So the Denver Nuggets have told Carmelo Anthony's agent, Calvin Andrews, that they have no intention of trading him. Fine. That's the right move, since there's no way they would have gotten equal value for him. Keeping Allen Iverson for another season makes sense, too, for the same reason: The Nugs are better off with A.I. in the short run than they would be with whatever baller they'd get in exchange for an aging superstar who can opt out of his overstuffed contract next year.
But Anthony's petulant demand for assurance that he's staying put remains irritating anyway, if only because it ignores all the ways in which he's fallen short of expectations -- his own and those of others -- and offers no indication that he's serious about improving the situation.
Yeah, yeah, Melo's been a bad-publicity magnet at times, and while he may grow out of this phase, he hasn't yet: In fact, he's due in court tomorrow, June 24, in relation to his arrest for suspicion of drunk driving just prior to the team's ill-fated 2008 playoff run (although "playoff halt" is more like it). More to the point, he continues to play a selfish game that doesn't make his teammates better -- a gripe that's also been leveled (accurately) at Iverson. He's an indifferent defender -- he can be effective but seldom goes to the trouble -- who focuses on scoring first, passing or setting up others second. When he's not getting to the rim, he shoots jump shot after jump shot even when they're not falling, and he can be a whiner when he isn't getting foul calls he feels he deserves. Worse, he doesn't consistently step up when he's on the big stage. The Lakers were able to squelch him, more or less, during their recent post-season matchup, and as their subsequent loss in the championship series against the Boston Celtics demonstrated, they're not exactly a defensive juggernaut.
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So hang onto Carmelo, Nugs, but demand more of him, too. Challenge him to become an all-around player, not just a gifted offensive force who can put up hefty, average-padding numbers in contests against mediocre squads only to be masticated into oblivion when it's crunch time. If he's to become the person to finally lead the Nuggets to a title, he's got to realize his potential, and doing so won't be as easy as throwing a fit amid trade rumors. -- Michael Roberts