Many NBA teams put the wraps on already done deals

Published 4:17 pm Thursday, July 13, 2006

Carmelo Anthony can brag about having one decided edge over his rivals from the class of 2003: biggest contract.

That’s OK with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. They planned it that way.

The three superstars agreed to new deals Wednesday, but only one was the big-money package originally expected.

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Anthony took more guaranteed dollars. James and Wade took a chance.

Anthony signed a five-year extension with the Denver Nuggets that begins after the 2007-08 season and is worth an estimated $80 million. The exact amount can’t be determined until next year’s salary cap is set.

“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).”

James and Wade could have chosen similar deals. Instead, they went for three years with an option for a fourth — and the chance to become free agents sooner and potentially make even more money.

“It was a great business decision by me,” Wade said. “As a young player, going for the three-year with a fourth year (option) is the better option.”

Anthony and Chris Bosh, another top-five pick from the ’03 draft who has yet to agree to an extension with Toronto, could have gone the same route. But Anthony took the maximum deal, while James and Wade face a potential “what if?” scenario if either is hurt before the end of his deal.

“I thought this was the best move for me as a young player and I’m looking forward to it,” Wade said. “I think with everything coming with LeBron and Carmelo and Chris, we all make our own decisions. Of course, we all talk, no question about it, because we’re all friends. … But everyone makes a decision for themselves, thinking about their futures and their families.”

Elsewhere, the draft-night deal sending Rudy Gay from Houston to Memphis was finally completed, New Orleans added Peja Stojakovic but lost Speedy Claxton, and the Los Angeles Clippers brought back Sam Cassell but watched Vladimir Radmanovic head down the Staples Center hallway to the Lakers.