Carmelo Anthony Vows to Be With Nuggets Wednesday
DENVER -- The only hurry Carmelo Anthony seemed to be in after Saturday night's game was to avoid the media.
After his team's 127-99 rout of Cleveland, the Denver forward ducked out of the locker room without talking to reporters, which has not been his style this season despite all the trade rumors surrounding him. Later, though, he was leaning against a Pepsi Center hallway, chatting with Cleveland assistant Jamahl Mosley, a former Denver aide, for more than 10 minutes.
Four kids approached Anthony for autographs, and he gladly complied. Cavaliers forward Jamario Moon stopped by and asked Anthony, wearing sunglasses, "Where's the sun?''
After his hallway meeting, Anthony did grant FanHouse a brief interview. Despite rumors that a trade with New Jersey is imminent, Anthony insisted he will be in uniform Wednesday for the Nuggets against Oklahoma City.
"It ain't my last home game,'' Anthony said of Saturday. "But I ain't speaking on nothing else.''
Asked if he would guarantee he'll be in uniform for Denver against the Thunder, Anthony, whose Nuggets play at San Antonio on Saturday before that game, said, "Yeah, man. Yeah, I'll be here.''
Anthony has vowed several times recently, when trade rumors have been swirling, that he had another game or home game left in him. He's been right every time so far.
"I have no idea,'' Nuggets coach George Karl said when asked if Saturday was Anthony's last home game. "I would never think that.''
Told Anthony vowed to still be around Wednesday, Karl said, "If he does think that, that's good.''
Having Anthony lately sure has been good for the Nuggets (23-16). After losing three three straight, they've now won three in a row by an average margin of 30 points.
"It got to do with Melo,'' guard Anthony Carter said of a key reason why the Nuggets have turned matters around. "He told everybody, 'Forget what's going on around us. Let's go ahead and play. Everybody's here, so let's go out and play the game the right way.' And everybody kind of bought into it and kind of put everything to the side.''
While Anthony, who scored 12 points in 27 minutes in the rout of the Cavaliers, didn't have much to say after the game, he had plenty to discuss after the morning shootaround. He spoke to reporters about why he hasn't signed a $64.47 million extension, which is why he's a good bet to be dealt before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Anthony can opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer, which possibly would leave the Nuggets with nothing.
"It's just uncertainty in the future of the organization,'' Anthony said of Denver. "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.''
Anthony continued to say he hasn't ruled out signing the extension with the Nuggets. But he declined after Saturday's game to answer whether there's anything the Nuggets can do by the trade deadline to make a future in Denver more appealing.
There is a proposed three-team deal, which also would include Detroit, in which Anthony would go to the Nets. However, Anthony likely would have to sign the extension with the Nets for that to happen.
Many believe Anthony's preference is to go to New York, which doesn't have the trade assets New Jersey can present. Anthony played it coy after shootaround when talking to reporters about the Nets.
"I don't know where all this Nets stuff came from, man,'' Anthony said. "Once the Nets went out there and acquired those five picks, everybody just put everything together... From what I'm hearing, nothing is imminent right now. That's just what I'm hearing.''
Anthony was asked about reports he could have a meeting with New Jersey owner Mikhail Prokhorov in which the Russian would try to convince Anthony to sign an extension with the Nets.
"What am I going to meet with (Prokhorov) for? Anthony said. "You think that's tampering?... It is tampering, though, at the end of the day.''
It isn't if Denver gives permission. Before the Nuggets traded Allen Iverson to Detroit in November 2008, they granted Pistons executive Joe Dumars the right to talk with him.
ESPN.com checked with the league office on Anthony and it confirmed the Nets would be allowed to grant Nets officials a face-to-face meeting with him before any trade is done.
If Anthony really wants to go to New York, he could sign with the Knicks as a free agent this summer. However, a new collective bargaining agreement could result in a big salary cut.
"At first, a lot of people were saying it's a money situation,'' Anthony said after the shootaround, without mentioning any teams. "It has nothing to do with no type of money. I don't care about the money. My ultimate goal at the end of the day is to win a championship.''
Regardless of what happens, Karl certainly is of the realization he eventually might not have Anthony on his team. Karl, who is negotiating a three-year extension, told FanHouse last week he is committed to returning to the Nuggets next season if they are rebuilding and sources said Denver is committed to bringing him back.
But Karl didn't want to use the rebuilding word Saturday.
"I think everybody is trying to figure out this new philosophy amongst players and agents,'' said Karl, who said the Nuggets have talked to assistant Melvin Hunt about being with the Cavaliers last season and having LeBron James become a free agent and bolt to Miami, which has resulted in Cleveland being 8-32.
"I don't want to kind of rebuild. I want to reinvent our team rather than going into rebuilding.''
Karl, who said he recognizes these days that "sometimes basketball finishes second to business,'' was asked to define reinventing.
"Hopefully, don't drop below 35 or 40 wins,'' Karl said. "Keep the record at a level you can sustain confidence and develop a positive energy with the new people.''
The Nuggets are on pace to win 48 games this season. If they win their next two, they'll be 25-16 at the midpoint of the season.
At least Anthony vows to be around for at least the next two games.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson