By the time you read this we are going to be less than 200 hours away from the 2011 trade deadline and with all the information that has been spewed out between the start of training camp and today it is time to take a step back and reanalyze the lay of the land.
These are the facts:
- Carmelo Anthony wants to play in New York.
- Carmelo Anthony wants to cash in on the three year extension which is available to him up until June 30, 2011.
- The Denver Nuggets are motivated to trade Carmelo and desperately want to avoid a situation where they are stuck receiving a trade exception and a couple of worthless first round picks in a sign and trade deal after the season.
- The Knicks are very interested in Carmelo Anthony and are willing to part with some assets in order to acquire them.
- There are teams willing to trade for Carmelo even without Melo agreeing to an extension.
- The Nuggets are looking for a trade where they save money this year and long term, receive at least on quality young prospect and at least one first round pick.
- In a deal of this magnitude owners are getting involved with Stan Kroenke wielding a veto in Denver, Mikhail Prokhorov having put his foot down in New Jersey and James Dolan primed to get involved in New York. Mark Cuban has made several public statements regarding Melo as well.
- Most importantly of all, the Knicks have retired number 15 not once, but twice!
- Finally, the NBA will be operating under a new CBA when the next free agency period commences and the only way the Knicks can guarantee that Carmelo Anthony will be playing for them whenever the next season starts is to trade for him before the end of June.
Add it all up and it is clear no individual or team possess enough leverage to unilaterally impose their desired resolution.
Melo wants his money and the big market, but unless the Knicks meet the Nuggets demands, he may miss out on one or the other. Denver needs to get something for Melo now or risk getting nothing, or next to nothing, in the offseason. The Knicks can wait and sign Melo, but doing so would run the risk of the new CBA possessing some form of franchise player tag, or the cap being lowered to the point they would have to gut their roster in order to free anywhere near max money. The Nuggets’ hands are tied by Melo’s known desire to play for the Knicks, but they control whether or not Melo gets both the money and the market, based on what they do with him over the next two weeks.
That is a tangled web and even though we can lay all of that out and understand it there are several major questions that remain unanswered.
If Melo has to choose between signing his extension and playing in New York, which will he choose? Will he sign the extension with Denver if they do not trade him simply to make sure he gets paid under the current CBA, or will he forgo the extension to sign with New York? It is possible Melo himself does not know what he will do in just such a situation and is hoping to avoid having to make this choice at all costs.
Will the Nets come back to the table? My gut tells me they will place one final call to the Nuggets with a take it or leave it offer which even if it is scaled back from what they were willing to give up in the past, could still possibly trump anything New York would be willing to do.
How does Donnie Walsh’s contract play into this? If he fails to acquire Melo he may very well not have his contract option for next season activated by Dolan. Will he do what it takes to make his owner happy to ensure he has a job after the season?
If the trade deadline arrives with no acceptable trade having been offered to Denver, will they just jump at the best available offer, regardless of how insipid it may be, to avoid losing Melo for nothing?
What kind of pressure will be applied by Carmelo’s representation at CAA, Leon Rose and William Wesley, upon the Nuggets to send Anthony to New York? Will they go so far as to threaten to direct their clients elsewhere in the future in order to get Carmelo to his desired destination so that he can sign his extension as a Knick? Keep in mind Ty Lawson is a CAA client and he will be a restricted free agent two summers from now.
When you consider no one holds all the cards, but everyone has something to lose there will certainly be some tense moments shared amongst the major players prior to the deadline. The fortunes of at least two franchises may be altered and numerous players and their families could be uprooted in an instant.
You may be sick and tired of all the hype and conjecture, but this is about as high stakes as things get in the sports world and every basketball fan should be intrigued by the resolution of this ongoing soap opera.
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