DENVER All-Star Carmelo Anthony may have found reassurance that the Denver Nuggets still want him around in the most unlikely of places: the courtroom where he pleaded guilty Tuesday to a reduced charge of driving while ability-impaired.
With trade rumors swirling around the beleaguered Anthony, coach George Karl and Mark Warkentien, the team's vice president, were in the courtroom to offer their support.
Anthony was sentenced to a year probation, 24 hours of community service, and more than $1,000 in fees and court costs while prosecutors dropped a more serious DUI charge.
Anthony also pleaded guilty to failure to stay in a single lane.
The sentencing capped off a bustling two days for the 24-year-old. He was chosen for the U.S. Olympic team on Monday, only to learn he was suspended by his team for two games because of the DUI arrest.
"I'm happy that it's over so I get a chance to take care of my business," Anthony said.
Anthony, who signed a five-year, $80 million extension in 2006, has been the topic of trade rumors, but he said Tuesday he expects to remain with the Nuggets for the foreseeable future.
"I hope so," he said with a grin. "I plan to be."
Anthony's agent, Calvin Andrews, also doesn't see his client going anywhere.
"I've been saying that until I'm blue in the face there's no plans to trade Carmelo Anthony," Andrews said Tuesday.
"It's a good relief. No one wants to hear about being traded, unless they're totally unhappy, and he's not," Andrews said. "He likes the fans, he likes the city, likes his teammates. It's a good environment for him to play basketball."
In court Tuesday, Anthony wore a dark-gray pinstripe suit, white shirt and silver-blue tie.
He arrived with his fiancee, LaLa Vazquez, hanging onto his arm. When he spied Karl and Warkentien sitting in the back of the room, he went over and shook hands before Anthony was called before the judge.
"We all got together last night and said we want to come out and support him," Karl said. "It's a tough time. It's time to learn from the past and move on to the future."
If that wasn't reassurance enough, Anthony also had a recent conversation with Rex Chapman, Denver's vice president of player personnel.
"I'm happy with that. It shows some loyalty to me," Anthony said. "I can't complain when I have somebody like that being loyal to me.
"It's unfortunate that this day had to come right now," Anthony continued. "It happened and I've been putting it behind me."
Defense attorney Dan Recht was happy with the deal but said Anthony would have gotten a better offer if he weren't a professional basketball player.
"If anything, he was punished more than the average Joe would be punished," Recht said. "The system is always worried about treating celebrities too nicely."
Anthony was pulled over on Interstate 25 on April 14. Denver police said he was weaving and failed to dim his lights, and then failed a series of sobriety tests.
The State Patrol said Tuesday that Anthony will participate in its "Alive at 25" program, aimed at encouraging good driving habits among 15- to 25-year-olds, as part of his community service.