Tag:Denver Nuggets
Posted on: October 29, 2010 2:07 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2010 2:08 pm

Friday 5 with KB: Melo, Knicks and extensions

Posted by Matt Moore

Each week we'll be bringing you five questions for our own Ken Berger of CBSSports.com about the inside happenings of the league. This week, Ken talks about the contraction issues , Denver's objectives in trade talks, and what he's looking forward to this season. You can email your questions to the Friday 5 With KB at cbssportsnba@gmail.com or hit us up on Twitter at @cbssportsnba .

1. Melo, always Melo. Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears reported from Carmelo's chapped lips what you've been saying for weeks, that it's time for a change. Every indication points to him being on his way out, yet the Nuggets go out Wednesday and blast the doors off Utah and raid the liquor cabinets. Is this thing going to hold together long enough for Ujiri to make it to Dec. 15 when free agents are eligible to be dealt... or beyond?

Ken Berger: Dec. 15 of course being when the pool of assets available to construct an acceptable Melo trade is enhanced when summer signees become trade-eligible. But clearly the clock is ticking for the Nuggets, as this is the first time Melo has gone on the record to formally express his desire to find a new home. He is trying to push the agenda by making it clear that he will not be in Denver beyond this season if the Nuggets fail to trade him. This is news to some, but not the Nuggets, who already understand the gravity of the situation despite their public statements about trying to persuade Melo to stay and sign the extension. Not gonna happen. Interestingly, the opening-night blowout -- and the prospect of an unexpectedly positive start -- are actually the worse thing that could happen to the Nuggets. If the team is playing well, there will be significant pressure on the front office not to trade Anthony. Privately, Ujiri & Co. understand that it would be easier to sell a trade to the fan base if the team were struggling. Meanwhile, conversations continue behind the scenes, with the Nets and Knicks continuing to be the most aggressive pursuers, and for good reason. Anthony won't sign an extension anywhere else, essentially. I think this saga continues to Heat up as we head toward Dec. 15.

2. The other big news this week was of course the report that the Knicks are under investigation for violation of pre-draft workout rules. I pointed out that you can't really go the usual fine-and-take-away picks route, because they have more money than God and already sent picks away. What's the word on how serious the league is taking these allegations?

The league is taking the allegations very seriously and will investigate. There's no precedent I'm aware of for forfeiture of picks in a situation like this; previously, a hefty fine has been the norm. But as you correctly point out, fining the Knicks is sort of pointless. And if the allegations are found to be credible, it will be interesting to see how the league responds, considering there's also no precedence for repetitive violations over several years.

3. You reported Thursday that Jeff Green and Rodney Stuckey would not be getting extensions, while Al Horford's looking like a long shot. Obviously the Hawks want to keep Horford, but with the other two having manageable semi-expiring contracts and the new CBA looming, is there a chance those two are on the block to any degree?

I would say no with respect to Horford. The Hawks value him, but GM Rick Sund has a long history of not doing extensions in these situations. This would be especially true given the uncertainty over the new CBA. Beyond an obvious max player like Kevin Durant, it's virtually impossible to predict what these players' market value will be under the new agreement. A revenue-challenged team like the Hawks can't afford to overpay without knowing what the rules will be going forward. As for the Pistons, I wouldn't rule anything out given the pending ownership change. But clearly Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince are the more likely candidates to be traded.

4. Lot of talk this week from small market owners getting out ahead of the contraction story you reported on earlier. How much of this should we take as bluster, how much of it should we take as legitimate stand-taking?

Two things: Low-revenue teams -- and please note the distinction between low-revenue and small-market -- are justifiably nervous about the contraction talk. But most team executives recognize that contraction is first and foremost a negotiating plea tossed in their air by David Stern like a giant trial balloon. I would submit that the owners coming forward to deny that their team would be a contraction candidate is a sign of how much stress those franchises are experiencing.

5. Four days into the season, you've seen the Heat twice, one loss, one win. Outside of the ridiculously obvious "It's still early and they're learning to play together" angle, what have you noticed on the floor and off from the most hyped of the most-hyped?

KB: The dynamic between LeBron and Wade will continue to be the biggest story line surrounding the Heat. As I wrote Wednesday night, I think they have it wrong when they say they have to do what they've always done. Putting two elite talents together -- players who attack in much the same way -- necessitates that each of them will have to adjust his game. I think it'll help the process once Mike Miller returns from injury. When he does, it'll make Erik Spoelstra's decision to bench Carlos Arroyo easier. LeBron and Wade will both be more effective without a true point guard on the floor, simply because neither player's strength is operating without the ball. After they failed their first test against the Celtics, test No. 2 comes Friday night. Without a true post-up center, how do the Heat defend Dwight Howard? Other than that problem -- which 25 other teams also have -- I like what I've seen so far defensively out of the Heat. LeBron and Wade are two of the league's elite defenders, and having them both on the floor has the potential to seriously disrupt even the most poised and precise offenses.
Posted on: October 28, 2010 12:50 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2010 2:08 pm

Carmelo: 'I feel it's a time for change.'

Posted by Royce Young

Lost in the hoopla of Miami's debut, the Lakers' ring ceremony and then 13 games last night that featured Blake Griffin's spectacular debut, Kevin Durant dropping 30 and Monta Ellis going off for 46 on 24 shots, was some guy in Denver taking the floor.

A month ago, most would've thought there was no way Carmelo Anthony would be in a Nuggets uniform come opening night. I remember when people couldn't believe he was at media day. And yet quietly, Carmelo took the floor for the Nuggets behind a standing ovation from the Pepsi Center crowd and scored 23 points as Denver manhandled division favorite Utah 110-88.

All along, Anthony has said and done everything right. He's never (publically) asked out of Denver, but instead deferred to the "I'm keeping my options open" line. We all forget it's the Nuggets trying to trade him, not that Carmelo has demanded it. He just doesn't intend to sign an extension with Denver and will likely leave next summer. Really, this isn't any different than LeBron's 2009-10 season. Except that the Cavs didn't try and trade LeBron.

So Carmelo took like floor like a good soldier, got some love from fans and exactly as Masai Ujiri was hoping, the Nuggets looked powerful, whooping the Jazz. But that hope continues to fade. No matter what, Carmelo just doesn't want to stay in Denver.

”They want to sit down and talk, but my thing is it’s way beyond this year,” Anthony told Yahoo! Sports. ”It ain’t got nothing to do with the new GM, Josh, the players. For me, I feel it’s a time for change. If I do nothing now, I’m never going to do anything. I feel like my time is now to make a decision if I want to leave or if I want to stay.”

Shucks, Denver.

The Nuggets are still trying to trade their star player and they could be holding out until Dec. 15 when offseason free agents are eligible to be traded. Sources told Spears that Anthony is worried about being traded to a team that has to gut its roster to get him. That's why, if Carmelo really had it exactly how he wanted, he'd probably just wait until next summer and sign with the team of his liking. That way nobody has to lose anything and he gets to take his pick.

But if Wednesday's game against Utah showed anything, it's that Carmelo is committed to the team he's currently on. There's no peeking around the corner for Melo. He's part of the Nuggets and he intends to play hard and try and win for them. He won't be part of that team next season. That's pretty much guaranteed. But the fans were fairly receptive though he did say he heard a few boos, but for now, he's still the face of the franchise.

Remember, he's just keeping those options open.
Posted on: October 26, 2010 11:32 am

Karl wants a multi-year deal in Denver

Posted by Royce Young

Not everybody wants out of Denver. In fact, some people would like to sign extensions. Crazy, I know.

Nuggets head coach George Karl is in the final year of his contract where he'll receive $4.5 million. But instead of signing off after this season or looking elsewhere, Karl told FanHouse he'd like to stay in Denver.
"I'm going to live in Denver probably the rest of my life ... So I think that answer (about wanting to re-sign) is yes. But it's got to be a respectful offer.

"I'm getting old enough to where I can (get one more) good deal. If I can't get it (in Denver), it'll be interesting to see if I can get it in the free market."
Of course for Karl, the discussion isn't just about the Nuggets, but his health. Karl is just returning from a second battle with cancer and his health is his primary concern.

But as for where he fits in, the Nuggets may be prepared to completely wipe the house clean. If (when) they deal Carmelo Anthony and with Chauncey Billups and Kenyon Martin up for new contracts, the Nuggets are likely about to be in full rebuilding mode. The front office has turned over and management may feel new blood on the bench is needed.

One thing that's interesting though is that Karl is proclaiming his desire for an extension in Denver despite the uncertainty. Karl could be faced with a massive rebuilding project in the next few years but evidently, he welcomes it. However, he said if he doesn't get it in Denver, he'll look to the free market. So either way, Karl isn't done after this season.

Karl hasn't had negotiations with Denver as of yet, but surely discussions will begin soon. It's not hard to picture the Nuggets deciding to go another direction though. It would be for shame too, because there aren't many coaches of the caliber or character or George Karl out there. Carmelo may not be committed to the city or franchise, but Karl is.
Posted on: October 22, 2010 8:49 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:00 pm

History Tells Carmelo Anthony: Get Out Now

Carmelo Anthony is said to be ready to wait until next year to sign a new contract. Should he feel more urgency given his situation in Denver? Posted by Ben Gollivercarmelo-anthony
This afternoon, Ken Berger noted that one major, practical implication of the ongoing CBA negotiations is that Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony might not feel the need to sign an extension prior to the implementation of a new CBA because the league could retroactively reduce the value of that extension, as the National Hockey League recently did.
An NHL-style rollback would result in Anthony's extension (if he signed it) and every other existing deal in the league being reduced to fit the new model. Maybe that is why a person familiar with Anthony's strategy told me that Melo is fully prepared to spend the entire season in Denver without signing an extension and then take his chances under the new deal. "Carmelo is not afraid to go into next year and test the CBA," the person said.
Kudos to Carmelo (and/or his people) for this confidence and patience. For now, by not yet agreeing to an extension, Anthony holds all the cards when it comes to influencing his future destination. He can wait for the right team to make the right offer, and for the Nuggets to agree to that team's terms, and then pull the trigger, or he can continue to wait and enjoy all the riches free agency has to offer. But while Anthony may be prepared to stick with things in Denver, history tells us that the next year of his life could be nasty, brutish and interminable.  Let's take a look at three recent, high-profile examples. LeBron James LeBron James was bombarded with questions last fall regarding his future with the Cleveland Cavaliers and he did a commendable job of sidestepping the issue until the season ended. As Danny Ferry and Cavs management desperately did what they could to put a winning team around him, including a trade deadline deal for Antawn Jamison, it became clear very quickly during the playoffs that the Cavaliers were not going to be the championship team they had hoped to be. James's season ended in bitter disappointment and defeat, frustrated with a supporting cast that couldn't keep up with the Boston Celtics and fed up with shouldering the burden by himself.  Given Denver's aging roster and injured frontline, it's easy to imagine a similar situation playing out if Anthony decides to stick around. It's a certainty that the Los Angeles Lakers -- deeper, more athletic, longer, more talented, more tested -- would pick the Nuggets apart in the playoffs. The only question would be whether it would take four games or five games. Anthony, a collegiate champion, should understand that reality better than anyone, just like James did last spring, when he quit on his Cavs teammates because he knew not even a superhuman performance from him would overcome the Celtics collective.   Indeed, James's Cavaliers supporting cast last season was arguably better than Anthony's this year. The question Anthony should be asking himself is, "If LeBron couldn't do it, how will I?" Amar'e Stoudemire

The best case scenario for Carmelo Anthony if he does stay in Denver is the path traveled by Amar'e Stoudemire last year in Phoenix. Despite trade rumors whirling throughout the year, Stoudemire came on strong down the stretch, helping Steve Nash and an inspired Jason Richardson push the Suns all the way to the Western Conference Finals. It was surely the highlight of Stoudemire's career and it paid off in a big way: a max deal from a big city, marquee franchise in the New York Knicks.  Are the Nuggets capable of such a push? Probably not, but no one foresaw the Suns streak last season either. If there's a key difference between the two teams it's that there are no major systemic changes for the Nuggets entering this season. Other than the addition of Al Harrington, it's a similar cast of characters, one year older, and with the same coaching staff and philosophy. The Suns surprised people in large part due to the quick success that came from a shift in coaching style and offensive philosophy brought on by coach Alvin Gentry. Also, the Suns possessed unbelievable chemistry on the second unit, something Denver doesn't possess on paper. While it's not impossible for the Nuggets to ride Anthony and his veteran teammates deep into the playoffs, it's also not likely. If you're Anthony, are you really willing to bet on that risk?  Chris Bosh The worst case scenario for Anthony is what Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh endured last year. Forced to carry a mediocre supporting cast, Bosh simply couldn't do it, and the Raptors failed to quality for the playoffs as critics questioned his toughness and commitment to winning. Disagreements and bickering between teammates were clearly visible on the court last season, and Bosh was unwilling, unable or too frustrated to rally the troops.  During late-season road trips it was difficult to imagine a less enthusiastic prime time player, as Bosh went through the motions and the losses piled up. Could this history repeat itself in Denver? No question about it. If the Nuggets start slow, or Kenyon Martin misses significant time, or Chauncey Billups is out for a stretch, or Anthony doesn't get his required touches one night, what happens? If his heart and mind are already somewhere else, what's in Denver motivating him to pull the team together?  This nightmare isn't difficult to imagine. In fact, I would say it's the most likely of the three situations discussed, given Denver's questionable depth, the fact they are playing in a loaded Northwest Division and the tumultuous offseason the organization just endured. Keeping these examples in mind, shouldn't Anthony and his people go easy on the "wait it out" approach? If it's just posturing, fine. But if they're serious? They need look no further than to last season to realize it's not the best idea. For Stoudemire, James and Bosh it all worked out fine in the end: they found lucrative new homes thanks to the wonders of free agency. But it wasn't an easy path to riches, and Anthony would do well to remember those struggles as he ponders his own future.
Posted on: October 22, 2010 12:07 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2010 12:35 pm

Friday 5 with KB: Contraction, Horford, Melo

CBSSports.com's Ken Berger discusses contraction , Denver trades, and the upcoming season.
Posted by Matt Moore

Posted by Matt Moore

Each week we'll be bringing you five questions for our own Ken Berger of CBSSports.com about the inside happenings of the league. This week, Ken talks about the contraction issues , Denver's objectives in trade talks, and what he's looking forward to this season. You can email your questions to the Friday 5 With KB at cbssportsnba@gmail.com or hit us up on Twitter at @cbssportsnba .

1. Your report on the CBA discussions sent shockwaves through the blogosphere as you reported the league is considering contraction as an option. But with small-market owners Peter Holt and Glen Taylor as powerful as they are, aren't they two guys that would deeply oppose this concept?

Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: Yes and no. In Taylor's case, I believe he'd oppose it only if his franchise were being eliminated. But business would be better for him if another struggling franchise were axed. In Holt's case, remember that the profitability challenge isn't about market size. It's about revenue. Yes, there are big and small markets, but that's not the point. The point is, there are high-revenue teams (such as the Lakers, who rake in nearly $2 million at the gate per home game) and there are low-revenue teams (such as the Grizzlies and Timberwolves, who make $300,000-$400,000). There are small-market teams that generate at or close to $1 million per home game (Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Utah), and there are teams in large metro areas that struggle (Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia). What the league has to constantly look at is, are the low-revenue teams doing as well as they possibly can in the markets where they're doing business? If the answer is yes, there are three ways to deal with it: 1) enhance revenue sharing to the point where those teams can compete and profit; 2) relocation; or 3) contraction. No. 3 is clearly a last resort, but you'd have to be the most rose-colored-glasses type in the world not to see that the NBA would benefit immensely from getting rid of two teams. The league as a whole would be more profitable, and the product would be better.

 2. Let's turn to our best-selling show, "As Melo Turns." You reported this week that Denver's exploring a series of one-on-one deals. We have serious questions about how good of a deal this is for Denver, particularly the whole "Anderson 'Flopsy' Varejao" angle. So what positions do you think they're aiming for with these one-offs? Or is it just any upgrade they can get?

KB: Denver's top priorities remain as follows: draft picks, young players, and cap relief. In recent weeks, after the four-way fell apart, they've added something to the list: getting rid of Kenyon Martin and/or J.R. Smith in the deal. Executives familiar with their strategy say the Nuggets appear close to abandoning another component of their wish list: a veteran player who is a decent replacement for Anthony. The thought being, if you're getting worse in the short term without Melo, why not go all the way and set yourself up to rebuild the right way? Why not "be Sam Presti," as one exec put it to me. So the long answer to your question is that the Nuggets' approach is in flux on every level, but there are certain things they feel they have to get out of this: draft picks, young players, and cap relief. If they decide to go ahead and move K-Mart and J.R., and give up the notion of trying to patch the hole with, say, Andre Iguodala, they'd be in a position to get more of all three.

 3. This week you saw a big peelback of the number of technicals compared to last week. It seemed like both sides were starting to find that "middle ground" you talked about last week. Do you think this is going to be a non-issue or do you think the union really is going to get involved legally?

For once, I agree with David Stern. Cooler heads will prevail, and the union will realize that this isn't a battle they want to wage. (Better to save their time, lawyers and money for the real fight over the CBA). Stern even budged a little Thursday when he admitted that some officials have overstepped in the enforcement of the new policy, and that they'd have to adjust. So as you and I have said from the beginning, that's what's going to happen. The players will back down a little, the refs will give them a little more leash, there will be marginally more techs doled out early in the season, and then everyone will move on.

 4. Al Horford, Jamal Crawford. Clock's ticking, at least on Horford, and we don't hear anything. What's the lastest on that front?

The Hawks have until June 30 to extend Crawford, so there's no rush there -- despite Jamal's understandable desire to get it done now. But with regard to both Crawford and Horford, Hawks GM Rick Sund has a long history of not doing veteran extensions. This was his approach in Seattle with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, and he did the same with Mike Bibby, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia and Joe Johnson in Atlanta. (Note: Johnson was the only one of those players who got a max deal from Sund.) The point is clear: If this has been your philosophy in the past, early or mid-way through collective bargaining agreements, then it will most certainly be your strategy in the last year of a CBA. You can't 100 percent rule out Horford getting an extension by the 31st, but I doubt it. Unless the Hawks are getting a home-team discount, what's the incentive for them to pay Horford now when they don't know what market value will be under the new deal?

 5. Okay, Ken, last Friday 5 before the start of the season. We know you're least looking forward to the LeBron show. But what are you most looking forward to as the season starts Tuesday?

  I'm not least looking forward to LeBron at all. I was least looking forward to "The Decision" and its aftermath. I'm very much looking forward to watching him play alongside Dwyane Wade. It will be compelling theater, everywhere they go. Aside from that, just to mention a few things on my radar: I'm interested in seeing how Kobe Bryant's knee holds up; whether Kevin Durant and the Thunder are ready to take the next step; whether Amar'e Stoudemire will bring the buzz back to Madison Square Garden; whether Dwight Howard is as determined to dominate as he says he is; my first chance to listen to Stan Van Gundy eviscerate someone in a pre-game diatribe; my next chance to hear Howard imitate Van Gundy; the first of a million times this season that Jeff Van Gundy says, "I just don't understand that;" where and when Carmelo gets traded; and LeBron's first game in Cleveland Dec. 2.
Posted on: October 21, 2010 11:37 am

Melo wants Spike Lee to make him a Knick

Posted by Royce Young

This just feels like one of those stories too good - or at least too straightforward and slightly weird - to be true.

Marc Berman of The New York Post has something interesting on the Carmelo Anthony front this lovely Thursday.
According to a source familiar with the situation, Walsh has been motivated by information from Lee, a Knicks season-ticket-holder, that Anthony's first choice is far and away the Knicks. According to the source, Anthony has had several conversations in recent weeks with Lee, who has in turn informed Knicks brass of Anthony's feelings.
Of course then there's the information we already know that Carmelo "definitely, 100 percent wants to be a Knick." Which is potentially why he's stayed so mum on the topic right now. He's using back channels to get things done, instead of working on the front. It's smart PR and it's the best way to get things done.

And let me stop you right there - since Lee is not part of the Knicks organization (not officially, at least), this isn't considered tampering. So Carmelo evidently has Lee's ear, who is influential in the Knicks front office.

That's nice and all, but it doesn't matter what Spike Lee says to Donnie Walsh. As Ken Berger reported last night, the ball is in Denver's court. It's their call. They can trade Carmelo when they want, or not trade him at all.

But as Berman noted, the Knicks have made everyone on the roster available to the Nuggets, sans Amar'e Stoudemire. But right now, Danilo Gallinari, Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry's dead body (plus his contract) just isn't enough. So maybe the Knicks are working in a third team. Or maybe they intend on waiting out the Nuggets a bit until they soften.

This is a step for New York though. Up until basically this week, they weren't really even considered a contender for Anthony outside of the fact that's where he wants to go. New Jersey has always been said to have the best deal (and they still do), but at least the Knicks have gained some traction. So that's something.

At some point, Carmelo Anthony will be packing to head to another city. And if we're to believe he's enlisted the help of an influential filmmaker, maybe it'll eventually be the place he so badly wants.
Posted on: October 21, 2010 9:53 am
Edited on: October 21, 2010 10:19 am

Shootaround 10.21.10: Dunk more, win more

Posted by Royce Young
  • A Harvard Sports Analysis shows the more you dunk, the more you win: “Given that dunking does appear to correlate with winning, what can we take this to mean? The thing to avoid is seeing dunking and winning as a causal relationship (i.e. dunking more means you will win more). Instead, we should view high dunk totals as a representation of a good team (i.e. good teams will produce more dunks). These conclusions support the notion that “Dunks are Awesome!” but also that, despite the complaints of the old guard, dunks have become a fundamental. As if NBA fans needed another reason to fear the upcoming season, the only team that will enter the 2010/2011 season with three players in the top 20 for dunks are, you guessed it, the Miami Heat.”
  • Gus Johnson has been fired from the MSG Network which breaks my heart. He's absolutely one of the very, very best out there. The NY Post with details: “Gus Johnson, the shouts-a-lot, play-by-play radio voice of the Knicks since the 1997-98 season — and a frequent fill- in for Mike Breen on MSG Network’s Knicks’ telecasts — is out at the Garden. Over the last two seasons, Johnson, 43, had annoyed MSG Network shot-callers by missing many games to work outside TV gigs, including CBS’ college basketball and Showtime boxing. Johnson’s primary replacement is expected to be Mike Crispino, an MSG TV and radio multi-tasker since 1992. Johnson, in 1997, replaced Mike Breen, who moved to MSG TV.”
  • Doug Collins is doing better: "He's feeling better," associate head coach Michael Curry told The Philadelphia Inquirer . "Tests, as he sees them right now, were good. So we're expecting him bright and early Friday morning. [He will] start going over some tapes, getting ready for the start of the season."
  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: "This is the Knicks’ new reality. For two years, they operated under the shadow of LeBron James. Now they are dealing with the specter of Carmelo Anthony. A shaky preseason has only made a trade look more urgent. The speculation will end only when Anthony is finally traded, wherever the destination may be."
  • Lee Jenkins' feature on the Thunder is truly fantastic: "When the team moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City, general manager Sam Presti wanted all his players to tour the memorial before their first open practice. Now every new player is taken to the memorial, usually in the weeks leading up to training camp, and sometimes more than once. When guard Royal Ivey came to Oklahoma City for his free-agent visit this summer, he asked Presti about the crowd at the Ford Center, how such a small market generates the most noise in the NBA. The fans have become a source of curiosity around the league, for painting their chests like frat boys, standing for long stretches and commencing a 20-minute ovation for the team three seconds after the season-ending loss to the Lakers. Presti ushered Ivey to the memorial. "It took my breath away," Ivey says. "After that I called my agent. I wanted to be a part of this."
Posted on: October 21, 2010 1:26 am
Edited on: October 21, 2010 1:29 am

NBA Northwest Division preview

The CBSSports.com NBA Facts and Rumors team previews each of the NBA's six divisions. First up: the Southeast.  Posted by Matt Moore.

The Burning Question: Just how big is the Melo question in this division?

Will he be here? Will he be gone? Will Denver retool? Rebuild? Firesale everything but the walls and sell those for scrap? If he is there, will he be a distraction? Will it be business as usual? Are we confident the Nuggets can contend even if he's still in Denver? Are we sure? Are we confused? Angry? Hungry? Who's hungry? 

Last year Denver went 12-4 in this division. The other three cannibalistic playoff teams in this division went 25-23 combined. So Denver's got a lot to say about who wins this division. The problem is, of course, we have no idea what we're going to get when mid-November rolls around and teams have shaken off the early rust or shine and are revealed to be what they actually are.  If Carmelo Anthony is still in Denver at that time, as it appears he very well may be, this team could lead the division, further scuttling Melo's trade prospects. Conversely, if Anthony's gone and Denver's decided to go all Jericho and rebuild their society, then things could get pretty crazy in the rest of the division.

Melo was the biggest star in this division over the past several years, but now that Kevin Durant has eclipsed him as the next great scoring forward, there's more talk than ever about what exactly it is that Melo provides this team. And that question is going to be examined even closer this year as Kenyon Martin is out till January and Chris Anderson till December. The complimentary pieces that were brought in to surround Melo are injured and Chauncey Billups isn't getting any younger. Meanwhile J.R. Smith is still J.R. Smith for better or worse, and this team is always a half second away from going into full-on mental chemistry meltdown. 

The Thunder should be improved, but can they topple a veteran group that knows how to win night in and night out like Denver? Utah's got Al Jefferson, but can they overcome their injury issues to maintain a consistency like Denver has? And if we want to talk about injuries, take Portland's training staff. Please. Ba-dum, ching. No?

If Denver goes down the tubes, there will be a team to fill the void. The only question is if that team will simply be vacating an open spot or legitimately taking the spot Denver had been tagged for a year ago, that of de facto Western challenger to LA. 

What Berger Says: 

CBS Sports Senior Writer Ken Berger previews the Southeast Division.
Everything is in flux with the Melo situation still unresolved. So the spectrum of what could go right for the Nuggets looks like this: A) Clinging to the scant hope that Anthony can be persuaded to stay; or B) Getting the best possible deal for him. There's little reason to have any faith that A can happen. So the Nuggets will continue to explore trade possibilities, which will force them to decide whether it's possible to trade Melo in a deal that saves money and keeps them in contention (no), or saves money and sets them up for the best possible future. Either way, it looks to me like the Nuggets' ascent has ended before they reached their full potential.

And Now, A Non-Sequiter:

Anyone else feel like Kyrylo Fesenko would be the worst roommate in the world? Young, inexperienced, probably always asking questions. He's a jokester, which is fine when you're hanging out but gets old real quick.  Dude probably steals your toothpaste, too. No? Just me? Okay. Just checking. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com