The Carmelo Anthony trade rumors have included frenzied speculation about possible deals involving New Jersey and, more recently, New Orleans. But with speculation about a trade to Chicago taking a hit with the Bulls' inking of Joakim Noah to a five-year, $60 million pact, are the Nuggets confident their lineup is solid for the season? Hardly, as their marketing demonstrates.
Much of the imaging for the 2010-2011 season has focused on Chauncey Billups, not Melo. Indeed, Anthony's been missing entirely from a number of banner ads and the like, and he's downplayed in others -- such as an image I spotted earlier today featuring Billups in the foreground, with Carmelo smaller and further back.
And then there's the new season-tickets contest on the Nuggets' Facebook page. Billups, not Melo, is pictured on the Old West-style wanted poster used to hype the competition, dubbed "Gold Rush." But to qualify for the grand prize, folks are asked to complete ten photo-oriented tasks -- and only the fifth refers to a specific Nuggets player:
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Looks like Chris "Birdman" Andersen is a lock to stick around. As for his teammates, the staffers at the Nuggets' marketing department presumably don't want to spend too much time building them up for fear that they won't be part-time Colorado residents for that much longer.
These clues don't guarantee anything, but they carry a subtle message: Carmelo Anthony may not be around for the long haul, and plenty of his pals might be on the way out of Denver, too.