Anthony signs five-year, $80M contract

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.

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

"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

"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

"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."