Carmelo Anthony made his long-awaited return to the hardwood by signing a contract with the Trail Blazers last month, but the 10-time NBA All-Star revealed that he was open to traveling down a different road if the opportunity presented itself: Going back to Denver.
“I was open to it,” Anthony said about potentially signing with the Nuggets, as relayed by Mike Singer of the Denver Post. “We talked about it. People in my circle were like, ‘Go back to Denver.’ If it was that easy I probably would’ve done it. A lot of things came into play when it comes to that, kind of out of my control at that time, the timing was off. Similar to Portland, the timing has always just been off. All of the sudden that window of opportunity was there.”
Anthony spent his first seven-and-a-half seasons with the Nuggets organization, having been drafted by the team No. 3 overall back in 2003. He helped change the outlook of the franchise during his stint and established himself as one of the league’s most elite players during that time, averaging more than 25 points per game in five of those seasons.
“I don’t think I can ever stop appreciating not just the organization but the city as a whole,” Anthony said of Denver. “We were at a point in time where it was a shift, the team had just only won 17 games prior to when we came in. We kind of started or created a different culture here. The uniforms changed, we changed the colors of the uniform, the vibe in Denver was different, the aura in the city, the energy was different. We were a part of that change.”
Anthony has since moved on and recently had his contract guaranteed by Portland for the remainder of the season, emphasizing his desire to compete with the Blazers for a playoff spot this spring. In 12 games with the team, Anthony has averaged 16.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 31.6 minutes per contest. The Blazers were 5-9 before signing him and have gone 5-7 since.
There’s more out of the Northwest Division tonight:
- People close to Thunder general manager Sam Presti believe his relationship with owner Clay Bennett is respectful enough that Presti could leave the organization before his contract expires if he wants to, tweets Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. Presti and other prominent executives such as Raptors president Masai Ujiri have been linked to the Knicks in rumors throughout the year, especially with league observers beginning to question the job security of current Knicks president Steve Mills.
- Thunder guard Chris Paul has served as a mentor to Darius Bazley this season, helping the 19-year-old adjust to his first season in the league, Olivia Panchal of DailyThunder.com writes. “It’s been great because [Paul] teaches you so much,” Bazley said. “Even though we were just playing one-on-one, he was stopping and just saying you can do this or you can do that. It just helps because [he] gives you advice on and off the court.”
- Nick Kosmider of The Athletic examines the Nuggets’ situation with the trade deadline less than two months away, detailing how the team has plenty of depth to offer in deals and could seek draft compensation in return. Denver sports a competitive team geared around All-Star center Nikola Jokic, recording a 17-8 record through 25 games.