According to reports that are reportedly verified by actual reporters Carmelo Anthony has met with groups from the New York Knickerbockers and New Jersey Nets and both teams have submitted their “best” offers and that brings us to what will undoubtedly be the climax of this side show that has kept players, fans and front offices alike entrapped for months.
Denver has three options at this point:
1) Accept the Knicks offer of Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler and a future first round pick (and probably a player or two coming to Denver from Minnesota). This is certainly the safest choice and also the most likely outcome. Denver gets a solid young prospect in Gallinari, a point guard who can replace Chauncey Billups and a solid small forward in Chandler who along with Gallinari could probably replace 80% of the offense Denver received from Melo and more than surpass what Melo offered defensively. While it is the safest route and could likely be completed in short order, it also provides a package of lower ceiling players and only one first round pick which is also of limited value.
2) Tell Carmelo the Knicks do not have the assets to acquire him and let him know if he wants his extension, which we know he does, he will have to either accept the trade to New Jersey or remain in Denver. This option would be considerably risky. Perhaps Melo accepts the trade to New Jersey and signs his extension there and the Nuggets receive the windfall of players and draft picks from the Nets. Of course, Melo does not just have to go along. He could call their bluff and inform Denver he has no desire to play for either team and that he will play out his contract to become a free agent. As soon as that happens, the Knicks no longer need to compete with the Nets and are free to reduce their trade offer back down to next to nothing.
3) Continue to wait out both the Knicks and Nets in an attempt to get more in exchange for the most important Nuggets player in more than two decades. Denver has proven to be difficult to nail down in the months and months of negotiations and there is no telling what they might demand next. They could change their minds again and decide the Knicks or Nets have to take on Al Harrington’s bloated contract or another equally frustrating demand. This option contains the greatest amount of risk. There is the slight chance such a gambit could work now that owners, who are generally shortsighted, are involved. The other side of that coin is if the Nuggets get greedy again, especially after supposedly coming to an agreement with the Nets for the second or maybe even the third time, it very well could result in one or both teams walking away from the table. And if even one team throws in the towel, Denver will lose what little leverage they have left.
As time passes the Nets will likely become more and more dubious that Carmelo will agree to join them and they will realize they are being used to help Denver maintain leverage with the Knicks. The longer this drags out the less stable the situation becomes. The one thing Denver has in their favor is there are two owners who are willing to tamper with their teams in order to acquire Carmelo. As long as that is the case, Denver has a chance to come out of this nightmare with some hope for the future. On the other hand the longer they wait to pull the trigger, the greater the chance everything they have negotiated for since September could be taken away by someone simply voicing the word, “No.”
Update: According to Alan Hahn of New York Newsday Denver is staying true to form and the Nuggets have selected option three apparently telling the Knicks if they do not include rookie center Timofey Mozgov, Carmelo will be traded to the Nets. Of course, if the Knicks pass and then Melo passes on the Nets, the Nuggets will have lost any chance of getting anything of value from anyone. I have not seen much of Mozgov, but the stats suggest he is a poor rebounder, a rebound rate of 12.8, who can score around the basket, but still tries to shoot jumpers from time to time. Plus he is 24 a fact which truncates his upside. With a PER of 10.34 upside is required. I have a difficult time seeing either team walk away over Mr. Mozgov.