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Why Carmelo Anthony never played with LeBron James


Why Carmelo Anthony never played with LeBron James

LeBron James famously changed the NBA landscape when in the summer of 2010, after failing to win a title in his first stint with the Cavaliers, he left the cold of Southeast Ohio for the Heat in South Beach. There James joined forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, leading Miami to four straight Eastern Conference titles and two NBA championships.

If Carmelo Anthony picked up on previous hints dropped by friends James and Wade years earlier, then the scoring savant might have been the third member instead of Bosh and the setting might not have been Miami. 

Bleacher Report's NBA writer Howard Beck wrote a fascinating feature story on the brotherhood between James and Anthony, two longtime pals who entered the league as the first and third picks respectively in the 2003 NBA Draft. Both have turned in Hall of Fame worth careers and earned millions of dollars with James the more accomplished on both fronts and not just because the serial Twitter unfollower turned into the world's best passive aggressive subtweeter.

For those new here, James won four NBA Most Valuable Player awards and those two rings. Meanwhile the volume scoring Anthony put up points for the Nuggets and Knicks, but hasn't been a major part of the playoff picture. Over the last three seasons with New York, he hasn't even been in the postseason. 

Perhaps that changes and likely does if Anthony took note of what James said during a conference in the summer of 2006 when the "three budding NBA stars—rivals, friends and members of the same draft class—got on the phone to discuss their futures," Beck wrote.

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Three years into their careers, each was eligible for an extension of up to five years.

"Listen," James told his buddies on the conference call, "I think I'm going to do a three-year extension, because in 2010 we can become free agents at the peak, right there in the prime of our career."

A longer deal meant more guaranteed money. A shorter deal held risks. But James wanted to keep his options open. Wade did, too. They opted for three-year, $60 million extensions that would expire in 2010, together.

"And, uh, Melo," James said, smiling and chuckling softly, "Melo took the five-year."

In fairness to Anthony, the Nuggets were competitive at that point. "I wanted to stay in Denver," Anthony said. "Like, I believed in Denver so much that I felt like we had an opportunity to do some things out there."

The Nuggets reached the 2009 Western Conference final, but Anthony eventually orchestrated a trade to New York during the 2010-11 season, a few months after his pals and hooked up in Miami. James got Wade and Bosh. Anthony got Amar'e Stoudamire.

We'll never know how July 2010 would have looked had Anthony taken the hint and taken the short deal. He might have become the third member of the Heatles or linked up with James in New York or Chicago.

Having denied himself that chance, Anthony instead forced a trade to New York the following year, to join forces with Stoudemire.

Looking back, Anthony can only smile ruefully at the missed opportunity, the missed cues. Once James and Bosh landed with Wade on South Beach, "it was like, 'OK, they knew something,'" Anthony said, chuckling.

Knew something?

"Yeah, they plotted that," he said, still chuckling. "They plotted that."

So, why didn't they tell you?

"I guess they was telling me, in their own way: 'Take the three-year deal.'"

The quote is relayed to James, who affirms, "We were." 

Pondering "What if' scenarios is a good time in general. For NBA junkies, imagining what would have happened if Anthony and James joined as teammates during the prime of their careers is gold.

MORE WIZARDS: Managing Beal's minutes remains a challenge

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After getting little rest during All-Star break, Bradley Beal aims to be smart in second half

After getting little rest during All-Star break, Bradley Beal aims to be smart in second half

If anyone on the Wizards deserves some time off to rest it's Bradley Beal, who currently ranks fifth in the NBA in total minutes played. While his teammates were off on vacation, many of them at relaxing beaches far away, Beal was making appearance after appearance in Los Angeles as part of All-Star weekend.

The one drawback of Beal being selected as an All-Star and a contestant in the three-point contest was that he got little rest in the past week. He only made it one round in the three-point contest and played 16 minutes in the All-Star Game, but all of it was enough to soak up much of the free time he's used to getting this time of the year.

"Not as much as I needed to," Beal said when asked if he got any rest over the break. "I guess that's one of the downfalls of being an All-Star."


The workload has really added up for Beal. He leads the Wizards in minutes (36.4/g) and is one of two players on the team who hasn't missed a game all season.

Beal did have Monday and Tuesday off, but that was after a crosscountry flight and a whirlwind of a weekend. He called the media and sponsorship appearances "overwhelming." Many All-Stars have been there before and know what to expect, but Beal was a first-time participant.

Beal and the Wizards will be given no breaks with their upcoming schedule. They have four back-to-back sets in the next three weeks and begin with a stretch of five games in seven days. Those games will feature the Cavs, Warriors, Bucks, Sixers and the Hornets. Charlotte is the only team of that bunch currently out of the playoff picture, but they have already beaten the Wizards twice this season.


For Beal, it will be extra important to get any rest that he can.

"I will definitely be smart," he said. "I just gotta take care of my body. Listen to my body."

Beal says getting treatment from the Wizards' training staff in between games will be crucial. He also hopes to not over-exert himself in games by trusting his teammates and not trying to carry the load with John Wall out.

Though Beal may be tired from the weekend, he came out of it feeling pretty good about how he represented himself and the Wizards on the All-Star stage. He scored 14 points in 16 minutes in a game featuring the best players on the planet.

Beal now wants to make it an annual thing.

"I defintiely think it can push you more down the line. For me, it's just motivation to continue geting better," he said.




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Scott Brooks preparing Wizards for much tougher road ahead

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Scott Brooks preparing Wizards for much tougher road ahead

The Wizards entered the All-Star break having won seven of their previous nine games since John Wall went down with an injury, so a natural question to head coach Scott Brooks looking ahead to their first game back on Thursday was how he and his team can keep that momentum going in the second half.

Brooks immediately pointed to the Wizards' schedule, which gets notably more difficult in the coming weeks. They have a stretch of games over the next month-plus that features the best teams in basketball and Brooks knows that will be a big factor in whether they can sustain what they have going.

"Definitely the schedule gets tougher," Brooks said. "We've got a lot of good teams coming up starting with the first one in Cleveland. It's five games in seven nights against really good teams."


In the next five weeks, the Wizards will play 15 of 17 games against teams currently holding playoff spots. That includes the Cavaliers, Warriors, Celtics, Spurs (twice), Raptors and Timberwolves. 

That will represent a marked shift for the Wizards, who to this point have the weakest strength of schedule. Though they boast impressive wins over the Celtics, Rockets, Raptors and Timberwolves, they are about to play teams of that caliber more frequently with few nights off to rest. They have four back-to-back sets all in the next three weeks.

The upcoming stretch has been on the Wizards' minds for a while. Several players referenced their tough schedule before the All-Star break, knowing those wins leading up to the time off could prove extra important in hindsight.

The Wizards return to action on Thursday night against the Cavaliers, a team that has already beaten them twice. Both of those games were against the old version of the Cavs before they traded much of their roster at the deadline.


Gone are Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Isaiah Thomas, Iman Shumpert, Jae Crowder and Channing Frye. But they still have that guy LeBron James.

"Shoot, they looked good the other time, right? They beat us twice with the other group," Brooks noted. "LeBron is going to go down as one of the best ever. They are younger and more athletic. They're a good team and they still have an All-Star in [Kevin] Love who hasn't played because he's hurt."

The Cavs haven't lost in three games since the All-Star break and that includes road wins over the Celtics and Thunder. They look rejuvenated and, at least so far, improved from the aging, incongruent roster they had just weeks ago.

The Wizards have also been playing better lately, of course, and this upcoming stretch will be a major test for them. Wall has been out three weeks since he had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He is likely to miss another three-to-five weeks. The Wizards will have to get through this without him.

If they can remain competitive and even beat some of these elite teams, they will only gain more confidence in their potential. That's the way Brooks plans to approach the schedule.

"We still want to be a better team when John comes back," Brooks said. "But the schedule definitely gets a lot tougher."