There is a great deal of excitement to see what happens at the Denver Nuggets media day on Monday. The incomparable Matt Moore tweeted he would like to be in the room for the the meeting between Masai Ujiri and Carmelo Anthony. Well Matt, here is one man’s version of what will happen sometime on Monday.
Masai Ujiri (with enthusiasm): Carmelo, it is so good to see you again! I have been looking forward to this ever since I was named the VP of Basketball Operations of the Nuggets. I expected to talk to you before today and I wish you would have returned my calls, but no hard feelings.
Carmelo Anthony (gives a middle five, chest bump/hug): Hi there Masai.
Ujiri (serious with passion): I know that there has been a lot of speculation out there about how you want to leave Denver for New York or Chicago. I know that now that we are together and can talk, I am sure you will see that Denver is the best place for you to play.
Carmelo (in monotone): I have no idea where people get all of this stuff.
Ujiri (loosening up): Exactly Carmelo, I knew all of this was just talk created by people who want to drive us apart.
Carmelo (in monotone): People have been talking about my future ever since I arrived in Denver.
Ujiri (with empathy): Right, I understand, it must have been a difficult few weeks for you. There are people who want to see you play out east, but that is not what is best for you and you have to know that.
Melo (monotone): I am a Denver Nugget.
Ujiri (growing excited): Absolutely, you are a Nugget, you have been here for seven years and this is home now. We have a plan we are ready to share with you that will prove to you that Denver is the best place for you. We have a team that was two games away from the finals two seasons ago. Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo are young and will improve. Kenyon and Birdman had surgery and will be as good as new after their offseason surgeries and if things do not go as well as we expect, there is a great deal of financial flexibility.
Melo (one more tone than monotone – duotone?): That sounds great.
Ujiri (sensing Melo is buying his sales pitch): Awesome, how about we go upstairs and sign that extension we have offered you? It is all ready to go, has been since June.
Melo (back to emotionless monotone): I am going to wait until after the season before I decide what to do. I want to explore all my options and make sure I do what is best for me and my family.
Ujiri (with sincerity): Carmelo, we talked about this. Denver is the best place for you. This is where you belong. The Nuggets are your team and we need you.
Melo (you know): I am a Denver Nugget.
Ujiri (excitedly once again sensing a positive resolution): Yes! Yes you are. I promise we will put a winning team around you. You do not need to go east or anywhere else.
Melo (dryly): People have been speculating about me leaving Denver ever since I got to Denver.
Ujiri (ironically): Yes, and know you have the chance to show them that you are a Nugget and Denver is where you want to play.
Melo (without the slightest hint of humanity): I do not know where people come up with this stuff.
Ujiri (matter of factly): Alright, then let’s go sign that extension.
Melo (robotically): I want to do what is best for me and my family.
Ujiri (with urgency): I have no doubt of that, now I have a pen right here. I can even have someone bring the contract here so we do not have to go all the way upstairs.
Melo (doing his best Sargent Joe Friday impersonation): I am not going to make a decision until next summer when I can decide what is best for me and my family.
Ujiri (growing flustered): Carmelo, I am sure you can sympathize with the position you are putting us in. If you do not sign the extension now, we cannot take a chance on having you leave Denver for nothing.
Melo (with no visible signs of emotion): I am a Nugget.
Ujiri (exasperated): We all realize that Carmelo. I need to know that you want to be a Nugget in the future.
Melo (with a chuckle this time): People sure like to make up their own stories.
Ujiri (as if speaking to a one and a half year-old who just dumped his cereal on his head for the sixth straight day): I am not making up a story Carmelo, I believe in my heart that you want to be in Denver. I just need a commitment from you so we can move forward.
Melo (barely audible): I am a Denver Nugget.
Ujiri (making a last ditch appeal with emotion): I know that and with the possibility of a work stoppage next summer, don’t you want to ensure you are going to get this 3 year, $65 million extension?
Melo (like Neo from the Matrix): I am not going to make a decision until next summer. I am a Nugget.
Ujiri (a twitch is starting under his left eye): Um, Melo, I know you are a Nugget. I need you to tell me this is where you want to be. We have a plan to make Denver a winning team.
Melo (how many tones is less than monotone?): I just want to do what is best for me and my family.
Ujiri (like Al Pacino): Carmelo, just sign the freaking extension! This is a lot of money! I know it is what is best for you!
Melo (staring straight ahead): I am not going to sign until next summer. I need to do what is best for me and my family.
Ujiri (like Grimlock, everyone’s favorite Dinobot): Uggghhhhh! Carmelo, do you want us to trade you to the Nets? You can be a Net within the hour if you want. Just tell me.
Melo (with dilated eyes): People like to make up stories. I am a Denver Nugget.
Ujiri (with resignation): Not for much longer. Can someone get me Billy King on the phone?
Chauncey Billups (with leadership): Hey Carmelo, I am glad you are here. I really want to talk to you.
Ujiri (with a quiet fury like a woman from a movie on Lifetime before she gets her revenge on the evil man who did unspeakable things to her): Enjoy the puppet show from the Manchurian Candidate.
At this point it certainly appears there is a big enough push inside the Nuggets’ front office and management to have a face to face with Carmelo can convince him to stay. As I wrote over a month ago, Carmelo wants out of Denver and he is being smart about it. He knows if he plays things correctly, he can get his money, get into the market he wants and do so without looking like the schmuck LeBron James did.
All the reports of Denver talking with other teams, like Philly about Andre Igoudala, is simply posturing and delay tactics in an attempt to bide their time until Melo comes to camp while doing all they can to get New Jersey to up their offer, or to find a fifth team to involve. Carmelo is not going to play just anywhere. He is not going to sign an extension in Philly and I do not see any way Philly is a true contender in this discussion.
If the Nuggets think the Bulls or Clippers are going to offer Noah or Blake Griffin just because they are threatening to send him to New Jersey, they are delusional. The Bulls are far from desperate and by the way they have a pretty good thing going there and the Clippers are not going to all of the sudden decide Griffin is not a future franchise player who is younger and cheaper than Carmelo with less baggage.
Melo will show up in Denver for media day simply because by not doing so it will ruin the carefully crafted plan to avoid being the bad guy. The only way he does not show up is if he wants to play the I-can’t-believe-they-are-shopping-me-around-the-league card, which is a slight possibility, but I believe he will put on a happy face and listen to everyone while trying to play innocent. He will tell them he wants to leave without ever saying the words, “Trade me.”
As long as all the parties involved can hang on another 24 hours I believe this trade goes down soon.