Carmelo Anthony: Possible 2011 lockout may help keep him a Nugget

Mark Kiszla's Denver Post column about the prospect of the Nuggets trading Carmelo Anthony is getting a lot of national run, even prompting a fresh piece in USA Today.

But while this scenario isn't beyond the realm of possibility, there's an equally strong argument for a Melo-sticks-around scenario, with a potential 2011 lockout coming into play.

The latter theory was laid out last week by NBA Fanhouse's Sam Amick, who suggests that Melo is in a much more difficult position when it comes to a cash-in than are current free-agent-frenzy magnets LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh due to impending labor negotiations. Hence, he may be better off accepting a three-year, $65 million contract extension currently being dangled by the Nugs than gambling against a work stoppage.

Here's the gist of Amick's logic:

With player salaries expected to be cut in the new collective bargaining agreement, the seven-year veteran who would still earn $17.1 million next season and $18.5 million in 2011-12, risks losing in the neighborhood of $30 million on an eventual maximum contract offer based on early projections of a new CBA . As Anthony is well aware, that new reality could become more real as soon as next month when, according to sources, there will be an owner's meeting during the Vegas Summer League and the doomsday tone will almost certainly reach a new high.

Of course, Anthony remains such a well-regarded talent that other teams still might throw the bank at him next year, using guarantees or salary bonuses (and risking luxury tax penalties) to make their offers more financially attractive no matter what happens with the collective bargaining agreement. Still, the Nuggets understand his value, particularly at this phase of his career -- and it's hard to believe anyone in the executive suites would like to go back to the pre-Melo era.

With that in mind, I think Anthony is more likely to stay in Denver than to head elsewhere. But that may just be wishful thinking -- or, as it applies to Cavs fans these days, the Cleveland Complex.