After a calm couple of weeks following the hiring of Masai Ujiri, who announced at his introductory press conference that he was confident he could convince Carmelo Anthony to stay in Denver, there are reports that the Nuggets have apparently begun to accept the inevitable fact they are going to have to trade Carmelo Anthony and they are now listening to offers.
Sam Amick of Fanhouse is also reporting the Nuggets are welcoming calls on Carmelo comparing the exercise to a lottery. Yes indeed, the Indian Summer of Carmelo could be ramping up again.
We have been over this several times, but for those of you who are new, here is the abridged version of my theory which has yet to be debunked by anyone. Carmelo wants to play somewhere else, but also wants to avoid having his jersey burned in the streets of Denver a la another superstar who changed teams this summer. That is why he has never once said that he wants out, but also why he is saying he will not sign the extension on the table until next season. Unless he signs the extension prior to the trade deadline, Denver has almost no choice, but to trade him.
While Melo continues to play the, “I am a Nugget” game — most recently on Lopez Tonight during which both Melo and LaLa Vazquez were very charming — the message is being delivered to Denver that he wants to play somewhere else which is the source of reports that have named locations such as New York, New Jersey, Orlando, Houston and/or Los Angeles.
The Nuggets know where Melo wants to play, they know what those teams have to offer and they know whether or not those assets being offered interest them or not. As soon as Denver makes the decision to pull the trigger I think everything could happen very quickly and that means Carmelo could be playing somewhere other than Denver in the next five weeks before the season begins.
The latest reports is that the Nets are in the lead, which I doubt is coming from anyone associated with the Nuggets. Still, New Jersey is a likely destination. The Nets can take on Carmelo and the contract of a player such as Chris Andersen and possibly Renaldo Balkman while sending back Derrick Favors, the expiring contract of Troy Murphy, the expiring contract of Kris Humphries and a future first round pick from Golden State that is top seven protected in 2012 and 2013 and top six protected in 2014.
This trade would appear to make little sense for New Jersey as they would struggle to be competitive without Murphy. However, the Nuggets could buyout Murphy, thus saving more money, and after a 30 day wait Murphy could return to the Nets.
Denver could then turn their focus to trading Chauncey Billups for expiring contracts and a draft pick or two so he is in a better situation and Nene could be put on the block as well. There is also the option to buy Kenyon Martin out of the final year of his deal allowing him to sign with a playoff caliber team and suddenly the Denver Nuggets are well on their way to rebuilding with Ty Lawson and Derrick Favors as cornerstones. Their own 2011 draft pick suddenly becomes a tremendous asset as will the cap space they will possess heading into the offseason. It is possible for Denver to have as little as $15 million in salary committed for the next season, half of which would be earmarked for Al Harrington.
Obviously, that is all a boatload of speculation, but those are the kind of transactions the Nuggets will be considering over the next few months. It will not be pretty, but it will be exciting.
ESPN.com is running a feature called Franchise Five where the fans vote on the best player at every position for each franchise and then they match up against each other in an NCAA style bracket to determine the best franchise five of all time. If you do not follow me on Twitter, you may have missed the link to vote on the Nuggets five starters, you can see the results here. In case you were wondering, my votes were for Fat Lever, David Thompson, Alex English, Antonio McDyess and Dikembe Mutombo. Even if you missed the team vote, you can still vote in the tournament as Denver is matched up with the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. Please vote if for no other reason than to make sure the Nuggets are not the victims of another first round exit.
Tis the Season for Season Previews
Celtics Blog has an annual tradition of rounding up as many bloggers as possible to provide a central location to access numerous season previews. The previews for the Atlantic Division teams are up so head on over and check them out.
Sixers: Liberty Ballers
Recaps: All Previews
Fun with Imaginary Expansion
Akis Yerocostas of Pick and Scroll produced a mock expansion draft with team bloggers deciding which player or players to expose to the expansion draft. Working under the assumption the Nuggets are faced with a rebuilding project, I worked out a deal with Akis to shed some salary. Head on over to Pick and Scroll and see what you think.