Carmelo Anthony is still a Denver Nugget as the NBA trade deadline approaches. With one week to go before teams are locked in for the playoff run, the drama is as unclear as ever.
Melo could easily end up a Knick, a Net, a Bull, a Rocket, a Laker, a Maverick or… he could simply remain a Denver Nugget. There has been no definitive movement in trade negotiations, and the result is a rumor mill that reveals more journalistic intent than factual evidence. All things Melo remain unclear.
For his part, Melo has been…well, mellow. Anthony has played his game on the court with precision over the last two weeks, and he has played the, “Your guess is as good as mine” card with equal precision in post-game interviews all season.
Nobody knows where Carmelo Anthony will end up, and that includes Melo. But as the February 24th NBA trade deadline approaches, something has to give.
Now that Carmelo has indicated he is willing to sign an extension with the Nuggets in order to avoid the uncertainty of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Knicks cannot be sure that free agency will land them the world class small forward. To be sure, New York fans and media are all over Knicks management to get a deal done in the next week… or else.
And whether or not that “or else” packs any real punch (the barely-.500 Knicks were recently rated as the most valuable team in the league,) owner James Dolan must understand the stakes involved. After his organization lost out on the Lebron Sweepstakes last summer, Dolan & Company cannot afford to miss out on Melo as well.
So, whether or not the Knicks want to part with a considerable chunk of their supporting cast, they are doomed to either make an uncomfortable move or suffer the lash of the rabid NYC media and its equally rabid fans forever and ever until they win an NBA Title.
That leaves lesser trade scenarios lacking any real luster.
The Nets have been “out” of the bidding since owner Mikhail Prokhorov publicly ended his team’s pursuit of Anthony. Some suspect that Prokhorov was simply making an ill-conceived power play that he believed would eventually land New Jersey/Brooklyn a marketable super star. Others believe that the Russian billionaire truly did tire of trenchant negotiations between the Nets and Nuggets.
It hardly matters unless Mikhail goes a-begging to Denver’s doorstep this weekend with an undeniable trade proposal that includes multiple first round draft picks.
The Bulls are unwilling to part with power forward/center Joakim Noah via trade and have happily relegated themselves to Melo’s Free Agent Option B.
The Mavericks, despite the mad desires of owner Mark Cuban, are unwilling to part with enough young talent to go all-in with their future on a few months worth of Melo.
The Rockets are looking for nothing more than a rent-a-Melo that might lift them to the Western Conference Championship Series or beyond.
And that brings us, finally, to the LA Lakers.
The only serious competition outside of New York and Denver for Carmelo Anthony’s long-term services is Los Angeles. Only the Lakers can offer Melo what he really wants – a big market team with a chance to win an NBA Championship soon.
The Knicks are dreaming if they think they stand a chance of bullying past the Celtics, Heat and Magic in the playoffs, even with Carmelo Anthony’s considerable talents on board. The Rockets, who lack only a scoring punch, are a small-market alternative with an outside chance at winning now.
But realistically (and you have to believe that Melo has had plenty of time to mull this though over and over) only Los Angeles holds a one-way pass directly to the top of Mount NBA.
Anthony is better off betting his future on the health of Denver’s big men than on this dysfunctional Knicks organization, and New York’s sloppy handling of both Lebron last summer and Melo ever since is ample proof of their incompetence. The Nuggets want to make a deal. They want to clear their slate of Anthony and start fresh with young talent. Only problem is, the Knicks’ awkward sense of big-city entitlement will not let them make a deal that is good for both teams.
Denver is rumored to be offering All Star, World Class, Championship Caliber players Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups for a small cast of underlings (reportedly Danilo Gallinari, Landry Fields and Raymond Felton) along with a first round draft pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Knicks would lose young power forward Anthony Randolph to Minnesota to solidify the deal.
Any combination of the aforementioned players that would land Carmelo in New York is worth the price of admission. From a strictly business standpoint, Melo is content with a new long-term deal in a major market, and the Knicks organization is flush with a saleable star player to pair with workaholic center Amare Stoudemire. The Nuggets end up with a young, inexpensive nucleus to build around, and everybody goes home happy.
But in some mystifying fit of pride, the Knicks have balked at each offer from Denver. The possibility that New York can land Melo for less, or at all, shrinks with each passing day. And yet Donnie Walsh and his crack crew of professional obstructionists continue to whittle away the hours while other teams increase their offers for Anthony.
It is madness, a dramatic madness, and it may take until late next week before resolution finally comes. As New York continues to waste its opportunities, the Nuggets inch closer to keeping Melo in Denver for another three seasons, and every other interested NBA team grows a little bolder in their pursuit of Carmelo.
A collision course has been set, and this epic game of Chicken now approaches a Melo-dramatic conclusion.