Making Sense of Mikhail Prokhorov

With the announcement on Wednesday that the New Jersey Nets have shredded their lottery ticket for the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes I am left with more questions than answers.  In an attempt to work through my befuddlement I will do a question and answer with myself because I do not find anyone more interesting than me.

If you are the Nets, why call off the pursuit of Carmelo Anthony the day before your chance to meet with him and win him over?

Isn’t the answer obvious?  Melo told them to go fly a kite and this was the best way for Mikhail Prokhorov to save face.  No one says no to Proky, at least not publically.

But if Melo passed on word that he was not interested in New Jersey, wouldn’t Billy King have known it and at least anticipated Prokhorov’s announcement?  Prokhorov reportedly squelched the deal unilaterally surprising King as much as he stunned Denver.  That does not sound like it was triggered by Melo refusing to meet with the Nets brass.

That is odd, maybe Prokhorov just wanted to make a big splash in his highly publicized press conference and do not forget to pose your thoughts in the form of a question. You are ruining the gimmick.

Doesn’t that mean it was more of a symbolic gesture than an actual end of negotiations?

It may have been a symbolic putting down of the foot.  We will not know for sure until Melo is traded without any new Nets related rumors.

On the other hand if Melo was against going to the Nets all along, why not tell someone like say his agent Leon Rose who reportedly worked his tail off to get a deal together?  Why not tell the Nuggets not to waste their time with the Nets?

He has told them.  The one message that has been passed on over and over is Melo wants to play in New York.  Brooklyn is not New York, it is Brooklyn.

Well isn’t that New York really Manhattan?

Stop it, I don’t know, I live in Colorado.

So you are telling me the Nuggets and Nets and Leon Rose went through all of this on a hunch Carmelo was lying and would ultimately choose to join the Nets?

Yep, there is one other fact that we all know about Melo’s desires and that is he wants his money, he just does not want his money in Denver.  The real question is does he want to go to New York so badly that he will forego the payday awaiting him and sacrifice an unknown number of millions just to end up with the Knicks?

I thought I was asking the questions.  What does Melo want more the cash or to play for the Kicks?

If we knew the answer to that this whole ordeal would be done by now.  If Melo was willing to give up the extension to be in New York, Denver would probably have shipped him to the Knicks for whatever Donnie Walsh wanted to give them to avoid losing their franchise player for a trade exception, if trade exceptions exist in the new CBA, and a late first round pick three or four years from now.  If Melo wanted his guaranteed cash more than anything Denver would tell him to stick it and hang onto him until he signs on for four more years.

We hear all the time that Carmelo and Masai Ujiri talk and are on the same page.  Is that just a load of hooey?

It is not a bunch of hooey, but it does tell us Carmelo is not being completely honest with Ujiri, or Ujiri is choosing to ignore what Melo is shoveling.  Maybe even Melo himself does not know what he will do if he has to choose between the money and the market and he is just trying to get traded to the Knicks without having to say so in front of the cameras.  Due to the confusion on this issue there are enough people in positions of authority who expected Melo to accept a trade to New Jersey that it made sense to continue negotiating.  The Nets stance was they would continue to work on a deal until they heard from Melo himself that he would not sign an extension with them.  Maybe that is exactly what happened on Wednesday, but the report Prokhorov blindsided King seems to contradict that.

So that is the end of the story right?  Melo will be a Knick at the trade deadline?

Not necessarily.  Carmelo carries a lot of weight, but the contract extension is Denver’s crash diet to shed the pounds.  Until Melo makes it known he will walk away from the extension and his current contract for the sake of joining the Knicks Denver has to continue to work with teams like New Jersey to make the best deal possible.  Denver does have other options than working with the Knicks, you can read about it in the Daily Dime.

I just read that and found it interesting, would the Rockets or Mavs really give up as many assets as New York would just to have Carmelo play for them for 30 games?

It depends on what you think of the Knicks assets.  Any pick New York could acquire for Anthony Randolph is unlikely to be overly tasty.  Fields is a nice surprise, but has a relatively low ceiling for a rookie playing at his level.  Wilson Chandler is having a career year and just in time to get paid.  Denver will not want to pay him.  Danilo Gallinari has the highest upside of the group, outside of Antony Randolph, and would be a nice player to have.  However, he is not the caliber of player you want to begin a rebuilding project around.

The Rockets can offer Jordan Hill, their 2011 pick, maybe a future pick, expiring contracts and Jordan Hill.  I am not sure how much of a difference there is between that deal and the Knicks Fields, Gallinari, Curry and two first round picks offering.

Is Melo to the Bulls at all plausible?

No, the Bulls cannot even match the deal the Knicks would give Denver even if they find a third team to take on Deng’s contract in exchange for a younger, cheaper, more promising player.  They cannot provide any salary relief and they do not have a tantalizing draft pick, but the more teams that are involved, the more pressure it puts on New York.

What about Anthony Randolph?  Why doesn’t Denver want him?  He is a high upside player that could swing a deal more in Denver’s favor over the years.

I actually think Denver is selling Randolph short, but we have not had many chances to judge his progress as he cannot get off the bench.  I suspect he is a better prospect than Denver would receive from a lottery protected first round pick that New York would get for him.  He certainly is a high risk, high reward type player Denver would need to get lucky with.

I read the Knicks would have a very difficult time shedding enough salary to pay Melo the max if he does become a free agent.  Doesn’t that make the Knicks somewhat desperate to make a deal to get Melo now?

It does, New York will be motivated just to make sure Melo does not settle for a different location just to lock in his extension.  Making a trade with the Knicks seems to be the worst case scenario at this point and it certainly is not as bad as what happened to the Cavs or Raptors last summer.

Can the Nuggets get any additional salary relief from the Knicks?

I would think they could include Kalenna Azubuike and Anthony Mason, Jr. in order to take Al Harrington off Denver’s hands.  I am sure that will help draw things out if Denver and the Knicks start negotiating hot and heavy.

Is there any good news from the Nets’ decision?

Yes, now there is little chance Chauncey Billups will be involved in a trade to the Nets so he will be a Nugget for the foreseeable future.  Still, he does not fit into a rebuilding project due to his age and salary.  I have to think he is either dealt or bought out prior to next season.

Are there any other teams that could get involved?

The only team you could make a case for is the Clippers.  They have some decent pieces to offer and I would like to see Melo walk away from all that cash and the L.A. market to play in New York.  Plus when Kobe finally hangs it up the Clippers with Melo, Griffin and Gordon could be the new Lakers.

Wouldn’t Melo be pissed if he is dealt to a team as a rental?  He would lose his extension and would probably be grumpy.

Absolutely, I cannot imagine Melo playing the good soldier as a short timer who has to say goodbye to his payday just to try to get Houston into the playoffs for another first round exit.

At this point why wouldn’t Denver pull Melo off the market and say they want to play the season out?  Wouldn’t that allow him to “keep his options open?”

They could and it is sad that Denver’s season has been sabotaged by the rumors.  However, Denver has not yet seen Carmelo begin to fight.  As the trade deadline nears and he sees his money slipping away I suspect he would become more disruptive, plus Denver would likely get much less in a sign and trade, if there is any such thing under the new CBA, than they could at the trade deadline.

I get the feeling that the Nuggets’ front office got too greedy and ended up screwing the pooch, I mean did the Nuggets’ front office screw the pooch?

They may have.  If we are to believe Prokhorov himself put the kibosh on the potential trade it was strictly due to the fact he did not like getting jerked around by Denver.  Denver could have sealed the deal with New Jersey for Favors, Harris and two first round picks a long time ago.  Sure you always want to do all you can to get a better deal, but when you are in position to get what you want you need to cash in your chips.  Denver stayed at the table and may have lost the pile of chips the worked so hard to compile.

So what is next?

Enjoy the Lakers game on Friday, sit back and try to ignore the rumors and speculation.

You mean rumors and speculation like this post?

No more questions.

  • BeefySwats

    Jeremy,

    Pretty…amazing? unexpected? funny? stuff to have happened yesterday. The last thing I expected was for the Nuggets to come out focused enough to beat a talented Thunder team.

    I think Melo’s postgame comments were also pretty telling. You could hear it in his voice: he has one foot out the door already, and Karl’s comments on him being “distracted” seem to be right on. Fortunately it didn’t show up in his game -tonight-, but it has definitely shown up on the road.

    In any case, I think the Nuggets need to figure out the best deal they have remaining, try to get Melo to sign the extension, then consummate it as soon as possible. Keeping slow, bad-defense, high-volume Melo around at this point is only a distraction. Thanks for all the fish over the last 7 seasons Melo but you’ve soured a lot of good will Denver has towards you with your playing of the situation.

    If Melo won’t work with Ujiri, then Denver should hold tight, keep him through the trade deadline and force him to try and get something under the new CBA. Even if Denver “loses” by not being able to complete a trade, it would at least show that Denver’s front office won’t be screwed with by its players.

  • Frontrange

    Hmmm . . . with doors closing . .how about calling Houston with something along the lines of

    Melo/Al/Martin/Birdman/Balkman for

    Yao/Hill/Battier/Trade exemptions/picks . .

    Could clear an amazing 18mil off of this year’s cap (getting under luxury tax) and leave no contracts longer than 2 years (Nene / lawson / Hill / billups).

    Houston would have a monster roster that could compete for championship:
    PG:Brooks/Lowry
    SG: Kevin Martin/Lee
    SF: Anthony/Harrington
    PF: Scola/ K-Mar / Jefferies
    C: Birdman/Hayes/Brad Miller)

    Alternatively, if it’s too much $ for Houston, swap in Jefferies and Williams and it still saves Denver 12 mil.

    I am not big supported of saving Stan’s money but if you are going to rebuild . .that would start with a clean slate.

    • http://www.bing.com/ Justis

      sB2Uiz Kewl you should come up with that. Excellent!

  • Jim

    I’m a Nets fan and you were pretty off with your questions. Your ignored that the Nets were about to ship off Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, two first rounders, and MAYBE Damion James and MAYBE even more first rounders. We were also taking back an aging Billups’ contract, Hamilton’s bad contract, and for what? Your inefficient “superstar” Carmelo Anthony. Yet Masai Uriji continued to demand more and more of the Nets’ management.
    That’s why the trade was called off. You guys had a chance to get a decent deal and will instead land up with Wilson Chandler and Landry Fields. Good luck.

    • Tim

      Sounds like someone has a case of sour grapes after being stuck with the unproven Favors, the also-ran Harris and the declining Lopez. (Can one even call it declining if the guy only had one good season and will likely not have another?)

  • Truitt

    Watching the press conference yesterday I was kinda disgusted by what I perceived as the extraordinary hubris of The Nets and The Nuggets front offices. Why do they insist on claiming that they have control over a situation that they do not have control over?

    Carmelo has a de facto no trade clause. he says he wants to go to the Knicks… to insure that he gets what he wants, he is going to say no to signing an extension with any other team. Its not a hard concept to grasp..

    Here’s a question for all of you who are holding onto hope that Carmelo is essentially a short sighted and greedy person who doesn’t care about where he plays or whether he wins another game…If Carmelo is really all about signing his extension, then why hasn’t he demanded more years? Its not like three years is the longest contract someone can sign?

    wake me up when he is on the Knicks and we can move on..