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Art Garcia

Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony has scored 24.7 points a game in his seven-year NBA career.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With camps creeping up, Melo rumors at a low boil


Posted Sep 14 2010 6:39PM

Carmelo Anthony is still a member of the Denver Nuggets. Those stressing that fact, especially within team circles, probably can do without the added stress of persistent Melo rumors.

Sorry. We're not about to ease your pain here.

Anthony's reluctance to sign the three-year, $65 million extension offered by Denver has driven speculation of where he will end into hyperdrive. Whether that speculation is from reputable sources or the upshot of unfounded conjecture, Melo is the league's most intriguing topic since ... well, you know who. And those two other guys.

The Nuggets' uncertain future isn't helping their cause. Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith could all be gone before next season. Ditto for coach George Karl, who's entering the last year of his contract and is returning after a bout with cancer. There's much for first-time general manager Masai Ujiri to juggle.

One major sticking point to take into account regarding Melo's next move: Any trade will likely have to come with his blessing and include a sign-and-trade because teams aren't going to trade for Anthony without the security of an extension in place. Otherwise, they run the risk of losing him outright after the season when Melo can exercise the early termination option in his current contract.

So until his situation is straightened out, either before the season or by the trading deadline or next summer (knock on hardwood), Melo is going to be a constant storyline.

Here's a look at his possible destinations based on educated guesses and reasonable hunches:

Chicago

The Bulls are poised to win big, even though they share the Eastern Conference with Miami, Boston and Orlando. Chicago has some nice pieces to send back to the Mile High City to get a conversation started. The question is, which ones will it take?

The Nuggets have to ask for Joakim Noah, don't they? But word out of the Windy City is Noah, considered the team's heart and soul, won't be on the table. The Bulls would rather start with a package built around Luol Deng, and including young talents such as Taj Gibson and James Johnson.

That may not be enough to secure a top-10 talent. If the Bulls soften their stance on Noah -- which doesn't seem unreasonable -- Chicago possibly becomes the favorite to land Melo. Imagine the Bulls with Anthony, Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer and maybe Noah? The rest of the East doesn't want to.

New York

Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and -- wait for it -- Chris Paul. Here's to wedding toasts and dreaming big, especially in the Big Apple. The Knicks' plans for landing Melo are best served after the season, provided a messy lockout or a revamped collective bargaining agreement doesn't get in the way.

New York gets the albatross known as Eddy Curry off its books after the season, conceivably clearing enough cap space to make a run at Melo if he opts out. All that, of course, could hinge on the new agreement between the owners and players, and what it means for future contracts and salaries.

There's a definite risk for Melo if he goes the free-agency route. Working out a sign-and-trade now is preferred, which again doesn't bode well for New York. The Knicks currently don't have any enough value on the roster to make a deal with Denver. The Nuggets simply don't want what New York is willing to move.

Houston

General manager Daryl Morey isn't afraid to shake up the roster. The Rockets made a strong run at Chris Bosh this summer and H-town has long been a popular locale for players. Building a bridge to the franchise's future around Melo has to be bouncing around inside Morey's noggin.

There's a definite opening at small forward now that Trevor Ariza is gone. A combo needed for Melo could include any of the following: Aaron Brooks, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and Shane Battier. And what about Yao Ming? Have to think about that, don't ya, Daryl?

New Jersey

The Nets are in the same boat as their neighbors across the Hudson. The Nets' best shot to make a free-agent pitch looks to be after the season, unless the Nuggets are dying to take back Devin Harris and various other moving parts. Rookie lottery selection Derrick Favors is another prospective ingredient.

The future move to Brooklyn bodes well for the Nets, given Melo's fondness for New York. Having a billionaire Russian owner also doesn't hurt. After striking out on LeBron, Mikhail Prokhorov would save serious face and get closer to his title promise by landing the King's close buddy.

Golden State

A darkhorse in the proceedings, the Warriors will be aggressive in their pursuit should the Nuggets concede to trading the face of their franchise. Golden State would be a major player in the Western Conference for years to come with a Melo-Stephen Curry-David Lee nucleus.

Notice who's missing in that trio? Yes, Monta Ellis. The pint-sized shooting guard, owed $44 million over the next four years, would be the likely centerpiece in any blockbuster Golden State move. Others that could be included are rookie lottery pick Ekpe Udoh and Brandan Wright, a pair of developing forwards that could replenish Denver's frontcourt. Both are rehabbing after surgeries, but shouldn't have any long-term health concerns.

Dallas

Mark Cuban isn't going to miss out on the Melo Party. Other than Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks have to consider everyone in play. Caron Butler's expiring contract is a start. Denver asking about precocious talent Roddy Beaubois is a given.

Cuban never lets players, draft picks, cash and details get in the way of guys he wants. He's dying to get back to the Finals. Anthony pries the Dallas window back open for Nowitzki and adds that second superstar the team desperately needs.

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clips were famously one of LeBron suitors, but did anyone really think it could happen? Vinny Del Negro's new squad has plenty of cap space and promising assets (Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu) to begin a dialogue.

Plus, there's the L.A. market. Just as with New York, Hollywood has to appeal to Melo and his celebrity wife LaLa Vazquez.

Denver

Never say never. Until he's gone, the Nuggets hope for the best.

Art Garcia has covered the NBA since 1999. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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