If Carmelo Anthony had his way, he would have never left the Nuggets for the Knicks.
“Contrary to what anybody an every believes, I never wanted to leave Denver,” the 10-time NBA All-Star said during an appearance on Showtime’s “All The Smoke” podcast.
“I never told people that. But I never wanted to leave Denver. But it’s like they put my back against the wall. We go to the Western Conference Finals in 09. What are you supposed to do? You’re supposed to build on that. You’re supposed to add pieces, plug and play, don’t mess the core up.”
The Nuggets opted to trade Dahntay Jones after the 2009 season in a move that may have been the final straw for Anthony. He requested a trade the following year.
“They got rid of Dahntay Jones,” Anthony said. “On that team, Dahntay was a key piece on that team. Get rid of Dahntay Jones. They’re like, ‘We ain’t re-signing Chauncey [Billups]. We’re about to trade J.R. [Smith].’ K-Mart (Kenyon Martin) – contracts is up, and the lockout’s coming?
“So, I’m not about to rebuild. I’m not going to rebuild after we done went to the Western Conference Finals. We’re supposed to be building, not rebuilding. And I went to them. I’m like, ‘I don’t want to go, but if y’all going to rebuild, it’s time for me to go somewhere else.’”
The February 2011 blockbuster trade that sent Anthony to the Knicks included Denver teammates Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter and Renaldo Balkman joining him in New York in exchange for Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, a 2014 first-round draft pick, along with two future second-round picks and additional cash. The Knicks also sent Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph to the Minnesota Timberwolves to clear cap space.
Anthony has said that the loss in the 2009 Western Conference Finals to the eventual championship Lakers squad still makes him sick all these years later. In a 2020 Instagram Live, Anthony told Dwyane Wade that he thinks that Nuggets team, including Billups, Nene, Smith and Martin, should have taken the title.
Instead, we’re left to wonder what if. Anthony played for the Knicks for seven seasons before being traded to the Thunder in the 2014 offseason for Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott.
Anthony and the Knicks won a single playoff series during his tenure in the Big Apple. Despite leading the league in scoring and the team going 54-28 during his 2012-2013 season, the team lost the NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Pacers in six games.
The former fan favorite at the Mecca signed with the Los Angeles Lakers on Aug. 6. Now entering his 19th season in the league, Anthony will have a chance to win his first title with the team he thought he should have beat back in ‘09.
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