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Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Updated: July 13, 2:04 PM ET
Anthony signs five-year, $80M contract

Associated Press

DENVER -- Carmelo Anthony committed to staying in his town a little longer than LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Anthony signed a five-year deal worth an estimated $80 million Wednesday at the Pepsi Center. The deal Anthony signed is longer by two years than those agreed to by fellow young stars James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Wade of the NBA champion Miami Heat.

Carmelo Anthony
Anthony

Rather than choose the five-year extensions they were eligible for that would kick in starting with the 2007-08 season, James and Wade went for three-year deals with an option for a fourth -- and the chance to become free agents sooner and potentially make even more money.

"It was a no-brainer for me," Anthony said. "When all the rumors were out there saying I was signing this type of deal or that type of deal, my family called me and said, 'Look, are you crazy?' Growing up we don't have [much]."

Anthony has a clause in his contract, though, where he can terminate the deal after the fourth year.

"This is where I want to be," Anthony said. "The whole state has embraced me."

Anthony's agent, Calvin Andrews, said earlier in the day there was "some verbiage" in the contract that needed to be solved before he signed. After the deal was done, Andrews said the contract was precisely what Anthony was hoping for.

"How can I not be happy when my client signed a max deal?" Andrews said. "We were working on semantics. It wasn't a deal-breaking thing."

Denver director of player personnel Mark Warkentien said the deal went smoothly.

"There was a motivated seller and a motivated buyer," he said. "Piece of cake."

As the Nuggets solidified the future of their star forward, they lost swingman Greg Buckner to the Dallas Mavericks. Also, 7-foot center Francisco Elson signed an offer sheet with the San Antonio Spurs.

The Nuggets still have a chance to match the offer to Elson.

Hours before Anthony was expected to sign his contract extension, he had to defend his judgment for loaning his car to a friend who was pulled over and cited for marijuana possession.

Tyler Brandon Smith was stopped for traffic violations late Sunday and given a summons for misdemeanor marijuana possession. Police said Smith was driving a 2005 Dodge Magnum registered to Anthony's company, Melo Enterprises.

Anthony answered questions about the incident as kids from his basketball camp scurried through drills in the background.

"I cursed him out a little bit," Anthony said of his close friend. "He understands. He almost broke down apologizing."

The Nuggets looked into the situation involving Smith and were happy with what they uncovered.

"Everything factors in," Warkentien said. "It's an $80-million decision. The evaluation of him is a three-year study, not a 36-hour period.

"Melo's our guy."

This wasn't the first time Anthony has had a friend get him into hot water. In October 2004, a backpack that Anthony had on him before boarding a plane was searched and an ounce of marijuana was discovered. A friend of Anthony's said the drugs were his and apologized.

"The last time this happened, the guy was x-ed out of the picture; he's not even around anymore," Andrews said Wednesday afternoon. "We've got to sit down and map out a plan on how do we avoid these things.

"For the last two years [Anthony] has been a rock-solid citizen, unbelievable on the court, doing everything he needs to do.

"Now, he can't even sneeze the wrong way. It's ridiculous. He's on egg shells right now. A guy like him shouldn't have to be in that situation."

Anthony, 22, was all smiles at his evening press conference. Flanked by Warkentien on his right and team owner Stan Kroenke to his left, Anthony talked about how this was the right decision for him.

"My situation is different than other situations," he said. "I had to make sure my family is straight, make sure my kids, my grandkids, my great-great grandkids are straight. That's why I feel good about it."

The Nuggets have now invested $140 million in two players this offseason in Anthony and Nene, who's coming off an ACL tear. It's money that Kroenke feels is well spent.

"To have the talent at the level we'd like to have it, the way the system works you have to pay for it," Kroenke said.

Anthony was the third selection in the 2003 NBA draft. He's averaged 22.8 points for his career, including 26.5 points last season when he was chosen to the All-NBA third team. It was the first time a Denver player had been named to the team since Antonio McDyess in 1998-99.

"This is a great day," Warkentien said. "Three years ago, Denver chose Carmelo. Today, Carmelo chooses Denver.

"Can you ask for more of a commitment from a young star player who from day one says this is the place? You don't get many days like this."