Carmelo Anthony will only sign a new contract with the New York Knicks, leaving the Nuggets, Bulls and other players in the Melo Sweepstakes out in the cold.
According to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, who referenced “several sources”, Melo’s agent Leon Rose has told potential trade partners that Anthony will only sign a new contract with the New York Knicks.
For the Bulls, who had hoped to draw Melo to Chicago this summer, this news (if true) will likely end their pursuit of the Nuggets small forward.
Now the Nuggets are left to either make a deal with the Knicks, trade Carmelo as a late-season rental, or go all-in with their former franchise player and press hard to win a Championship this year. With the renal option, Denver would look to a short list that includes the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and potentially even the Los Angeles Lakers to hammer out an inexpensive trade.
Such a trade in the final months of the season would garner the Nuggets nothing close to the deal they reportedly turned down with the New Jersey Nets. Once Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov pulled out of the increasingly bitter negotiations to acquire Melo, Denver was stuck dealing with the Knicks and Bulls for much less.
Now that the Knicks know that they can almost assuredly get Anthony in the offseason, Melo’s price tag through trade has dropped again. So, despite having ample suitors for Carmelo’s services, the Knicks still have the inside track to land him via trade this season for a number of reasons.
First, Carmelo wants to sign a lucrative deal now under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that is set to expire at the conclusion of the 2010-2011 NBA Season.
Second, the Knicks have faltered after a strong surge in the first half of the season, and are under immense pressure from the rabid New York media (and owner James Dolan) to make a deal happen now.
Third, because of reasons #1 & 2, the Nuggets know that their best chance to land either a future top draft pick or a rising young player is through a trade with the Knicks.
New York can still offer young Italian small forward Danilo Gallinari, their current starter at the position. However current rumors have backup small forward Wilson Chandler heading to Denver instead.
While either move would be an obvious downgrade, the Nuggets currently have nobody worthy of taking Carmelo’s place in the starting lineup.
Journeyman Gary Forbes, who signed with the Nuggets following a stint in European leagues, is the best that Denver can muster without drawing from outside its system. Al Harrington, who is something of a hybrid between power forward and small forward, is simply too old to run an offense through. He has struggled with minor injuries all season, and stepping into Melo’s role would be too much of a burden for an aging bench player.
The Nuggets have missed a flurry of chances to land better deals for their All Star forward, but are quickly getting to the point where the onus is on Denver to make a deal work. The February 24th NBA trade deadline is finally bearing down on the Nuggets front office, presenting Masai Ujiri and crew with some harsh realities.
With all that in mind, dear Nuggets fans, it is high time that Denver let Melo go.