League sources say it is now a matter of when, not if, Anthony and the Nuggets will go their separate ways.
Anthony is weighing whether to sign a three-year, $65 million extension offered by the Nuggets. His dilemma, league sources say, is what affords him the best chance of continuing his career elsewhere. Anthony could sign with Denver and convince the team to then trade him. His other option would be to not sign the extension, thereby forcing the team to move him rather than risk losing him next summer as a free agent.
During his annual basketball camp in Colorado on Saturday, Anthony said he had no timetable on when he'll decide whether to sign the extension.
In either case, "he's going to make it real clear that he's not coming back," said one league source.
But both Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke and Anthony already are well aware that they don't have a future together, sources say. That became clear to Kroenke at a reception after Anthony's July 11 nuptials to La La Vasquez in Manhattan.
A series of toasts at the wedding reception, initiated by New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul, suggested Anthony leave Denver for the New York Knicks. Paul suggested it playfully, one source said, but subsequent guests -- including Knicks power forward Amare Stoudemire and Anthony's brother, Robert -- made the point more forcefully.
Then Kroenke stood up to give a toast and the room was filled with an awkward silence, one wedding guest said. Kroenke tried to make light of the situation by suggesting Paul could come to Denver but that elicited no response.
While Anthony stood and applauded Kroenke when he was recognized, he apparently did nothing to discourage or dismiss the suggestions that he should leave the Nuggets.
"There were other people saying, 'We're going to get you guys together,' but it doesn't become a runaway train if Melo says something," said one source. "Maybe he didn't perpetuate it, but tell people to stop or say, 'Stan, I'm sorry.' He didn't do any of that."
Paul has since met with Hornets management and appears less eager to leave New Orleans, but all the signals from Anthony are that he would like to be in a different uniform this season.
Wedding signals included.
Anthony's agent, Leon Rose, could not be reached for comment and the Nuggets declined to comment.
Ric Bucher covers the NBA for ESPN The Magazine.