'Melo returning to Denver for 1st time since trade
DENVER (AP) — Carmelo Anthony simply won't recognize these Denver Nuggets — even though he had just about everything to do with the makeup of their roster.
The New York Knicks visit the Pepsi Center on Wednesday night in Anthony's first trip back to Denver since forcing his way out of town more than two years ago in a blockbuster trade that reshaped both franchises.
The only familiar face he'll see is point guard Ty Lawson. None of the other Nuggets were here when he was wearing powder blue and gold.
Anthony was feeling nostalgic after the Knicks practiced at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday afternoon.
"I grew up here, I mean, sort of to say. This is where I started my career," he said. "I was 18, 19 years old when I came here. This city grew with me, I grew with the city. We had a lot of good times here in Denver, as a team, as a community. And then it came to a point where we had to split ways. ... It was a mutual agreement, both parties agreed upon that. ... No hard feelings. It was a business decision at that point."
The trade is turning out to be a win-win for both teams.
Denver landed a bevy of young players, trade exemptions and draft picks they've used to retool their roster, and the Knicks got a bona fide superstar to build a team around.
The resurgent Knicks (38-23) are leading the Atlantic Division. The Nuggets (43-22) are in the hunt for home-court advantage in the playoffs, and they're out to prove coach George Karl's proclamation that an NBA franchise doesn't need a superstar to be great.
Karl has repeated that line so often this season that it's become his mantra, although he acknowledges there's a caveat: If the Nuggets keep on rolling, Lawson and/or forward Danilo Gallinari will be considered stars before long.
Gallinari came over in the 'Melo deal along with fellow starter Kosta Koufos, key reserve Wilson Chandler and emergency center Timofey Mozgov. The Nuggets also got Raymond Felton, whom they flipped for point guard Andre Miller and two draft picks, one of which landed them Jordan Hamilton.
They used trade exemptions from the deal to acquire Corey Brewer from Dallas and JaVale McGee from Washington. A first-round draft pick acquired in the blockbuster trade was used to get starter Andre Iguodala from Philadelphia last summer, and Denver used a second-round pick from the deal to draft Quincy Miller.
That's 10 Nuggets connected to Anthony's departure from Denver.
The Nuggets were first-round playoff fodder in each of the last two seasons following Anthony's exit, but they only advanced out of the first round once in Anthony's time in Denver. They're trying to catch Memphis for the fourth seed or even the Clippers for the third seed, which could go a long way in helping them go deeper in this year's playoffs.
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