Blog Entry

Post-Ups: Nuggets ready to move Melo

Posted on: December 8, 2010 7:51 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 11:03 pm
After weeks of speculation and despite a strong start by the Nuggets, Carmelo Anthony's last days in Denver may finally have arrived.

The Nuggets have all but decided to trade Anthony if he does not sign an extension with the team by the trade deadline, and Denver's management team believes Anthony is fully prepared to play out the season and become a free agent, multiple sources told

The Nuggets’ strong start, coupled with George Karl’s inspirational return from cancer treatment and positive discussions about a contract extension for the soon-to-be-1,000-win coach, have the organization feeling they've done everything possible to persuade Anthony to stay. But according to people with knowledge of the team’s strategy, if Anthony doesn’t agree to sign the three-year, $65 million extension by the Feb. 24 trade deadline, the wheels are all but certain to be put in motion to part ways with the three-time All-Star rather than lose him as a free agent and get nothing in return.

According to people in contact with the Nuggets’ management team, there is far more clarity today about what the team is seeking in a potential Anthony trade than there was in September, when new GM Masai Ujiri was thrust into the tempest in his initial days and weeks on the job. Executives believe the Nuggets have decided they would like to receive the best possible package of young players and are not interested in stopgap options that would hamper their flexibility. Acquiring a high-priced veteran player -- such as Andre Iguodala, whose talent the Nuggets value but not his contract -- would only hurt the team’s ability to build around youth while maintaining payroll flexibility into the uncertainty of a new collective bargaining agreement.

The Nets’ package of 2010 No. 3 pick Derrick Favors, guard Devin Harris, the expiring contract of Kris Humphries and two first-round picks remains the most attractive option to the Nuggets, sources say. Additional trade partners such as Charlotte and Utah are not eager to get involved in the discussions again, but wouldn’t necessarily be needed this time.

The wild card remains Anthony’s desire to sign an extension with the Nets, who obviously would not be willing to offer the same package without such a guarantee. While rival executives continue to doubt that Anthony would be willing to spend the next season-and-a-half in Newark, N.J., sources who have been in close contact with the power brokers in Anthony’s camp -- William Wesley and Leon Rose -- say the Nets remain an option for Anthony.

Anthony and the Nuggets will play Sunday at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks, which remain his top choice via a trade or free agency -- even though the latter option could cost him millions depending on how successful owners are at imposing salary reductions in the new collective bargaining agreement. Sources say Anthony is so fixated on winding up with the Knicks that Denver management has become convinced that he will tempt fate and the new CBA by playing out the entire season in Denver and signing with the Knicks as a free agent on July 1 – or after the lockout. The only way that scenario could be positive for Denver would be in a sign-and-trade deal. But such an arrangement – like the pennies-on-the-dollar deals that sent LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami – would not be nearly as beneficial as what the Nets are offering now.

The Knicks, playing their best basketball in years with free-agent acquisition Amar’e Stoudemire, have believed that their best chance of landing Melo was for the process to play out slowly – and they’ve gotten their wish so far. But the Nuggets, sources say, are not sold on the young players New York could offer such as Anthony Randolph, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. Point guard Raymond Felton -- who has been on an offensive tear since gaining chemistry with Stoudemire and who becomes trade-eligible on Dec. 15 -- also does not interest the Nuggets, who view him as a halfcourt player who wouldn't fit their style.

Nuggets officials are said to be coming around to the idea that Harris could play in the backcourt with Chauncey Billups, who often played shooting guard this past summer with Team USA. But if Anthony is traded, sources say management also wants to show Billups -- who came to the Nuggets not just to come home, but to win -- the proper respect by engaging him in conversations about whether he'd prefer to be traded.

Other than hoping to persuade Anthony to sign the extension and stay in Denver, the biggest variable for the Nuggets is the sliding scale of quality on the Nets’ own first-round pick they’d convey in the trade. (They also would include Golden State’s protected 2012 first-rounder). The sooner the Nuggets trade Melo to New Jersey, the better the Nets get and the worse the pick gets. But that is a matter of timing and patience. As far as willingness to deal, it appears that the Nuggets are finally open for business.

And so are we in the rest of this week’s Post-Ups:

• With the Trail Blazers' obvious struggles and the health challenges (that's putting it mildly) of Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, two people with knowledge of the team's strategy told that Portland management is contemplating trading older players and going young. The obvious targets for such a purge would be Marcus Camby (36), Andre Miller (34), and Joel Przybilla (31). Roy isn’t old, but his knees are -- though one of the sources said Portland would find no takers for the five years and $82.3 million remaining on Roy's contract, given the state of his meniscus-less knees. Przybilla ($7.4 million expiring contract) and Miller (whose $7.8 million salary in 2011-12 is fully non-guaranteed) are eminently moveable. Another candidate to be dealt, though not because of age or health, is Rudy Fernandez, who has wanted out of Portland for some time. Sources caution that the Blazers have engaged in only internal conversations about this strategy, and it is contingent upon the team (10-11) continuing to struggle. But the writing certainly is on the wall for major changes in Portland.

• Multiple NBA team executives told this week they believe a significant number of college underclassmen will stay in school rather than risk losing a year of development (and pay) in a lockout. College coaches making the pitch to underclassman to stay in school will have more leverage than ever before. “They’ll have the hammer,” one exec said. “To lose a year of development at that stage of your career, that’s huge.” This could have a dramatic impact on a team like No. 4 Kansas, which in an ordinary year would have as many as three first-round picks: freshman Josh Selby (serving a nine-game NCAA suspension for accepting improper benefits); and juniors Marcus Morris and Tyshawn Taylor. Sophomore Thomas Robinson also impressed NBA execs scouting the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

• Speaking of Madison Square Garden, rival execs agree that New York would be a logical landing spot for Andre Iguodala, and they believe the Sixers will be more than open to discussing trades for the dynamic but high-priced swingman as the Feb. 24 deadline approaches. The Knicks, one of the few teams in a position to absorb salary in the uncertain labor environment, also would be looking for an attractive piece to pair with Stoudemire in the event the Nuggets follow through with an Anthony trade prior to the deadline. Team president Donnie Walsh would have to decide if, short of Anthony, Iguodala is the best option that will be available to him between now and 2011 free agency -- if and when that happens. And also, if Iguodala is worth giving up the cap flexibility he's toiled three years to create. Pricetag notwithstanding -- the 26-year-old is due $56.5 million over the next four years -- Iguodala would be an excellent fit for Mike D'Antoni's high-octane offense and would instantly become the best defender on the roster by a mile.

• With details of the National Basketball Players Association's July proposal finally becoming fully public Wednesday, the question of how prepared the union is for a lockout is naturally going to come up. According to sources familiar with the union's financial documents, the NBPA currently has just shy of $100 million in liquid assets in its war chest in the event of a lockout. The funds have been accumulated largely through players agreeing to put aside licensing money they receive from the league -- something they are doing again this season to the tune of about $30 million. If you add non-liquid assets, such as property, the union will have about $175 million on hand. This is a lot of money to you and me, but not to 450 NBA players. Consider that the players' salaries (without benefits) last season totaled about $2.3 billion -- with a "b." Now consider that players are paid 12 times during the season -- twice a month for six months. That means the NBPA's total war chest is enough to cover the players' first paychecks during a lockout in the 2011-12 season.

• With trade discussions typically heating up around the 20-game mark -- and also around Dec. 15, when summer free agents become trade-eligible -- execs league-wide are curious to learn what sort of trade climate will exist in light of the labor uncertainty. Many predict that teams that have typically been willing to take on salary between December and the trade deadline (Feb. 24) will be less willing (or unwilling) to do so in this environment. Similarly, teams performing below management's internal expectations (Houston, the Clippers, the Blazers) have a tough decision to make. They could try to fix their problems now, but without knowing what the rules will be under the new agreement, they don't know what conditions they’re planning for. Of the aforementioned teams, the Blazers are in the best position to dump salary because of the attractiveness of the contracts they'd be moving. Plus, Miller's value is not only in his contract, but in his ability to push a contending team in need of a steadying point-guard presence over the top. Full disclosure: this is my idea, not anybody else's, but Orlando would be the perfect landing spot for Miller depending on what the Magic would be willing to send back.


Since: Oct 20, 2008
Posted on: December 9, 2010 4:08 pm

Post-Ups: Nuggets ready to move Melo

  First off i feel your pain as a sixers fan but seriously i doubt everyone hates pro basketball in phili i feel like they are in the same boat as Knicks fans just were. We love our team but they are so embarrassing we don't publicly acknowledge them and it's not worth spending money to see the games live when you know they suck and are going to lose. Plus i merely suggested taking on the extra cap space because the 76ers have been bad for the last six years  and it has been practically the same roster this whole time with some additions. Don't you think if you clearly are in a rebuilding stage and have the opportunity to gut the roster and free up money to bring in new caliber players. Jameison is still a good player and has potential, its just he is on a bad cavs team with no no1 scorer. Jameison needs floor spacing to be effective like when he was in Washington with Arenas and Butler. On the current cavs team he is forced to play more of the 4 position when he is clearly better as a 3. IF the sixers can get him, pick up another big man to work the post (Marc Gasol is a free agent this summer), and pick up a pg (rumor has it the wizards want to get rid of Arenas who is playing very good right now, would be a cheap pickup for the 76ers since all his off-court issues have decreased his value) then the foundation is set to make a run at a winning season maybe an 7 or 8th seed in the playoffs. I know Lou Williams isn't the best pg in the league but if he can learn to spread the ball more instead of scoring then a rebuilt team next year has a good path ahead of it. 

Since: Jun 24, 2010
Posted on: December 9, 2010 3:55 pm

Post-Ups: Nuggets ready to move Melo

The Nuggets traded Camby the off-season before they made the West Finals

Since: Feb 8, 2008
Posted on: December 9, 2010 3:41 pm

Post-Ups: Nuggets ready to move Melo

Hey Women Review. Carmelo is better than Lebron in most aspect of the game. Including a lock down defender.

Lebron is a show boat dunker.

Since: Oct 20, 2010
Posted on: December 9, 2010 3:13 pm

Post-Ups: Nuggets ready to move Melo

WOW...Not a great player? He averaged 28pts per game last year and 30pts per game in the playoffs. How many other players had those numbers? He is definitely top 10 if not top 5 in the game and that makes him great. Give him respect where respect is due. Without him the Nuggets don't even make the playoffs.

Since: Oct 20, 2010
Posted on: December 9, 2010 3:10 pm

Post-Ups: Nuggets ready to move Melo

You Denver fans that are already wishing him ill will are idiots. Blame your dumb front office for shipping away Camby right after they reached the Western Conference Finals. Billups is the closest thing they have added as a complementary piece and let's face it, Chauncey is getting worse not better. After all that Mello has done to carry the Nuggets on his back he deserves more respect.
If he wants to go home or to another team it's his choice at least he's handling it in a classy manner unlike you bitter, casual fans.
If Mello wins in NY he immediately becomes a living legend, he knows this.

Since: May 26, 2009
Posted on: December 9, 2010 2:51 pm

Post-Ups: Nuggets ready to move Melo

You're right. Melo has not really played up to his potential, so I say, Good riddence. And, I also applaude the rest of the Nuggets for holding it together and letting everyone know that there is life after Melo. Don't get me wrong, in the past he has been a good player, not a great player. Has never been chosen MVP, but he actually thinks he ranks in this category.

Since: Sep 20, 2010
Posted on: December 9, 2010 1:34 pm

Hey Knicks - if you wait he will come

Remember the 'Field of Dreams' - If you build it they will come? It's almost hard to believe that Melo isn't a future Knick. Why would he want NY to get rid of good players that he cold have on his upcoming 2011 team. Melo will get paid and people will stand in line to do it, the lockout will not change that. When I was a kid I wanted to play for my favorite team when I got older; I'm thinking Melo is going to make that happen (remember Shaq and wanting to be a Laker - Orlando does) and the Knicks are gonna be very lucky in 2011. The Nets are offering a ton and a small injury could devistate the team for years, they must have a heck of a marketing plan for Melo. No. 3 Favors, Harris, and two future no. 1s that's almost a starting 5 as no. 1s are supposed to be starters soon. Ooops Melo has to want to go and who will be left on the team for him to play with? I think the Nets should try and drive up the price for Melo and maybe that's what they are doing and hope the Knicks bite. I think the Knicks should offer like a single average player and a no. 1 for Melo since the Nuggets have a good shot at nothing and the Nuggets may take it at trade deadline. Remember the Magic got nothing for Shaq, nothing and a young Shaq was the best player in the league over a bunch of years and everyone knew it. The Knicks looking good will only help Melo wait and make the Nuggets suffer.

Since: Mar 12, 2008
Posted on: December 9, 2010 12:23 pm

Post-Ups: Nuggets ready to move Melo

Cant blame Melo for wanting to go somewhere with some other "STAR" players blame the dumbasses in Miami

Since: Dec 20, 2009
Posted on: December 9, 2010 11:59 am

Post-Ups: Nuggets ready to move Melo

this limp dick POS has been sandbagging all year. what strong start are they talking about? melo has let his woman neuter him and lead him around on a leash so she can market her unknown and untalented a$$ in a "big city". I used to really like this guy and respect his passion for the game but ever since the big 3 signed in miami he has become a jealous, self centered brat. I hope denver gets some good young players who want to win and will play hard every night. worst of luck in your next stop melo.

Since: Sep 26, 2009
Posted on: December 9, 2010 11:38 am

Post-Ups: Nuggets ready to move Melo

Melo should go to the Knicks

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