nuggets since 2000 when Stan Kroenke purchased the franchise, the NHL's Avalanche and the Pepsi Center where both teams play—was let go on Tuesday.

Bearup was instrumental in many personnel moves over the last decade, including bringing Allen Iverson and Chauncey Billups to Denver: The Nuggets' success in recent years is largely due to Bearup's work.

But it was another move that was Bearup's undoing in Denver—he was the biggest proponent of trading disgruntled superstar Carmelo Anthony.

Conversely, newly crowned Vice President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri and President Josh Kroenke (Stan's son who will have "full" control starting in January 2011) both are still confident they will be able to convince Anthony to stay in the Mile High City through 2014.

There was reported confusion by prospective trade partners' front offices, who were receiving conflicting reports regarding Anthony's availability—so Bearup was forced out of office.

What this means for the Nuggets is that Anthony will almost certainly be in the Denver baby blue and yellow through the end of the season, but his future with the franchise is even more up in the air than one of Melo's majestic jumpers.

Yes, Nuggets fans are assured Melo will be in the Mile High for the rest of this season. They can continue cheering him on and must desperately hope Denver wins its first NBA Championship come April, because it's seemingly the city's last hope to keep the only superstar they've had this century.

But if the Nuggets come up short of a title (not many believe they can dethrone the Lakers), Denver will be left high and dry—possibly in a worse-off situation than Cleveland after LeBron's decision to leave.

If the Nuggets don't trade Anthony—neither Ujiri or Josh want moving Melo to be their first move while in power—he will be able to walk away to any team he chooses after opting out of the final year of his deal.

Not trading Carmelo will help the front office's image in the short term, but is it in the best interests of the team in the long run?

To get a young big man, first round pick(s) and salary cap relief still isn't "equal value" for an NBA superstar, but it sure is much better than coming up with a big goose egg, nil or nada.

According to "sources close to the situation," Anthony wants out of Denver, and he is stuck on playing for the New York Knicks.

Even if the Nuggets were to find a suitor, like the Nets from the earlier four-way deal that almost happened in the preseason, Anthony would have to sign his extension before the trade could go through.

It was Ujiri who killed the trade to the Nets though, not Anthony, and a deal for Derrick Favors was still rumored to be possible. That's likely a complete afterthought now that Bearup is gone.

If the other Josh (Kroenke) doesn't want to end up being perceived in a worse light than the Josh (McDaniels) who's in charge of the Broncos, he can't just let Denver's only sports superstar walk away and come back empty-handed.

Then again, with a massive amount of money coming off the books in 2011 (Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, Arron Afflalo and Chauncey could be bought out, and Nene could opt out as could Melo) the Nuggets would almost certainly be one of the teams with the most amount of money to spend then, or after the looming lockout.

In other words, this is it for the "Carmelo Anthony Era Nuggets." 2010-11 is the last chance this current core of players will get to bring a title home together.

And whether or not Melo stays in Denver, there will be a tidal wave of changes coming to the Nuggets. Although he's a nice piece to build around, Anthony's not the end-all, be-all in the National Basketball Association.

Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist actively looking for a career in journalism. Along with being a Denver Nuggets and Denver Broncos Featured Columnist for bleacherreport.com, Kurtzman is the CSU Rams Examiner and the Colorado/Utah Regional Correspondent for stadiumjourney.com.

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