Despite all the rumors eternally linking Denver and New Jersey, the New York Knicks (Anthony’s preferred team) can still pull off a trade for the star Small Forward, without giving up prized forward Wilson Chandler.
Everyone in the country knows that Carmelo Anthony wants to play for the New York Knicks, dreams of a big three of his own flashing before his eyes. Everyone knows that Denver wants far too much for Anthony and looks to swindle a team (any team) out of more assets then should be given to them in any deal. If Denver would just come to their senses and agree to a fair trade, a trade to the team that Melo actually wants to play for, then a deal can be completed without all this unnecessary back and forth. Enter the New York Knicks.
Originally it was reported that Denver was asking New York to surrender Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Landry Fields, Eddy Curry’s expiring contract, and a couple of 1st round picks that could be acquired if New York traded away Tony Douglas and Anthony Randolph. That is just as insane as their initial demands from New Jersey, which reports say would have cost New Jersey five (count them five!) 1st round draft picks, along with Derrick Favors.
The Nuggets front office has since come down from those mad demands and is reportedly close to agreeing to the Nets current offer that would bring them Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, Ben Uzoh, Stephen Graham, Quinton Ross, and two 1st round picks. If Denver is willing to come down from their initial demands for New Jersey then they can come down from their initial demands for New York.
If New York were to trade Tony Douglas and Anthony Randolph to Denver so that they can be flipped for 1st round picks, or NYC can trade them for 2 first rounders themselves, and package those with Danilo Gallinari, Ronny Turiaf, Shawne Williams and the expiring contracts of Eddy Curry and Kelena Azubuike, then Denver would be receiving roughly the same deal as the one offered by New Jersey. Denver would also be trading away the same pieces, namely Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Sheldon Williams and another low salary player. Denver would also save more money by trading with New York since they wouldn’t have Harris’ contract on the books for next season, a player that Denver has been reported to have no interest in anyway.
With either deal, the Nuggets would be banking on the potential of a young player, while putting two 1st round draft picks to use in their efforts to rebuild their roster. Derrick Favors, at 19 years of age, is averaging 6.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Danilo Gallinari, a 22 year old, is averaging 15.3 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game. Both players have the potential to be quality starters or busts, so Denver would be taking a risk with either deal.
What about Carmelo Anthony? For any deal to work he must accept the $65 million dollar extension, something he has made known he is reluctant to do unless he’s traded to the Knicks. The Nets however, have arrogantly believed that they could easily convince Carmelo to sign that extension with them, and that they’ll go after Chris Paul or Dwight Howard in 2011 free agency in order to make the team a contender. First off, the Nets are 10-27, they’ve lost 8 of their last 11, Devin Harris and Brook Lopez haven’t played like elite players at their positions and New Jersey seems light years away from contending for anything save the all-time mark for fewest wins in a season. If they pull off this trade with Denver/Detroit, then the Nets lose Devin Harris and multiple 1st round picks that could help their rebuilding efforts. They’ll lose tradable assets that could be used to go after Chris Paul, Deron Williams, or Dwight Howard in 2011, and they lose the cap flexibility to sign any of them as free agents in the summer of 2012. With Hamilton having three years left on his expensive deal, Melo commanding max dollars, and Brook Lopez needing a contract extension after the 2011 season, even if the cap rises twice over the course of the next two off-seasons, New Jersey will not have enough dollars or assets to move in order to upgrade the roster further. New Jersey will pin all their hopes on two old men, Billups and Hamilton, and one lone star, without any ability whatsoever to upgrade their roster until the summer of 2013, when no major stars are projected to be available. This does not look like a solid plan to build a championship team to me.
For New Jersey to even make the playoffs they’ll have to hope that Billups and Hamilton play like their five years younger, and have Carmelo Anthony single handedly carry this team on his back into the postseason, Melo has seen this movie before, in his first few years with the Denver Nuggets and it always had the same ending. I doubt he wants to struggle to the playoffs just to lose in the first round year after year. To make matters worse, reports indicate that Chauncey Billups has stated he will want an immediate buyout of his contract if New Jersey trades for him.
The New York Knicks on the other hand are 21-15, 2.5 games back of Atlanta for the 5th seed and a potential playoff match-up with the Chicago Bulls, whom New York has defeated in both meetings thus far this season. They have a superstar in Amar’e Stoudemire who is second in the league in scoring, heading into last nights’ game, and an MVP candidate. Starting point guard Raymond Felton is playing at an All-Star level and Wilson Chandler looked like a candidate for 6th man of the year when he was coming off the bench, due to his ability to play at SG, SF, or PF effectively. Knicks’ rookie Landry Fields has also proven himself to be the 2nd most productive player taken in the draft thus far and would be the favorite to win the ROY, were it not for Blake Griffin’s (& due to John Walls’ injury issues) brilliance. The Knicks would also have the very best back-up point guard in the league, bar none, in veteran Chauncey Billups (which would address a need), who might be more willing to play out his contract with a team that can actually contend. They have a proven GM in Donnie Walsh and a head coach who, though deeply flawed, has tons of playoff experience. With a trade, New York would not have enough assets or cap room to make a move for Chris Paul or Dwight Howard but they’ll certainly be looked at by those players and will be in a position of strength moving forward.
In the end this will all come down to Carmelo Anthony. If he informs the Nets that he has no desire to play for them, ever, then Denver will be forced to deal with New York for a similar package of assets so that Melo can land with the team of his choosing. Carmelo is a free agent at the end of this season, he has every right to choose which team he plays for and should NOT be forced to join a team where he will be unhappy, just because the Nuggets say so.
Update: Reports are coming in that now Denver wants New Jersey to choke on Al Harrington’s 4-year, $33 million dollar contract, as well as hand over another draft pick and take Renaldo Balkman off Denver’s hands.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that Denver has no intention of trading Carmelo Anthony and is merely stalling for time until they can sneak under the trade deadline. Why would they do this you ask? Perhaps their intention all along has been to force Melo to re-sign with them using the fear of a looming lockout and a new collective bargaining agreement, that would make it impossible for him to relocate as a free agent. Not without giving up tens of millions of dollars in order to do so that is.
Sneaky Denver Nuggets, I’m on to you!
All jokes aside, it still falls on Carmelo to force Denver into trading with his choice team in order to get something done before doomsday. The Mayans said the world ends in 2012 right? Best get a move on Melo, before it’s too late.