How do you build a championship roster?
That is a question that General Managers and Presidents of Player Personnel must ask themselves every day. What complicates things is while every team starts every season at 0-0 not every team is created equal. What works in one market is not feasible in another. Add in the fact that no two teams are at the same point in their process of building a team and the possibilities for every team are endless. Every decision creates a ripple in the pool of NBA chaos.
With the lockout mercifully ended after 149 days, it’s only natural to look back at the excruciating journey and wonder what it was all for. After an effort led in large part by teams like the Denver Nuggets, the NBA finally has a revised labor deal it has so badly wanted for years.
In fact, I can’t think of a team more impacted by this labor impasse than the Nuggets. After all, it was the expiration of the prior CBA that ultimately spurred Carmelo Anthony’s demand for a trade, which he ended up getting after a year-long public soap opera last season. It was also the reason Denver elected to put their future on hold, balking at signing valuable free agents like Arron Afflalo and Nene to contract extensions they most likely deserved. Now it’s time to play ball and answer some of the tough questions about whether a new CBA can indeed help level the playing field for teams like the Denver Nuggets.
Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke will open for business with a blank canvas to paint. With the amnesty clause at their disposal the Nuggets could potentially have the most cap space of any team in the league. How do they take advantage of the new CBA as we enter the next era of Denver basketball? What do they start building with right now when free agency opens on December 9th?
Your loyal and friendly Denver Nuggets bloggers here at Roundball Mining Company have not published anything of consequence regarding the current labor conflagration which now has the NBA on the brink of missing regular season games. The fact of the matter is that the range of possibilities was so far reaching that any kind of analysis would have been complete speculation – not that there is anything wrong with that, this is a blog after all. We have chosen to stay on the sidelines and patiently await some signs of movement in the negotiations.
Almost exactly eleven months ago I wrote the following:
Frankly, the chances of us seeing Melo take Manhattan are quite slim. Even so, if you’re a Nuggets booster, you might want to pray that a couple of big names take the Knicks’ money this year, just to be safe.
Fast forward to February 21, 2011 and the rumor that I could not believe I was asked to write about at the time has come to fruition. After all the rumors and hearsay we have arrived at the outcome most experts and fans alike expected. Carmelo Anthony is now a New York Knickerbocker and is free to sign his coveted extension before the current CBA expires. He found his way to the market and is going to get all the money.
Nuggets fans have had several months to come to grips with Carmelo’s departure. Even the most hardcore fans saw the writing on the wall weeks ago. As hardened to the reports as many fans became, the final news that Denver has traded away quite possibly the most talented player in franchise history brought a flood of emotion.
I do not know who made the call, but I am supremely impressed with someone. Whoever came up with the idea of trading Timofey Mozgov along with another Knick teammate, according to SI.com it would be Danilo Gallinari, from Denver to New Jersey may have ensured a deal will be completed and will be responsible for putting an end to all this Melo hysteria.
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:
When the Denver Nuggets take the floor against Milwaukee tonight, there will be more at stake than a regular season win. For one, depending on the outcome the Nuggets could end up anywhere from sixth to ninth place in the Western Conference standings. But more than that, it’s a time to reflect as all the drama and absurdity of a truly bizarre season reaches a tipping point. The games stop, and only the future of the franchise beckons. The Melo trade saga has been going on so long I almost stopped believing a deadline for a resolution could still be real. Yet here it is nearer than ever. Serenity now!
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:
After months of rumors, sporadic play on the court, booing fans, speculation out the yin yang, millions of words written in newspapers, magazines, on the internet, in emails, in tweets, spoken around the water cooler and thousands of potentially productive man hours lost to fiddling with the ESPN.com Trade Machine the Carmelo Anthony saga appears to have hit rock bottom. There are multiple reports that the Nuggets are in negotiations in a three team trade that would send Carmelo to New York in exchange for Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewer a future first round pick from the Timberwolves, and if I understand things correctly, an eight digit trade exception. That is it. No Danilo Gallinari, no multiple first round picks and no dynamic young player with promise.
Before you completely discount the rumor as being something the Nuggets would never agree to, which my first inclination, keep one thing in mind. While it is certainly the worst deal for Denver that has been leaked from a talent standpoint it would save the Nuggets roughly $15 million dollars this season. Denver would be sending out Carmelo’s $17.1 million salary and only taking back $5.8 million providing roughly $4 million in salary savings over the final few months as well as over $11 million in luxury tax payments. No other trade I have heard or read about would save Denver so much short term money.
Welcome to the first of a new series on RMC covering news and rumors surrounding the Nuggets and NBA. Many thanks to new collaborator Victor Williams for contributing his most of the tweets and links you’ll see mentioned here. Click through to get a look at the latest tweets from NBA players and journalists plus an assortment of links on all things Nuggets and NBA. Victor is the man to ask when tracking down a new rumor and story so be sure to follow him on twitter here.
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.
All quiet on the trade front now, despite reports over the past few days that the rumored three team mega-trade was near the finish line. With Carmelo guaranteeing he’ll play against the Heat on TNT tomorrow and New Jersey starting a four game road trip tonight, it seems the biggest trade in NBA history and an elusive resolution to the Melodrama isn’t coming anytime soon. However even if the Nuggets and Nets take the first step of agreeing to a trade, it all hinges on the assumption he’ll sign the coveted three-year max extension in New Jersey. The newest round of rumors show that’s far from a sure thing, and opinions are wildly divided on whether or not Anthony intends to allow a New Jersey trade at all.
First, Chris Broussard cites a source who claims to have spoken directly with Melo
I have never heard him, in all the times we’ve talked, say he’s willing to go to New Jersey. Not once. Personally, I would be stunned if he went there and signed an extension.
Adrian Wojnarowski similarly doesn’t confirm anything one way or the other
Anthony has delivered mixed messages on his desire to sign a contract extension with the Nuggets. He’s told two teammates he would ultimately be fine joining the Nets, and pushed his agent, Leon Rose, to help construct a package of players to go to the Nets with him. Nevertheless, Anthony has been wildly back and forth on his willingness to compromise with the Nets over the Knicks.
What seems clear is that once again nobody knows what’s going on, nothing seems to be imminent, and we’re kicked back to a month ago where the will-he or won’t-he gossip takes precedent over any real trade details. While it’s hard to believe the Nets and Nuggets go this far down the road without finalizing some sort of trade , I’m no longer convinced it will bring the long awaited real resolution to this madness.
Chris Tomasson reports that rebuilding or not, George Karl and the Nuggets remain on track towards a 3 year extension for Coach.
As always, ride the emotional rollercoaster at Nets Daily for literally every new link on Melo
Throughout days of speculation and swirling rumors, the Nuggets have consistently held their hand close to the vest and chosen to lay low. It now appears that is also the case for all teams involved in the ongoing trade talks as well. On Tuesday, both the Nets and Nuggets intimated their current rosters will play for the foreseeable future, while the Pistons apparently remain committed and patient to facilitating a possible future deal.
The biggest hurdle to a trade likely centers around the fate of Al Harrington. Signed by Bret Bearup in the final days of Mark Warkentein’s tenure as GM, the 30 year old represents the longest and most expensive salary commitment on the Nuggets books when Carmelo is traded. Considering Wark and Bearup both find themselves ousted from Denver’s plans to reshape the roster, Harrington simply has no value if a new era of youth and reduced spending is to be ushered in. It’s confounding that Denver would ship Chauncey to NJ for mere savings, when Harrington would likely be more willing and a better fit on a 10-27 Nets team with Travis Outlaw as their only backup 4. Denver’s stance that Harrington must be included in any proposal shipping out Chauncey along with Melo is not surprising, and likely to be a major hangup in any deal until ultimately resolved.
In the meantime, the 15-20 Phoenix Suns visit the Pepsi Center tonight as Denver looks to avoid their first 4-game skid in 4 years. While the Suns have been struggling to score the ball recently, Denver may have had more trouble defending. The main story of course is how Carmelo Anthony will be received by a crowd who knows Melo’s inevitable departure could cost Denver a lot more than just him. For a man who wants to be traded, Melo’s seemed strangely surprised he could be getting his wish soon – even going into damage control mode by stating he wouldn’t want Chauncey to have to leave home, but it’s the business of basketball. Business is business, but it’s completely ruined a once-promising season of Denver basketball and Melo can no longer hide behind it to escape his part of the blame.
The New Jersey Nets are once again on the verge of a multi-team trade that would land them Carmelo Anthony. Only this time, it appears to make more sense for all parties involved. The idea is New Jersey takes on a ton of salary while upgrading its starting lineup, providing tax relief for Denver and much needed future savings for Detroit in the process. The Nuggets also acquire a younger, cheaper contingent of players highlighted by Derrick Favors, Anthony Morrow, and Devin Harris. But at what cost?
How close is Carmelo Anthony to becoming a member of the New Jersey Nets? Close enough that the Nets and Pistons “were surprised on Sunday night when Denver allowed the players included in the proposed trade to play in a game against the New Orleans Hornets.” That sounds like a deal that is all but done.