Anthony open to long-term commitment with Nuggets

Three-time All-Star enjoying summer, weighing all options

Commitment has been a theme for Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony this summer.

He committed to longtime fiancée La La Vazquez at their wedding in July, and he recently committed to playing for Team USA in the 2012 London Olympics.

The Nuggets could be next on the list, but Anthony said Saturday that he wants to take his time before deciding whether to sign a three-year contract extension that would keep him in Denver through the 2014-15 season.

“Obviously everybody knows that I’m loyal to the Denver community and to the Denver Nuggets. I’ve shown that over my seven-year stint here. I don’t think nobody can question that,” Anthony said during a break at his annual basketball camp. “But at this point in time, I’ve got to do what’s best for me and my family. If it’s taking my time, figuring out if I want to take that extension or not, then that’s what I’ve got to do.”

Anthony, an All-NBA second-team selection in 2009-10, has two years left on his current contract with the Nuggets but can opt out of his final season and become a free agent next summer. The New York Knicks are the team most often rumored as a future destination for the Brooklyn-born Anthony.

“I’ve been hearing that for five years,” Anthony said with a laugh.

Asked if he would like to play in New York, Anthony declined to take the bait: “I’m a Denver Nugget, man. I’m here. I’m with the Nuggets. I don’t become a free agent until next year – if I decide not to take that extension.”

Anthony has until June 30, 2011, to sign a contract extension. As he weighs his options, the Nuggets are in a transition period. Coach George Karl is returning to health after battling throat cancer, and Denver is in search of a new general manager after the contracts of executives Rex Chapman and Mark Warkentien were not renewed.

“They’ve got to do what they’ve got to do as far as thinking what’s best for the team,” Anthony said of the front-office change. “I’m a player. That’s all I know. I don’t really know what decisions came into firing those people or hiring those people. I try to stay away from that.”

Anthony also declined to criticize his friend and Team USA teammate LeBron James for leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers and signing with the Miami Heat. The Heat also added free-agent Chris Bosh to play alongside James and All-Star guard Dwyane Wade.

“People want to win,” Anthony said. “I think that’s the ultimate factor – winning. I think (James) feels like right now the Miami Heat have a chance of winning one championship or multi-championships. I think in Cleveland he felt – I don’t know, I’m just assuming – he probably felt that he did it for a long time and he was getting there year in and year out and he just couldn’t get over the hump.

“That’s his decision, man. I can’t question his decision and how he went about it. Obviously he had a reason why he did it.”

James’ decision to leave Cleveland after seven years is a primary reason fueling the fear that Anthony will leave Denver in a similar manner next summer. The Nuggets’ success on the court likely will play a factor in his thinking; they made the Western Conference finals in 2009 and are riding a string of three consecutive 50-win seasons.

Denver added versatile forward Al Harrington to the roster this summer. Harrington is a proven scorer who can take some of the defensive focus away from Anthony, who doesn’t mind sharing some of the offensive burden.

“Al Harrington can definitely score the basketball,” he said. “I’m getting old (26), man. Scoring 30 a night, I’m past that.”

Anthony is a little more stingy when it comes to sharing his jersey number. Former Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall recently said he wants to try out for the Heat or Nuggets if there’s an NFL lockout in 2011. He and Anthony both wear No. 15.

“He can’t get 15,” Anthony said. “That’s all I’m going to say. He can come tryout, but he can’t get 15.”

Melo’s stronghold on No. 15 would be a welcome sight for the Nuggets. That would mean he once again had made a commitment.


Contact Aaron J. Lopez at alopez@pepsicenter.com

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