The Carmelo to New York Talk Intensifies

With the Denver Nuggets making their lone stop in New York to play the Knickerbockers everyone knew regardless of the outcome on the court the real story would be if Carmelo would experience his next game at Madison Square Garden as a Knick.  The media did not disappoint.

Chris Sheridan reported that he was informed by a very trusted source that Carmelo Anthony has made it known to the Nuggets he will only sign the extension on the table if he is traded to the New York Knicks.  Carmelo’s representatives made sure that Sheridan shared the news with the rest of the league.  (Sheridan followed up his article with a chat which was dominated by Carmelo to New York questions.)

The fact the Knicks are Carmelo’s number one choice is certainly not news.  It is noteworthy though in that this is the first time there has been any definitive statement regarding who Carmelo will, or will not, agree to an extension with.  The important thing to keep in mind is regardless of how definitive that statement was it was merely a calculated escalation of the pressure being exerted on Denver to ship Melo out of town.

From the day the Nuggets let the four team trade prior to the start of the season die this standoff, and it is a standoff, will end with either Denver agreeing to send Melo to New York for whatever they can extract from the Knicks or Carmelo agreeing to play somewhere other than MSG in order to not lose out on his max extension.

The latest salvo delivered on Sunday is simply another attempt to put Carmelo in what he believes is his perfect situation.  Denver has wants and desires in this fight as well and do not expect them to simply roll over and ask the Knicks to put their castoffs on the next flight west because that is what Carmelo wants.

The question is how far is each party willing to go to try to get what they want?

Anthony completely disregarded any chances of him sloughing off in order to try to force a trade prior to the season and to his credit he has played as hard as usual.  However, as the clock ticks down towards the trade deadline and Carmelo and his representatives become more desperate to force Denver’s hand they are going to have to dig deeper and deeper into their bag of tricks.  That includes anything from playing selfishly, feigning injury, being disruptive behind closed doors and finally being disruptive on the court.

As long as Carmelo wants to avoid going that far he is not the only one who can make life difficult for the Nuggets.  Carmelo’s agent, Leon Rose, and powerbroker confidant, William Wesley, can also threaten to divert players who are managed by their agency from playing in Denver.  One of Rose’s clients happens to be a certain young promising point guard named Ty Lawson which could provide another piece of leverage for Melo’s representatives.

Denver can simply counter with one of Carmelo’s favorite lines:  “We are keeping our options open.”

Not only does that put the pressure on Carmelo and his handlers, but it applies pressure to the Knicks.  New York certainly appears to be working with Denver to provide a deal which is palatable for the Nuggets.  Even so Denver needs to play chicken with the Knicks too in order to drain every possible drop of value from Melo as possible.  Whether that be getting the Knicks to take on an unwanted contract, adding in another player and/or draft pick or breaking the trade into multiple iterations to acquire an extra $3 million in cash, if the Nuggets eventually are stuck dealing with the Knicks, they must do all they can to make the best of a bad situation.

I was a strong proponent of trading Carmelo early on in the season both to avoid falling into this cat and mouse game that will probably consume the Nuggets for the next two months and because doing so would have maximized Denver’s own pick in the upcoming draft.  At this point, Denver needs to play this out in order to get the best deal they can for the franchise going forward.  Their best friend at this point is the trade deadline.  (Of course, the best deal possible was the four team trade which was scuttled two months ago, but that is all water under the bridge that hopefully will not be known as the flood that swept the franchise away.)

Denver can at the very least work with the knowledge that the worst they can do will be saving some money and ushering in the Danilo Gallinari era in the Mile High City.  After all the consternation and gnashing of teeth, that may very well be the final outcome.  However, it will take more than an unnamed source to set things in stone.

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  • Andy

    Thanks for calling out Chris Sheridan’s shilling for the Knicks. He apparently thinks Amar’e and Melo will have a defensive awakening and turn the team into championship contenders. They will never make it out of the Eastern Conference.

    Isn’t it ironic that any team last year with expiring contracts (read: New York) was building for the future but a team that will likely have significant cap space next summer (read: Denver) is going nowhere? If Melo wants to live in NY, fine. But his spin machine should stop peddling the idea that the Knicks are better poised than the Nuggets.

    • Peter

      Agree with the author, its time to move on. Tanking sounds bad, but if the team won’t have a franchise player after this season then its inevitable.

      Also liked Andy’s comment above. NY is not in a better position right now. Sure Amar’e is a great scorer, but they have so many holes. Is their point guard even better than Lawson? Do they have any wings that would play over AA or JR? Who is a better interior defender than any of the Nugget’s bigs? Not sure why Melo wants to be a Knick, but its not about winning.

  • Frontrange

    To raise the pressure and get the best possible deal, I think Denver should open up a discussion with the Lakers . . .

    Something in the order of:

    Bynum + picks and 3 mill for Melo


    Brown + Barnes + Caracter and 3 mill for Birdman and Balkman

    Denver get’s under the salary cap, the Nugs get 6 mill from LA, save 10M of salary on tax hits + get 4 mill from tax rebate = 20M savings. Also get a one year option to look at a legit center in Bynum (contract has 1 year left) and dump 2 longer term contacts.

    Yea, could give LA a few more rings, but I think it would be better than the NY Knicks pooh pooh platter. If Bymun doesn’t work out, you start from scratch with lots of room and and some decent peices (AAA, Lawson, Brown, Nene) . .add super star to compete. Plus if the new CBA has a hard cap (or a much lower cap), Denver would be sitting sweet.

  • Clayton

    Gezz Jeremy you continually hit it right on the head… I LOVE IT

    Melo appears to be in no rush at all – he appears to be very content to sit out the year here in Denver and pick it up and move it out next year to NY free and clear. That would be the ideal situation for him and NY to keep their developing core in tact. Melo appears to be a rare breed of NBA player. Most play for money, some play to win, but Melo is out to play just to go where they want to live and make their brand (which eventually turns into money).

    Bottom line is we need to ship is butt outta here as quickly as possible for the best deal available. He is a cancer to the team in every way you outlined above, and it is bound to get worse and worse as the trade deadline approaches. The only leverage the Nuggets have is the CBA/lockout, and that isn’t enough. He is gonna get his no matter what, the Nuggets have to get theirs.

    • ParkHillNative

      Well, but, uh, within the last week Melo has gone on record saying “Whatever happens, the first thing that will be taken care of is me signing the extension” — so he means us to think he’s either going to sign it and stay in Denver, or sign it and be traded.

      Within the last six months he has also gone on record as saying “Where I come from, you don’t leave that much money sitting on the table.”

      Nuggets fans should indeed hope that he cares a lot about the money. That’s the only leverage the team has against him. If he really were content to become a free agent next summer and risk a much smaller contract with the Knicks under the new CBA, the Nuggets would be completely screwed.

  • Drew

    Is there ANY way the Nuggets can get Landry Fields in the package for Carmelo?

  • rice1383

    I doubt the Nuggets could get Fields since the Knicks are so high on him right now. He’s the best draft pick they’ve had in a long time. No doubt Gallinari makes the switch, but who comes with him? At this point the Knicks are talking about dealing Anthony Randolph to Houston to get the pick back that they gave up to acquire T-Mac, which would then also go to Denver for Carmelo. So there is one piece missing, who is going to make the deal worth happening? Bill Walker? Is there anyone else worth taking? What the Nuggets get is huge to their future, but if Melo goes to the Knicks, it seems they might not get the worth they need. Along with Danilo and the draft pick, the Nuggets are definitely picking up Eddy Curry’s contract and someone else. Who will that be? They’ll for sure try to get Fields but I can see them getting forced into taking someone far less promising just to cut their losses and get Melo out of town.

  • Aussie Nugs Fan

    Fields is a quality player, but we don’t need another shooting guard, unless we are looking to move JR, but we might need his scoring more than ever now. Maybe we can find a third team that can turn fields into a young front court player. I have heard the most NYK will give up is Curry+Gallo+Randolph (converted into a 1st pick) and Fields (Maybe we can convert him into a player or 1st pick). If you read the Sheridan chat he suggested curry, gall, and randolph are definitely part of the trade and a 39th draft pick will not be a deal breaker.

  • Drew

    The Knicks might love Landry Fields, but how much more do they love the thought of getting Carmelo? Denver should at least inquire about Fields. He is a young, solid player that rebounds better than any other two guard in the league and has shown a lot of potential. He also doesn’t take up much cap room and is big enough to play small forward. I think getting Fields, Gallinari, Curry’s contract and a first round pick would be the best case scenario.

  • Jeremy

    Thanks for the comments everyone. A couple of you mentioned Denver is a better long term situation for Melo than New York. I addressed that in this post:

  • GZ

    Whether true or not, even the implication that Melo would not be willing to sign an extension anywhere but New York will scare off any teams that only want Melo for the long-term. I’m wondering if anyone has thoughts on teams that may be interested in renting melo for the season. The only candidates I can imagine are teams that are having disappointing seasons and are looking to cut costs or teams that are in contention and are willing to mortgage some of their future in order to win this year. Teams in the first category probably include Charlotte, Milwaukee, and maybe Portland & Atlanta. While it’s appealing to think we could get a higher-caliber player in a deal with one of these teams (like a Gerald Wallace, Josh Smith), I’m not sure we’d want to take on a long-term contract when we’d probably be in a rebuilding mode. Teams in the second category probably include Orlando, Chicago, Dallas, San Antonio, New Orleans, OKC, and Atlanta. Some of these teams lack young assets and their draft picks are less valuable since they’re likely all playoff teams. Still there are a few players of interest (Marcus Thornton, Trevor Ariza, Roddy Beaubois, George Hill, DeJuan Blair, to name a few). Also, New Jersey seems to have their heart set on landing a big name player in exchange for draft picks. Maybe we could involve them as a third team where we get NJ’s picks, NJ gets someone like Josh Smith, and a team like the Hawks gets Melo to help them contend this season?