The Indian Summer of Carmelo

Apparently we do not need to wait for 2011 to experience the Summer of Carmelo. We may very well be on the verge of the Indian Summer of Carmelo. Ric Bucher is reporting that Carmelo Anthony no longer desires to play for Denver. The kicker is Carmelo may want out immediately as Bucher speculates Melo will start the season playing for a franchise other than the Denver Nuggets. If you have not yet had the pleasure of reading, hearing or seeing Bucher’s latest work, you can read the ESPN.com article here, listen to his ESPN Radio interview here and there is video below.

First of all, as we experienced with LeBron’s decision, this is one in a number of see-sawing reports we have witnessed over the previous few months which have ranged from Carmelo wants to play with Amare Stoudemire and Tony Parker in New York to Carmelo is likely to sign the extension currently on the table or Carmelo wants to wait to sign the extension in order to put pressure on the Nuggets to improve the roster and now we have moved to Carmelo is going to start the 2010-11 season somewhere else.

Clearly all of this needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Less than a month ago we went through this with Chris Paul as he wanted out of New Orleans. Despite the speculation by the media, including the TrueHoop Network, Paul will be in New Orleans for at least the next few months, if not longer. The same could be true for Carmelo although it warrants mentioning Paul is under contract with New Orleans for two more seasons as opposed to Carmelo’s one giving the Hornets more control than Denver enjoys.

Assuming Carmelo does tell Nuggets’ management he is no longer interested in continuing to play for Denver what options do the Nuggets have? Obviously there can only be two ways all of this is resolved, either Carmelo is a Nugget or he is not, but there are a number of possible ways to arrive at either outcome.

There is one undisputable fact in all of this speculation. Carmelo Anthony is under contract with Denver for the 2010-11 season. Unless he wants to sit out the season, and lose out on some serious cash, the Nuggets can tell him to suit up and go win some games. This option sounds appealing because it provides the illusion of control. As mentioned above, Melo can say whatever he wants, but he is a Nugget. The truth is the clock is ticking towards Carmelo’s early termination option which draws closer with each passing second. Conversely the Nuggets loose a little bit of leverage with every tick of the clock. Time is not on Denver’s side. Plus keeping Carmelo around against his will is wrought with potential problems.

First of all, Carmelo already lacks defensive intensity and is not known for restraint on offense when it comes to letting shots fly. How much worse will those characteristics be accentuated if Melo is longing to be somewhere else. The constant stream of possessions featuring some serious ole defense on one end and long range jumpers on the other are already eating away at my brain.

Secondly, it is difficult to ask the other members of the team to put it all on the line when they know there is one amongst them who refuses to make the same commitment. Such a situation would likely destroy the team on the court and off until Carmelo was dispatched either via trade or homicide.

The ideal result from keeping Anthony in Denver requires the Nuggets to rely on Carmelo’s pride and trust he would play to win instead of play to stay out of harms way. If the Nuggets could find success as they did for two thirds of 2009-10, execute a trade deadline move with Kenyon Martin’s expiring contract to add a piece to the puzzle and make a run at a championship maybe Melo can be convinced Denver is the best place for him and the drama ends with his Herbie Hancock hitting the dotted line on that thee year extension. It sounds nice on paper, but that paper is more likely to be a screenplay than a hardcopy of a Roundball Mining Company post from next June.

On the other hand if Denver chooses to keep Carmelo around and he is being a disruptive force, the Nuggets could simply tell him to hang out anywhere other than the Pepsi Center. The 76ers did exactly that with Allen Iverson when he demanded a trade in 2006 which triggered his arrival in Denver. This would allow the active members of the Nuggets roster to focus on playing while the front office worries about coming up with an acceptable destination for Anthony.

Should some combination of events keep Carmelo in Denver through the end of the season, the options are less clear. They can always let him walk away and receive nothing in return, which would be a complete disaster making the loss of Dikembe Mutumbo in 1996 seem like dropping off a urine stained mattress at goodwill by comparison.

With a new collective bargaining agreement needed to govern the next free agent bonanza there are a number of unknowns about what options the Nuggets would have with Carmelo. I believe we can safely assume that sign and trade deals will be a part of the next CBA and that Bird rights will be retained, if not strengthened, in order to avoid what happened to Cleveland and Toronto last month. If that is the case, Denver should still be able to do a sign and trade to receive some kind of compensation for parting with Carmelo. I am sure Anthony will want as much money as possible in order to make up for the $83 million he would be leaving behind (the combined value of the final year of his contract and three year extension). Still, the return in that situation would likely be minimal as the Nuggets would have very little leverage at that point.

The other option Denver has is to acknowledge the writing on the wall and begin working on a trade to relocate Carmelo Anthony immediately. Again, they have more than one option to work with here.

Undoubtedly Carmelo will have a list of teams he would be willing to play for, a list that is probably going to be very short. Obviously we all know the number one team on that list is the New York Knicks. When taking into account his desire to play in a major market the only other team that makes sense is New Jersey thanks to their upcoming move to Brooklyn.

If Melo indeed has his heart set on one of those two franchises the Nuggets’ options will be limited. Although things will not be as bad as they seem due to the fact both suitors will be desperate to make something happen. The Knicks and Nets had disappointing free agent hauls in July, especially New Jersey. I seriously doubt there were any high fives in the Nets ticket offices after the acquisitions of Outlaw, Farmar, Morrow and Petro.

The Nuggets could make significant demands of both teams and wait for each of them to one up each other. However, the Knicks have already lost control of their first round picks over the next two seasons as they will get the lower pick between the Rockets selection and their own in 2011 (probably in the 20’s if Yao returns and plays for most of the season) and Houston has the rights to the Knicks’ 2012 pick outright. New Jersey has their own problems because, even after their big free agent summer as documented above, do not have a lot of talent Denver could utilize.

There is always the possibility of Carmelo listing teams outside of Gotham as acceptable destinations which would bring more competition and more players to choose from. Plus there is always the corollary of adding a third or fourth team to the mix as a trade partner to help get everyone what they want. Regardless Denver’s options could be limited.

Before we get ready to welcome Anthony Randolph or Derrick Favors to Denver keep in mind that Denver does not have to trade Carmelo to his final destination. He does not have a no trade clause and cannot control where he is dealt. The Nuggets could send him to a team hoping to contend as a one year rental if they think such a trade would bring in the players and/or picks they wanted. Another possibility is to deal him as a de facto expiring contract with a team not on his list knowing he will exercise his early termination option. Denver is in the position to offer some very significant financial flexibility. They could actually acquire the entire Sacramento Kings roster with the expiring contracts of Carmelo, Kenyon and J.R. Smith alone. That is some serious cap relief. The problem is, as we have discussed before, there are very few teams in need of significant salary cap relief, and plenty of other expiring deals to go around. It will be a buyer’s market this winter when it comes to slashing payroll and that is bad for Denver.

At this point I am sure you noticed that whether Denver decides to keep Carmelo to start the season or not, the likely outcome is a trade. With Denver only being guaranteed Carmelo’s rights for another ten months and two weeks ultimately Carmelo holds the cards. If he truly wants to play for someone else by opening night, he will probably get his wish give or take a week or two.

Honestly, the news that Melo wants out did not startle me in the slightest. I have already shared my concerns about Denver’s fate if Carmelo signed the three year $65 million extension. I honestly believe the Nuggets ceiling is higher with Melo in another city than it is with Melo on the books for over $20 million a season.

What does startle me is the status of the management team. The Nuggets’ front office is currently incomplete after parting ways with Mark Warkentien and Rex Chapman and there is no track record or past history we can rely on. I dreaded Denver becoming a perennially above average team with no hope of winning a championship or of acquiring a special player to put them over the top, however, with the current status of the front office the possibility of repeating the 1990s is back as a possible outcome should Carmelo indeed force his way out.

If Bucher is correct and the Nuggets do end up parting ways with Carmelo, the front office must ensure they work to rebuild as opposed to retool and I am not sure that they will do that. There are very specific assets the Nuggets should seek to acquire in exchange for their star player, but that is a post for another day. For now we are forced to live with the reality Carmelo will not go down as the greatest Nugget in history, at least until the next update in the Indian Summer of Carmelo tells us something different.

  • Victor

    Yo really must dislike Melo to say that the nuggets have a higher ceiling with him leaving Denver thats just a dumb statement!! Who are we gonna have Ty lawson and Affalo two good players but nothing speacial! Jr smith is gonna be gone next season as will probaly kenyon and do you really think Chauncey is gonna stay with Denver if Melo leaves as we will only be a average to below avergage team! Billups is gonna wanna go somewhere to try to win one more championship and Denver will defenitley not be the place. I think Nene is a free agent as well next year so he will probaly leave too and good luck with the front office getting players to come to denver thats gonna work out real well! Speaking of front offices we dont even have one! So dont give me this well have a higher ceiling if Melo leaves cause cause its bull crap! Maybe Melo wasnt the best player in the league maybe but he was top ten no doubt! Sure he didnt put all his effort in his defense maybe he does get a lil jumpshot happy but with him were a 3 time northwest champ been to the western conference finals been to the playoffs every year and are actually relevant in the Nba!! and with out him were gonna once again be the Denver Who?? And yeah your gonna give me the in 5 years or so maybe well be relevant again but why wait 5 years when we can be right now!! So if Carmelo Anthiny does leave Denver i hope its makes you happy cause we sure as hell dont have a Higher ceiling without him!!

    Truly a Lifetime Denver Nuggets Fan.

  • 3ptChucker

    Face it, Carmelo is leaving, whether it’s this summer or next summer. The Nuggets need a (nearly) complete roster overhaul, and Carmelo is not staying around for the 3-5 year plan. As a Nuggets fan, you must realize this and know the best course of action is to convert current assets into future success ASAP. Carmelo is leaving within 10 months you just have to try to get the most out of him in return.

  • KW

    I keep looking for a light at the end of the tunnel. I agree that Melo will probably not suit up in a Nuggets uniform this year.
    Is there any upside for this season? Looks like we’ll have a chaotic 2010-11 season and a lockout in 11-12.
    I did my time as a Nuggets fan in the 90s. Looks like it’s dejavu all over again.
    Remember when we had to run all the offense thru Mcdyess? That was painful.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

    Victor, sorry for any confusion in the wording of my post. Obviously the Nuggets will be worse in the short term without Carmelo. That is a given. However, long term if Carmelo is the best player on a team that is financially unable to bring in another player that is equal to or better than he is they are destined to be a first round playoff patsy in the Western Conference. While the short term prospects without Melo are bleak, the future is more wide open. Denver would have to rebuild and say goodbye to Chauncey and/or Nene and start over. Maybe the chances of winning a championship in the future would only be 3% or 5%, but those chances are higher than they are now. To me that means rebuilding has a higher ceiling than maintaining the current state of affairs. As both you and I pointed out, the front office is not entirely stable right now and the nightmare scenario is a repeat of the 1990s which is not something Nuggets fans need to worry about if Melo is in Denver.

    The question is as a fan what do you want? Are you content to make the playoffs every season even if there is little chance to contend for much of anything, or are you willing to risk some miserable seasons in order to build a championship team? I place little value in first round exits and desire nothing but a championship for the Nuggets. Right now, that is not happening, and there is no guarantee it ever will. Even so difficult decisions must be made in order to achieve lofty goals.

  • Chad

    Let him go. Bring in team players and young atheletes. We have a good team without Melo, and anyone we get in return can help. Billups, Nene, JR, and Harrington is a good start. Lawson will only get better, Anderson should not be getting the extended minutes he has had to play, but should remain a big part of the second team. Get two solid players (1 big and 1 shooter) for this over-rated egomaniac, and Denver will be as good as tghey would be with Melo. Granted, they still will be at the bottom of the 8 that make the playoffs, but I would rather watch a team that plays hard and plays as a team, than what this could very easily turn into. Melo playing no defense, and trying to win the scoring title to boost his value. You think he plays no defense and shoots too much now…. just wait.

  • Chad

    I like JR Smith as our scorer anyway. If JR would watch a little of how Kobe plays the game, and leads a team, he could be better than Melo. I hope Denver trades him to Memphis for Gasol and a couple picks or a young player. Let Melo see how good he really is. Punk.

  • Chad

    Trade him Today! Get Gasol and Rudy Gay for him. Throw in Kenyon too.

  • Chad

    Melo should have payed more attention to Billups instead of AI.

  • Kieran

    I’m not sure I agree that the Nuggets would need to dump Chauncey and/or Nene as well, at least not immediately. Dumping Melo’s contract could give the team a fair amount of flexibility. Start collecting good contracts along the lines of Affalo’s and Lawson’s, and bide your time waiting for a team looking to add a piece for a playoff run. That’s when you’d have leverage to trade a K-Mart, Nene or Chauncey to a real contender. Do those trades well and the team could have a future.

    Unfortunately, the Nuggets haven’t shown a real alacrity for making clever deals. So we can probably expect a few more Al Harrington-esque citings and 28-win seasons in years to come.

  • ParkHillNative

    Jeremy, I’m heartened by your way of looking at this situation, except for one nagging question: Is there really any reason to think that the Nuggets, under Kroenke’s ownership, have any real desire to build a championship contender? It seems to me like Kroenke has been content for quite some time to put a mildly competitive, middle-of-the-pack product out on the floor.

    After Melo’s gone, is the organization really going to try to build a championship team? Or are they going to stink like hell for a long time, and eventually maybe get lucky in the draft again and struggle back towards mediocrity?

  • TSal

    The Nuggets need to make a decision. Do you want to be proactive or get Lebron’ed? Do you ship Melo, get some trades and picks? or do you keep him and hope he stays? I think Melo has made his decision, these kids want to win championships and he doesn’t think he can win one here in Denver. Fine, ship him. Send him to a team who will give the Nugs some decent trades and maybe a future pick or two. The key is to get some young talent and rebuild. I can deal with having a okay season or two W/O Melo and get some really good Durant type talent hopefully down the road. I applaud Durant for staying in OKC because he wants to compete on his terms. OKC have built a good young team and Denver can do the same.

  • asdqqq

    Great analysis Jeremy. The only thing I would perhaps quibble with is the suggestion I think you are making that we should trade him now instead of waiting until at least midseason, probably until the season is over. Like you, I’m interested in seeing the Nuggets win a championship. We’ve got a team built to contend this year. If Melo’s going to leave, this is as close as we are going to get in the foreseeable future. I think you’ve got to give this team a chance. I haven’t seen anything suggesting that Melo has a strong preference to move on this year as opposed to at the end of the next year. Just about everyone on the team is in the last year of their contract, and it’s very possibly Karl’s last year on the bench as well. The potential for that situation to explode is going to be present no matter what, but there is also the potential that everyone will realize its now or never and really buckle down. This team is also built perfectly to go into rebuilding mode next year. If we start a year early, it would just be counterproductive because we have too many good pieces in place to be bad enough to get a top lottery pick, even without Melo. I just don’t see the marginally better return we would get by trading him now as worth sacrificing this last chance to contend in the foreseeable future. Rebuilding for a team like the Nuggets is largely about being terrible and hoping for some lottery luck. No one is going to trade us their young superstar (and New York and New Jersey don’t have one), even for Melo, and we’re not going to attract those guys in free agency.

    That said, if we did trade him now, I wouldn’t settle for anything less than Lopez, Favors, (you can lose with these guys for a few years while they’re still developing), Murphy (expiring), NJ’s first this year (when they’ll be terrible even with Melo), the right to swap next year, and NJ’s first the year after that. I think a team owned by a crazy, desperate, Russian billionaire would do that deal just because of the caché Melo’s name would give him internationally. I wouldn’t touch Harris with a ten-foot pole. With New York, we’d have to get Gallinari, Randolph, Curry (expiring), maybe Turiaf, and all of NY’s draft picks or the right to swap for the next 5 years after they get done with the Houston stuff. The NJ package is better, particularly as you probably couldn’t actually get that many draft picks out of NY.

  • Seth

    I gotta say that for the most part I agree. I have to think though that if they can get K-Mart and JR off the books while keeping Melo and bring in a true center so Nene can move to PF and a truly solid shooter (not the streaky shooter that JR has proven to be) they will not only remain with a positive immediate outlook, but long term as well. If they cannot manage that, I have to agree with you and say that they need to get Melo out to somewhere he wants to be and that has pieces we can use. I do think, however, that if Melo opts out, Nene will opt out as well in which case the Nuggets will not even have the option of “retool”ing as you put it. They will be forced to rebuild, and I don’t view that as a bad thing.
    As a Nuggets fan who endured the 90′s I must say this: I want Melo to stay because I would rather have a perennial playoff disappointment than what we endured during those ten or so years. At least this way we aren’t setting records for least wins in a season.

  • Du

    Any one can see a good package in houston for melo?

  • http://na BMac

    I too would like to see Melo stay, but only if his heart is in it. However if he goes, if we can get a true center that is halfway decent, and maybe a pure shooting guard, we are contenders. I look back to this past season when Melo was out, and Billups too, and we did pretty well without them. We even beat the Lakers, in LA quite handily. Sure, Kobe was out, but it shows that our team is capable without the star, if that is what they know they have to do. Spread the scoring to Nene, who does score more when he is a 1 or 2 option, Harrington, and a good shooting guard, I think we can be competitive without Melo. Good enough to beat the Lakers 3 of 4 again? Who knows.

  • http://www.nobloodnofoul.com/2010/07/11/nuggets-will-rebuild-february/ No Blood No Foul

    I agree with everything you’ve written – I came to the same conclusions about Denver’s future a few weeks ago.

    My only thought is that the chances of Denver moving Carmelo before the season starts are low.

    First, Melo’s expectations will shift the longer he sits in Denver. Right now, he might only be willing to consider NY. In four months? I’m guessing other cities will be on the table.

    Secondly, Melo can sign an extension at any time. Unlike a rookie scale contract extension, Melo can sign a new deal during the all-star break, which means there’s no rush.

    This gives Denver time to really work the trade scenarios and also leaves open the possibility that Denver could contend. Who knows? Maybe every western team but the Nuggets suffers some sort of injury and Denver rides to the Finals? Highly unlikely of course, but possible, and not something the Nuggets should toss away without a significant asset in return.

  • Tom

    First off, I believe any Melo trade should be packaged with Birdman’s horrendous contract. Secondly, Billups should probably then be spun elsewhere as his window is directly tied to Melo’s here in Denver. Without Melo, Billups’s value to this team becomes minimal.

    NYK actually could put together a nice package of Randolf, Gallo, Chandler, Curry +2014 1st for Melo and Andersen. We’d still have cap relief with Curry and 3 intriguing youngsters.

    New Jersey is hard to build a package as I’m sure Lopez is untouchable. Favors then becomes the only legit asset you’d want from that team as I wouldn’t want Devin Harris’s contract unless you can find a third team that wants him. Even if you did manage to pry Favors and Lopez, you’d almost have to take Murphy too to make salaries work and that leaves NJ with literally nobody in the frontcourt and we have nobody cheap enough to make the deal work. Also, making the salaries match up with this team is a nightmare. I simply don’t see NJ being able to pull it off unless they can find a taker for Harris to spin to us which I find unlikely as we’d probably take the same package or close to it for Billups which the other team would most likely prefer. Too many obstacles.

    Houston has assets and lots of them. A package of Battier (expiring and he’s a good player), Jordan Hill, Patrick Patterson, Jared Jeffries (expiring, needed to match salaries), and then one of the Budinger/Lee/Hayes combo all works for Melo/Bird. Don’t forget, Houston also owns the rights to swap 1sts with NYK in 2011 and New York’s 2012 protected 1st rounder. Houston would actually also be an intriguing place to move Billups to if Melo goes elsewhere (can’t package them together to Houston without taking back Kevin Martin, or Yao Ming which they won’t trade).

    Chicago’s package of Deng, Gibson, and Johnson + a future 1st would have some value to it if you’re a believer in Deng even though his contract is questionable. If Chicago would do a Deng, Gibson, Noah (probably no future 1st tho) package, I’d say that’s a slam dunk but Chicago made it clear this summer Noah was untouchable.

    I know this one might seem ironic but Detroit has some pieces to look into. Daye, Monroe, Prince, and Wilcox and a future 1st for Melo/Bird would work salary wise and I think talent wise you’d have to seriously consider it.

    Other feasible teams I could see chasing Melo but without real assets that they’d be willing to part with are: Orlando, Dallas, Phoenix and New Orleans.

    Funny thing though, the team I would most like to ship Melo off to is Minnesota. A combo of Wesley Johnson, Kevin Love, Ellington or Brewer (for salaries really), and the rights to Ricky Rubio would be seriously enticing. I’d actually pull the trigger on that deal right now. Obviously this deal would never happen as I doubt Minnesota would agree to all that without Melo agreeing to a sign and trade there and I don’t see Melo doing that. Then again, David Kaaaaaaaahn is their GM so maybe he’d give all that up for a 1 year rental.

  • asdqqq

    Tom, I take it you are not a Nuggets fan. If they did any of those Bulls trades I’d probably have to swear off the Nuggets for a decade. I don’t see how there is any value in trading an at least top 15 player, probably higher (Melo), for a team’s worst contract that they’ve been trying to dump for nothing and that you can’t build around or lose 60 games with (Deng), a youngster with a maximum career potential as a poor man’s Drew Gooden (Gibson), and then if they throw in their 3rd best player, when none of their top 3 are as good as the player they are getting (Noah, Rose is the only guy at about the same level as Melo on tha team, and Boozer is better than Noah), the deal becomes a slam dunk?

    Although most of those places, probably including Chicago, aren’t a real possibility because Melo won’t resign there, Minnesota is interesting because Kahn might just be crazy enough to trade for him even without an extension. If Melo really pissed Kroenke off at the wedding, it would be kind of awesome to see him ship him off to a Minnesota team stripped of any talent to toil away for a year. Anyone doubt Gilbert would have done that if he knew LeBron was going to leave a year early?

    Seriously though, a lot of NBA GMs are dumb. I have no doubt that Chicago has made the third best player on their team untouchable because they turned down trades for Garnett and Kobe in their primes because they were unwilling to trade any of their top 2 or 3 players. But that’s just stupid. No one should be off limits unless they are actually as good or better than the player you are getting. New Jersey won 12 games last year and drafted a project, not a surefire superstar. If their GM says anyone is untouchable on that roster in a trade for Melo, he should be fired on the spot.

  • criznick

    Carmello, will never win a championship in the NBA, because he is a quitter, and unlike college and the Olympics he will not be able to be paired with enough talent to cover for his faults. 1.) He demands too much money. 2.) He is a me player, that fails to make his team around him better. 3.) His defense is a liability, and defense wins championships on all levels, in every sport (the exception being golf).

  • GZ

    I agree with your points that Melo is almost certainly on his way out of Denver and our best hope is to try and unload him quickly while his value is highest and before our situation gets more desperate and we lose bargaining leverage.

    Our best bet is to blow the thing up immediately, try to get some solid young building blocks that we can grow into a contender in the next few years, hopefully before their rookie contracts run out and they jump ship for bigger markets too.

    I can’t help but feel that this is the new order for small-market teams in the NBA. We have become glorified farm teams for the big market clubs, and our only hope of contending is this:

    Step 1) Draft a transcendent talent who can step in immediately and make your team relevant.
    Step 2) Luck out in sequential drafts (as the Spurs did with Robinson/Duncan, OKC did with Durant/Westbrook, and I think Sacramento probably did with Evans/Cousins)
    Step 3) Hope that they mature quickly enough to generate sufficient success during their rookie contracts that they will opt to stick around.

    When most of them inevitably don’t, slip to the bottom of the standings again and repeat from step 1.

    Of all the teams in contention next year, only one is a small market team (OKC) and it’s no surprise why: Presti has stockpiled draft picks and formed a strong tie with their NBDL team, creating a young, inexpensive, talented core of “mini-super-friends” and role players (His only misstep taking Harden over Curry) who want to continue playing together, even in a backwater cow-town like OKC.

    The only option forward for the Nuggets (barring any major changes in the CBA or Kroenke finding his inner Mark Cuban) is to embrace our second-class status in the NBA and try and put together the best Triple A farm team we can muster. Maybe, just maybe, we might someday find ourselves at Step 3 with a solid enough team that we can take on the rich kids, like in a Disney movie.

    Maybe we should also see if Emelio Estevez wants to coach…

    In the meantime, I’ll look forward to your post about where you think we can find the most value for Melo in a trade. Nuggets fly together!

  • Tom

    asdqqq,

    I’m a huge Nuggets fan. The problem becomes one of leverage. If Melo says he wants to leave then the Nuggets have little. He’s in the last year of his contract and he would hold all the cards. History is littered with trades where a team becomes desperate to sell for anything (ie. Pau Gasol, Vince Carter) and the original team is left with peanuts. That’s even assuming the original team gains anything of value (Hi LeBron and Bosh). If you’re correct in that Melo won’t commit to a sign-and-trade with any teams other than NYK or NJN, then be prepared to be incredibly underwhelmed. My trade proposals up there will probably look dreamy.

    The Bulls trades aren’t sexy but they’re actually quite solid in terms of value, once again depending on your belief in Deng. Does he have a bad contract? Sure. He’s no superstar, he’s had injury issues and he has quite a few years left on his deal. Do I think he is/can be an above average wing player in the league though? Sure. I do think you’re underselling Gibson and Noah though. They’re not stat stuffers but both play excellent defense, know their roles on offense, and best of all, are cost controlled at the moment. Picking up someone like Noah allows Nene to move to PF which I think is critical to our team’s future success. I’d also argue that Noah actually has more value than Boozer but that’s another debate all together. Gibson gives us a great guy off the bench and he’s making chump change. Like I said, it’s not a sexy trade but I actually think the value of it is pretty good.

    I absolutely disagree with the premise that
    you shouldn’t should trade anybody that isn’t as good/better as the player you’re getting though. Age, durability, contract, attitude and numerous other variables are all huge considerations that go into in, as well as what’s left on your team after you make any potential trade.

    Say NJ makes the trade you’re proposing, basically Favors/Lopez/Murphy for Melo. That would leave NJ with a frontcourt rotation of Johan Petro, Sean May, and Kris Humphries. The Nets may as well put cardboard cutouts on both sides of the court. Lopez is young, cost-controlled, talented, and probably already a borderline All-Star at the hardest position to fill. To be perfectly honest, I’m not even sure if I would trade Lopez for Melo straight up if I were the Nets GM. I’d rather have an All-Star center and an average wing player than an All-Star wing player and an average center with only a few exceptions (Durant, Lebron, and Wade for the long-term, Kobe too for the short). Throw in the fact that Lopez is only 22, making a whopping $2.5M this year and controlled next year as well for a pittance, and suddenly Lopez for Melo straight up doesn’t seem as easy as it might on the surface. Favors is expendable as you’re right, he’s a project and the Nets would have to part with at least something of value otherwise the Knicks would get Melo. I’m actually a fan of the Knicks package I listed above and would probably jump at that one over anything the Nets would be willing to offer (ie. no Lopez and Favors).

    Regardless though, it’ll be painful and entertaining to see what happens with Melo in the next few months. I believe we should trade him as I don’t believe he’s a championship level player who can be the best player on a championship winning team short of us importing a Gasol/Bosh type player which isn’t happening anytime soon. That’s not a knock on Melo, he’s a great player. Just not a championship, “get on my back I’ll carry us to the promised land” type player. Is there a risk? Of course. We might flop back in the land of craptasticness and mediocrity we were before Melo came to town. It’s a risk but what happens if Melo leaves for nothing?

  • notoriousBEE

    I’m a hornets fan, so I’ve been reading unsubstantiated stories about CP3 leaving all summer long. There is nothing more upsetting than hearing that the guy you’ve been cheering for wants to bolt. If I were you guys, I wouldn’t waste too much time worrying about Mello leaving just yet. The writers at ESPN have the journalistic integrity of Sadam Hussein’s press corp. They’ll write anything as long as it generates some hits. Give mello the benefit of the doubt – he’s played some good ball for the Nuggets.

  • k

    It would be interesting to actually hear Melo speak on this matter. I know he has strong ties to NYC (as do I) so I can understand the urge to want to go back. There is no place like it. But as far as a basketball standpoint getting signed and traded there would be a disaster. Who would be left? Amare and Melo arent going to be on any all defensive teams. The nuggets have way more talent 2-15 than the knicks. And thats before the knicks trade people to get him. Remember when Kobe wanted to be traded and the bulls offered a package and Kobe said no because there would be no one left to play with. I know Kobe had a no trade clause so Kobe had more leverage. But Melo has to be thinking the same way. Unfortunately for Denver Melo’s smart move if he really wants to play in NYC is to do nothing. Then just opt out and sign with the knicks with all the talent still intact. But then he leaves money on the table assuming the new cba is not player friendly. But if the nuggets know this then do they trade a star player who is not complaining but just due to rumors? This is obviously a game of chess and not checkers. Too bad for the nuggets they fired the front office who said they like playing chess.
    I would like to see Carmelo stay in Denver. I thought that when he signed his longer contract than the Miami stooges he was his own man. And that he might relish trying to do it on his own in the city he started. Until he speaks about his Decision we can only guess.
    I think and hope Denver should go the New Orleans approach and trade Billups/and or JR with an expiring contract or someone like Birdman for some talent. Shake things up and try and convince Melo otherwise. If he leaves, the nuggets are going to have to make moves anyways so why not start now and give yourself a chance. Let lawson run the show. Give afflalo the minutes he deserves. Then flip Kmart at the deadline and get him back 30 days later (rest he could always use) for the playoffs. Now the nuggets are loaded and anything can happen(i can dream). But Melo would have to take basketball into account against just playing and living in NYC.

  • Warner

    I hate to say it but I agree with a lot of things said in this article. Rewind to May of 2009 and I really wasn’t impressed with Melo at all. I was convinced we picked the worst (Elite) player out of the 03 draft. I remember vividly, Melo coming back from China saying he wants to be assigned to the opposing teams number 1 every night and be known for a defender. Haha that was a joke. Listen, I love Melo and I wish him the best but he has all the attributes of a guy who doesn’t win championships.(Yes i know he won 1 in college but doesn’t match up) I also want to agree that we should build around lawson and slam the door behind martin and smith. Id take poo on a stick for those 2. Besides, it isn’t exactly my idea of a great future watching this team go to the playoffs and get knocked out 1st or 2nd round every year. Lets face it, that is the type of team it is w/o blowing it up. Hate to say it. Go NUGGS!!!

  • http://Aol.com Matthew

    Melo is leaving…everybody get over it. Over rated soft offensive minded player with little heart who hasn’t won a thing. He and bron are cut from the same cloth. Tallent gAllor and no killer instinct no mj in them. Not yet anyways. I sad send him to Portland for fernandez a few pics and some other pieces to make it work. Hell sent Martin too. If he wants out fine. Just besure to get something rather than nothing.

  • Tony

    At this point I think the only option is for Melo to leave now. He is showing that he has no faith in the rest of the team to win a championship. At no point has he said that Nene is as good as Stoudermire, or that Billups can lead a team as well as Chris Paul. He hasn’t defended his team to the media once, which just shows his me first mentality. Sure, maybe Nene doesn’t measure up to Stoudermire, but as a teammate you always overstate the quality of your team no matter what their talents are. If I was a Nugget, I would feel upset that Melo feels like he has to have All-Star players around him to win, instead of working on playing better as a team. I wouldn’t want to play next to him right now. If he thinks that you can instantly build a championship caliber team around a trio of highly egotistical people, ha, good luck with that. Stoudermire and Melo would have to sub in and out hockey style when going on defense to allow the knicks to have any real shot of winning. I think that the Heat wil come out of the gates with all this team, team, team mentality but within three years the attitudes will take over. We will get to see how making “super teams” will play out real soon.

    I hope that if Melo leaves, Kroenke reacts like the Cavs boss and gets so upset that he allows the Nuggets to use whatever resources they need to bring a championship home. Kroenke needs to show Nuggets fans that he does care about winning and maybe this could do that. What about bringing in Gallinari and Wilson Chandler from the knicks? I think they would provide Denver the ability to stay competative with the existing group.

  • Jason Shook

    I’ve been a Big Nuggets Fan since the late eighties, I remember begging to the TV screen to see some defense. Then Years of praying for injuries to heal and lotto balls to bounce. I remember the days before Broadband having no one to talk nuggets frustrations with because no one (it seemed) cared. I remember learning to root for ex nuggets new teams in the playoffs.
    Then I remember drafting Melo and that all changed.
    I admit not being a big fan of Melos all around game. But its been great having someone to critically analyze.

    All that being said If Melo doesn’t Want to be here, Good bye!
    I just hope beyond hope that the Nuggets can get something in return, I will still be a nuggets fan if the 90’s return, but I don’t want to.
    So lets start speculating on trades because that’s way more fun.

    Here’s one trade Anthony and Martin to Philly for Igudala and Brand and a first rounder. OK stop screaming about Brands contract for a second and think about Nene/Brand/Herington/Anderson as a rotation with Igudala and Billups (who should be making friends on teem USA as we speak) in the back court. I think it could work. And I think Philly would love it as well it gives them Amazing cap room next year to build around their young highly touted back court. It gets Brand out of there and lets Thaddeus Young start and if they cant keep Melo they could sign and trade him to the Knicks for some more pieces. Not to mention selling a bunch of tickets and getting them some nationally televised games.
    Melo would be pretty close to his wife and back on the east coast.

    Just an Idea.

  • ARoth

    criznick, you really think Carmelo was surrounded by transcendent talent at Syracuse? He nearly single handedly won the NCAA tourney as a 5 seed, I believe.

    Having said that, if he is going to leave, then we have to get any value we can back for him, preferably young talent that will help us rebuild around Lawson, Afflalo, Nene, and Hopefully a young front court player. Maybe Randolph or Gallo with Douglas, and Curry’s salary relief along with Kenyon coming off the books might actually turn into something over the next year or two. It would help if we would stop giving away our draft picks.

  • Tom

    Brand’s contract is unmovable. Not for an asset anyways, and certainly not for someone like Melo. Philly was practically begging for someone to take Brand and trade the #2 pick and there were no takers. That shows how horrendously bad his contract is. I bet if you took a poll on the league’s worst three, Brand would absolutely be one of them. Doesn’t sound like something I want in return for my franchise player and one of the top 15ish players in the league.

    Yea, from Philly’s perspective this trade is great! You get an elite player and an expiring contract who can still play at a decent level assuming he’s healthy and best of all, you get rid of two guys who are slated to make like $95M over the next three years. Let me say that again, $95M over the next three years. Basically, these two players account for more than 50%, closer to 60%, of a team’s cap space before hitting the luxury tax. If it’s LeBron and Wade? Absolutely. Gasol and Kobe? Sure, no problem. Durant and Westbrook? Where’s my pen and tell me where to sign. Iguodala and Brand? I’d rather just swallow the box full of razor blades now and just resuscitate me in 2015.

    If you told me we had to trade Melo to Philly, fine. A trade centered on Iguodala as a centerpiece is even bearable. The moment someone says Elton Brand though, I start screaming and running for the hills. We’re just now getting out of Kenyon’s contract, let’s not do it all over again with Brand.

  • asdqqq

    Tom,
    To me, there are only two acceptable post-Melo outcomes: 1) A team that got enough from Melo leaving to contend for a championship. In the NBA, a quarter is much more valuable than 3 dimes, because you only play 5 guys at a time (8 in your entire rotation), and there are plenty of nickels out there. That’s why New Jersey shouldn’t worry about trading away their 3 dime-ish big men (maybe Lopez is a 15 center) because they are going to replace them with at least nickle players, probably more in the near future because they’ve got the NY and Russian billionare advantages going for them. Take a look at Hollinger’s trade machine outcomes on that trade: http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=275onkl And if they threw Birdman into the deal: http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=2g95xx6
    So to get here, they’d have to trade Melo for another quarter, think Durant or Bosh or Rose. Not likely to happen.

    2) A team that is ready to rebuild. In this kind of trade, you can’t take back any bad contracts (like Deng, Iguodala, Harris) or any solid players in their prime that won’t put you into contention but also won’t let you be bad enough to get those high lottery picks, and even if you get a young star, they will be out of their prime by the time that young star develops (Deng, Iquodala, Harris again). It’s not these 15-centers aren’t good players or don’t provide the most absolute value in return for Melo, it’s just that you don’t win championships with 15 centers as your best players, but they keep you out of the lottery. You can only take back assets like trade exceptions, draft picks, and young players that you can lose with while they develop.

    The worst possible outcome would be to come away with a team that is worse than with Melo, not a contender, but still good enough to make the playoffs and avoid the lottery, with bad contracts frustrating future cap flexibility. In other words, a Chicago deal built around Deng. I’d much rather have what Toronto and Cleveland got then that Chicago deal if we have to take Deng.

    As to only making players that are as good or better untouchable, I didn’t mean to say that you can’t take those considerations you mention into account when you are determining whether the player is as good or better. If you want to say that Rose isn’t as good as Melo right now but has the upside to be so soon and is younger, that’s fine. But we’re talking about Noah being untouchable. Melo is at least a top 15 player just entering his prime who you would have locked in at that level for the next 4 or 5 years. Noah will never be a top 15 player. As to Lopez, maybe you can make a better argument, but he just lead a team to 12 wins last year, so you had better be darn certain that he’s going to be as good as Melo. It’s all well and good to love a player’s upside, but just think about how many superstars, guys on at least Melo’s level, there have been in this league that we didn’t know that they were a sure fire superstar by their second season in the league? I can only think of a handful. On the other hand, the number of guys who GMs fell in love with but then never developed into that superstar are too many to count.

  • Tom

    ASdqqq,

    That’s really well written and I actually totally agree with the premise of your writings as far as what we should look for in trades. I think our difference just lies in talent evaluation and the impact on team wins. As much as I’ve enjoyed Melo and appreciate what he’s done for the Nuggets, I don’t believe he’s any different than Allen Iverson, Dominque Wilkins, Bernard King and a slew of other great scorers. Entertaining, they can score, they can be scored on, they’re inefficient, and no real secondary skill. Melo is a superstar in name only. He’s the Amare Stoudamire of SF’s. Once again, I’m not bagging on the guy, he’s a very good player. Just not a super-elite talent.

    Like I honestly believe that Noah, Gibson and Deng would not make us any worse of a team then we are right now today with Melo on it. I think we’d still be pseudo-contenders based on a loss of points from Melo but a large uptick in defense with the addition of Noah. That’s short-term. Long-term our team is still built around Lawson, Deng, Noah, and Nene. I can absolutely live with that. Financially, assuming you include Andersen in the deal with Melo you really aren’t in too much worse a financial situation. This trade makes the Nuggets younger, allocates their resources better, and changes us from a fly by the seat of our pants offensive team to a defensive grinding team, similar to Houston. I don’t care the style, the only thing I want are wins and if you’re a believer defense wins (I am), then you’re closer to your goal.

    As far as Lopez goes, he’s never gonna be Howard/Shaq//Duncan/etc in this lifetime. He will never be that alpha-dog dominant center/PF. But do I think he could be an elite #2 guy on a championship level team? Yes. Absolutely. I don’t see anybody docking Pau Gasol now for leading a host of 20 win Grizzlies teams despite all the heat he got back in the early and mid 2000′s. And yes, I am comparing Lopez to Gasol. Feel free to look at their regular stats, advanced stats, PER, etc and use the eye test. They’re very similar players with similar skillsets. Big men like them have a difficult time carrying crappy teams because at their core, they’re complementary pieces. Top-notch complementary, but ultimately, not the guy who carries you. That’s why you don’t give him up for Melo. It’s a lateral move unless you really believe Melo is a championship caliber player along the lines of a Wade, Kobe, Durant, Lebron. And because Melo needs the ball so much to be “effective,” he can’t be a complementary #2. You may as well keep the guy who plays the scarcer position, makes a ton less, and is a lot younger. Also, if you’re a fan of Hollinger, you’ll notice Lopez’s PER in his first two years are higher than Melo’s in his first two years, and are already quite close. And he’s only 22. So like I said before, I wouldn’t even trade Lopez for Melo straight up.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

    This is some great dialog everyone. asdqqq, I agree completely with everything you wrote. I do believe there are two paths the Nuggets can take. It all depends on what they are offered for Melo.

    I am currently fielding offers from the other TrueHoop Network bloggers to see the quality of trades that could be had. You can look forward to a breakdown of those proposals on Friday.

    The good news is there appears to be four teams that would be acceptable destinations and the greater that number is, the more competition there is and thus the more leverage the Nuggets have. The really good news is the Knicks and Nets will both probably be very desperate to acquire a superstar wing player, which will work in Denver’s favor.

  • Tom

    That’s great Jeremy. I actually thought the piece done by the New Orleans blogger with the trade offers was EXTREMELY entertaining and it was fun sifting through the trade offers. I’m really looking forward to that one.

  • GZ

    I’m not a fan of the Gibson, Noah, Deng deal because the best player we would get (Noah) is only signed through next season. After that, we can extend a qualifying offer, but he would probably reject it since he could most certainly command more than $4 million as a restricted FA with all the cap room floating around out there.

    The Knicks already owe all their picks in 2011 and 2012. The best offer I can see them putting together is Gallinari, Randolph, Golden State’s 2012 second round pick and Eddy Curry’s expiring deal to make the money work. While I think Randolph could blossom away from Don Nelson, the fact that both he and Gallinari are only under contract through ’11/’12 makes the lack of draft picks more unsettling.

    Houston could offer some combination of Courtney Lee, Chase Budinger, Patrick Patterson, &/or Jordan Hill, plus they have New York’s first round pick in 2012 (top 5 protected). Shane Battier could be thrown in to make the money work. Going back to asdqq’s point, this seems like a lot of dimes and nickels, and I’m not sure the Knicks will have a very high pick in 2012 as Stoudemire alone probably makes them a playoff team out east and they still have cap room to work with.

    The Nets possible offer is maybe my favorite with Lopez being a more proven talent than Randolph or Gallinari and at a postition that’s harder to fill. Favors could also be included in the deal, and is under contract through ’13/’14. I think Murphy’s expiring deal could make the money work, and they have better draft picks to offer (Golden State’s 2nd rounder in ’11 and Golden State’s 1st rounder (top 7 protected) in ’12). My main hesitation is that I’m not entirely sold on Favors living up to the hype, but maybe we could flip him before it’s apparent that he’s a bust.

    In short, I’m not entirely thrilled with giving up our franchise player for any of these deals, and this seems like a best-case scenario. I’m not sure any of these teams would even offer everything that I’ve mentioned here and its a depressing thought.

    I’ve loved the Nuggets and the NBA in general for a long time, but I’m really starting to think that some change in league structure may be needed to give smaller market teams a chance to compete. As asdqqq said, to contend in this league you need at least one “quarter” and there aren’t nearly enough to go around, especially when they’re orchestrating things so they can play together on one team. I’m worried that we’re headed the route of Major League Baseball where 90% of the teams know on opening day that they have no hope of a championship because teams like the Yankees will just grossly out-spend them. It’s honestly even more grim than it was in the 90s, or maybe it just hurts more because we were 2 wins away from the NBA Finals just a year ago and now it all seems to be slipping away. Anyway, I’m getting into Dan Gilbert territory with this rant, and it just looks sad without Comic Sans font.

    Please show me how I’m wrong and that there’s hope for the Nuggets to contend without another decade at the bottom of the standings.

  • The Big Bill

    Lets trade him to the Clippers for Kaman and Gordon. Harrington can play the three for us.

  • The Big Bill

    C: Kamen/Bird
    Pf: Nene/K-mart/Williams
    Sf: Harrington/J.R./Balkman
    Sg: AAA/Gordon
    Pg: Billups/Lawson/Carter

    I Think we might win more games with this line up! But regardless, I hope Melo stays in Denver!

  • Gary Huggins

    All of u Denver fans are in DENIAL. This is a period where u guys have to stick together. I am a lifetime NY Knicks Fan. We Just endured ten years of mistakes and rebuilding,we have the Greatest City in the WORLD, yet we humbled ourselves to all the misfit teams in the nba, for A DECADE.We were laughed at and ridiculed more than any other team during those years, partly because we are BORN winners, and refuse defeat,ex:YANKEES,GIANTS,JETS,METS,ALL HAVE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS! some have MULTIPLE TITLES.Yet Madison Square Garden maintained record sell-outs, over the entire decade.Thats why we are the most knowledgeable,dedicated,and GREATEST FANS of all time.Advise from a champion fan, welcome adversity. “Whatever cannot destroy your team(city,fans),will only made you stronger” After 9-11, we had ten years of,”the NEW YORK KNICKS STINK!”.Did we ever CRY, like cleaveland? toronto? Hell NO! We are NEW YORK! “We have to anwer,to an even higher Authority!” Stand up Denver! put your gloves on,and prepare to “knucle up” in the the nba.And if you “Man-up”, you to can become one of the few,the proud,the finalist in the NBA Championship,against the NEW YORK KNICKS! Good Luck! Be Strong, “this too, will pass away”. PEACE.

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    Thanks friend. Good article. Thank you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003405408714 Yaqui

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