“I feel it’s a time for change”

With one simple sentence Carmelo Anthony essentially eviscerated the excitement from the Nuggets opening night undressing of the Jazz.  The Nuggets have held out hope that getting Carmelo into Denver and reminding him how good the team can be would sway him towards remaining a Nugget  for at least the duration of the current season.

Time to move on to plan ‘B’.

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A Well Scripted Nuggets Media Day Went as Planned

Media Day!

Media day is a silly practice where the hip young bourgeoisie spout clichés to the proletariat who are more interested in the free lunch buffet table than anything the featured speakers could offer.

Well, maybe that is a bit calloused.  There are certainly tidbits we can garner from the forced question and answer sessions.  Let’s take a look at some of the quotes from media day.

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Carmelo Anthony and Media Day

There is a great deal of excitement to see what happens at the Denver Nuggets media day on Monday.  The incomparable Matt Moore tweeted he would like to be in the room for the the meeting between Masai Ujiri and Carmelo Anthony.  Well Matt, here is one man’s version of what will happen sometime on Monday.

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Coach Grg, Balkman Loses a Friend and More Melo

The Indian Summer of Carmelo has been dominating the news recently, and before we get to the current scuttlebutt, there are other important happenings going on with the Denver Nuggets

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Can Carmelo to the Knicks Work?

Another day another barrage of Carmelo Anthony rumors as the Indian Summer of Carmelo is on the verge of exploding.  The Nuggets will be holding their annual pre-training camp media day on Monday, September 27 with practices starting the next day. All signs point to Melo being a Nugget on that day, but it might be difficult for Carmelo to continue his “I am a Nugget” routine when he has to face his teammates.

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No Really, Carmelo Anthony is Going to be Traded

After a calm couple of weeks following the hiring of Masai Ujiri, who announced at his introductory press conference that he was confident he could convince Carmelo Anthony to stay in Denver, there are reports that the Nuggets have apparently begun to accept the inevitable fact they are going to have to trade Carmelo Anthony and they are now listening to offers.

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Turkey, Radio, More Rumors and Flowcharts

Between moments of daydreaming of sweet Carmelo Anthony trade packages and sleeping on my couch I found out there is some kind of World Basketball Championship contest going on.

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J.R. Smith is the Next Nugget to get Churned Through the Rumor Mill

With the Carmelo Anthony rumors flying we are about to see the rest of the franchise get caught up in the drama. Chris Tomasson at Fanhouse is reporting J.R. Smith is on the trading block. The truth is with Carmelo’s status up in the air so to speak there is no player on the Nuggets roster who is safe from trade rumors and speculation. As far as Smith is concerned, J.R. was a Mark Warkentien favorite and with Wark out of town there may not be anyone left to continue to preach patience and tolerance with J.R.

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Explaining the Contradictions in the Carmelo Anthony Rumors

The Denver Nuggets have been putting on the full court press lately trying to combat the media frenzy that is the Indian Summer of Carmelo. They are pushing the angle that Carmelo Anthony is a Nugget and he wants to be a Nugget. They have articles up by Aaron Lopez reminding everyone that Kobe Bryant asked publically to be traded and remained a Laker for life and an interview with Carmelo where he never says he does not want to be a Nugget.

There have been numerous stories hitting on various angles of Carmelo’s situation. He is not going to sign the extension. Actually he probably will sign the extension. Never mind, he wants to be traded. Hey Carmelo has never once said he wants to be traded. Now there is news that Carmelo’s new bride, Lala Vazquez, has said it is possible Carmelo could play for New York. Everyone is treating every article like the Rosetta Stone or the Dead Sea Scrolls expecting to find some kind of clue, some hidden message that will tell them what Carmelo is going to do.

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Trading Carmelo Anthony

When reports surfaced that Chris Paul was going to demand a trade Ryan Schwan at Hornets 247 solicited offers from the TrueHoop Network of bloggers to see what kind of a haul the Hornets could hope to receive for Paul.

With similar rumors floating around regarding the future of Carmelo Anthony, I thought it would be interesting, educational and kind of fun in a morbid way to see what kind of value Carmelo possessed in the eyes of the network.

Below are trades that were sent to me from my TrueHoop network colleagues. I asked them to consider the potential for Carmelo remaining with their team after the season and consider that when crafting their proposals.

The offers are in and I have broken them down into the categories of “Win Now,” “Win Later,” “The Chosen Ones” and trades I had hoped to see ranked in order from don’t call us, we’ll call you to ummm, that’s nice!

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The Indian Summer of Carmelo

Apparently we do not need to wait for 2011 to experience the Summer of Carmelo. We may very well be on the verge of the Indian Summer of Carmelo. Ric Bucher is reporting that Carmelo Anthony no longer desires to play for Denver. The kicker is Carmelo may want out immediately as Bucher speculates Melo will start the season playing for a franchise other than the Denver Nuggets. If you have not yet had the pleasure of reading, hearing or seeing Bucher’s latest work, you can read the ESPN.com article here, listen to his ESPN Radio interview here and there is video below.

First of all, as we experienced with LeBron’s decision, this is one in a number of see-sawing reports we have witnessed over the previous few months which have ranged from Carmelo wants to play with Amare Stoudemire and Tony Parker in New York to Carmelo is likely to sign the extension currently on the table or Carmelo wants to wait to sign the extension in order to put pressure on the Nuggets to improve the roster and now we have moved to Carmelo is going to start the 2010-11 season somewhere else.

Clearly all of this needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Less than a month ago we went through this with Chris Paul as he wanted out of New Orleans. Despite the speculation by the media, including the TrueHoop Network, Paul will be in New Orleans for at least the next few months, if not longer. The same could be true for Carmelo although it warrants mentioning Paul is under contract with New Orleans for two more seasons as opposed to Carmelo’s one giving the Hornets more control than Denver enjoys.

Assuming Carmelo does tell Nuggets’ management he is no longer interested in continuing to play for Denver what options do the Nuggets have? Obviously there can only be two ways all of this is resolved, either Carmelo is a Nugget or he is not, but there are a number of possible ways to arrive at either outcome.

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Nuggets Miss out on O’Neal; Gain a Chance at Beasley?

There were two free agent signings today that has a direct impact on the Denver Nuggets. Jermaine O’Neal signed with the Boston Celtics and Linas Kleiza is returning to the NBA after signing an offer sheet with the Toronto Raptors. The O’Neal signing is very disappointing, but the Kleiza offer sheet could open up a tremendous opportunity for Denver.

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Quiet Trade Deadline for the Denver Nuggets?

With the trade deadline just over 12 hours away, it seems to be highly unlikely that the Denver Nuggets make a move. The only players they have been rumored to be interested in are Tyrus Thomas and Ben Wallace. I thought Wallace was a logical option for Denver as he has a small expiring contract and might be interested in playing for a team that doesn’t suck. The problem with Wallace is he is not an ideal defender for the Lakers’ long front line, but he could certainly help the Nuggets hang on to the second seed.

I never understood the Tyrus Thomas rumors although I have repeatedly read the Nuggets have inquired about him. The only way Denver could send the Bulls enough expiring contracts to match Thomas’ $4,743,598 contract is if Johan Petro and Anthony Carter approve of the trade. In addition to that roadblock Denver would have to part with not only Petro, but Malik Allen too leaving them with only four bigs and Thomas is not much of a banger. If the Bulls were interested in taking Renaldo Balkman back instead of an expiring contract, it would make such a trade more palatable for Denver, but all this is under the assumption that the Bulls would be willing to part with a player they drafted fourth just three years ago for expiring contracts and Balkman. As we have pointed out before, Denver has very little else to offer with the Grizzlies already owning Denver’s 2010 first rounder and the only other tradable asset being the rights to Linas Kleiza.

The only other way the Nuggets could acquire Thomas from the Bulls would be part of a larger deal where they take on an undesirable contract from Chicago, but the Nuggets are not likely to be in the business of adding long term salary with the contracts they already have on the books for next season and furthermore, agreeing to accept more than Thomas would require the Nuggets parting with one of their key rotation players. It just is not worth it.

Denver does have one ace up their sleeve, a $3.696 million trade exception, one of the largest current trade exceptions in the league, thanks to the trade that sent Steven Hunter to Memphis.  It could prove useful in acquiring Ben Wallace, but do not look for Denver to offer anyone salary relief as that does not jive with their budget conscious philosophy.  Still, if the right offer comes along, it is a nice arrow to have in the quiver.

The one developing situation to keep an eye on is whether or not Drew Gooden will be bought out by the Los Angeles Clippers. There are currently conflicting Twitter reports regarding Gooden’s future with the Clips. David Aldridge is saying he is staying in L.A. while Adrian Wojnarowski is saying he is on his way to a buy out. I am not sure if the Nuggets would have any interest in Gooden if he were a free agent, but I am certain Denver will be a destination of choice for any big men who are bought out following the trade deadline.

Some have wondered if the announcement from yesterday regarding Coach Karl would make the Nuggets more or less likely to make a move. I firmly believe it plays no role in what the Nuggets do tomorrow and beyond. If they have a chance to make a move or signing to improve the roster without compromising their budget, they will pull the trigger.

I find it unlikely that trigger is pulled tomorrow, but keep an eye on the TrueHoop Trade Reports page for all the latest news.

The Stephen Jackson Rumors Will Not Die

I do not think I have said anything about the Nuggets rumored interest in Stephen Jackson. Well, it is a story that just will not die. Originally the Nuggets’ interest in Jackson made little sense to me, but when RMC reader BMer emailed me the link on TrueHoop where Marc Stein again emphasized the Nuggets have interest in Jackson I realized it was time to take the possibility that the Nuggets would trade for Jackson seriously.

It took me a while to try to come up with a reason why Denver would be interested in Jackson after all he really is a small forward and clearly Denver does not need a replacement there. Plus Jackson is a chucker who loves having the ball in his hands towards the end of games and has famously said the he “makes love to pressure.” Once again, late game marksmanship is not a big area of need for Denver.

After a few minutes of consternation it finally donned on me why the Nuggets are interested in Jackson, his defense. I completely understand if you are confused. Jackson is not known as a defensive stopper. However, he has a history of frustrating Dirk Nowitzki and his defense on Dirk was a major factor in the Warriors defeat of the Mavs in the first round in the spring of 2007.

Even then the Nuggets’ interest in Jackson was not entirely clear. The Nuggets are better than the Mavericks and you usually do not make moves to address a weakness against a team you can beat despite that weakness. I kept thinking and I think I figured it out. Jackson has not only spent time guarding Dirk, but he has experience in covering Kobe Bryant.

Could that be it? Are the Nuggets looking for a two way player they trust to throw out against Bryant? Jackson is not the number one Kobe stopper out there, I am not entirely sure there is a number one Kobe stopper. Still the way to cover Kobe is to pressure him with a player long enough to challenge his jumper and strong enough to keep Kobe from getting prime position on the block while pre-rotating help in case Kobe drives. Jackson fits the bill as good as anyone.

The question then becomes what would the Nuggets have to give up in order to acquire him? From the rumors I have read I have not seen any names appear, but I am sure a few have been bandied about behind closed doors. I would think the Warriors would be interested in Nene and if that is the going price, it is no wonder Jackson is not a Nugget. In order for the Nuggets to give up a big man, they would need one back. The only combination that makes any sense to me is to include Kenyon and Andris Biedrins. Biedrins might help with the Nuggets defensive rebounding problem, but Golden State is not going to trade two starters away for Kenyon and filler. The biggest problem is the Nuggets most tradeable assets are guards and that is the area where the Warriors are the deepest.

The only deal that makes sense to me is if J.R. Smith is sent to a third team who sends a player to Golden State and Denver ends up landing Jackson (something like J.R. to Miami, Udonis Haslem and another player or pick to Golden State and Jackson to Denver). The only place for Jackson to get minutes in Denver would be shooting guard. As mentioned above Denver has a small forward and Jackson or Melo can play power forward from time to time, but Denver has a defensive rebounding problem as it is and that would only exacerbate it. I doubt J.R. would take kindly to Jackson coming in and playing at least half the game at shooting guard and Smith is the best combination of talent and contract the Nuggets have available.

Even if trading J.R. is on the table a three way trade would be very difficult to consummate. In the example above Miami is a very unlikely trade partner as they are making a point of preserving as much money for next summer as possible with dreams of teaming Wade with Chris Bosh or another high level big man. Maybe a team like Minnesota is interested and San Antonio showed interest in J.R. two summers ago when he was a restricted free agent. Then you have to worry about having J.R. haunt Denver for either a division rival or a fellow contender.

Ultimately, I do not see any realistic way Stephen Jackson ends up in Denver, but do not rule anything out.

Sometimes two minutes is not enough

There was another post on TrueHoop today by Chris Broussard that told an interesting story about the sale of their second round draft pick (number 34) last June. Apparently Cleveland had made an offer of $2 million to move up and draft DeJuan Blair. However, the Rockets came in with their record offer of $2.25 million. As you may know you only have two minutes to make your trade or selection in the second round and time ran out before Denver could go back to Cleveland to see if they would up their original offer. As good as I think Blair could be, I wonder if that extra $250,000 is worth having him end up in the Western Conference.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to see a little picture of what goes on behind the scenes on draft night and what a little bit of what could have been.

Movin’ on up

I missed this article by Chris Tomasson last week, but apparently it did not take very long for George Karl to stop thinking of Ty Lawson as just a rookie.  Karl also bristles at the claim he does not play rookies who deserve playing time.

Karl on coaching

Mike Torico interviewed George Karl as well as Pat Rilley and Hubie Brown. Karl talks about the changes in coaching over the past decade or two and it is an interesting discussion. Karl tells a story about how Dean Smith told him he had to be able to take the blame for every loss and if he could not handle it, he should not be a coach. I do not think Karl has always been the first to take the blame over his coaching career.

And you want to be here because?

I was very surprised to hear that Renaldo Balkman had signed an extension with the Nuggets last week.  I guess I should never be that surprised when a player agrees to be paid, in Balkman’s case he is receiving north of $5 million for three years, but I would think Balkman would be looking for the answer to the same question many fans are.  Why doesn’t he play?  Players like Balkman who play hard and do not demand a certain amount of shots to give an effort are typically held in high regard and I doubt he would have a difficult time finding a good team who would want him on board.

I do not think anyone who knows me would call me a prima donna or high maintenance, but if I thought I should be on the court, and I was not seeing playing time, I would look to play somewhere else whether I was offered a contract extension or not.

Then again, maybe the experience of playing for the circus that was the New York Knicks convinced him that as long as you can be on the roster of a good team with little drama, you do it.  Balkman has never complained about playing time to the media and has claimed that he wants to play, but will do what the coach wants.

The Nuggets’ stance that he is a player who can still be developed is interesting and I agree he can get better, but the guy can play now.  Let him.

In Game Tactics

I was just watching the end of the Cleveland Cavaliers/Chicago Bulls game and Cleveland may have lost, but LeBron James did something that caught my eye. A play after Derrick Rose had scored off a pick by Brad Miller LeBron told Anderson Varejao to switch from Brad Miller to Luol Deng. At first I was confused, which is my natural state, but then realized that James took Miller so that when Miller set the screen for Rose he could switch onto Rose. The plan worked and LeBron forced Rose to pass and then he even grabbed the rebound on the missed shot, raced up the floor and made an unselfish cross court pass to Mo Williams for an open three that would have put the Cavs ahead. Williams missed the shot and the Cavs lost, but I was impressed with how LeBron manipulated the Bulls into a situation where Cleveland had the advantage. He knew Rose was looking to score and wanted to take the best option away from Chicago.

The next step in Rose’s development is to recognize that and send Miller away so there is no chance to switch on the screen. Then if LeBron comes off of Miller to double it will leave one of the best shooting big men in the league open for a jumper.

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