10 NBA players who turned their back on their franchises

Kawhi Leonard, Paul George
Kawhi Leonard, Paul George / Harry How/GettyImages
8 of 10

3) Carmelo Anthony

For the first eight seasons of his career, future Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony was a superstar for the Denver Nuggets. However, in the summer of 2010, it became clear that he wasn't going to sign a contract extension that would keep him from hitting free agency in the summer of 2011. That cast a shadow on the Nuggets' 2010–11 season, with Melo's pending free agency being the talk of the NBA.

It became clear that he wanted to play in New York either for the New York Knicks or Brooklyn Nets and in February of 2011, the Knicks and Nuggets finally agreed on a massive 12-player, 3-team deal that sent Anthony to New York. That deal made the Knicks a title contender for a few seasons, while the Nuggets remained competitive with the assets received from the trade.

In fact, one of the picks received in the deal became current NBA star Jamal Murray, who helped them win a championship in 2023. While the Nuggets definitely weren't worse off without Melo, it's clear that he burned bridges.

Nuggets fans appear to be either indifferent towards him or outright dislike him, while the franchise has yet to retire his jersey after 13 seasons. Actually, current two-time MVP Nikola Jokic is now wearing number 15, which is sure to create awkwardness when Jokic's number gets retired but perhaps not Anthony's.

While the end of his time in Denver might have soured his reputation, he did lead the Nuggets to seven-straight playoff appearances, including a 2009 trip to the Western Conference Finals. He also scored nearly than 14,000 points, the third most in team history, but the damage may have been done with Anthony finishing his career elsewhere.