The ouster of adviser Bret Bearup from the Nuggets' basketball operations was a long time coming, according to rival executives who have dealt with the team's dysfunctional front-office structure for years. But the real question is: How will the latest shakeup in Denver affect Carmelo Anthony?
Answer: Too early to tell, but it certainly doesn't make it more likely that he'll be traded.
Let me explain.
Bearup, an unofficial adviser to outgoing owner Stan Kroenke, is said to have been a proponent of trading Anthony rather than losing him as a free agent after the season and getting nothing in return. So Bearup has been an active voice in trade discussions, sources said, seeking out potential suitors and scenarios even as newly hired GM Masai Ujiri was preaching patience.
So it's significant that Stan Kroenke's son, Josh, who has been handed nearly complete control of the organization, was able to move Bearup out of the picture. Sources say rival executives had been told in recent days that Bearup was no longer authorized to discuss the team's personnel decisions, a stunning development to teams that had become accustomed to Bearup wielding significant power due to his close relationship with Stan Kroenke.
When I caught up with Stan Kroenke in September after a Board of Governors meeting in New York and asked him for his thoughts on trading Anthony, he said, "That's going to be Josh's decision." The fact that Stan had handed that much responsibility to Josh at such a critical juncture for the organization may have been the first sign that Bearup was on the outs.
"I think with Josh taking over, he was able to start with a clean slate," said one executive who has dealt with the Nuggets on personnel issues in the past.
But will this shakeup, first reported Tuesday by Yahoo! Sports , ultimately determine whether Anthony is traded or not? That's a stretch. One thing for sure is that the Nuggets' brass will now operate more secretively and from a unified power source, which has not been the case in recent years. The lack of clarity rival executives ran into this past summer in communicating with Denver officials was nothing new; it dated back to the awkward duo of Mark Warkentien and Rex Chapman, who did not get along and were ultimately let go in the first phase of this purge.
One thing to remember in all of this: Ujiri was stung by Chris Bosh's departure from Toronto as a free agent and clearly wants to avoid a similar situation with Melo. Whatever the Nuggets do, they're likely to be more transparent about it than they have in the past. If nothing else, when GMs call Denver now, they'll at least be able to figure out who's making the decisions.