Dissecting the Four Team Carmelo Anthony Trade

If you have been following the bonanza of Carmelo Antony trade rumors that are exploding all over the internet the past 48 hours, I am sure you are wondering what you can believe and what you cannot.  The real truth is that no one person knows exactly what is going on.  This much is true, the Nuggets are set to receive Derrick Favors, Andrei Kirilenko and a pair of first round picks for Carmelo Anthony in a four team deal that also includes the Charlotte Bobcats.

There is no lack of motivation for a deal by any of the parties involved.  The Jazz want to save money, and this trade would reportedly save them about $13 million next season.  The Bobcats desperately need a starting caliber point guard after the free agent departure; they would receive Devin Harris from New Jersey in exchange for Boris Diaw.  The Nets desperately want a star caliber face of the franchise, and the fact Carmelo is the numero uno object of desire from the cross river rival Knicks is all the better – remember the billboard the Nets put up at the start of free agency near MSG?

The Nuggets know Carmelo does not see a future for himself in Denver and waiting to pull off a sign and trade when they have zero leverage or until the trade deadline when their position is only slightly stronger.  The Nuggets laid out the assets they were hoping to glean in exchange for Carmelo which were a young, player full of potential, expiring contracts and a first round draft pick or two.  This trade gets them everything they asked for.  Trading Carmelo will probably be the most difficult thing that the current Nuggets front office will ever do.  Even so, it must be done and I cannot imagine Denver getting a better offer than the one currently on the table.

Keeping these facts in mind, I believe this trade will happen despite all the current hand wringing going on by those involved.

By all accounts the Nuggets are holding up the trade in the attempt to pry Joakim Noah from the Bulls or Blake Griffin from the Clippers.  If that is indeed the case, I have two thoughts.  First, good for them.  If they think there is a chance to land a better deal, and in my humble opinion the current trade on the table is far better than any deal they would do with Chicago, they should take a day or two to make sure this trade is their best option.

Secondly, if they hold this deal up much longer and it falls apart, shame on them.  Utah will have other options to shed salary and if they do so, this trade will be gone and the new Nuggets management triumvirate will get the reputation of a group that will yank you around and are not worth working with.  Billy King is reportedly getting very nervous and is pushing the Nuggets to pull the trigger as Denver continues to work the phones (Denver apparently is still interested in wresting Jeff Foster from the Pacers).  I gave Denver’s management kudos on Twitter for acing their first major test, but if they let this opportunity go by they will regret it.  They might convince themselves that the Nets will be willing to part with Favors, Harris and two first round picks anytime, but why would King go through this again knowing that the Nuggets could string him along again?

Of course, the Nets are not without fault.  They are holding out hope the Bobcats will include D.J. Augustine to provide them some Farmar’s insurance in case Jordan Farmar is as bad as he has looked at times in L.A.  That has certainly slowed this process down as well.

If I was a Magic 8 Ball I would say all signs point to yes when it comes to this deal getting completed.

Getting to the trade itself, as you can tell I am very bullish on it.  Favors is an out of this world athlete and talent who has the chance to be a top flight power forward.  He is very raw and young, but has the ability to contribute right away.  Most importantly, he is a very hard worker and plays will complete effort on every play.  I will take him over any other player that has been listed as being sought by the Nuggets save for Blake Griffin and when you factor in Griffin’s injury history there is room for debate over which player is more likely to reach his potential.

The two first round draft picks that are coming to Denver are nice assets as well.  One will belong to the Nets, which would likely be a mid first round pick.  The other belongs to the Warriors.  It is protected 1-7 in years 2012 and 2013 and top six protected in 2014.  The bad news is if the pick is not conveyed by 2014, it defaults to two second round picks.  With the stable of players in Golden State and the presence of new owners I seriously doubt Denver gets stuck with two second round picks.  My intuition tells me Denver will get that pick in the summer of 2012 and that it will be a top ten pick.

For those of you hoping to get a pick in 2011, read this Chad Ford article (Insider required).  Many GM’s are worried that the possibility for the lockout will decimate the pool of players available next June.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the trade is Andrei Kirilenko.  At first he appears to simply be a large expiring contract that the Nuggets have sought as part of any trade for Carmelo and of course his $17.8 million contract does come off the books after the 2010-11 season.  However, it would appear the Nuggets have more in mind for AK-47 than watching his contract come off the books after the season.  The shocking news about this deal is the Nuggets are actually adding salary.  And we are not talking just a few thousand dollars.  Denver is looking to add between $3.5 and $5.2 million to the payroll.

The Jazz are reportedly receiving Quentin Ross from New Jersey in addition to Boris Diaw, but under the CBA where salaries for teams over the cap must be within 125% plus $100,000 that alone is not enough salary to make up for the $17.8.  However, if the Nuggets send Renaldo Balkman and his $1.65 million salary to Utah, it will not only make the deal work, but will help reduce the financial impact of the trade.

There are certainly some opportunities for Denver to decrease payroll in this trade.  The reported outline of this trade has room for Chris “Birdman” Andersen and/or J.R. Smith to be sent to one of the other teams involved.

This added payroll may give us some indication as to what the Nuggets plan to do next season.

Could the Nuggets be every bit as good as they were last season with a starting five of Chauncey Billups, Arron Afflalo, Andrei Kirilenko, Kenyon Martin (once he is healthy) and Nene?  Do not forget about a bench featuring Ty Lawson, J.R. Smith, Al Harrington, Birdman and Favors?

I have been a strong advocate of rebuilding right away when Carmelo was traded, but with George Karl back from cancer and entering the final year of his contract and Chauncey getting up in age and able to be bought out in 2011-12 I am interested to see how well the Nuggets may be able to do.  They are certainly in position to be a much improved defensive team.

The key would be Kirilenko.  He has struggled with lower leg problems over the previous few seasons.  He is 29 and entering his tenth season.  The last two seasons he has missed 24 and 15 games respectively including the first eight games of the playoffs last season.  He did return for the for the final two games of the Jazz second round sweep at the hands of the Lakers, but he only played 29 minutes in those final two games.

Offensively, Denver could become much more of a system team like Utah.  There is no primary offensive player that must be focused on allowing the team to take advantage of the above average passing abilities of their frontcourt.  There will be no more need to clear the lane and stand a stare at Carmelo waiting for him to make his move.  It will be a great study of the benefits of a star who draws double and triple teams and the strength of using the collective talents of a group of five players to be better than the sum of the parts.

The big question will be who takes the last shot as that was certainly Carmelo’s specialty.

Of course all of this is mere speculation and could all be for naught.  However, I firmly believe this deal will be done and Denver will move on to the future without Carmelo Anthony.

By the way, those of you who were waiting for a post, I was posting my thoughts on Twitter so make sure you follow me @RoundballMiner.

  • SA-eric

    Would Denver be willing to trade both Melo and Nene in order to get the following players and picks in return: Tiago Splitter (Spurs), Troy Murphy (Nets), Kris Humphries (nets), Terrence Williams (Nets), Damion James (nets), and picks 2011 and 2012 1st rounders from spurs, 2012 1st rounder from Golden State via Nets, and the lower of either Minnesota’s 2011 1st rounder or LA Clip’s 1st rounder? Nene would go to the Spurs, while Melo goes to the Nets with Tony Parker (SA). You’d be getting players with potential in TWill and DJames. And proven center (at least overseas) on a cheap contract in Tiago Splitter. For a better breakdown of all the players and teams involved please use trade ID #5702959 at RealGm.com

    • Marc

      Not in a million years. Nene, birdman, chauncey and ty are untouchable

  • Jordan

    Carmelo to Magic is more likely to happen why? I’ll tell you. Denver is stalling like crazy all they want to do is reduce salary and get young players that can keep them contending in the west for Chauncey Billups’ sake. This is where the magic come in. The magic need to send brandon bass, marxin gortat, jameer Nelson, and Vince Carter to the nuggets for jr smith, Carmelo, and kenyon Martin. They want to dump Martin because of his knee and jr smith for chemistry issues. (We all know why melo wants to leave). If this happens the nuggets get a dirty work guy in bass a young point guard to fill the backup role for Lawson an injury free big man that can develop into a starter and points from a Vince Carter that couldn’t grasp the 4 out 1 in scheme. But is effective in a normal offense. The magic get a contract situation that benefits themselves in the long run and Carmelo. What do you think?

  • Geoff

    Those are just about 2 of the dumbest responses I have ever read. Suggesting the Spurs would give up Parker, Splitter, and 2 first rounders for Nene is pure stupidity.
    Not sure where the Clippers/Minnesota pick even comes into the discussion.
    The second scenario with the Magic is completely ridiculous. Nelson is a former all-star in his prime… So now you would have 3 of your top 5 players at point guard? Also the Nuggets get no picks, salary relief, or marketable young players in the deal… If you are trying to prove your ignorance – WELL DONE!

  • Frontrange

    I am confused . .why be willing to go another 5M over the cap without ‘Melo? If we had been willing to do that two years ago (e.g. for Okafor or another legit center) and not sold off the pick for Blair, we wouldn’t be taking about losing ‘Melo. (Not to mention dumping 1st round draft picks for various reasons salary saving reasons. . e.g. we could have had Taj Gibson instead of Johan Petro).

    I like the trade given the assumption that we have to trade him, but I assume it only goes down with Birdman contract being dumped, othewise it is stupid not have made that financial committment last year and the year before.

    • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

      I agree the prospect of taking on money now is very odd. They have certanily hamstrung themselves in the past by cutting salary. I would imagine part of the trade would be cash from NJ to Denver and the Nuggets may think they can dump salary later in the season.

  • Erik

    Interesting post. I agree with the premise that this trade would be good for the Nuggets, but I hadn’t thought about what type of team would be left behind. I always assumed they would then trade Billups and build around Lawson, Nene, Favors, all of those draft picks and expiring contracts. But the team that’s left behind would be so interesting! The first unit could be one of the best defensive units in the league, although I’m not sure Billups can keep up with the young speed guards and Martin’s health is always a concern. But look at that 2nd unit! Holy offensive power! Not a lick of defense, but Lawson, JR Smith, Al Harrington and Favors off the bench with Birdman doing the dirty work? Any one of those guys (except Birdman) could score 20 points any given night.

    The real reason the Nuggets should do the trade is all of the options it presents. Keep Carmelo and the option is 1st round exit or 2nd round exit…and then potentially losing him for next to nothing next summer. Trade him and you not only have a good future, you have an intriguing present too.

  • GZ

    I think your original idea of rebuilding right away is correct. There is no chance that the team left behind competes for a championship, and as you’ve said in previous posts, that is the only goal the Nuggets should be pursuing.

    A few questions about Kirilenko’s contract:
    1) If it adds $5 million to the payroll, doesn’t it actually add more like $10 million because of the luxury tax (since we would be over the cap)?
    2) Wouldn’t the Nuggets just buy him out to avoid paying this penalty?
    3) If we’re really re-building, why keep him on the roster and hurt the value of our first round pick in next year’s draft?

    All of that being said, I agree with you that Favors + the 2011 Nets first-rounder + the 2012 Warriors first-rounder is a pretty good start towards a rebuilt Nuggets team. However, there are two things that bother me about this deal.
    1) I see no reason to help Utah dump salary. If the deal has room for salary to be dumped, we should find a way to get something more out of it.
    2) The Clippers have three assets that I think we should target: Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon, and Minnesota’s first rounder, which becomes unprotected in 2012.

    As a result, I worked up this four-team trade, which I think makes sense for all teams and puts the Nuggets in a fantastic position to rebuild:

    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=2b9phv2

    Basically, the Nuggets ship Anthony to the Nets and Billups to the Clippers. The Nets send Favors, their 2011 first-rounder, Golden State’s 2012 first-rounder, and Troy Murphy to the Nuggets (Murphy could be bought out) and Devin Harris to the Bobcats. The Clippers ship Baron Davis’ bloated contract (and body) to the Nets, and Minnesota’s 2012 pick and Eric Gordon to the Nuggets. Finally, the Bobcats send Boris Diaw to the Nuggets (he also could be bought out). In the end, the Nuggets are left with two young studs (Favors and Gordon) to pair with Lawson, the Nets 2011 pick plus Denver’s (which will be more valuable without Anthony and Billups on the team), plus Minnesota’s and Golden State’s 2012 first rounders plus our own to add to the squad the following year. Meanwhile, (if we don’t trade them first) Martin, Nene, and JR Smith all come off the books after this season, so we suddenly find ourselves with a bunch of cheap, young talent and a ton of cap room to build a contender.

    I think NJ does this deal because they’re desperate to get Anthony. Baron Davis is over-priced, but his contract is not that much worse than Devin Harris’ which they’re shipping out. For Charlotte, this deal is better than the one currently proposed because they still dump Diaw’s salary, still get Harris, but get to keep Augustin. I think the Clippers would do this deal because Billups is an upgrade over Davis, and his contract is a lot less burdensome, but the deal might still be worth it if we exclude Gordon or if we include JR Smith.

    What do you think?

  • GZ

    Another option might be to substitute the Warriors for the Clippers with Monta Ellis going to the Nets instead of Baron Davis and Stephen Curry coming to the Nuggets instead of Eric Gordon. I still like a scenario where we get the Minnesota 2012 first-rounder better, but at least it’s another option that could be used to pressure LA into pulling the trigger.

    • Geoff

      GZ – The entire Billups end of the trade makes the whole thing fall apart. There is no way a team is going to trade away away a young all-star caliber player and a lottery pick for a 34 yr old PG. I understand that Billups is a GREAT leader, but he isn’t going to put either of those teams into championship contention, so it makes zero sense.
      here is what you’re implying…
      Billups (not highly marketable and 34) = Monta Ellis AND Steph Curry (two young and marketable players, one of which is going to be the cornerstone of the franchise for years to come)

      or
      Billups = Davis, Gordon + lottery pick (future all-star, current Team USA member, excellent perimeter defender and 12 years younger!)

      The math doesn’t add up. Now if Billups were 30….

      • GZ

        It’s not just about the talent of the players involved but their contracts. Baron Davis has been a huge disappointment so far in LA, and apparently has shown up to camp out of shape again. He’s on the books for more money than Billups and for two years longer than Billups. I agree that Gordon + the Minnesota pick may be a bit steep of a price to ask, but let’s just say you leave Gordon out of the equation. I think LA would be willing to part with the draft pick in order to upgrade from Davis to Billups and (most importantly) shed his terrible contract. How do you like the deal for both sides once Gordon is no longer involved?

        Also, I agree with you about the GS trade. Curry is too important to that franchise no matter how badly they want to ditch Ellis and his contract.

        • Geoff

          100% with you on Baron + Pick, maybe even Baron + Gordon, since he is about to get done his rookie contract and want more money. Keeping the Minn pick allows them to sign a high-potential player for low money and bring in Billups, so I could justify one or the other, just not both.

  • http://mugstats.com Cary Roy

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    In the foreshadow of our NBA Lockout various NBA and NFL stars have cooperated to put together this hilarious video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51rdAN0Y2xI