NBA notebook

Nuggets, Anthony mull future

Star offered 3-year $65 million pact

Carmelo Anthony could lead the free agent class, sign an extension, or be dealt as part of Denver’s rebuilding effort. Carmelo Anthony could lead the free agent class, sign an extension, or be dealt as part of Denver’s rebuilding effort. (File/David Zalubowski/Associated Press)
Associated Press / August 18, 2010

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Just how much longer will Carmelo Anthony play for the Denver Nuggets?

He can opt out of his contract after the upcoming season and become the headliner of the 2011 free agent class or he could play out the final two years of his contract and put off the wine-and-dine tour for a year.

He could sign a three-year, $65 million extension that’s been on the table all summer and would keep him in Denver through 2015.

Or maybe he’s already played his last game for the Nuggets, who don’t want to be spurned like the Cleveland Cavaliers were when LeBron James went on national TV to divorce them for a fresh start in Miami.

The All-Star forward who won a national title as a freshman at Syracuse and a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics — but has been able to guide Denver out of the first round of the playoffs just once in his seven NBA seasons — could be dealt before the season starts if team owner Stan Kroenke decides to jump-start a rebuilding program.

With a sign-and-trade deal, ’Melo would get the money he may not be able to earn with a new collective bargaining agreement while the Nuggets land players to help them get on with life after ’Melo.

Kroenke might choose to deal the face of his franchise at the February trade deadline, too.

The secluded owner likes to operate out of the limelight, so his intentions aren’t clear.

Neither are Anthony’s.

Some observers, however, see signs pointing toward Anthony’s exit:

■He didn’t jump at the chance to sign his extension.

■He’s put his 25,000-square-foot mansion in suburban Denver up for sale.

Like any competitor, Anthony wants to win a ring, and the Nuggets have slipped back into the pack a year after reaching the Western Conference finals, where they had the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers on the ropes.

James fires salvo
Adding a new layer to the rift between James and Dan Gilbert, the NBA’s two-time reigning MVP and new Miami Heat forward told GQ magazine he isn’t sure the Cleveland Cavaliers owner “ever cared’’ about him during their time together.

In an article released yesterday, James spoke of how widespread criticism of his decision — and how he chose to make it a television event — is fueling him this offseason.

But perhaps his sharpest words were reserved for Gilbert, the owner who lashed out at him shortly after James announced that he would be joining the Heat.

“I don’t think he ever cared about LeBron,’’ James is quoted as saying. “My mother always told me: ‘You will see the light of people when they hit adversity. You’ll get a good sense of their character.’ Me and my family have seen the character of that man.’’

Gilbert did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Foyle retires
Adonal Foyle is ending his playing career after 13 seasons. The 35-year-old center announced his retirement after playing for Orlando the last three seasons. Foyle spent his first 10 years with Golden State, and had a brief midseason stint with Memphis in 2009 . . . Xavier Henry slipped on a blue Memphis jersey with his name and the No. 13 on it as he was photographed for a trading card yesterday. Still to be determined is if he will wear it in games. The first-round pick still hasn’t signed his contract, with the Grizzlies not willing to guarantee the maximum salary allowable under the rookie scale . . . The Cavaliers are unveiling new uniforms with altered colors and bolder lettering on the fronts. The new uniforms will include a “deeper’’ wine and “brighter’’ gold hue than their previous jerseys. They will also include the word “Cleveland’’ written in a block-style lettering as opposed to the script of the past . . . Though he has not spoken to anyone from the Pacers, Lance Stephenson is aware of Larry Bird’s disappointment with his arrest. Stephenson said he heard about Bird’s strongly worded statement that was critical of his actions and plans to speak to the Pacers president. Stephenson, 19, was arrested Sunday in New York on assault, menacing, and harassment charges. Prosecutors said he pushed his girlfriend down a flight of stairs, then grabbed her and hit her head on the bottom step.

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