Tag:Donnie Walsh
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 3:42 pm

Isiah Thomas doesn't deny involvement with Knicks

Posted by Royce Young

As Ken Berger reported Wednesday, there more be more complication the Knicks acquiring Carmelo Anthony than just coming to terms with the Nuggets. New York might have to come to terms with its own front office first.

Berger noted that there's some potential dissention between president Donnie Walsh and owner James Dolan to the point where Dolan may try and go over Walsh's head to get Anthony now while Walsh may prefer to hold out for free agency. And one of the people Berger noted that might just be involved is Dolan's buddy Isiah Thomas.

Berger writes, "Thomas still has Dolan's ear, is as power-hungry as ever and would love nothing more than being able to paint himself as the savior in New York. Even if it meant undercutting the man who saved his career in Indiana and who treated him with dignity and respect upon replacing him with the Knicks."

And now according to the New York Post, Thomas went on radio in Miami Tuesday and didn't deny any of the things Berger pointed out. Thomas didn't deny that he's advising Dolan on moves the Knicks should make, especially when it comes to landing Melo.

This whole thing makes me feel uncomfortable. First there was the effort over the summer with the Knicks trying to hire Thomas as an advisor, only for the league to determine it wasn't proper because of Thomas being a college basketball coach. Except he's still advising . He might not be doing it in an official capacity, but like Berger said, he still has Dolan's ear.

Thomas said on the radio show: "Everyone agrees they need to keep improving to get to a championship level. I don't think anyone's saying this is it. I do think the organization wants to improve to get better and get to the next to level. But for me to speculate on this Carmelo situation, I just don't think it would be proper to insert myself in such a public way knowing what I know. ... In order to get to a championship level, which every team aspires to get to, you try to get the best players and try to get as many as you possibly can and see if you can win it."

Isiah wouldn't go on record as to what he's doing precisely and wouldn't comment on if he'd ever return to the organization at some point.

"You ask me to be as honest as I can and I will be brutally honest with you," Thomas said. "I don't think anyone will say where they will be five years from now. But where ever I am in five years, I will be physically and emotionally prepared for whatever challenge is presented to me."

The whole Isiah Thomas situation in New York is really one of the weirdest things ever. The Knicks are just now finally recovering from Thomas's frivolous and wild spending, as Walsh has worked extremely hard to even give the Knicks an opportunity to land Melo in free agency. If Isiah were still in charge, New York wouldn't have had the chance at Amar'e Stoudemire, much less Anthony.
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 10, 2011 11:26 am
Edited on: February 10, 2011 11:28 am

Chris Paul isn't out of the question for New York

Posted by Royce Young

Over the summer, it wasn't about Carmelo Anthony. It was all about Chris Paul. And the feeling was that CP3 had his eye on the Knicks.

That notion was bumped up a notched at Carmelo's wedding. Chris Paul toasted to a new Big 3 in New York. Amar'e Stoudemire had just signed there, Carmelo would be a free agent this summer and Paul one in 2012.

Most saw it as a joke, playing off Miami's brand new Big 3. Even the players involved said it was. But a source told ESPN New York, that it wasn't all kidding.

"Go back to the wedding toast," the source said. "Nothing's really changed since that night. The feeling is that Carmelo will be here this year, and Paul will be here in 2012."

While CP3 appears to be happy in New Orleans right now, that summer of 2012 certainly looms large.

The Hornets franchise is in a major state of uncertainty, you know, with the NBA owning it and all, so what happens with Paul is unknown. By all appearances, the Hornets will be faced with the same situation in 2011 that the Nuggets are going through now.

Another question mark around building this superteam is whether or not Donnie Walsh with be with the Knicks to pull it off. As Ken Berger reportd, Walsh's contract is up this season with owner James Dolan having the option to extend it one more year. But past that, it's unknown if Walsh will be in New York much longer.

But none of this happens until the Carmelo situation gets solved. You can't have a Big 3 without at least a Big 2. So getting Anthony is the priority. After that, getting CP3 would just be icing. And pretty awesome.
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. 
Posted on: February 4, 2011 2:18 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2011 2:26 pm

Friday 5 with KB: Nuts and bolts

Posted by Matt Moore

In today's Friday 5 with KB: All-Star snubs, the upcoming CBA talks, and the league's policy on, ahem ... man-parts.

1. Interesting note from Donnie Walsh yesterday, mentioning that he's more concerned about the trade deadline, among other things, rather than his contract future. Your Post-Ups today cover Walsh's situation in detail, but it still begs the question: Do you think the Knicks are making a move before the deadline? (Shotout to Antonio on Twitter for the question.)

I think the chances are fairly high -- great than 90 percent -- that the Knicks make some sort of trade before the deadline. Not necessarily a Carmelo trade, although that's still possible, but some kind of trade to either give Amar'e some help in the front court, upgrade backup point guard, or replenish future draft picks that were lost in Walsh's monumental effort to get the Knicks under the cap and with roster and cap flexibility for the next two years. Walsh totally deserved the two-year contract extension Jim Dolan just gave him. Wait, what? Dolan hasn't even decided whether to exercise Walsh's option, which comes due April 30? Oh. Oh, that is really bad. Please refer to Post-Ups later in the day Friday for an explanation of Walsh's limbo and where the 'Bockers stand in trade talks.

2. Well, Ken, the coaches didn't heed your words. They took Tim Duncan over LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love. Was that the most egregious selection or was there another that bugged you more?

I felt really good about the rest of the picks -- both mine and the coaches', since other than Duncan they were the same. At the end of the day, it's hard to get too bent out of shape over an immortal player getting a lifetime achievement vote to the All-Star team. So I won't be mad about Love getting snubbed until the commissioner snubs him as Yao's injury replacement. Then I'll be mad at the commissioner. It would've been nice to find a spot for Aldridge, too, as well as Josh Smith. Those were the most deserving guys who didn't make it, in my estimation.

3. So the CBA talk is in two weeks at All-Star weekend. Some are predicting the apocalypse. Some are predicting a peaceful, productive meeting. We had a phalanx of All-Stars blow off the day of service to make a statement at the bargaining table last year. What do you think we're going to get this year?

Probably a lot of rhetoric, and a lame/tame bargaining session that will mostly be symbolic. Not a whole lot of actual negotiating and work will get done due to the nature of the weekend. It seems like time is running out, but actually there is still plenty of time left for the lawyers and number-crunchers to figure all of this out. So in terms of developments, I'd like to see a small concession or baby step forward by each side. For example, if David Stern says the owners won't lock the players out immediately on July 1 if there is reasonable expectation of an agreement, and if Billy Hunter says the players are willing to give up the mid-level exception, those would be small but important signs of good faith on both sides. If both sides remain absolutely entrenched in their positions, the All-Star bargaining session and accompanying news conferences will be a waste of time.

4. Tom Thibodeau's defense has been so superb this year. And he hasn't been at full strength outside of more than a few weeks. Are we overlooking Chicago penciling in Miami or Orlando for the Eastern Finals? 

Given Orlando's defensive struggles and identity crisis at the moment, I think it's fair to say that the Bulls shouldn't be overlooked as a candidate to upset Miami and meet the Celtics in the conference finals. Chicago has the two ingredients that could pull that off -- outstanding team defense, as you mentioned, and an outlandish talent in Derrick Rose, who is good enough to win a playoff series by himself. Having said that, I plan to be in Boston next Sunday for the Heat-Celtics, and I fully expect that to be a preview of the conference finals.

5. Kevin Garnett tapped a guy in the man parts. Eddie House intimated that he has sizable man parts. Kevin Garnett was neither fined, nor suspended. Eddie House was fined. Does the NBA need to re-examine its junk policy or am I completely nuts? 

I have not queried Stu Jackson about the, um, nuts and bolts of these decisions. But knowing how the league office views such things, I believe the distinction was that Garnett's actions came during the course of a basketball play -- defending a 3-point shot, however dirty those defensive tactics were. Garnett got ejected, and that punishment fit the crime. (Easy for me to say.) House's actions fell under the category of excessive celebration and unsportsmanlike conduct -- similar to barking at the opposing bench or standing over a fallen opponent and talking about his mama. So that's the difference.

Have a burning NBA question you need answered? Email us at cbssportsnba@gmail.com, or drop Ken a question for the Friday 5 on Twitter at@cbssportsnba . 
Posted on: February 3, 2011 2:21 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2011 5:56 pm

Knicks fined $200K for illegal workouts

The New York Knicks have reportedly been fined $200,000 for conducting a series of illegal workouts.

Posted by Ben Golliver. isiah-thomas

Back in October, we noted a Yahoo! report that laid out a series of improper draft workouts conducted by the Knicks. At the time, the NBA vowed it would conduct an investigation. The New York Times reports Thursday the NBA has assessed a six-figure fine to the Knicks for the workouts, but has not stripped the team of any of its draft picks.
The N.B.A. has fined the Knicks $200,000 and one of their scouts $20,000 after concluding that the scout, Rodney Heard, conducted workouts of college prospects that violated league rules, according to two people made aware of the league’s actions.
The Knicks hold the option of imposing further discipline on Heard, who joined the organization when Isiah Thomas was the team president. Significantly, Thomas, who now coaches at Florida International University, was not cited by the N.B.A. in the penalties it handed down.

The league determined that Heard conducted secret workouts before the camp, presumably to give the Knicks an edge in determining whether a prospect was worth drafting.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com provides these additional details.
In an investigation aided by the NBA's outside law firm, the Knicks were found to have conducted illegal pre-draft workoouts with Brandon Rush in 2007 as well as Ekpe Udoh and Tory Jackson in 2010, according to a league source familiar with the findings. The league could not uncover any proof that Heard or any Knicks officials conducted such a workout with Wilson Chandler, the person said.
Rush, a star at Kansas University, injured his knee in the unsanctioned workout and was later drafted by the Trail Blazers in 2008. Udoh was drafted by the Warriors in 2010. Jackson, who played at Notre Dame, is not in the NBA. If Chandler, who was drafted by the Knicks in 2007, had been found to have participated in an illegal workout with the team that drafted him, the Knicks would've faced a more severe penalty, said the person familiar with the league's findings.
Given that the workouts occurred over multiple years, reportedly involved a player the team eventually drafted and also involved a player who eventually lied about taking part in them, I argued for a stiff penalty: a seven-figure fine plus forfeiture of picks.

While the league's ruling does fall in line with other previous pre-draft tampering fines -- including a $200,000 fine to Denver Nuggets coach George Karl for attending a workout where his son was playing -- it seems much too soft given the full set of reported circumstances. For less than half the price of a second-round draft pick's contract, the Knicks were able to get additional, strategic information on potential players for multiple years. That is a competitive advantage and certainly against the spirit of fair play.

Despite the sticker shock, this is a best-case scenario for Knicks president Donnie Walsh, who needs all the draft picks he can get. The Knicks were recently determined by Forbes to be the NBA's most valuable team and money isn't really an object. 

That raises the question: What is stopping this from happening again?
Posted on: January 19, 2011 7:14 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2011 7:14 pm

With the Nets out, who's left to chase Carmelo?

Posted by Royce Young

I'm not sure the Knicks have felt this lucky since the 1985 draft lottery. But really, something tells me all along that Donnie Walsh knew. He knew that Carmelo Anthony wasn't going to end up in New Jersey. That's why he kept the Knicks so low key in the Melodrama.

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov shocked most Wednesday by announcing his franchise was withdrawing from the Melo chase, citing that it was exhausting and taking up too many resources. He also said it was costing his team wins on the floor. I really think that Brook Lopez's desire to not rebound is probably doing that, but hey, he was looking for reasons.

(Now of course I have to mention that this could just be posturing or a threat to get Denver's attention, but general manager Billy King and Prokhorov seemed emphatic in saying it. These were public statements. It didn't seem like Prokhorov was trying to save face, even though that's what he really did. He knows Melo doesn't want to sign there. He feels like he's wasting time. So I don't buy the bluffing theory.)

With New Jersey pulling out, where does that leave the Nuggets? What does this mean for Carmelo? Denver had its best deal on the table with the four-team Nets deal that would give them assets in first-round picks, a young player in Derrick Favors and a lot of cap relief and savings. But that's gone now. Just like that, it's killed. Poof. Gone.

The hangup was always that Carmelo wasn't committed to signing an extension in New Jersey. If he was, this thing would've been done two months ago. But we kept hearing it over and over. Melo hasn't ever said he's willing to sign an extension with the Nets . Heck, Melo was basically saying it in every interview he did, but we just weren't listening. We were assuming that he was dancing around things. But he maintained he didn't know about the New Jersey stuff. All he ever said was he wanted to play in New York.

And now with New Jersey out of things, the Knicks are looking like the next, and really only option. Carmelo will sign an extension there. The Knicks have a decent package they can put together for the Nuggets. It all kind of makes sense now that the report dropped today about the Bulls re-entering the chase. The Nuggets are looking for leverage again and if the Knicks are the clear and only option, Denver won't get near the deal. Donnie Walsh sensed it when he said he was done talking about it. And Prokhorov was feeling it too. Everyone was starting to get played.

So here are the Melodrama options right now:

1. The Knicks spring into action. A New York offer will likely include Danilo Gallinari, Landry Fields/Wilson Chandler, Eddy Curry's expiring deal and a first-round pick. At this point, this looks like the absolute best deal out there, but with other teams, well the Nets, backing off, that deal may not be as sweet. The Nuggets lost a lot of leverage today.

But it's been clear from the beginning that Carmelo wants to play in New York. He'll sign the extension there and the Nuggets can get a decent amount back. This clearly looks like the top scenario unless of course Denver just doesn't approve of what its getting back or the Knicks decide they'll just wait for the summer.

2. Someone tries to rent Melo. Ken Berger talked about the Mavericks getting into the mix a bit to rent Anthony. With the injury to Caron Butler, this makes a lot more sense. What it'll take is Dallas being willing to take on a big contract (like Al Harrington) in return. Dallas doesn't have a ton of assets so they'll likely have to bring in a third team, but Mark Cuban isn't shy about making moves. And this is something he'd likely see as a deal to get his team back in prime contention.

Another candidate for this would be the Rockets, but with them slipping out of the playoff picture a bit, they might not be willing to give up good assets just to make a run to the eight-seed. Dallas is the clear candidate to make a rental out of Melo.

What this scenario doesn't require is "approval" from Carmelo, because he won't sign an extension with his new team. But that's what he wants. This means the Nuggets will get far less because the Mavericks (or whoever) don't get Anthony for the long-term. Again, more indication the Nuggets will turn to the the Knicks to take over and make the deal.

3. A dark horse steps up and Melo approves. Chicago has already been looped in, but that just seems like a leverage ploy. The Bulls have never been rumored to be high on Carmelo's list and the Bulls have never appeared to be that interested in dealing.

The real dark horse here seems to be someone like the Clippers. They have a good package they could put together (Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman and some picks) and maybe Anthony gets excited about playing with Blake Griffin, who is taking over the league. Los Angeles is a big time market, the team is rising and with Anthony, they could even make a little run this year.

Probably pretty unlikely because Melo hasn't never wavered on his New York wishes, but in terms of scenarios, I think this is at least possible. Chances are slim, but it's an option. The Clippers can top New York's deal, but we'd likely be right back to square one with the "Will Melo sign an extension with the Clippers?" game. That's why it's going to end up being New York.

4. The Nets try and get back in right at the deadline. Again, with the way Prokhorov and King backed off, this doesn't seem likely. They know Melo doesn't want to sign with the Nets. It's that simple.

But walking away is the best negotiation tactic out there. The Nets are trying to buy a new car and the dealership isn't budging. So they got up and left the lot. Maybe this kicks Denver's rear into gear and talks fire up again in a few weeks. Maybe this was a ploy by Prokhorov to get the media off his team's back for a bit.

The fact is, New Jersey has the best deal for Denver. But Melo doesn't want to sign there. If Denver can't get anything it likes by the Feb. 24 trade deadline, the Nuggets might turn back to the Nets and the Nets might convince themselves that they can convinve Carmelo to sign.

5. Nothing. Melo wants that extension. He said recently that he's positive there will be a lockout and if he doesn't sign that three-year $65 million extension, he could lose as much as $80 million over the life of his next contract. I doubt he's willing to risk that much. However, if the Knicks aren't budging, because they know they can hold out for the summer and just let Melo sign with them as a free agent, and Melo doesn't want to go anywhere, else, we might just see the season get played out.

I don't see that as likely at all because if it comes to this, Denver will trade Melo to Dallas as a rental and get something back. But maybe Denver decides it can sign Melo itself again. Maybe they try and convince him that extension is better than waiting and signing with New York but losing money. I guess it's possible, but really unlikely.
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