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MARK HEISLER / ON THE NBA

Carmelo Anthony needs a new home, but can nutty Nuggets get it done?

With Denver management in its typically confused state, a deal that probably should've happened by now remains in limbo. The Nets still look like the best bet.

January 15, 2011|Mark Heisler
  • Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony shoots a free throw during a 130-102 victory over the Miami Heat on Thursday.
Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony shoots a free throw during a 130-102 victory… (Doug Pensinger / Getty Images )

There's a place for him, somewhere a place for him. . . .

Hopefully.

Now we can only pray for the day the Nuggets trade Carmelo Anthony, so we don't have to hear about his large backside anymore.

If last season's LeBron James coverage was crazed, he was the franchise player of franchise players.

Melo's just Melo, talented and personable, but forever young.

Before Chauncey Billups arrived to tell him which way was up, Anthony made the playoffs once in five seasons.

Nevertheless, as the best player out there, with Denver management in its usual posture — confused — we're at four months of trade rumors and counting.

It's as if Anthony was born to star in a farce they could name after him . . . the Melo (gag me with a spoon) drama.

With last week's Bergen (N.J.) Record report that Denver, New Jersey and Detroit were close to a deal, the Internet sites piled in.

Breaking new ground, as usual, ESPN quoted a source who said the deal "is on the 10-yard line."

The quarterback must have been sacked, because that was a week ago.

Or maybe it was Denver's new president, Josh Kroenke, and General Manager Masai Ujiri bumbling around while bristling at suggestions they're clueless.

Yahoo Sports reported the Nuggets even told the Nets to zip it up or they'd send Anthony to the Knicks.

Of course, no one is that dumb.

OK, almost no one.

Nuggets dysfunction goes back years with owner Stan Kroenke's confidant, Bret Bearup, as power behind the throne, Mark Warkentien as GM and Rex Chapman floating around.

Dizzy as it was, they pulled off the Billups- Allen Iverson deal that set up their run to the 2009 West finals.

Unfortunately, the Lakers of the Rockies fell apart last season when Coach George Karl left to be treated for cancer.

With Stan's son Josh, a former Missouri guard, moving in, Bearup was eased out . . . which was bad timing since Bearup was the tough-minded one who knew they had to fish or cut bait with Anthony.

Reluctant to fish, their first inclination, according to a source, was to offer a three-year deal, with only two guaranteed.

And there went any chance of getting it done.

Bumbling on, they had David Griffin, Phoenix's player maven, set to succeed Warkentien as GM, until he heard the offer and gagged.

Coincidentally or not, Griffin is close to Bearup.

Worse, thinking they held all the cards, they asked for incredible packages . . . like Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon.

New Jersey's offer — Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and beaucoup No. 1 picks — was put on hold.

It remains the basis of the deal they're still expected to make . . . but Anthony now insists that the Nets get Billups and Detroit's Richard Hamilton.

Of course, that could mean the Nets pick going to Denver may be more like No. 11-13 than No. 1-3.

If you want to know why Anthony is dead set on leaving, the answer in three words is "Creative Artists Agency."

It's CAA, the Los Angeles-based agency to the movie stars, and now, NBA stars.

It's the same cast of characters that was behind the scenes when James wound up in Miami with fellow CAA clients Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

With CAA keen to see clients in big markets, the Nets, headed for Brooklyn, if not until 2012, make the cut.

The Nets have money now, with their new owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.

They have glamour with co-owner Jay-Z and wife Beyonce heading recruitment.

Of course, it could still be the old black hole. They don't just have to be good, they have to be better than Miami, Boston, Orlando, Chicago and, most of all, the Knicks, now so far out of sight, the Nets can't see them.

And, if Prokhorov didn't learn this when he owned CSKA Moscow, not everyone with a career 20-point average is a franchise player.

On the other hand, where else can Melo go?

New York?

Over the dead bodies of Amare Stoudemire and Coach Mike D'Antoni.

With the ability to hold two maximum slots until 2012 when Dwight Howard and Chris Paul can be free, any Knick who mentions Melo's name should be hospitalized.

Lakers?

Not interested.

Clippers?

Not even them. With Griffin now a star and Gordon averaging 24, as Anthony does, why pay Melo $18 million?

Chicago?

They'd take him cheap — which precludes Joakim Noah, whom the Nuggets sought.

Miami?

If Melo will always be tight with 2003 draft classmates James, Wade and Bosh, he's the last thing they need.

Boston? It has gambled on non-Celtics types such as Bob McAdoo when desperate. Now the Celtics would disband first.

There is one lovely city nestled against the mountains that doesn't have a beach, a theater district or movie stars' footprints in cement.

It does have a team with a take-charge point guard, athletic big men and shooters, so it's not like jumping into the unknown and crossing your fingers.

Aw, you guessed it.

mark.heisler@latimes.com

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