Just when it seemed like the Carmelo Anthony rumors were going to die down and let us move on with our lives Adrian Wojnarowski comes along and blows things up again.
According to a report on Yahoo! Sports by Mr. W. William Wesley told the Nuggets “weeks ago” that they needed to trade Carmelo and provided a list of acceptable destinations. That statement would support the theory I promoted earlier this week right here so it must be true.
Josh Kroenke then met with Carmelo on Sunday in an attempt to convince Carmelo that he should remain a Nugget. Apparently the meeting did not go well and the Nuggets are prepared to trade Carmelo. The Knicks, Nets, Rockets and Clippers are still listed as possible landing spots along with Golden State. Apparently Orlando has dropped off the list as I have not seen them mentioned lately.
While the article did not come as a surprise to me, I was encouraged to see a passage that provided some insight into what the Nuggets are thinking.
The Nuggets made it clear to teams they want young players and draft picks for Anthony, league executives said.
I understand the fears many Nuggets fans have of reliving the 19902, but in my mind that is very good news. Trying to remain competitive with an increasingly aged and banged up core of players could truly lead to a disaster. If you are not building toward a title, you better blow things up and it looks like that is what Denver is going to do.
I hate to do it, but let’s take a look at what the Clippers and Warriors have to offer as we have already gone over Knicks, Nets and Rockets assets in detail.
Let us dispense with the Golden State Warriors first as they are the easiest to analyze. The most frequently mentioned trade involving the Warriors is Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins for Carmleo. That is simply a flat out preposterous deal. Denver will not accept the Warriors’ two toxic contracts in exchange for Carmelo. Golden State would certainly be unwilling to part with Stephen Curry. The Warriors have a couple of project big men in Brandan Wright and rookie Ekpe Udoh. Neither has a particularly high ceiling and there is no way either one or even both could be the centerpiece of a trade for Melo. To make things even worse for Golden State, they have traded their 2011 draft pick to New Jersey, which was just another asset that nets fans are unwilling to part with to Acquire Carmelo.
Golden State can join Orlando as teams that have been mentioned as potential suitors, but do not have the pieces to make things work.
Next we turn to the Los Angeles Clippers. Few players have been interested in playing in the shadow of the Los Angeles Lakers. However, the Clippers could be on the upswing thanks to the highly anticipated debut of 2009 number one overall pick Blake Griffin. I cannot imagine the Clippers would trade Griffin so we will remove him from the conversation. The most fascinating asset the Clippers hold is the rights to the Minnesota Timberwolves first round pick. Considering the mess that David Kahn has put together in the Land of 10,000 Lakes I would not mind getting my hands on that lottery ticket.
The Clippers can also offer a couple of nice young players in Eric Gordon and rookie Al-Farouq Aminu. The bad news is in order to make the salaries work, the Nuggets would have to take on Chris Kaman’s contract with two years remaining. The lack of expiring contracts hurts the Clippers, but they are nearly $5 million under the cap which means the salaries do not need to match exactly allowing the Nuggets to dump some extra salary. For example, while a Kaman, Gordon Aminu for Carmelo trade matches to within $250,000, that extra cap space the Clippers have could be used to include Chris Andersen in the trade as well.
The Clippers are definitely a contender for Carmelo’s services although a three way deal sending Kaman somewhere else, such as Detroit for Tayshaun Prince or Philly for Green, Kapono and local boy Jason Smith, and suddenly this option looks incredibly tempting.
I mentioned including Birdman in a deal with the Clippers above and that brings us to the true impact of Carmelo’s demands. Every Nugget is on the block at this point. With Denver entering a rebuilding process Birdman, Kenyon, Al Harrington and sadly Chauncey Billups become not only a bit out of place, but their presence actually hinders the rebuilding process as they make the team more competitive than it really should be. I would insist that any team acquiring Carmelo take on Birdman as well. I would tell Kenyon to sit at home and get healthy in anticipation of a trade deadline deal, that may or may not happen. Al Harrington cannot be traded until December, but once that day hits, I would have a deal in place for him too.
Chauncey will not be as easy to deal with. He deserves to play on a contender in Denver, but that is not going to be a possibility. The only destination that makes any sense in my mind is Charlotte. They need a point guard, they are at least competitive, they can swap Chauncey for Erik Dampier’s non-guaranteed contract and it will reunite Billups with Larry Brown. I honestly do not see a better situation for him unless he is still on the roster come December 15 and the Lakers can offer all of their players who are on one year contracts.
In case you are wondering, I would hang on to Nene. Quality bigs are difficult to find and even though he has a decent sized contract and would help the Nuggets win a few games he is too good to simply dump to get rid of his salary. I would also keep Ty Lawson on board and even though I think he is perfect as a role player on a contender more than a primary weapon on a team in transition I would not trade away Arron Afflalo unless I had to.
I know most observers are saying the Nuggets are going to fail to get equal value for Carmelo, and they are right. There is just no way around that fact. I strongly believe Denver is in a better position than everyone realizes. There will be competition between the Knicks, Nets, Rockets and Clippers. The Knicks, Nets are desperate to make a big move and acquire a marquee player. The Clippers are just a notch below that level. I can see Donald Sterling convincing himself that this is his chance to make a run at the Lakers and doing everything he could to acquire Melo.
In conclusion, for those of you who were still holding out hope, it is time to prepare to say goodbye to the Nuggets as we know them and get to know the name Harrison Barnes.
Did you see that? He didn’t miss once!