*Denver Nuggets player Carmelo Anthony has left the team to be with his family after the death of his sister and is expected to return after Christmas.

The team said Wednesday night that Michelle Anthony died of a pre-existing medical condition Tuesday (Dec. 21) in Baltimore. She had four children.

Masai Ujiri, the Nuggets executive vice president of basketball operations, says, “Our entire organization supports Carmelo during this difficult time for him and his family. It is heartbreaking news, particularly during the holiday season.”

Nuggets head coach George Karl says the news “brings us down to earth,” and reminded his organization that there are more important things than basketball.

Anthony missed the Nuggets’ game in San Antonio. Denver’s next game is Christmas Day at Oklahoma City.

Anthony, 26, has been the subject of trade rumors since he spurned the team’s offer of a three-year, $65 million contract extension last summer. He’s averaging 24 points and 8.3 rebounds this season.

He has recently been hampered by a strained right elbow, sitting out the last two days of practice leading up to Wednesday night’s game against the Spurs.