In town to support a friend, former Denver Nuggets center Dikembe Mutombo couldn't resist doling out a little friendly advice to Carmelo Anthony.
Careful what you wish for.
"You think the grass is going to be greener on the other side, because you think it's not raining here right now," said Mutombo, who was in Denver on Wednesday to support friend and newly hired Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri as the team opened the season against the Utah Jazz. "But by the time you walk to the other side, it might not be green. You might be going to the same dry season you experienced in the other part."
Since Mutombo serves as the global ambassador for the league, though, he didn't feel it was right to personally chat with Anthony about his situation, delivering his message instead through the media.
Anthony has been the subject of trade speculation ever since he spurned a three-year, $65 million extension with the Nuggets in June. The Nuggets have until the February trade deadline to deal Anthony or risk losing him through free agency next summer, when he would be the headliner of the 2011 class.
Mutombo can relate on some level. He played his first five seasons in Denver, becoming an instant crowd favorite, only to leave for Atlanta in 1996.
His decision to split also was financial — a salary-cap issue for the Nuggets. But Mutombo felt that wasn't properly explained to the fans, leading to boos upon his return.
"Even though the fans loved me a lot, there also was a lot of people that were disappointed," Mutombo said. "The entire blame was on me. I ended up taking a lot of blame. That's why it was hard for me."
Would he have stayed if the Nuggets had cap room?
"Of course," he said. "Sometimes you have to search your soul, see if I'm happy. If you're happy, then stay, instead of going somewhere because of the money."
CAVS OWNER STICKS TO LETTER: Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert isn't taking back one word about LeBron James — or as he called him, "the player that left."
Gilbert, who harshly criticized James after the two-time MVP announced he was leaving as a free agent this summer, said Wednesday night before Cleveland's season opener that he doesn't regret calling out the superstar, now with the Miami Heat.
Shortly after James announced he was leaving, Gilbert fired off an angry letter to Cleveland's fans vilifying James. He called him "narcissistic" and accused him of "cowardly behavior."
"I don't regret it," said Gilbert, who made similar comments earlier in the day on WKNR radio. "That letter was to the fans and the supporters of the Cavaliers and it wasn't to the player that left, it wasn't to the rest of the world. It wasn't to anybody but them. I wanted them to understand not only how I felt but how everyone felt in the entire organization."
DRAFT IS ON THE MOVE: The NBA will hold its 2011 draft in Newark, N.J., while Madison Square Garden undergoes renovations.
Commissioner David Stern said Wednesday the event might keep moving around even after the work on the Garden is completed.
The draft will take place at the Prudential Center on June 23, Stern said before the New Jersey Nets' season opener against the Detroit Pistons. The Nets will play their home games at the arena for the next two years before a planned move to Brooklyn.
The NBA hasn't decided where to hold the 2012 and 2013 drafts while the Garden is under construction — and it may keep the road show going beyond that.
ARENAS OUT: Gilbert Arenas will miss at least the first two regular-season games for the Washington Wizards with a strained tendon in his right ankle.
Arenas was in a walking boot and missed his fourth straight practice Wednesday. Wizards coach Flip Saunders said Arenas will be reevaluated by doctors but will be out today at Orlando and Saturday at Atlanta.
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