Nuggets May Be Looking To Deal ‘Melo

John Nestor – AHN Sports Correspondent

Denver, CO, United States (AHN) – The Denver Nuggets appear to be unwilling to risk losing Carmelo Anthony for nothing in return.

According to ESPN, the team’s resistance to trading their star forward is softening.

Sources with knowledge of Denver’s thinking told ESPN that the Nuggets still aren’t aggressively shopping Anthony and haven’t withdrawn their longstanding offer of a contract extension, but Denver officials in recent days let other teams know for the first time that they will listen to pitches after previously resisting such discussions.

“I’m not sure how soon, but I do think they’re going to trade him [between now and February],” said one rival GM.

Said another source briefed on Denver’s plans: “There’s no doubt they are working on it. Eventually they’re going to pull the trigger. “

Reports have persisted for weeks that Anthony, who can become a free agent at the end of the coming season, wants out.

Anthony has not made any public declarations about leaving Denver but the team is growing increasingly resigned to the fact that they won’t be able to change their franchise player’s mind.

Sources said the Nuggets are exploring how much they might be able to get in return for the high-scoring small forward. To agree to a deal, Denver would expect at least one top-flight young player it can market along with salary-cap relief and multiple future first-round picks.

Trading Anthony, however, is not as simple as merely seeking out the best deal or even recruiting a third team to help facilitate a trade, because of Anthony’s ability to become a free agent in July. It’s widely assumed in NBA front-office circles that any team trading for Anthony would expect him to commit to a contract extension as part of the deal – as Kevin Garnett did when Minnesota sent him to Boston in the summer of 2007- which gives Anthony some measure of input into his trade destination.

Denver does not want to lose their star for nothing, after watching LeBron James and Chris Bosh bolt to Cleveland and to Toronto respectively, leaving those franchises to pick up the pieces and start rebuilding.

No clear frontrunner has yet emerged in the Anthony sweepstakes, despite Anthony’s presumed desire to play for the big-market New York Knicks or New Jersey Nets. One source told ESPN.com earlier this month that he believed Anthony could even be traded before the start of the season.

The source said that a trade could materialize quickly enough that Anthony “might never wear a Nuggets uniform again.”

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