The new rumor is that the Nuggets and the Nets have a deal in place, it just takes Carmelo agreeing to sign an extension with him. Carmelo, for his part, appears to the public not to be aware that anyone’s talking to anyone.
Lots of people are bored of the Carmelo Anthony trade saga. Bored of hearing about it.
Me? I’m praying they send him to the Nets.
Don’t get me wrong, as a Mavs fan, I’d be excited to have him off the Nuggets to anywhere. The Nuggets, with their athleticism and explosiveness are an absolute nightmare matchup for the Mavs and thus, guaranteed to be their first round opponent (for as God said, the Spurs have I loved, the Mavs have I hated).
But there’s more to it than that.
Picture five years from now. Dirk, Kobe, Duncan, and even Manu are all either limping or in retirement. The Heatles are going to resign, or maybe they’ll Bosh go, but some of the guys they’ve drafted or picked up with various kinds of exceptions over the years have built a reasonably solid team around them.
In New York (not Brooklyn), they are opposed by Amar’e, Carmelo and Chris Paul.
We’re sure there’s going to be a point to anyone else watching basketball?
I mean, look, maybe the drafts will be good. But let me ask you this: Since Dirk, Kobe and Duncan were drafted, has any body as good been drafted who is not Wade, LeBron, Carmelo, or Chris Paul? I mean, sure I’ll give you Dwight Howard—already making noises about moving out of Orlando. And I’ll give you Kevin Durant, the occasional humble super-super-star who doesn’t want more than he has.
But you can stack as many Monta Ellis’s as you want on top of each other, and you still won’t compete with that New York Mob or the South Beach Gang.
And more than that, Carmelo is the lone member of top 5 of the 2003 NBA draft who hasn’t already changed teams (even Darko). I mean, LeBron, Wade, Carmelo and Bosh all in the same year? And then three of them end up playing together, and one of them wants to join by far the best player still playing from the last draft, the 2002 draft, with the best player from the 2005 draft making noises about joining them later?
I mean, is the fact that all of the best players drafted between 2002 and 2005, besides Dwight Howard, already making noises about getting out of Orlando, could end up on just two teams not cause for alarm?
More than that: we don’t know what the new CBA will look like. But think about this: the owners think they’re doing themselves a favor trying to negotiate the length of a contract down to three or four years, to keep them from getting stuck in the mess of the contract that won’t die, but what if they’re not?
What if that just makes it possible for all the very best players to go to New York or LA that much sooner? After all, despite the fact that we’re talking about specific players in specific circumstances—LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Amar’e, Carmelo, possibly Paul—is it really a coincidence that that’s nearly every one of the best players in the NBA whose first real contracts are either up or almost up?
Because at a certain point, we have to ask ourselves: is it just because these guys are friends, as some in the media have said? Chris Paul apparently made his pronouncement about playing on the Knicks at Carmelo’s wedding. LeBron, Wade, and Bosh really hit it off at the Olympics. That’s specific people, that’s not a trend.
Or maybe it’s just because GMs didn’t do a good job of providing these guys a team to maximize their talents and to get them what greatness deserves. Right?
Or is it because when you’re that good, it’s no fun to play with mere mortals?
Or is it because the kids—raised on a certain generation of marketing which equated winning not with struggle, not with occasional gratification, but with domination, and success not with playing well and doing well, but with that, and being a business mogul—just aren’t going to be satisfied any more playing for decent-to-good teams in small market cities.
I mean, do we really think it’s just a quirk, just a once in a generation hiccup, that five out of the ten or so best players in the NBA, the ones still in the prime of their careers, and six out of the seven best players drafted between 2002 and 2005 (Bosh fitting into the second category, but not the first), all want to play only with each other, only in the big markets, as soon as their contracts are up—or sooner?
Hopefully it is. But it doesn’t look great. And if you don’t think that’s a little scary whichever it is, do what I did. Cover up with one hand all the older stars of the NBA and take a look at the landscape. Look at all the unwatchable teams we already have because owners aren’t going to pay big bucks to win 40 games or one playoff series. Look at every young player on a young team by himself talking about moving on, and every team with a good old player but no one around him anymore, talking about “rebuilding”. You want to see the Suns without Steve Nash? Is that good for the Suns this year? Next year? That’s 164 games, at least.
Maybe we’re not going that way. Maybe this is just a fluke, after all.
But I would feel a lot better about basketball’s future, if Carmelo agrees to sign that extension with the soon-to-be Brookyln Nets.