Carmelo Anthony has finally confirmed what his actions have already been saying: He is ready to leave the Denver Nuggets after nine seasons.
The Nuggets have had a three-year, $64.47 million contract offer on the table to the star forward since last June and Anthony hasn't signed it.
"It's just uncertainty in the future of the organization," Anthony said of why he would be willing to accept a trade. "There are a lot of things that come into play; contracts, not knowing what's going to happen in the future, the next two or three years. I'm going into my ninth season. I have no time to waste right now. I want to see the light at the end of the tunnel with my future, and that light is the championship."
Though the Nuggets made the playoffs each of the last seven seasons, they have only gotten past the first round once, losing to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals in 2008-09. Anthony would not say if there is anything Denver can do by the Feb. 24 trade deadline to change his mind about their course. Because Anthony can opt out of his contract and become a free agent this upcoming summer, he almost certainly will be dealt in the next five weeks and it is beginning to look that the destination will be the New Jersey Nets.
Anthony does have some leverage because the Nets almost certainly would want him to sign him to an extension before making a trade. Those close to Anthony believe he would rather be shipped to the New York Knicks but they don't seem to have the trade assets to swing a deal.
Anthony, of course, could just sign with the Knicks as a free agent in the summer. Though a new collective bargaining agreement could result in him taking a big salary cut if he waits until free agency, he insists he is not worried about the monetary rewards of his next contract.
"At first, a lot of people were saying it's a money situation," Anthony said. "It has nothing to do with (any) type of money. I don't care about the money. My ultimate goal at the end of the day is to win a championship."
While they certainly don't have the profiles of Anthony, Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo and Washington Wizards forward Andray Blatche have also been mentioned in trade rumors. It has been suggested that Mayo could be a part of a three-way trade with the Nuggets and Knicks involving Anthony. However, the Grizzlies are not shopping Mayo and have not be intrigued by any offers for him.
"Every day you look at the gossip and you look on those blogs and there are all kinds of possibilities that could happen in this league," Mayo said. "But most of the time they don't happen. I'm trying to turn this around and get us a playoff opportunity. You have to come to work every day and stay focused and keep a winning mindset. I'm still coming here working hard every day trying to get better. I just have team goals. I hope to win. Nothing changes. I just hope we can get some wins and get to the playoffs."
Blatche, though, said he has been led to believe by Washington that he won't be traded by the deadline.
James Steps Back from Tweet
Is LeBron James the bad guy or not? It seems that he tries to play the part during his first season with the Miami Heat, only to then say he is just having fun while dealing with the jeers he has been receiving around the league.
When the Cleveland Cavaliers were routed 112-57 by the Los Angeles Lakers last week, James wrote this on his Twitter account: "Crazy. Karma is a b----. Gets you every time. It's not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!"
That, of course, was seemingly a shot at Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who released a scathing letter about James when he left Cleveland as a free agency last July that read in part: "This heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called 'curse' on Cleveland, Ohio. The self-declared former 'King' will be taking the 'curse' with him down south. And until he does 'right' by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma. Just watch."
Yet, James then contradicted himself by putting distancing from his tweet and insisting he has no animosity toward Gilbert or the Cavaliers.
"It was just how I was feeling at the time," he said. "It wasn't even a comment from me. It was someone who sent it to me and I sent it out."
It was a mixed message less than 24 hours after seemingly offering clear intent.
"I don't think it was no intent at all," he said. "I think everyone looks into everything I say. Everybody looked too far into it. It wasn't no intent at all. No hit toward that organization. I've moved on. Hopefully that organization has continued to move on. But I'm happy where I am as a Miami Heat player."
San Antonio Not Letting Up After Fast Start
The San Antonio Spurs' 35-6 record is the best in the NBA and their best ever at the halfway point of the season, surpassing their 32-9 mark in 2004-05. It is the also the fourth-best record at the halfway mark in league history. Yet with a playoff spot all but secured barring a total collapse, the Spurs insist they will keep on pushing.
"We just want to continue to play," forward Tim Duncan said. "It's great to get off to this start and we wanted to get off to a fast start coming into this year. We want to be able to have home-court advantage, if at all possible, in the playoffs."
San Antonio holds a five-game lead over the Lakers in the Western Conference and an 8.5-game advantage over the Mavericks in the Southwest Division.
"We're in a good position right now," Spurs forward Richard Jefferson said. "Again, we're halfway through the season, it's not like anyone around here is jumping up and down for joy. We lost to New York and Boston. We struggled at Indiana and Minnesota. Every game down here you have to fight for it."
Century Mark Not Thunder's Goal
The Oklahoma City Thunder is 21-4 this season when scoring at least 100 points but 6-10 when failing to do so. Yet while it would seem reaching triple digits is a pretty sure sign of success for the Thunder, coach Scott Brooks says he does not focus on reaching that mark.
"I don't have a set number," Brooks said. "It's almost just the flow of the game. We have some unique offensive players that can get to the basket. And when they're aggressive, good things happen. I just like to see the ball move and guys be aggressive and not hesitate when they have open shots. That's our focus. But we've definitely improved our offense."
Brooks says the number he believes is most important is points allowed.
"We still hang our hats on defense," Brooks said.
John Perrotto is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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