Anytime Denver Nuggets superstar Carmelo Anthony goes anywhere near New York, discussions of his contract situation and his rumored desire to play in the Big Apple dominate headlines. That was the case Sunday, when the Nuggets traveled east to play the New York Knicks. Reports surfaced after the game that Melo will accept a trade only to the Knicks, but such a demand puts the Nuggets in a tough spot, as the Knicks don’t have a first-round draft pick to give in return. ESPN.com, among other sources, reports that Melo is trying to leverage his refusal to sign the Nuggets’ three-year, $65 million offer into a trade with the Knicks. Even though Melo can’t tell the Nuggets where to trade him, he can refuse to sign a long-term deal with the new team. But that team will want Melo for the long run if they’re going to exchange anything of value, such as a first-round pick.
If the Nuggets don’t trade Melo by the February deadline, he will walk out the door next summer as a free agent, leaving the Nuggets with nothing in return. For now, Melo claims that wherever he ends up signing, a long-term extension is his top priority (via the New York Times).
Melo’s melodrama overshadowed an intense game against the Knicks that came right down to the end. Neither team showed any real defensive commitment, but the Knicks came out on top, 129-125 (box score via NBA.com). The game recap from Denver Stiffs points to some great battles during the game, including the Nuggets’ Nene versus the Knicks’ Amar’e Stoudemire, and point guard Chauncey Billups’ ongoing challenge to perform (he finished with four points on 1-for-7 shooting from the field). Melo played well in front of his dream team, scoring 31 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.