Carmelo Anthony's comments yesterday following the Nuggets' loss to the Knicks were less vague than usual.
It's plainer than ever that he wants to leap from Denver to New York, and he's willing to use the threat of refusing to sign a long-term extension with another team to make it happen.
When asked by reporters about the possibility of him signing the three-year, $65 million contract extension the Nuggets have dangled in front of him for months, Anthony said, "Whatever decision I make, that's going to be the first thing that gets done."
As for the possibility of a team picking up Melo as a rent-a-player prior to him becoming a free agent in July, he replied, "I don't think so. I don't think that would happen."
Interpretation: Carmelo wants to guarantee that he won't lose money in a lockout scenario via a sign-and-trade pact -- and he's sending a message to every team other than the Knicks that he won't sign a long-term deal with them. Instead, he'll become a free agent and ink with NY.
In other words, this is a hostage scenario -- so why should the Nuggets drag it out?
There are already signs that Anthony isn't interested in giving his all on behalf of the Nuggets. Note that he missed a handful of games in advance of the Knicks contest with a cold and a sore knee -- really. But somehow, he miraculously healed in time for his New York showcase, during which he put up 31 points without leading the Nuggets to a victory, which Knicks fans no doubt saw as a win-win situation.
A sign-and-trade needs to happen in advance of a February 24 deadline, and it doesn't make sense to wait to make the transaction until then. Because Anthony appears to have all the leverage in this situation, the deal is unlikely to get better between now and then. And while Nuggets loyalists will no doubt be unhappy when the swap takes place, that doesn't mean months of limbo will improve their reaction.
Bottom line, Denver is likely to get the short end of a transaction that seems certain to happen. So why prolong the agony?
More from our Sports archive: "Carmelo Anthony trade: Did Amare Stoudemire, NY Knicks kill 4-way deal featuring NJ Nets?"