Tag:Masai Ujiri
Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:46 am
Edited on: December 14, 2011 6:52 am

The Nuggets, free of Melo, control their destiny

By Matt Moore

When trading a superstar, you look at two options. You can try and aim for a similar, albeit lesser star, or you can aim for financial flexibility and young players. When the Denver Nuggets traded Camelo Anthony last February, they received young players and financial flexibility, but they also recieved something better. Choice. 

The team was not so devastated by Anthony's deparure as to be forced into a pure rebuilding episode. They had young players like Arron Afflalo, Ty Lawson, and got back more in the form of Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov. But they also had cap room to bring in someone, or, if they wanted to bring back Nene. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that's just what they did, inking the 29-year-old to a 5-year, $67 million deal which puts him at less per year than Marc Gasol, and which is less than the reported four-year, $70 million offer from the Nets. In locking up Nene, the Nuggets are entering into exciting but dangerous territory.

The Nuggets can compete for the playoffs right now. If Lawson continues his progression and Gallinari becomes a full-fledged star and young players like Jordan Hamilton and Kenneth Faried contribute anything, along with Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer, who the Nuggets acquired Tuesday in a trade with Dallas, then Nene allows them to push for as high as a five-seed in the West. With the Lakers undergoing signs of a possible implosion and Dallas clearing space for 2012, along with San Antonio's age finally wreaking havoc on them, the Thunder really only stand as a major long-term challenge in the West, provided the Clippers don't get Chris Paul. A deep, talented, versatile team with depth, size, experience, youth, athleticism and range? The Nuggets have everything you'd want in an all-around collection of talent.

The Nuggets are expected to zero in on restricted free agent Arron Afflalo, according to Berger, and as a result, will have a killer lineup of Lawson-Afflalo-Gallinari with some combination of frontcourt players beside Nene filling out the roster. They'll still have long-term flexibility, with only Al Harrington standing as a major impediment and will still have the amnesty clause as a weapon to use to clear space. Most of that cap space will be absorbed by extensions for Lawson, Gallinari, and potentially Mozgov, but that doesn't alter the fact that they can use those contracts and players to upgrade or go in different directions.

Still, the re-signing of Nene has its drawbacks. They are a win-now team. They are not aiming for the next superstar, they're trying to grow one out of either Lawson, Gallinari, or, less likely, Nene. They're trying to catch lightning in a bottle and that's a difficult act in the NBA. It's said that the worst thing you can do is end up in NBA purgatory, a constant 5-8 seed playoff team who never winds up going anywwhere. But the Nuggets might get to have their cake and eat it, too. With the kind of young roster they have, and a viable anchor in Nene to bolster the interior, Denver can have it both ways.

Masai Ujiri caught flak from everyone for waiting on the Melo deal last fall, seemingly squandering opportunities to get better deals. Instead, not only did he take in a king's ransom for Anthony, he has converted that haul and the cap space it afforded into a team that isn't struggling to fill roster spots, one that can take risks and make savvy moves, a team on the rise that can also compete now. There's no telling where Ujiri will take the Nuggets over the next several years, but unlike so many franchises beholden to the fate of one player, the Nuggets have options, now.

Wherever they're going, it's their decision which path to take.
Posted on: December 2, 2011 1:44 pm

Friday 5 with KB: Back in the habit

By Matt Moore

In this week's edition of 
the Friday 5, we ask KB about what the Hornets and Magic should do, what the Bulls are looking for, and when things will pick up for free agency. You can follow Ken Berger on Twitter @KBergCBS

1. Good gravy we started fast, didn't we? If you were going to tell the Hornets and Magic one thing that you learned from the Melo Debacle, what would it be?

Ken Berger, CBSSports.com:  Don't panic. Nuggets VP Masai Ujiri's best trait during the Melodrama was patience. He surveyed the landscape, recognized what cards he was dealt, and let everything play out until he extracted the best deal he could get under the circumstances. He also cultivated a positive relationship with Anthony so there was mutual trust. Otis Smith must do this with Dwight Howard, and Dell Demps with Chris Paul. But having said all this, the time pressure on the Magic and Hornets will be exponentially greater than it was on the Nuggets, who always knew they held the key to Anthony getting a max extension with the team of his choice. My reading of the new rules is that Orlando and New Orleans can't risk their stars playing this out and getting to free agency. If they do, there will be considerable angst and even more considerable risk that their stars will leave and they'll get nothing in return. One more thing, while we're on the subject: The Magic and Hornets have the benefit of a shortened season, which would make the short-term ramifications of a blow-it-up-and-start-over trade fairly fleeting. Plus, cap space in a better free-agent market next summer and a superb draft could speed the reloading process.

2. What are the Bulls looking for in a two-guard?

KB:  They're looking for more offensive production, but aren't willing to break the bank to get it. They'd like to upgrade, but they did win 62 games with Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer at the two. Not a catastrophe if they don't make a major upgrade, and they're definitely not going to overpay. Jason Richardson is the best fit basketball-wise, but not sure how he'd otherwise fit -- and the Bulls may want someone younger who can grow with Derrick Rose.

3. Nene's clearly the biggest name out there. But sussing out his motivations has been tricky. Is he looking for the money? The ring? Some combination of the two?

KB:  Well, if he pushes for a trade to Miami (no assets) or Dallas (some), he'd be signaling that he wants to win. But this might be the only chance he'll get in his career to get a max deal. Only in this free-agent class could a guy who averages 14 points and seven rebounds get a deal starting at more than $17 million.

4. Players are reportedly going to vote on the deal on December 8th, with training camps starting December 9th. Do we always have to cut these things so damn close? (Marty McFly'd)

KB:  Yeah, it's going to go down to the wire. It's going to be a marathon for the lawyers to get this deal in shape and resolve all the B-list issues in time to vote. Same thing happened after NFL lockout, when players essentially voted as they reported to camp. Once all the heavy lifting is done over the next few days, the voting process for both sides should be a formality -- with one exception. Do dissident agents have enough support from clients to get Billy Hunter ousted as executive director of the NBPA as a condition of ratification? My overwhelming opinion is no, but the way this process has gone, expect another flareup of drama before it's over.

5. How much of a scramble are front office executives in to try and figure out this deal which isn't even done yet?

KB:  That's why there's been so little real activity; agents and teams are trying to digest what players are worth under the new rules, what the new rules are, and what impact they will have on their books/strategy for the next few years. I think you'll begin to see teams begin to make firm offers over the weekend, and the activity will pick up starting Monday.
Posted on: February 21, 2011 11:50 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2011 12:59 am

Melo trade: No one man should have all that power

Carmelo Anthony is a New York Knick, and it's clear that he's been the one running the show from the beginning. But is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Posted by Matt Moore

It's over. It's finally over. Carmelo Anthony has been traded to the New York Knicks along with Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, and Anthony Carter for Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Timofey Mozgov, along with the Knicks' 2014 first round pick according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.  

And for Melo? He wins. Beyond everything else, beyond the Nuggets' posturing and threats, beyong New York's cool stance which evaporated into dust, and beyond the desperate attempts by the Nets, including an embarassing crawl back into talks over All-Star Weekend, Carmelo Anthony won.  He got what he wanted, to go to a major market and play next to a star in Amar'e Stoudemire. He got it how he wanted it, under an extension to provide him with financial security under a max deal. And he got it when he wanted it, before the new CBA could be put in place, improving chances that he'll get to hold on to as much money as possible. 

It's day 236 of the Melodrama, and that's the last time we're going to use that phrase. Anthony has pulled off one of the most stunning coups by a player in recent history, and managed to only need eight months to get it done. So, good work there, Melo. Next time, throw us a bone and pull it off a little faster? Actually, we take that back. Don't ever do this to us again. Ever. Please. We're literally begging you. 

This trade represents the extension of what started this summer with "The Decision" and LeBron James and Chris Bosh being wined and dined by executives with proposals, plans, and fan initiatives. We're in a new era, and the players are running the shots. Perhaps that more than anything signifies the key clash involved in this summer's CBA talks. Anthony was able to not only demand a trade from a playoff team, but designate where he wanted to go, and have it done the season he wanted to go. 

We'll never know for sure if Anthony was willing to leave the money on the table to go to New York had he not been traded, nor will we know if he would have accepted a trade to the Nets had the Knicks not gave in and essentially offered up everything but their own children in this deal. What we know is that Melo now joins Amar'e Stoudemire, and that in and of itself is exciting, and weird. 

Carmelo Anthony has a usage rate of 32.5% of all possessions, while Amar'e has a usage of 31.7%. Those are obscene numbers for taking up possessions.  The two are going to have to now work alongside the biggest stars they have ever played with. Melo wanted to be a big star on the big stage, but let's be clear. Amar'e Stoudemire did not go to New York to be a sidekick. We'll have to see how they work alongside together and how Melo adapts to the high pace of Mike D'Antoni's system which also emphasises ball movement. This isn't going to be seamless. Yes, Melo was acquired and yes, he is the star jewel they wanted to add (one of three, it would seem). But there is a degree of concern here and all that's before we look at New York as a team

But all that's for another day. This is a big day of victory for Melo, for CAA, for Leon Rose, and the ever-expanding power of the William Wesley power base, who have just extricated an All-Star from his team and moved him to the team they wanted to move him to. You have to appreciate how Melo's handled all this, even if he started to crack at the end. He's managed not to get fined through this entire process. Think about that. All these questions, all this pressure, all this nonsense, and he managed not to get fined once for his comments. He also managed not to alienate the Nuggets into trading him somewhere he didn't want to go, and managed to secure meetings with Knicks ownership to make him feel good about the future. 

Is this a good thing? We've got Chris Paul in New Orleans, Dwight Howard in Orlando, and Deron Williams in Utah. They're all capable of being free agents in 2012. And a pattern has been set. Sure, it was annoying for Melo for a few months, and hard on his team. But in the end, Anthony got what he wanted, and gets to reap the rewards of playing in a major market and all the endorsements that go along with it. The parties, the glamor, all of it. Of course, he may have set back his ability to win a title because of what was required to get him, but he won't be blamed for that. He'll get to enjoy it, as will his wife La La Vasquez, who has wanted this for a while. 

Behind every man with an inflated sense of self worth is an ambitious woman seeking another television deal.

This is the ultimate empowerment of the athlete, to the degree of forcing teams into decisions they didn't necessarily want to make, and doing so on their terms. A dangerous precedent has been set for NBA players, where the way to win? Team up, even if it means forcing your team to walk the plank. That Denver managed to get out of this with a favorable set of assets is their good fortune, especially after the way they bungled this for six months.  But it doesn't change the fact that Denver's now rebuilding, because Anthony wanted to leave. That's it. No complicated set of initiatives, no overwrought ideas of clashing philosophies, the Nuggets weren't looking to move in a different direction. Melo got what he wanted, when he wanted it, how he wanted it. Welcome to the new NBA landscape of player power plays. 

Now we'll have to see if he's worth even a fraction of the drama (see, we told you we weren't saying it again) he's created for us. 

Welcome to New York, Carmelo. Hope you're ready, because the pressure does not end now. 

For more on our coverage of the Carmelo Anthony trade to New York, check out:

Ken Berger's report on the breaking deal

Royce Young discusses the impact the deal has on the Knicks. 

Ben Golliver hands out trade grades and winners & losers.
Posted on: February 17, 2011 9:35 am
Edited on: February 17, 2011 9:36 am

Report: Nuggets want Knicks' farm for Melo

Report indicates Nuggets asked Knicks for four of top six players including Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, and Gallinari.
Posted by Matt Moore

Photo via Getty Images, illustration via Eye on Basketball. Laughs out loud via Masai Ujiri.

Basically, the next things Masai Ujiri's going to ask for are the fillings out of Donnie Walsh's teeth and Mike D'Antoni's mustache. That's pretty much all that's left for them to ask in exchange for Melo if a report out of New York Times is accurate. From the Times

According to a Knicks official, Denver wants Raymond Felton, Landry Fields, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari — four of their top six players — for Carmelo Anthony and an aging Chauncey Billups. The Nuggets have also asked about Timofey Mozgov.
via Knicks Making Progress. Will They Make a Deal? - NYTimes.com.

Oh, and the New York Post reports that first-rounder via the Timberwolves for Anthony Randolph is a requisite, too. Next on the list are "all the tea in China," "Fort Knox," "a pet Chupacabra" and "the top floor of the Empire State Building."  This is an absurd asking price, even as a starter, even for an All-Star starter. The Nuggets apparently think that Carmelo Anthony can play every position on the floor except point guard and power forward.  The Knicks would never surrender Gallinari and Fields in any scenario, not when one is a high-upside, high-percentage perimeter threat and the other is in the top five for Rookie of the Year. Raymond Felton is even a stretch, even if they were getting Chauncey Billups back in the deal. This isn't just too much. It's what happens when you ask for too much, then decide to throw in some extra wishes on top. 

This is pretty much the model of what Masai Ujiri has done in these negotiations. Ask for too much, from a position of weakness, then ask for more. We're fairly certain if the Knicks had somehow, someway agreed to that deal, Ujiri would have then asked for the Rockettes. 

As Ken Berger reported Wednesday, Knicks GM Donnie Walsh won't be freaking out over these talks. If Denver wants to continue throwing out ridiculous price tags in an effort to get a steal right up until the last minute, he's content to let them stimmer in their own absurd demands. The Knicks stomped the fourth-seeded Hawks last night to get a much needed win, will be making the playoffs regardless, and the future is bright with or without Melo. The fact that Denver is desperate enough to be trying to get what amounts to one of the most ridiculous deals this side of the Pau Gasol trade actually only further puts into relief how much they're flirting with disaster here. 

Even if they've moved towards a reasonable compromise from this starting position, you have to wonder just who it is that Masai Ujiri thinks he's got here. Melo is a top talent. An All-Star. But no rings, little defense, and not a legend. 

But apparently he's got a legend's asking price. 

No one's giving up that much for Carmelo Anthony, except Isiah Thomas. And he's not calling the shots. Yet
Posted on: February 16, 2011 4:41 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2011 4:43 pm

Melo can't have it both ways

Carmelo Anthony has been under a lot of stress with all the media attention for something he had no part in. Wait, no, he had total part in it. Nevermind. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Carmelo Anthony is starting to tick me off. 

Throughout this entire debacle, there's been little to argue with when it comes to how Anthony has conducted himself. After all, he's played to his usual standard of excellence, helped the Nuggets firmly into the playoff race, hasn't openly demanded nor discussed a trade, and has, at least on the surface, done his part to try and not let the whole circus act disrupt his team. He's not flipping out in the locker room after losses or giving out false promises to the Denver fans. He's been steady, calm, cool, and collected. 

But now? Now he's starting to buy into the machine a bit and he's getting further and further from the reality.

From the AP:

Anthony said he's ready for a resolution, even though he insists he's not fretting about what might happen as the Feb. 24 trade deadline approaches. 
"I know something will have to happen whether I sign the extension or whether the Nuggets move me or whatever," said Anthony, who is averaging 24.9 points per game this year. "Something is going to happen, so I try not to stress myself out about it." 
That doesn't mean he can avoid the hours upon hours of coverage devoted to one of the NBA's biggest stars. He said he can "see" all the rumors out there, no longer needing to turn on the television in his hotel room. 
"I turn on the TV, and I turn it right back off because it's always something, it's always a new team, always a rumor, always this person saying that, that person saying this," he said. "I try not to pay attention to it." 
It isn't easy. He acknowledged his thoughts keep turning to a murky future that he hopes begins to clear in a few days. But first, he'll have to get past at least one more major session with the media over the All-Star break. 
"I know they're going to be looking to talk to me. And I'm going to be in L.A. for the All-Star weekend and every media outlet is going to be there, so it's going to be a 'MeloWatch,' I guess," he said.
via Nuggets' Anthony ready for end to 'MeloWatch' - NBA - CBSSports.com Basketball.

See, now, Melo, you've lost the sympathy card. Why? Because you tried to play it. The Knicks didn't start this. The Nuggets didn't start this. Anthony, and his handlers started this. Anthony was offered an extension early last summer by the Nuggets. If he wanted to avoid scrutiny, avoid the media asking questions, avoid the attention that comes with a trade request, then he shouldn't have made one. Sign the extension and all that goes away. He's a Nugget, their star, and he's not going anywhere. Case closed. But Anthony wanted to play somewhere else. And that's fine. He's in a position to negotiate his way out before the CBA. In fact, giving the Nuggets a heads up so they can get something of value back versus the scraps Toronto and Cleveland got this summer was actually doing them a favor. 

But there are consequences to our decisions. If Anthony wants to go to a big market where he'll get more attention and be more strongly considered as a star by the New York media, that's his choice, and he's entitled to it. But he's not entitled to have his cake and eat it too. Or, given that he wants to sign an extension, and be traded, and not have to deal with the media hounding him, he needs to realize he can't have his cake, eat it, and not have to deal with the weight gain. You can't have it both ways, Melo. You want to be a star? You want to make a trade demand? That's up to you. But the consequence is that people are going to ask you about it, because they want to know. And even though the media will get criticized for over-covering the story, it's you who started this chain of events. 

The next logical response is to say that Melo didn't publicly demand a trade, that he made it in secret. Do you really think the Denver Nuggets received a trade request from Anthony or his people and then decided to leak it? What possible incentive do they have to losing that kind of leverage. Masai Ujiri hasn't exactly handled this thing beautifully, but he hasn't bungled it like that. It was Anthony's people who leaked this, to apply pressure to Denver. And that's fine, that's the best way to get what their client wants. But again, you don't get to then play the pity card, or take your hat off to yourself, or act like you're dealing adversity this year because of it. 

Anthony lost his sister this year. That's something terribly rough to deal with. He came back and played like an All-Star. He deserves to be commended for that. He's kept his head up on the floor through this losing streak and not freaked out on the team. He hasn't spouted off at the media, which, yes, can get annoying. But he also has no high ground in this conversation. 

In the muck of The Great Melo Mudfight of 2010-2011, Anthony was the first one with soil on his hands. 

(For the latest on the situation Melo himself created and doesn't want, check out Ken Berger's Post-Ups where Donnie Walsh is amused by all the Melo Panic.)
Posted on: February 16, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2011 3:55 pm

Trade Deadline: Shootout at the Ujiri Corral

With the Nuggets, Knicks, and Anthony facing off in a trade standoff, we breakdown who's got leverage and how. 
Posted by Matt moore

CBSSports.com's Ken Berger today reports on the Knicks' ability to stand fast through this Melo panic inspired by the media and what is probably some manipulation out of the Mile High City. But who exactly has leverage in this situation? Let's try to break it down. 

What we've got here is a good ol' fashioned standoff. It's a three-way staredown between Donnie Walsh, Masai Ujiri, and Carmelo Anthony. But as this thing heads towards it (please, God, we beg you) ending in the next week and a day, who actually has the leverage here? Because everyone seems to know for sure who's in control of the situation. Let's break down our duelers while the tumbleweeds fly by.

Masai Ujiri 

Have you noticed how in the last two weeks there's been a flood of columns, posts, and tweets saying how Denver is willing to not trade Anthony should they fail to get the ridiculously massive set of assets they're looking for? That's because someone or someones in Denver has been pushing this angle like their life depended on it. Denver is really trying to set the narrative publicly that they are not afraid to just wait and roll the dice with getting an extension done with Anthony, possibly leading to losing him with nothing in return. The reason they've been pushing that narrative so hard?

It's their lat bullet in the gun.  The phrase "they keep moving the goalposts" is repeatedly used in relation to Ujiri, who has continually pushed trade partners past the point of reason now three separate times. It's been his insistence with trying to get just a little bit more out of every deal that's seemingly done that has led to two deals with New Jersey falling through, and a third with New York on the brink. Ujiri wants to get the most he can out of the most important deal of his young GM career. That's fine. But at some point he's killing off teams' willingness to deal with him, over Melo or his other players, because he's simply too much of a hassle. Ujir knows he's against a wall, with Melo having played the cool, calm, and collected trade target, even pushing a public image of being the victim in all this, and having the ability to simply walk away this summer. Ujiri knows that should Melo simply leave what he's staring at. Aaron Afflalo and Ty Lawson are nice young pieces, and Nene is a quality veteran center in this league. Guess what? Ramon Sessions and J.J. Hickson are nice young pieces, and Antawn Jamison is a quality veteran forward in this league. And you see what has become of the palace that now lies in ruins where once King James held court in Cleveland. That's a ridiculously overdramatic piece of prose, but you get what I'm saying. You can have nice pieces, cap flexibility (like the Nuggets will have), and a veteran to build around. But if you lose your star, your superstar, your All-Star? You're taking a monumental step backwards and if you get nothing in return you're looking at the worst of all scenarios, NBA purgatory. Purgatory where you're filling in over-priced veteran free agents trying to squeeze together a playoff team around a support structure without a star. 

Ujiri is determined to play this to the bone, and he's definitely done that so far. But we've seen his prospective return value drop, and then drop again.  He went from three firsts, Devin Harris, and Derrick Favors, to now trying to weasel out a pick from where there is none to pull. Were this a simple trade situation for a star on a long-term contract, he wouldn't have this problem. A trade with Houston, with young players, talented veterans, expiring contracts, and multiple picks, including the Knicks' in 2012. A trade with Golden State, or Dallas. But those options don't exist, because at the end of the day, Anthony has played this well, and shown that he's perfectly willing to lose money to avoid playing somewhere he doesn't want to be. Luckily for Ujiri, part of him is still okay with the idea of signing with Denver.  But if they keep playing hardball, how long's that going to last? 

Ujiri is shaking his gun and making threats all over this faceoff. The problem is, the other participants know that gun's almost empty.

Donnie Walsh

So what of Walsh? Why isn't he scrambling for trade partners, mortgaging the future, trying to rip his own nails out to get Carmelo Anthony? As Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports Wednesday: he doesn't have to.  Walsh is well aware that he's the only one negotiating with Denver, that the odds of Mikhail Prokhorov entering the fray at the last minute while swallowing his considerable pride are pretty low. Walsh knows that in free agency, he'll have more than enough to cover Anthony regardless of how the CBA works out (as a source told Berger, "I don’t care what the cap comes in at, they can get the guy. I've done the math a million times.") Walsh isn't scrambling because he doesn't have to. He'll sit back, offer reasonable packages for Melo based off of what the Knicks can offer without sacrificing too much, and sit back. If Denver decides to call the bluff and not trade Melo before the deadline, and Anthony responds by running scared to the sure money, how will Walsh respond?

He'll just go back to work. If Walsh misses out on Melo, he'll work to build depth with his newfound cap space following Eddy Curry's contract expiring, then wait for 2012. You know, 2012, when Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Dwight Howard could conceivably be free agents. Carmelo Anthony is not the only All-Star fish in the sea. Walsh has been around a while. He's not going to overreact or over-extend a franchise that habitually over-extended itself for years, causing the whol mess in the first place. He'll be patient, while opportunistic. There's this feeling that the Knicks are a failure because they're not ready to compete for a championship. But this Knicks team wasn't assembled around a 2-3 year window. It was built for long-term sustainability. The cost of that is patience and a deliberate approach. Not selling the barn to get the cow. 

This is a no-lose for the Knicks, no matter how Denver is trying to spin it, or how the New York media is freaking out for it. Get Melo, add a superstar, advance the process. Don't get Melo, add more support, focus on 2012. The Knicks have the money, the market, and the minds. As long as Dolan doesn't oo off half-Zeked, they're set no matter what. 

Carmelo Anthony

Oh, Melo. It sounded like such a good idea back in the summer, didn't it? Get traded to a a big market contender, have the life your friends in Miami are enjoying, get the extension for long-term financial stability, go back to playing ball only in a bigger spotlight. Must have seemed like such an easy dream to pursue. Unfortunately for you, the Nuggets have at once played this brilliantly and terribly and the result is the pressure being back on you. 

The new angle is "Oh, Melo better sign the extension because he could be financially ruined if you don't!" Except that Melo is still making tens of millions of dollars no matter what. Year in, and year out.  Melo did recently say "If I sit here and tell you I'm willing to lose $15 to $20 million, then I'd be lying to you."  But that ignores a number of factors. Like the amount of money he'd make from non-basketball ventures in New York compared to Denver. This isn't a knock on Denver. It's a major market. It's just not New York. The money is simply better there. It's the same principle as to why the Lakers got billions for their TV deal. It's just market economics. Furthermore, everyone seems to be still glossing over the fact that if Anthony signs the extension, it could get rolled back. Then he'd be making the same money he would have been in New York, only for a team he doesn't want to play for in a market his wife's not big on on a team that's not contending for a title. 

Good times!

Anthony has played this as cool as a cucumber so far. He hasn't exposed himself as being desperate to be traded or to get the extension signed. Hes' been very reasonable and cool with his approach. Anthony doesn't in fact know what's going to happen. That's why his situation differs so greatly from LeBron James' and Chris Bosh's this summer. Those guys knew what the variables were for their entrance into the free market. Melo has too many variables to count. The CBA could impact his current contract, his future contract, the cap space for free agent suitors, the Nuggets, the contract length, and all of this is before we approach the possibility that if he doesn't get moved, the Nuggets could slap a franchise tag on him if that gets implemented. 

Melo has control over this situation, but if he cracks just a bit, it could be the kind of mistake that haunts him for the rest of his career. There's no easy answer here.
Posted on: February 8, 2011 12:34 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2011 1:34 pm

Report: Lakers step into Melo talks

Are the Lakers in pursuit of a Carmelo Anthony trade?
Posted by Matt Moore

You knew it was only really a matter of time, really. The Los Angeles Lakers don't let opportunities to obtain star players go by unnoticed. That's not what they do. 

ESPN reports: 
The Denver Nuggets have had preliminary discussions with the Los Angeles Lakers on a Carmelo Anthony trade, league sources told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard on Tuesday.

The Lakers' package would be built around center Andrew Bynum. Denver has no interest in Ron Artest and isn't particularly interested in Lamar Odom either, sources said. A straight-up deal of Bynum for Anthony works financially, but there could be other players involved since Denver would look to shed more salary if possible.
via Sources: Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets have initial Carmelo Anthony talks - ESPN Los Angeles .

Before you ingest this information and get all excited, I'd like to give you this: it's a 12-foot-by-12-foot piece of salt. 

For the Lakers to do this deal would mean surrendering their true biggest advantage, their overwhelming size. Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom make up a 20'10'' rotating frontcourt. It's the reason they're able to disrupt so many passes, because passing between them is like floating a frisbee through a forest of sequoias. Taking on Anthony removes that element, as Pau Gasol would shift to center, and Odom to power forward. There's no big, physical force down low to guard the beasts or deter drives. Pau Gasol's an able defender, but he's not the same intimidating force Bynum is, even considering his injury issues. 

Furthermore, bringing Carmelo Anthony on would mean a largely decreased role for Kobe Bryant, and the rest of the Lakers. Are Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, and Ron Artest willing to take fewer shots? Because that's what it would mean. Otherwise you're talking about bringing on a largely offensive player and asking him not to shoot as much. And Jim Buss, who is heavily involved from the organization's perspective, is notoriously pro-Bynum. Frank Isola of the New York Daily News  reports that Buss shot down such an offer recently .

And that's just from the Lakers' perspective. What about the fact that in this deal, the Nuggets would pick up no pick? The Lakers traded their 2011 first-rounder to the Nets (who ironically had included it in their initial bid for Anthony).  So the Nugggets would not be able to acquire a first-round pick this season in the deal. They would go from the Nets deal (Harris, Favors, three first-rounders) to Andrew Bynum and no pick. That's the bottom of the barrel. Bynum's a fine player, when healthy, and can be a monster as he gets older (when healthy), but I'm not sure he's worth even the proposed Knicks deal (when healthy). Are you getting a pattern yet? 

But on the other hand, the Lakers always have a way of getting their man, and as Masai Ujiri continues to frustrate GMs with his insistence on "more, more, more." By continuing that play, he may set himself up to get less than what he wants.  Adding Anthony would add a fourth All-Star level player to the Lakers, making them not just the most talented team in the league, which they already are, but one of the most talented teams in NBA history. 

There's one more element to consider here. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak almost never does deals in public. The Pau Gasol trade came out of nowhere. Each deal he does is done very close to the ground and the Lakers' organization is notoriously leak-proof. So if the Lakers aren't the ones leaking this trade, who is?  It may be an effort from the Nuggets to exert more leverage (lost in the Nets breakdown) on their dealings with New York, or it could be Melo's representatives putting pressure on New York to step up. 

The tangled web gets even more tangled. These are the days of our Melo.
Posted on: February 6, 2011 2:00 am
Edited on: February 6, 2011 2:02 am

Wolves involved in latest N.Y. Melo talks

Knicks moving in closer on Carmelo Anthony. Again. Yes, it's different this time. We think.
Posted by Matt Moore

On Friday in his Post-Ups, Ken Berger shared the following update to the Knicks' pursuit of Carmelo Anthony: 

While the Nuggets realize they will have to seriously engage the Knicks in trade talks for Anthony before the Feb. 24 deadline, a third team already has stepped into the on-deck circle as a potential facilitator if talks between Denver and New York ever gain traction. That team, sources say, is the Timberwolves, who are willing to absorb Eddy Curry's $11.3 million expiring contract in a three-team scenario that would send Anthony Randolph to Minnesota and Anthony to New York. In this scenario, which one executive involved deemed "unlikely," the Wolves would simply waive Curry after the trade. Depending on the timing, Curry would likely have only five paychecks remaining for a total of $4.7 million. So taking on Curry would involve little or no cost to Minnesota; if the Wolves could negotiate a $3 million buyout covering the remainder of Curry's salary, that tab would be fully picked up by the Knicks, who could send as much as $3 million cash to Minnesota in the trade. But Curry's $11.3 million cap number would help make the complicated trade math work in a three-team deal.
via Only time will tell if Mavs have what it takes to win out West - NBA - CBSSports.com Basketball.

Saturday night, Chris Broussard confirmed the report and added a few more specific names to the deal being discussed: 

In the proposed trade, New York would send Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry to Minnesota and the Timberwolves would send Corey Brewer and a first-round pick to Denver. Denver would also receive Wilson Chandler from New York. The deal is not expected to happen until the middle of next week at the earliest, and one source said it could drag out until the trade deadline. Denver, which has been exchanging proposals with the Knicks for the past couple weeks, is weighing other options.

via Sources: New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves discuss Carmelo deal - ESPN New York.

Ken Berger reports Saturday night that the deal has not progressed further since his report Friday afternoon. 

This deal isn't a disaster. In a way, everyone gets what they want: 

  • The Knicks get Melo.
  • The Timberwolves get Anthony Randolph who they inexplicably want. 
  • The Nuggets get a viable veteran wing to fill-in for Melo in the hopes of keeping them in the playoff race. They also get Corey Brewer who's a capable wing defender and still young.  The first round pick is a nice asset as well. 

But there is some context here. The Knicks get away free here, turning Wilson Chandler, Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph into Carmelo Anthony, which they've been after since the summer. The Wolves, though? Despite continuing issues between Brewer and his agent and Wolves' management, giving up on Brewer and a first rounder just to get Anthony Randolph and a little bit of cap space is a pretty steep deal. But the worst of this comes for Denver. 

Should Denver accept this deal or be forced to accept this deal to avoid losing Melo for nothing, they go from the Nets' offer of Devin Harris, three first rounders and Derrick Favors for Melo and Chauncey Billups to Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewer, and one first rounder. That's a terrible downgrade in return. It would represent a tremendous loss of leverage if the Nuggets are cornered into this deal. The Nuggets had reportedly held the Knicks at arms-length based on their lack of assets. Thanks to the Wolves and Mikhail Prokhorov's cutting off talks, Donnie Walsh may have found a way to get Melo at the right price after all. 

Kahn worked under Walsh with the Indiana Pacers from 1995 until 2004. 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com