Another day another barrage of Carmelo Anthony rumors as the Indian Summer of Carmelo is on the verge of exploding. The Nuggets will be holding their annual pre-training camp media day on Monday, September 27 with practices starting the next day. All signs point to Melo being a Nugget on that day, but it might be difficult for Carmelo to continue his “I am a Nugget” routine when he has to face his teammates.
The momentum does seem to be building for a trade in the near future and the teams which continue to be named as possible destinations are the New York Knickerbockers and Chicago Bulls with the New Jersey Nets and Houston Rockets floating around the periphery.
Henry Abbott did a tremendous job of breaking down the reasons for and against the Bulls parting with Noah to acquire Carmelo. In my mind the number one factor for the Bulls to consider is they would have to rely heavily on 37 year-old Kurt Thomas and the unproven Omar Asik with Noah playing elsewhere. Plus the Bulls have largely remade their team over the summer with the free agent signings of Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer. I would imagine they would like to see that group play together some before making a significant trade.
At this point the Bulls seem to be mostly out of the picture based on their unwillingness to part with Joakim Noah and the Nuggets’ disinterest in any package that would not include the Fuzzy Howler and there is a poll up on SportsNation that, although close, supports the Bulls’ current position.
Matt McHale of Bulls by the Horns has some reservations about the level of defense a team featuring Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer and Carmelo Anthony would produce. Tom Thibodeau would have to be some kind of genius to make that work.
Even if Noah is included, a trade with the Bulls would not provide salary cap relief or a high first round pick. The Bulls may be a great destination for Carmelo, but as a trade partner, they cannot hold a candle to the Net and Rockets.
Speaking of the Nets and Rockets, there are now new reports that Carmelo has not confirmed he would be willing to sign an extension with either team. It certainly seems that Carmelo and his camp are trying to make the Knicks the only viable location. The bad news is New York has the least to offer of the four teams. Today Donnie Walsh stated he will never stop second guessing the decision to part with the team’s 2012 pick as part of the salary dump made with the Rockets last February because the lack of having a first round pick to trade to the Nuggets has hamstrung the Knicks’ ability to put together a package that is compelling to the Nuggets. He is probably right.
I suspect the Knicks could still land Carmelo if they agree to part with Danilo Galinari and Anthony Randolph. They passed the point of no return by pulling the trigger on the deal that Mr. Walsh will spend every sleepless night of his life reflecting on, wouldn’t they be simply compounding their mistake by not going all out for the second star player they missed out on in July?
Before the Knicks give up and throw both youngsters at the Nuggets they are going to exhaust all their options as far as coming up with a third team to provide the draft pick the Nuggets are seeking without sacrificing the cap relief they can offer Denver.
In order to accomplish such a feat the Knicks and Nuggets would probably have to find a team with a contract or two they want to get rid of in exchange for sending a first round pick Denver’s way. Here are a few candidates.
If there are two teams just kicking off new rebuilding efforts it is the LeBron-less Cavaliers and the Bosh-less Raptors. These teams might we willing to give up a protected first round pick in exchange for taking a long term contract off their hands. Anderson Varejao is a nice player, but his talents do not fit very well with a rebuilding team that cannot make up for his lack of offensive punch. Varejao would look much better as the defensive stalwart alongside Amare and Carmelo. If the Cavs are interested in giving up a draft pick in order to dump his now out of place five years left on his contract, maybe this would work.
Same line of thinking goes for Toronto. They have been trying to dump the final three years of Jose Calderon’s deal. Maybe they toss in a protected first rounder to make this work.
The Sacramento Kings have a hoard of cap space, but they also have two contracts they would like to get out from under in Francisco Garcia and Beno Udrih. If they are willing to part with a first round pick, I think this deal makes sense for all three teams, although the Nuggets would probably not be thrilled at taking on the final two years of Udrihs’ deal. If the Kings include rookie Hasan Whiteside, that would probably make taking on Udrih more palatable.
One final possibility that I believe makes sense for all three teams involves inviting the New Orleans Hornets to the party. The Hornets are looking to cut salary with the worst deal on their books being Emeka Okafor. However, the Hornets cannot just dump their starting center without angering Chris Paul, who has made it known he is not exactly determined to stay in the Crescent City and make the team a winner. They can help the Nuggets cut some additional salary via a trade exception and bring in a new starting center who is familiar with the city in Chris Andersen. If the Hornets offer up their first round pick this deal would work.
For the record, while all of those deals involved Gallinari, I would greatly prefer Randolph, but with his salary just over half of Gallinari’s $3.3 million another player would need to be included for the money to work. Regardless, all of those trades would get the job done, I would prefer the Nuggets wait the Knicks out and pray they can get both Randolph and Gallinari. The only way for Donnie Walsh to be able to sleep at night is to make sure Melo is a Knick, no matter the cost. It is the only way to make the sacrifices he made to slash salary were worth it.
Other Indian Summer of Carmelo Articles
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes:
Too much can change before the February trade deadline, and what’s the benefit for Denver to do a deal now? Avoid ‘Melo becoming a distraction? Here’s a bigger distraction: a lousy team that Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith don’t want to play on. That’s worse.
He is dead wrong. What is worse is delaying the inevitable and skipping a season of an inevitable rebuilding project. If the Nuggets deal Carmelo prior to the start of the season, they can stink sooner and thus make their 2011 draft pick a major asset. What they do not need is to string this out and trade Carmelo in February, when they have lost most of their leverage, and end up with a late lottery pick. Thus pushing any rebuilding project back another season.
Kenyon can be bought out, Chauncey can be dealt for expirings and a first round pick and without Melo on the court, maybe J.R. finally puts up some big numbers and conjures some trade value out of thin air. Denver should not rush to make the first deal that comes along, but they need to act sooner rather than later.
By the way, as I wrote about when Kroenke and Ujiri rose to their current positions, youth is not necessarily a curse when it comes to running a franchise.
Denver Stiffs looks at potential trades with the Nets, although I do not think I agree with Andrew that the final trade on the list has a 20% chance of going down.
The Denver Post says do not discount Houston.
Chris Broussard reports the Nuggets are interested in sending out a bad contract or two along with Carmelo. There are only two remotely bad contracts on the books, Chris Andersen, who I have been a proponent of dealing along with Carmelo, and Al Harrington. The only good reason for waiting a couple of months before trading Carmelo is they could include Harrington’s midlevel deal after December 15.
Alone in the Green Room beat me to a post that I was going to run with after Melo was traded and studies what happens to teams who trade away “superstar” caliber players. It ain’t all bad.