He kept citing the Lakers’ scenario from 2007, when they started training camp with Kobe Bryant wanting out, rode through it, then added Pau Gasol and have booked trips to the NBA Finals ever since.

“Maybe I’ll give Phil [Jackson] a call and see if he’ll tell me what he did,” Karl said.

The Lakers did their due diligence to find a NFL jersey trade of Bryant that wouldn’t devastate them, and never heard the right responses, so they didn’t make a panic move. In addition, veteran Derek Fisher kept his mouth close to Kobe’s ear, constantly reminding him to stay focused on the task at hand, with the only franchise he’d ever played for.

Billups would be the logical choice to play that role in Denver, except he doesn’t want to audition for the part.

“I’m not selling anything,” Billups said. “I could see that if he was a free agent I’d sell it and try to recruit him. But he’s not. He’s been a Nugget longer than I have. He knows better than I do about the organization and things. He knows that the city loves him; I don’t have to tell him that. He knows that we love playing with him; I don’t have to tell him that. He knows everything. So I really don’t have to recruit Melo. It’s pretty much a decision between him and his circle.”

If the Nuggets even have to consider recruiting him, is he really worth keeping? If the franchise centerpiece wants out, how could that be appealing to free agents?

The Nuggets would be more hampered than helped if Anthony signed the three-year, $ 65 million extension that’s on the table and ate up their mlb jerseys salary cap without yielding postseason success.

For all of the highlights and regular-season victories racked up during Carmelo’s tenure in Denver, the Nuggets have won exactly two playoff series — both in 2008 — in his six seasons.

He wants to be placed on the same line as 2003 draft classmates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, yet they’ve won eight and seven series, respectively.

If Carmelo truly warranted franchise-player status, the Nuggets would not have needed Billups to show up and provide the leadership they needed to finally escape the first round. But Billups never felt comfortable enough to grab complete control, out of deference to Carmelo’s status.

That’s the Carmelo Conundrum: He warrants special treatment, but he hasn’t produced commensurate results. For an organization that doesn’t spend indiscriminately, why not shed its biggest expense?

The Nuggets wouldn’t be declared winners in any of the NFL jersey trade possibilities floating around. That doesn’t mean procuring some talent, draft picks and salary cap relief couldn’t be considered a victory.

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