Carmelo Anthony(notes) wants out of Denver, and Worldwide Wes delivered that message to the Nuggets with all the delicacy of a jackhammer at Sunday morning services. Do yourself a favor and trade him, the agent told the organization weeks ago.
Denver was furnished with a short list of teams and told to get to work. Yes, this is how William Wesley and Leon Rose of CAA work now, thick with threats and ultimatums and a swagger suggesting that the sport belongs to them. After Anthony told owner-in-waiting Josh Kroenke that he still wanted out of Denver during a Sunday meeting, the Nuggets appear done trying to sell their All-Star forward on a contract extension.
This wasn't a productive, nor particularly pleasant, meeting and multiple sources said it could turn out to be the point of no return for Anthony and the organization. Sources insist it's no longer a matter of if the Nuggets trade Anthony, but when, where and for whom he's traded for.
"It's almost a given they're going to move him," said a front-office executive who's talked with the Nuggets and Anthony's agents with CAA.
While Kroenke had several severe remedies in his back pocket if the agency didn't back off its most strident demands, sources said Thursday night that the owner never had to go that far to get CAA to work with the Nuggets. Now agent Leon Rose and Wesley are more open-minded about potential trade destinations.
Anthony wants to leave Denver and get his three-year, $65 million contract extension now. This partnership is rounding third and rapidly reaching disrepair. Denver is willing to trade Anthony, J.R. Smith(notes) and Kenyon Martin(notes), and start over again, sources said.
The Nuggets made it clear to teams they want young players and draft picks for Anthony, league executives said. The New Jersey Nets and Los Angeles Clippers have emerged as the two most probable destinations for Anthony because they have assets that appeal to Denver. The geography works for Anthony because of his wife LaLa Vazquez's entertainment career.
Golden State and Houston are contenders, too. What's more, the Charlotte Bobcats are a sleeper because of Anthony's Brand Jordan shoe deal and the team's ability to give the Nuggets a salary-dump proposal.
Back in mid-July, the Kroenkes had to travel to New York for Anthony's wedding to finally realize he no longer intended to sign their extension offer. The reception spiraled into an evening of Chris Paul(notes) and Anthony's brother making toasts about a future partnership for Anthony and Paul in New York with the Knicks. With nothing to trade for Anthony, though, New York isn't considered a strong contender in the eyes of Denver management.
Few can be as strong-minded and willful as Stan Kroenke, and it doesn't matter the Nuggets will be turned over to his son Josh by the end of the year. Stan still will be looming over the franchise, and the billionaire has shown an old-school ability to carry through on his convictions once you've lost him as an ally.
With the way that CAA has tried to muscle and manipulate the market this summer, sources said Stan Kroenke, freshly approved as the St. Louis Rams owner, intends to look closely at whether the NBA should adopt a "franchise player" tag that teams could slap on superstars like the one the NFL uses. NBA owners are still far from seriously discussing that issue, but CAA's manipulation of Anthony and Paul while under contract has become an increasingly sore subject within the league.
For now, the departure of Denver general manager Mark Warkentien and the increased influence of Kroenke adviser Bret Bearup means there won't be much of a fight within the organization to stay the course with Anthony, sources said. Denver has hired Masai Ujiri as its new GM, but he doesn't arrive with the authority to make major moves. Things have deteriorated too fast to believe Denver will turn back now. 'Melo is on the market, and the bidding has begun.