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Nuggets new owner dances around Carmelo Anthony question like a vet

Aug 26, 2010, 10:55 AM EDT

josh-kroenke.jpgThe thought of an NBA team owner intimately involved in player/personnel decisions instantly brings up thoughts of Michael Heisley. And that’s not a good thing.

But Josh Kroenke — who will soon take control of the Nuggets from his father Stan — is the exception to the rule. He comes in with a basketball background.

Kroenke was a high school player recruited by major colleges who went on to Missouri where he was team captain for two seasons as well as an all-academic Big 12 player. It was Kroenke who, after Mizzou beat Iowa State, escorted former Cyclones coach Larry Eustachy to a party with undergrads, leading to published photos that led to the coach’s ultimate dismissal.

From there Kroenke did a six-month internship with the NBA’s Player Development Department and since has had a series of jobs in the Nuggets front office. Most recently, he was the vice president of team development and was the primary team negotiator on contracts.

He’s not just a kid with a toy — he gets it. Or maybe better phrased, he could be someone who gets it. The proof will be how things go with the team under his reign.

How the team will do under him starts with the Carmelo Anthony question. Anthony has a three-year, $65 million extension sitting unsigned in front of him. Anthony is debating what to do.

Kroenke flew out to talk to ‘Melo last weekend, and told the Denver Post, “We love Melo. We want him here in Denver, make no doubt about that.”

But what if Anthony hints (or outright says) he wants to leave. Does the team have to move him to avoid the fate of Cleveland?

“That’s a fair question. We want Melo in Denver, and I think that Melo has enjoyed his time in Denver, but we all have tough decisions to make, and I’m from the perception that we have to protect the best interest of the franchise. The message I want to get out to the fans is — we’re going to do what’s best for the city of Denver and the Denver Nuggets.”

That was the “answer without answering the question” kind of response we expect out of veteran owners. Well done, Josh.

But read between the lines and it sounds like he is not going to let Denver get LeBron’d. Another sign of a smart owner.

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