Ball Don't Lie - NBA

There are a lot of things we don't yet know about how the Superfriends era in Miami will turn out. Unless you have a time-traveling DeLorean, there's no way to tell how the entire situation will end up playing out. Among the very, very few things we do know is that the Heat are going to be good and that the free-agency coup that Pat Riley pulled off will change the NBA someway, somehow. In fact, something strange may already be afoot at the Circle K.

While we may have expected those large-scale changes to take place over an extended period of time, it seems like that timetable has been sped up considerably. Like, only one month rather than over the course of a few years. It started in New Orleans with Chris Paul(notes) allegedly requesting a trade and it continues in Denver, where ESPN's Ric Bucher is reporting that Carmelo Anthony(notes) is on his way out.

All signs continue to point toward the eventual divorce between Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets.

League sources say it is now a matter of when, not if, Anthony and the Nuggets will go their separate ways.

Anthony is weighing whether to sign a three-year, $65 million extension offered by the Nuggets. His dilemma, league sources say, is what affords him the best chance of continuing his career elsewhere. Anthony could sign with Denver and convince the team to then trade him. His other option would be to not sign the extension, thereby forcing the team to move him rather than risk losing him next summer as a free agent.

During his annual basketball camp in Colorado on Saturday, Anthony said he had no timetable on when he'll decide whether to sign the extension.

In either case, "he's going to make it real clear that he's not coming back," said one league source.

But both Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke and Anthony already are well aware that they don't have a future together, sources say. That became clear to Kroenke at a reception after Anthony's July 11 nuptials to La La Vasquez in Manhattan.

A series of toasts at the wedding reception, initiated by New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul, suggested Anthony leave Denver for the New York Knicks. Paul suggested it playfully, one source said, but subsequent guests -- including Knicks power forward Amare Stoudemire and Anthony's brother, Robert -- made the point more forcefully.

I guess Chris Paul making wedding jokes about playing for the Knicks (totally normal and cool wedding toast) weren't just rumors, but rather a part of a big-time bummer of a wedding for Stan Kroenke to attend. Imagine being Kroenke, thinking you're going to attend a nice ceremony for your team's star player, only to have every speech be about how that player is leaving as soon as he can. Quite possibly the worst wedding gutshot since Beatrix Kiddo's ill-fated nuptials.

But maybe you're wondering, "what does this have to do with the Heat?" Only everything.

Not only are we going to see more and more stars wanting to team up to challenge Miami — "Hey, our friends are doing it, why shouldn't we?" — but we're also going to see franchises doing everything they can to avoid being left empty-handed and embarrassed by their free agents deciding to bro down in attractive locations. The Denver Post's Mark Kiszla nails it:

There is no way Denver can afford to lose the face of its franchise for nothing as a free agent.

The Nuggets are now considering a strategy to part ways with their 26-year-old star forward, according to a league source.

After quietly gauging trade interest in Anthony for weeks, the team's consternation has only risen as he has made no move to accept a $65 million offer for a three-year contract extension that was formally presented more than a month ago.

The Nuggets don't want to get LeBron'd.

LeBron James(notes) toyed with anxious minds in Cleveland before ripping out the hearts of Cavaliers fans by announcing a departure from his home state on live television. As was first reported by The Denver Post in June, the Nuggets are prepared to trade Anthony rather than watch him opt out of his contract next summer.

Fun times. Everybody getting traded to a select few teams will create an even more defined and isolated top tier in the league. It'll be like the English Premier League, only with less hooliganism and fun chants.

Not to mention, if this happens, the Lakers have an even easier path to the NBA Finals. It's not that the Nuggets are legit title contenders with 'Melo, but they're at least a tough out. With Carmelo in the East, basically only Tim Duncan(notes) and Kevin Durant(notes) can save us from another Lakers Final.

Welcome to the new NBA. Here before we expected, and if this past month is any indication of the next six years, it's pretty scarifying.

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