The Nuggets have reportedly renewed heavy negotiations with the Nets over a trade that would land All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony in New Jersey.
Melo, who was visibly dismayed after a loss to the lowly Sacramento Kings on Thursday, clearly wants out of Denver but would prefer to end up in New York with the Knicks.
In the Nuggets’ and Nets’ favor is the fact that Melo would end up in New York via a trade to either team. The New Jersey Nets plan to move to Brooklyn in time for the 2012-2013 NBA season. Carmelo is a Brooklyn native despite spending the latter half of his childhood in Baltimore.
The newest trade rumors have Melo going to New Jersey along with veteran Nuggets point guard Chauncey Billups. To facilitate the trade, the Nets have involved Billups’ former employer, the Detroit Pistons. In addition to Melo and Chauncey, New Jersey would receive Richard “Rip” Hamilton who joined the Pistons with Billups for the 2002-2003 season. The pair of guards brought a championship to Detroit in 2004.
Despite the prospect of working with an old friend and continuing to play with Carmelo Anthony, Billups has reportedly balked at the idea of leaving his hometown of Denver. Detroit sent Chauncey to the Nuggets in 2008 in return for transient former superstar Allen Iverson.
In Denver, Billups had a built-in fan base upon arrival. He grew up in East Denver’s Park Hill neighborhood, attending George Washington High School before moving on to nearby Boulder, Colorado to star at the University of Colorado.
Billups has indicated to his agent, Andy Miller, that he wants to retire as a Denver Nugget and that he will demand an immediate buyout if traded to the Nets.
“His position is steadfast,” said Miller to Yahoo! Sports. “I talked to him after practice [Saturday] and he expressed those thoughts. He doesn’t want to go anywhere. Even if it were a rebuilding situation, he’d prefer to be in Denver.”
For their part, the Nets are less concerned with Billups’ response to a trade than they are with Anthony’s response. Unless Carmelo is willing to sign a multi-year deal with New Jersey/Brooklyn, the Nets will not pull the trigger on any trade. Especially one of this magnitude.
With Detroit involved, the Nets would be getting a new small forward (Anthony), a new shooting guard (Hamilton) and a new point guard (Billups). In return, the Pistons would receive seven-foot center Johan Petro (who spent two seasons in Denver) from New Jersey, along with power forward Troy Murphy. Detroit’s involvement is purely financial, as Murphy’s contract is expiring and Petro’s annual pay is a third of Hamilton’s.
Meanwhile, Denver would receive six players in the deal, including rising star power forward Derrick Favors and point guard Devin Harris, an All-Star in 2009. The Nuggets would also grab two future first-round draft picks from the Nets. Young shooting guard Anthony Morrow would come to Denver as well, along with three players (Stephen Graham, Ben Uzoh & Quinton Ross) thrown in to smooth out salary cap challenges between Denver and New Jersey.
Melo and Chauncey both played Sunday night in another listless loss that saw Anthony score just eight points in 24 minutes on 3-of-11 shooting. This time it was the New Orleans Hornets dismissing the underwhelming Nuggets 96-87.
Carmelo’s good friend Chris Paul, who sought last summer to woo Anthony to New Orleans, scored 20 for the Hornets in the rout. Melo and Chris have also reportedly discussed meeting up in New York to play for the Knicks, and it is not unreasonable to think that Paul would find a way to follow Melo to New Jersey/Brooklyn.
Said Melo after the loss to the West-worst Kings, which followed a loss to the West’s third-worst Clippers, “We’re just frustrated right now. I know I am after these two losses against two teams that we should have beat. Tonight was an embarrassing loss; that’s all I have to say about it.”
Adding intrigue to the entire situation are reports that Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov and part-owner Jay-Z have sought an audience with Carmelo once the Nuggets okay a potential deal. Jay-Z, another Brooklyn native, is close friends with Melo and could conceivably convince Anthony to begin building a contender in New Jersey that would move to Long Island in less than two years.
Of course, Carmelo is getting no younger, and basketball is a fickle sport.
There is little doubt that Anthony wants to go to New York now, where friend Amare Stoudemire has the Knicks pounding out convincing wins. The strong possibility remains that Melo will simply bide his time until the end of this season when his contract with Denver expires.
Despite the looming specter of a battle between the NBA and the Player’s Association over a new collective bargaining agreement, Anthony reserves the right to refuse a new deal anywhere in favor of charting his own course via free agency this summer.
Read more about the history of a Melo-to-Jersey trade
Read more about the history of a Melo-to-NYC trade