According to multiple reports out of Denver, three-time NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony is refusing to sign a three-year contract extension with his current team. Early in the summer, the Nuggets made it clear that securing Anthony for the coming years was a priority. However, the former Syracuse star has been reluctant to commit to the team.
The deal in place for Anthony would have reportedly paid him approximately $65 million, making him one of the highest played players in the league. To walk away from that type of money, the 26-year-old forward must expect a bigger pay day when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.
During the much-hyped free agency period of 2010, the league’s available unrestricted free agents Amare Stoudemire, LeBron James and Chris Bosh all opted to switch to different teams. James and Bosh joined All Star Dwyane Wade in Miami, where the team became the favorite to win the NBA title. Stoudemire, however, went to the New York Knicks in the first step of a multi-year rebuilding process.
When Stoudemire first arrived in New York, rumors began to circulate that he wanted Anthony and New Orleans Hornets guard, Chris Paul, or San Antonio Spurs guard, Tony Parker to join him. While nothing ended up coming together by way of trade in 2010, Stoudemire made several public comments about wanting to eventually have Anthony join him on the Knicks. It was also reported that at Anthony’s wedding a few weeks ago, Paul made a toast to the “New Big Three” comprised of him, Anthony and Stoudemire.
It’s important to note that Anthony is playing a very risky game by not signing the extension that the Nuggets are offering. There are no guarantees that the Knicks, or any other team will be willing to shell out the money that he wants for a player who while arguably one of the best offensive talents in the league, still hasn’t proven himself to be a great all-around player.
At the core of this whole thing is the troubling new trend in the NBA of stars leaving mid-market teams for the bright lights of Miami, New York, Chicago or Los Angeles. If Anthony chooses to leave Denver for the Knicks next summer, the team will fall into the same deep, dark hole that the Cleveland Cavaliers currently find themselves residing in.
Then again, this league has never been the shining example of parity that the NFL is. Even when the Western Conference had eight teams finishing with 50+ wins a few years back, there was very little doubt about who the true heavyweights in the league were. The NBA has traditionally defined itself as a league with five to six superpowers, seven to eight second-tier teams and a bunch of trash franchises at the bottom.
Nevertheless, Anthony’s decision will no doubt be the hot topic of most basketball-related conversations in the coming weeks, barring him changing his mind and choosing to re-sign with the Nuggets.
Here are the questions to think about, though:
- Would a team with a core of Stoudemire, Anthony and Parker/Paul be a legitimate threat to the Heat, Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics in the East?
- Would Anthony leaving Denver to go to New York hurt the league?
- Is Anthony really the type of player you can build a championship contender around?