Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets Headed Towards Divorce

Ric Bucher of ESPN is reporting that Carmelo Anthony has no intention of signing a contract extension and wants to leave the Denver Nuggets.  None of this is surprising due to Denver’s disappointing first round playoff loss to the Utah Jazz.  Anthony looks at the Nuggets roster and sees a team in decline.  Chauncey Billups is 34-years-old and is on the decline and the only young assets the team has are the mercurial J.R. Smith and rookie Ty Lawson.  Carmelo also knows that with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh uniting in South Beach to play for the Miami Heat, he has to ally with other superstars to have a shot at a championship.  Anthony is the second star (joining Chris Paul) to show unhappiness with his current team after the “Decision.”  It would not be shocking to see more stars like Deron Williams try to find different teams as they search for a championship. 

Using ESPN Trade Machine, I have constructed a few possible trades that the Nuggets could pursue.

Atlanta Hawks receive Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith
Denver Nuggets: receive Josh Smith and Jamal Crawford

Why this deal could work:
Atlanta instantly becomes a contender in the Eastern Conference with Carmelo, Joe Johnson and Al Horford.  Denver adds Josh Smith, who performs at a near All-Star level, and Jamal Crawford’s expiring contract.  Crawford is better than Smith.

Charlotte Bobcats receive Carmelo Anthony
Denver Nuggets receive Gerald Wallace and DeSagana Diop or Nazr Mohammed

Why this deal could work:
Bobcats’ owner Michael Jordan acquires a Jordan Brand pitchman in what would be a one year rental.  Anthony would make the team nationally relevant for the first time ever, even it’s for just one year.  The Bobcats would definitely lose Anthony to free agency in the summer of 2011.  The only way Charlotte does this deal is if they can include their most toxic contract (DeSagana Diop).  But the Nuggets would more than likely insist on Mohammed who has an expiring contract.  Denver would add Wallace who could slide in at Carmelo’s former position of small forward.

Dallas Mavericks receive Carmelo Anthony and Chris Anderson
Denver Nuggets receive Tyson Chandler and Caron Butler

Why this deal could work:
Nuggets get a much-needed salary dump by including Anderson’s long-term contract.  They also acquire two expiring contracts in Chandler and Butler Dallas strengthens its position as a title contender.  Note: this deal would not be able to happen until September 13 due to Chandler’s trade restriction which lasts until then.

Orlando Magic acquire Carmelo Anthony
Denver Nuggets receive Vince Carter

Why this deal could work:
Nuggets save face by adding a marketable player in Carter.  Anthony joins Olympic teammate Dwight Howard (and Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson) to form a quartet that is better on paper than the Heat’s Big Three.

New Jersey Nets receive Carmelo Anthony
Denver Nuggets receive Devin Harris, Terrence Williams and Derrick Favors

Why this deal could work:
Nuggets add a potential franchise player in Favors and a nice young talent in Williams.  They would have to take on Harris to make the salaries match, which would create problems with Billups and Lawson in place, but the reward would be well worth it.  Anthony becomes the centerpiece for the Nets move to Brooklyn (assuming they can re-sign him).

Who can’t make a deal:

Chicago Bulls
The only way the Bulls can add Carmelo is if they can include Luol Deng (who has arguably the worst contract in the NBA) in the deal.  There’s no way that Denver would take on Deng even though they know that Carmelo will leave in 2011.

Leader in the Clubhouse:

New York Knicks receive Carmelo Anthony
Denver Nuggets receive Eddy Curry, Danilo Gallinari and Anthony Randolph (or Wilson Chandler)

It’s obvious why the Knicks would want Carmelo.  However, they already know that they are the favorites sign Anthony next summer, so why would they trade away their assets when they can sign Anthony for nothing but cash a year from now?  Instead the Knicks should continue to try to acquire Chris Paul so they can form their version of the “Big Three.” Denver would acquire Eddy Curry’s expiring contract and two young talents in Gallinari and Randolph (or Chandler). Many believe that the Knicks will eventually land Anthony.  The question is, will they part with their assets in order to acquire ‘Melo a year early?

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