Chris Cullum

Since late summer, the talk around the NBA has been about the future of Carmelo Anthony. The constant barrage of trade rumors and contract demands have made this season a difficult one for the fans in Denver, who have resorted to booing Anthony as of late.

And they have every right to do so.

As a part of the much-heralded draft class of 2003, Melo was deemed to be the cornerstone of the Denver Nuggets for the next several years. Aside from a run to the conference finals in the 2008-09 season, he has done little more than fill up box scores and put on a clinic of how to come up short in the postseason. Yet his fans have loyally stood by him, as evidenced by the myriad 15 jerseys that fill the Pepsi Center on game nights.

Despite all of the adoration of his fans, he has stubbornly resisted from signing the three-year, $65 million extension the Nuggets have offered him, instead pouting until he somehow finds himself in a New York Knicks jersey. As has been much documented, though, the Knicks have next to nothing of value to give the Nuggets in return aside from young swingman Danilo Gallinari and some expiring contracts for salary cap relief. Quite the predicament, isn’t it? Carmelo is dead set on playing for the Knicks, yet the Knicks have nothing of substantial value to give the Nuggets. So, unless the Nuggets waive their white flag and basically give Carmelo to the Knicks, he will remain a Nugget for the remainder of the season. Then, this summer, they’ll lose him to New York via free agency.

Honestly, that’s the way Denver should let this play out.

No player, regardless of skill level, has the right to hijack a franchise the way he has done the last several months. By trading Anthony, the Nuggets are essentially handing the keys of the franchise over to him. If he just requested a trade that’s one thing, but to handpick the team he wants? Talk about being a prima donna. He should have been a New Jersey Net four months ago, but he refused to play for them. Last time I checked, he doesn’t have a no-trade clause. He signed a contract with the Nuggets, and they have the right to trade him to wherever they want. Is it the Denver Nuggets or the Denver Carmelos? As an organization, the Nuggets should trade him to the team that offers the most for him, whether that team is in New York or a vastly smaller market.

Obviously and sadly, that’s not going to happen, so the next best thing is keeping him for the remainder of the season. No, they won’t get anything in return, but they’ll send a message that they won’t tolerate players like Carmelo, which would garner the respect of people that it’s worth having respect from. He wants to go? Fine, he can go, but not until he’s finished his time here. If Carmelo wants to be the next LeBron James and flex his ego, that’s his decision. I just hope he knows it’ll be a lot harder to drown out 29 booing fan bases than just one.