By Mike Kane, NJFFL Contributor
For months now, Carmelo Anthony leaving Denver has been a hot topic. It’s pretty much a done deal that he won’t be signing the 3 year/$65 million extension the Nuggets offered to stay in Denver so it becomes a matter of Denver getting something back for their superstar.
After LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, Carmelo instantly became the new LeBron figure for Knick fans to hope & pray for. It can’t hurt that Melo hasn’t been keeping it a big secret he’d prefer to play in the Big Apple. All the trades possibly being discussed depend on Anthony signing his extension. I can’t blame a team trading for him to want that extension signed since they’d be giving away a lot to get him for only 35 or so games.
The big trade talk right now is a 3-team deal between the Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons & New Jersey Nets. The Nets get Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, & Rip Hamilton, Pistons get Troy Murphy’s expiring contract, Johan Petro & a 2nd round pick, and the Nuggets would receive Devin Harris, Derrick Favors & a couple 1st round picks. If this trade goes through here’s how I see it.
New Jersey now gets their superstar. Brook Lopez is the Nets best player right now, but outside of New Jersey, who gives a shit. Nets tickets still sell for $1 or $2 on stub hub and the arena is usually empty. Carmelo will draw fans, sell tickets, jerseys and hype the Nets move to Brooklyn. For this season with a possible lineup of Billups, Hamilton, Melo, Lopez & Vujacic, Farmar or Graham rotating the 2-guard spot in an Eastern Conference where the current #8 seed 76ers are 16-23, the Nets would absolutely make the playoffs as a 7 or 8 seed but would fall to either Miami or Boston in the 1st round. Long term, this trade hurts NJ. Billups who would want a buyout is old anyway and Hamilton is an older player out of his prime with a bad contract. Carmelo would kill it for them but the team would be back in the same position. Nets give up picks so you’d have to hope for diamonds in the rough in the draft since there will be no cap room. You’re also going to have to pay Brook Lopez in a couple years. A Carmelo trade would make money for the Nets, not championships. The Nets would be in a better position not getting Melo. Let Favors develop and keep your draft picks and build a team. Take the Oklahoma City approach to things and you could end up with your own Durant, Green, Westbrook tandem.
For Denver this is a great deal. Between Anthony & Billups they are dumping about $30 million in salary and if they choose to rebuild they can get rid of Kenyon Martin’s $16.5 million and if Nene doesn’t exercise his player option they save on paying him his $11.6 million. If they can find a team to take Al Harrington’s $6-$7 million over the next few years it saves there as well. The more bad contracts they can dump the better. After that Denver would have a core of Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, Ty Lawson and would have to resign JR Smith. The team will be crap for the time being but cap space and draft picks are your friend in the NBA. Denver will definitely be in a good spot to sign some FA, draft well and bounce back.
The Pistons have been up shit’s creek lately and didn’t do themselves any favors but using their cap space on garbage. Rip Hamilton got paid for what he did during their title run and they gave Ben Gordon & Charlie Villanueva awful contracts. All that spending last year got the Pistons a 27-55 12th in the East finish and a 13-26 start to this season. Unloading Hamilton’s $12.6 million is a start but they need to find a way to unload Gordon & Villanueva. They just aren’t very good players and if they can’t unload their contracts Detroit is going to be stuck in a Knicks like position of having so many bad contracts that there’s no room to make moves and both are under contract through the 2013-14 season. There’s really nothing else the motor city can do unless they unload the bad contracts they have. Losing Hamilton and gaining Murphy’s expiring contract helps. I also wouldn’t resign Tayshaun Prince. The guy won’t want to take less than the $11 million he makes now and he’ll be 31. Losing Hamilton & Prince will save DET $24 million. Pistons are in a bad spot, it might be a few years before they become relevant again. The DEN-NJ-DET trade is only 1 possibility. Enter Knicks.
The Knicks are searching for teams to deal with and get Carmelo but if I’m Donnie Walsh, I wait him out. Stop talks with Denver since as we all know, him moving depends on signing that extension. Denver could panic and take a low ball offer or just lose him altogether. Considering how good the Knicks are right now trading for Carmelo isn’t a must because you don’t want to gut the team. Next season New York gets to finally dump Eddy Curry’s $11 million waste of space, lose Azubuike and hopefully trade Anthony Randolph who is set to make $3 million in 11-12. The Knicks have to think hard about the future if they sign or trade for Carmelo. Denver will wants picks and a combination of Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari & Landry Fields. I wouldn’t want to trade any of them but Gallinari would be the easiest one to replace. Fields is a 6’7” guard who played PF at Stanford and Chandler is such a good defender. The Knicks however might have already done the same the Wilson Chandler that they did the David Lee. The Knicks could’ve resigned Lee at $10 million per year after the 08-09 season but held out for LeBron James. They could’ve resigned Wilson Chandler for about $5 million per year but now Chandler is playing so well they are going to have to give him more money. You will also have to pay Gallinari & Fields when the time comes. Amare’s salary is only going to go up which will leave less cap space. Hopefully Donnie Walsh can work some magic and work everything out. While this is knit-picking, the Knicks stand to benefit the most from getting Melo. It turns New York from just a playoff team into a serious NBA Title contender.
Wherever Anthony ends up he will help any team. Carmelo moving who change the landscape of an entire conference putting that on the fence team into a playoff spot. After it’s all set and done, Anthony will be traded. Whether it’s to the Nets or Knicks, Phoenix choosing not to trade Amar’e Stoudemire showed that you have to get something for a superstar who has all but confirmed his intentions to leave. As a Knicks fan, I would love life seeing Carmelo Anthony & Amar’e Stoudemire play together. The Garden is already on fire for the Knicks without Melo, imagine MSG with him. Whatever happens Carmelo is still one of the best players in the NBA and will bring his star power to whatever team he goes to.