Yesterday Carmelo Anthony officially stated his uncertainty about remaining a Denver Nugget. The team has offered him a $65 million extension, and as Melo said:
“at this point in time, I have to do what’s best for me and my family. I’m just taking my time, figuring out if I want to take that extension or not.”
First off, I hate how athletes always say “me and my family.” LeBron said that, but the mother of his children is staying in Ohio with those children, so clearly the move wasn’t what was best for her. She understands and is supposedly very supportive, but let’s not try to defuse the blame, it’s really all about what’s best for the athlete. Actually, that’s not 100% true. It is possible that Anthony’s new wife, LaLa Vasquez, would prefer to live in New York than Denver, so Melo could genuinely be taking her feelings into account. I know part of the reason that Jason Kidd said he signed an extension with the Nets a few years ago was so that his then-wife Joumana could continue to pursue her acting career in New York. Derek Fisher left the Jazz so he could go to either New York or Los Angeles where there would be better specialists for his daughter. But 99% of the time, when these guys say they’re doing what’s best for them and “their family”, they really just mean themselves. Hmm, where’d that tangent come from? Back to the real issue…
Melo went on to say how he realizes that the Nuggets could take the extension offer off the table, but perhaps the oddest thing in the ESPN.com article was this quote from teammate Chauncey Billups when he was asked if he had any insight:
“It’s between me and my guy. If y’all have a close personal friend and they’re going through something and the media asks, you’re not going to expose that. Y’all find out when he wants y’all to know.”
Huh. After my little rant, doesn’t that make it seem like perhaps there is something going on within his family? Maybe he really is contemplating other teams because of them. Is someone sick and he wants to move closer to them or better hospitals? ‘Cuz if it’s just that Melo’s concerned about whether he could win a ring in Denver, would Billups really have described that as “going through something?” Wouldn’t he instead have said like “he’s weighing his options” or “he doesn’t know where he wants his career to go?”
Regardless, while Melo has indicated that he still could very well sign the extension, this has made it clear to the Denver brass that if he doesn’t do it before the February trade deadline, they’ll have no choice but to trade him. They just saw how Cleveland and Toronto ended up pretty much empty-handed when LeBron and Bosh walked, and they don’t want the same to happen. Unlike with the Chris Paul situation though, Melo actually has a fair amount of control. Denver can’t just trade him for the best offer they can get because before any new team gives up any decent talent for him, they’re gonna want his assurances that he’ll sign an extension with them. No one will give up anything real to just rent him for half a season only to have him then become a free agent and leave. Which means that if he truly does want to go to New York, we might have a decent shot.
The question is making salaries match. While a team like the Hornets would be interested in Eddy Curry’s expiring contract for salary cap relief, if the Nuggets cared about that they could just let Melo leave at the end of the season. After Curry and Amar’e, our next biggest salary is Ray Felton at $7 million, who they wouldn’t be interested in because they not only have Billups, but a young potential replacement in Ty Lawson. They’re gonna want young talent back in other positions, so we’d likely need to send Danilo Gallinari or Anthony Randolph, if not both, plus a bunch of others. Since after Felton our next highest salary is only $4 million, we’d have to throw in a bunch of pieces like Ronny Turiaf, Kelenna Azubuike and Toney Douglas to make it work (and if we only included Gallo or Randolph, then we’d likely need to throw Wilson Chandler into the mix too). It’s obviously a trade you’ve gotta do, but it’d be a bummer to lose so much of our recently acquired depth.
In the short term, don’t expect anything to happen, but if Melo hasn’t signed that extension by January, the firestorm will begin anew. And this time when you smoke, there definitely will be fire too.