New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony should consider return to Denver
Dec 17, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler (21) guards New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) in the first quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

NBA fans have never embraced New York Knicks‘ Carmelo Anthony. Returning to the Denver Nuggets would help rehabilitate his image.

The NBA turned on LeBron James after he left his hometown team in Cleveland to chase rings in Miami with his buddies. James did everything he could to rehabilitate his shattered image, but it took a return home to make that dream come true.

The 32-year-old went back to Cleveland with the promise to deliver their first championship in five decades and when James delivered a title this past summer, his betrayal was forgiven.

Carmelo Anthony doesn’t have the same luxury as his more famous friend.

Since forcing his way out of Denver, many unflattering labels have been used to describe him. Anthony’s six years in New York have seen NBA watchers somewhat unfairly label him selfish and lazy. When you’re a superstar in New York, you invite that kind of criticism.

The Melo hate has reached an apex in 2017, and the charge is being led by his boss.

Phil Jackson’s relationship with his star players was always rocky as a coach. When he took the job as President of Basketball Operations of the New York Knicks his relationship with Anthony was a primary subject of discussion. During his introductory press conference, Jackson said he had no problem committing to Anthony as part of the franchise’s plans.

That was almost three years ago. Things have drastically changed in New York. The triangle-shaped hopes that Jackson had for his championship plans have been shot to hell. The three-time Olympic gold medalist is too proud to admit it, but he needs a fresh start.

An exclusive interview with Al Iannazzone of Newsday, Anthony finally gave an indication that he was willing to move on from New York if the circumstances were to change.

He’s been linked to the likely destinations of Boston and Los Angeles, but something that he should consider is a return to Denver.

Melo recently told ESPN New York’s Ian Begley, “Regardless of what happens when we win, it’s us. When we lose, it’s me. So I accept that.” He knew what to expect after accepting the label as the franchise player in the Big Apple.

When Anthony publicly held the Nuggets hostage back in 2011, he instantly became one of Denver’s most hated athletes. A return to the franchise that drafted him would go a long way towards shedding some of those unfortunate labels.

The Nuggets are a young talented team on the rise with a lot of assets. Melo would be greeted by one of the league’s most underrated coaches, Mike Malone, and a budding superstar at center in Nikola Jokic. Right now Denver is the eighth overall seed, but at seven games under .500 they’re far from where they want to be.

Melo is the kind of superstar who could see the team along to the next level. The Nuggets would offer Melo a chance mentor Jokic and point guard Emmanuel Mudiay while preparing the team for the next level. If he were willing to a backseat to a kid like Jokic, it would go a long way towards garnering some respect around the league.

No matter what any professional athlete says, the opinions of the media and fans matter to them, and as long as Anthony is in New York, he’ll never be able to grow out of that selfish, ball hog label. No matter how good his relationship with Kristaps Porzingis clearly is.

A swap with Denver makes sense for the Knicks too.

A package centered around Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler would bring everything full circle. They were traded in the Anthony blockbuster at the ages of 22 and 23 respectively. Both of them are now proven veterans in their prime on reasonable contracts who could help the Knicks. The Nuggets have multiple picks in the 2017 draft to deal (including the Grizzlies first rounder), so it’s a no-brainer for the Knicks.

The only problem would be talking Anthony into it. Unlike James and Cleveland, he has no personal ties in Denver and George Karl probably left some ugly memories, he’d rather left buried. As well is quick to point out he has the power and it’s his call.

The point remains that he should at least consider a return to Denver.

I'm ESNY's Executive Editor for I cover the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Email: Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.