Tag:Masai Ujiri
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: September 29, 2010 6:45 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2010 6:54 pm

Melo says he was never approached about the Nets

Posted by Royce Young

Keep in mind, players deny things. Especially when it's something that came out in the media without them directly saying it. But heck, sometimes even when they directly say it, they still deny.

In any event, Carmelo Anthony at Denver's practice today denied if anyone had approached him about being traded to New Jersey. "Not at all," he told reporters in response to being asked about if anyone talked to him about the potential move.

"If (the Nuggets) come to me and say they want to trade me to a team, then we’ll discuss that when that time comes,'' Anthony said.

Anthony once again said he'd love to be with the Nuggets opening night and said that this situation is all about keeping his options open in 2011-12.

When asked if he'd have any interest in going to New Jersey, Carmelo replied, "I'm here. This ain't the offseason. The season has started. I'm not a free agent yet."

I think you can give Melo the gold star for handling this situation perfectly thus far.

But here's one thing I don't think a lot of folks realize: Carmelo has never demanded a trade. He never asked for a way out this year. All of this trade stuff was started on Denver's end because of Anthony's reluctance to sign a three-year extension with the Nuggets.

Because we all heard the "keeping my options open" line from LeBron and Chris Bosh last year, Denver has become gun shy about next summer and trying to re-sign Anthony. Therefore, they opened trade discussions. So don't confuse this situation as Carmelo demanding a trade. He's said he's happy in Denver and that he's more than ready to play there this year. And there's no reason to think otherwise.

Now do I think he's fibbing about talking about if he'd accept a trade to New Jersey? Of course. What would you expect him to do? Come out and say, "Yeah, I'd totally love to play in New Jersey. I already told management I'd sign there." At this point Carmelo is saying and doing all the right things.

George Karl is reportedly going to sit down and have a discussion with Anthony about his future tomorrow. Whether Carmelo comes out of it feeling better (or worse) about Denver is yet to be seen.

But Karl's future in Denver is almost just as uncertain. He's back after a second bout with cancer and has only one year remaining on his contract. Pretty much the entire front office flipped over in Denver and one of his oldest assistants, Tim Grgurich, has moved on. I'm speculating, but maybe Karl tells Anthony that he's not even sure he'll be there in a year either. Maybe he just tries to talk Melo into one more hurrah for the both of them in Denver. Who knows.

Carmelo is completely prepared to play a full season with Denver by all accounts. The ball is in Masai Ujiri's court in terms of if Carmelo is there. The Nuggets know the value is in dealing Anthony, but they also know that they can have him for at least this season if they want.

Carmelo has said he has too much respect for basketball not to play with everything he's got for the Nuggets. So while he may be thinking about playing in New York next summer, he's said he's committed to the Nuggets this season.

This doesn't mean he doesn't get traded. It just means that he's fine if he doesn't. It's all about the open options, ya'll.
Posted on: September 6, 2010 2:22 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2010 3:30 pm

Pop Quiz: When does Carmelo Anthony get moved?

Posted by Royce Young

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

When does Carmelo Anthony get traded?

First, a different question: Does Carmelo Anthony get traded? Based on multiple reports from Ken Berger, Ric Bucher and Adrian Wojnarowski, all signs point to yes. New Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri is trying to convince Anthony to stay, but unless he plans on using some Jedi mind tricks, it sounds like Melo is taking off. Chauncey Billups plans on having a conversation with Anthony once he returns from Turkey, but it's not likely to work.

So we're going on the assumption he does get moved. The Nuggets need to trade Anthony, otherwise they're facing the same situation the Raptors and Cavaliers faced this past offseason. They don't want their superstar to walk without getting anything in return. And the longer they wait, they less they can get in return. So the Nuggets have the most leverage now.

I don't know if you realize this, but training camp starts in about three weeks. So if the Nuggets are going to get Anthony traded, they've got to get moving. There really isn't a pro to waiting until the trade deadline to deal Anthony, other than hopefully during that time you can convince him to sign that three-year extension. Other than that, there's nothing that is to be gained. Other teams know the Nuggets hand is being forced, so they know they can offer less and get more. If Denver trades Anthony sooner than later, there's more potential for a better return.

As Ken Berger said, the Nuggets are likely set to unravel, with or without Melo. The window is closing on Denver, so getting something done to try and look ahead to the future is pretty necessary.

So when does Carmelo get traded, since I think we've settled on the fact he will be? If you have an office pool going, I'm not going to give you a specific date, but here are the odds for four different time periods.

Before the season (2/1)
Nothing makes more sense for both parties involved. The sooner Denver trades him, the more they get. But I think I've been over that. Probably like 15 times. And Carmelo would be wise to push for a deal sooner than later. A big hangup could be the looming CBA coming next summer, so Anthony wants to get into his new digs and get started hammering out a new contract extension before that hits.

Plus, the market is broader the earlier you trade. A team that might not be a contender to re-sign Anthony could have a shot at using this season to convince him their franchise is the right fit. Maybe he's lukewarm on Sacramento and the Kings makes a deal to get him. Not only do they have a fun 2010-11 campaign, but potentially this is an audition to get him inked long term. More than likely Carmelo goes somewhere he is ready to sign, but the point is, the earlier the trade, the wider the opportunity.

By Christmas (4/1)
Waiting two months and then dealing Anthony? Not the best choice, but it's better than waiting any longer. Maybe Denver waits in order to try and convince Carmelo to stay. It's a little risky, but other teams might want to wait to see if not only Anthony would fit in well with whatever kind of push they're making, but also to try and give up less to get the Nuggets' star.

At the deadline (10/1)
What's the pro to waiting until the deadline? Well, I guess Denver might be able to get half a season of winning in their pocket and with the trade, still try and make the playoffs. But this scenario is just unlikely. If Denver is going to deal Anthony, trading at the February deadline probably makes the least amount of sense. You get less, you don't get a full season with Anthony and you limit your trade market to only the teams that know they can get Anthony re-signed.

After the season via sign-and-trade (25/1)
For Denver, this makes more sense than waiting until the deadline simply because you just bought yourself 82 more games with Carmelo (and maybe more than that). Plus, you get a season to try and win Anthony back, and then a little bit of the offseason to bring in new players with the cap room the Nuggets will have to hammer the point home.

But this is the highest risk scenario. If you don't convince Anthony to re-sign, you're faced with the LeBron/Bosh situation. Your star is leaving and all you're getting back is a second-round pick and maybe a trade exception. You get the least in return because your hand has been forced. In some ways, I see this as the most likely situation because things tend to play out this way, but in another, the Nuggets just watched an offseason where the Raptors and Cavs got burned. They don't want to be the next victim.

And just for fun, let's rank the teams he might be headed to. So far, about half the league has been tossed out as a potential landing zone. We've heard the Timberwolves, the Kings, the Warriors, the Clippers, the Knicks, the Magic, the Rockets and the Nets. Here are my top five contenders:

1. Houston Rockets
The Rockets are the favorite in my mind, because it makes the most sense all the way around. Houston is a contender with Anthony, something he wants. Houston is still a large TV market, something he wants. The Rockets can trade back quality pieces to Denver, something the Nuggets want. And Daryl Morey gets the star bedrock piece, something he desperately wants.

Anthony likely wants bigger lights for him and his celebrity wife to head to, but a lot of it comes down to what Denver can get back. I'm sure Anthony prefers New York or Los Angeles to anywhere else, but it's about finding a proper trade partner for the Nuggets. And the Rockets can give a quality return while Anthony gets a good city and good franchise.

2. New Jersey Nets
Carmelo was birthed in Brooklyn. The Nets are moving to Brooklyn. Hey, I'm just putting it all together here.

Of course there's the Jay-Z connection which seems to be a draw to pretty much every young star player. But not only that, new owner Mikhail Prokhorov has a stupid amount of money and toys that could entice Anthony. The Nets have a new arena coming, new ownership and potentially even a new name on the way. Anthony could be The Face of the rebuilt New Jersey franchise, which has to be intriguing. Plus, he would basically be in New York, somewhere that he wants to be.

The Nets have the necessary assets to reel in the Nuggets. Brook Lopez is probably out of the question, but there's Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Terrence Williams and Troy Murphy. All of those could be something that Denver would want to pull the trigger on.

3. New York  Knicks
It's not just that Carmelo wants to be in the Big Apple, it's that he wants to be the face of basketball in the basketball holy land. Save the Knicks, save basketball in New York and you're hoops royalty. What player would want to do that? Well, other than LeBron James I guess.

The issue with the Knicks is having the pieces to get a deal done. Whatever New York offers, it won't be as good as what New Jersey, Houston or a number of other teams can do. And the Nuggets aren't going to be in the thinking to do Anthony a favor and just trade him somewhere he wants. They want pieces or at least assets back, two things the Knicks don't have a lot of. But if Carmelo wants to be there bad enough and the Knicks know it, Donnie Walsh would have to put together some kind of package to get it done, even if that means he has to part with some of his prime young players.

4. Los Angeles Clippers
There isn't a team in the running that has available trade pieces that can compete with the Clippers. Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin, Baron Davis, Al Farouq-Aminu - any combination there would be almost impossible to turn away. Now Griffin is likely not going to be part of any trade, but Kaman, Aminu and Gordon would make for a fairly equal trade. So of Anthony's potential suitors, I would bet Denver prefers to talk to the Clippers first.

Obviously Melo would like to be in L.A., but he probably wants to be part of the other Los Angeles franchise. Playing for owner Donald Sterling and the hapless Clipper franchise isn't something basketball players dream of. But at the same time, going to the Clippers, building that franchise into a winner and competing for L.A. against the purple and gold would be something a real competitor would relish.

5. Denver Nuggets
They might be a major sleeper, but don't rule out the Nuggets. Most agree Anthony has already mentally left Denver, but people change their minds. Chris Paul already did it after Dell Demps sold him on a plan. Maybe Ujiri can do the same. Or maybe the Nuggets can't find a good trade buddy early on and in the first two months, Denver is winning and Carmelo is having a great time. Now that three-year extension doesn't look so bad anymore. You know how it goes, everybody can change.

Posted on: August 30, 2010 12:19 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2010 12:33 pm

So where do we stand with Carmelo Anthony?

Posted by Royce Young

News about Carmelo Anthony's potential departure from Denver started coming out about a month ago. First it was Ken Berger's report saying Melo wanted to play in New York. Then Ric Bucher of ESPN informed the world that Melo was pretty much a lock to be moved. Everything cooled a bit, but then Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! came along to shake the tree once again.

All signs (and news) points to Anthony leaving Denver. But that doesn't mean that new general manager Masai Ujiri isn't going to try and pull a Dell Demps and salvage the relationship. Nuggets executive Josh Kroenke already had a meeting with Melo, but Wojnarowski reported it didn't go that great. Now Ujiri will meet with Anthony and try and convince him of the Nuggets plan. This goes against Wojnarowski's report that said Denver was basically finished talking to Anthony. But then again, it might just be a front by the Nuggets to put on the appearance that they're desperately trying to keep Melo.

"I love Melo," Ujiri told The Denver Post . "I grew up in this league with Melo, kind of. It was my first years in the league, and I watched him grow. The Denver Nuggets want to keep Melo, and that's our priority. Carmelo is the Denver Nuggets, he's the city of Denver. He's done so well on this team. So we're going to deal with the issue full force."

Ujiri will have to sell Anthony on the chance to win. He can't convince him that he can maximize marketing in Denver. He can't convince him that his profile will rise. He can't convince him that his wife will get to be closer to bright lights. He can't convince him of a lot of things. But he does have the ability to tell Anthony that the Nuggets are good enough to win now and that he has plan to     make them better. But Melo doesn't want to test free agency because he'll likely lose millions because of the new CBA and if he had interest in staying with Denver, he'd have signed that three-year extension weeks ago.

So it comes to down to Ujiri's pitch and if that doesn't work, then it's off to finding a suitor. Whether that's now or later, the Nuggets have the most leverage by making a move sooner than later. And one interesting thing to go with this: As John Hollinger of ESPN mentioned, if Denver trades Anthony, there's really no point in them hanging on to Chauncey Billups in his last year of a contract either. Which of course makes this whole thing so much more intriguing.

A lot of teams are popping up as destinations for Anthony, with some making a lot more sense than others. Sam Amico of NBA.com reports that three teams lead the pack for the Nuggets right now and that's the Timberwolves, Kings and Nets. But the biggest key in a deal for any team willing to give away assets to get Anthony is if he's willing to sign an immediate extension with his new team. And other than the Nets, those teams haven't really been a prime location for Anthony, if we're to believe the multiple reports out about where he prefers to sign.

Right now, the Rockets, Knicks, Magic, Hornets, Clippers, Bobcats, Timberwolves, Kings, Nets and Warriors have all been mentioned. In other words, basically one-third of the league. And of course, there's always the possibility that Anthony will stay with Denver. I think the serious contenders here are the Rockets, Magic, Knicks, Clippers and Nets. But that's just my own personal inclination.

While the Bobcats have the Jordan connection, the Warriors have nice assets to offer, the Wolves have picks, the Hornets have the draw of Chris Paul and the Kings have, well, I'm not really sure, I think you can eliminate them all. Anthony is going to go somewhere he's happy with and I can't see one of those destinations making sense for him, especially with all the hassle he's going through getting out of Denver.

Anthony is almost assuredly headed out of the Rockies. But that's not stopping Ujiri from trying to salvage the situation at the eleventh hour. It's unlikely he can convince Anthony to stay, but you definitely can't blame him for the effort.
Posted on: August 26, 2010 11:23 am

Denver hires Masai Ujiri as GM, but who is he?

"" Posted by Royce Young

And the man tasked with figuring out what the heck to do with Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith is... Masai Ujiri!

Ujiri has reportedly been hired by the Nuggets to replace Mark Warkentein and is likely set to sign a contract sometime today. Most haven't heard of him, other than the past few weeks when his name started popping up for this position. But Ujiri got his start in scouting and slowly climbed the front office ranks before finally landing the big chair in Denver.

But who is he and what has he done? A quick look at his background:
  • First the most important thing about Ujiri: How do you say his name? It's pronounced "Ma-SIGH u-JEER-e".
  • Ujiri comes to Denver from Toronto, where he has spent the last three years in the front office as an executive. As assistant general manager to Bryan Colangelo, Ujiri was a key in the Raptors utilizing international players like Carlos Delfino, Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani.
  • Ujiri is a native of Zaria, Nigeria and has played an active role there in promoting basketball. He started the well-known Top 50 Bigman Camp eight years ago and also served as a director for the NBA's Basketball Without Borders Africa program. Solomon Alabi, who was a draftee of Toronto this past year, was a participant in the the camp.
  • It could be important that Ujiri is a former employee of the Nuggets.  Ujiri was with Denver from 2003 to 2007 and previously served as an unpaid scout for the Orlando Magic in 2002-03. With both the Nuggets and Magic, Ujiri served primarily as an international scout. Most people say Ujiri already has a good relationship with Carmelo Anthony, which obviously is Ujiri's No. 1 priority.
  • So if you're wondering, no Ujiri was not responsible for the Nuggets disatrous pick of Nikoloz Tskitishvili in 2002 because he was still working for Orlando at that time. You cna exhale now, Nuggets fans.
  • Ujiri went to prep school in Seattle, went to junior college in North Dakota, played college basketball at Montana State, then spent six years playing professionally in Europe, with stops in Belgium, Germany, England, Greece and Finland. So you could say Ujiri is well-traveled.
  • He's young. At just 39, Ujiri is one of the younger general managers in the league. He's not the most qualified GM in terms of experience, but most agree in the basketball world that he's a bright, upcoming front office star.
  • Obviously Ujiri is going to be seen as Plan B by most since David Griffin turned down the Nuggets job, but Ujiri was on Denver's radar from the very beginning. His ties to Denver obviously helped, but the Nuggets have been interested in expanding their international scouting and Ujiri obviously has expertise in that area. 
  • In an interview with NBA.com about Basketball Without Borders, Ujiri said this about the growth of international basketball: "You cannot miss it. There's no running away from it. You have to cover everywhere. Basketball globally has gotten better, the skill level has gotten better. What some of the international kids are doing in the NBA is amazing."
Before, Warkentein shared power with Rex Chapman and Bret Bearup, so nobody really knows exactly how much Ujiri will be in control of in Denver. Maybe that was one of the hangups with David Griffin. But the Nuggets are in the midst of a complete shift as former owner Stan Kroenke passed the team to his son Josh, who is only 30 years old. So the Nuggets are young in the front office for sure and by most accounts, in good hands with Ujiri.
Category: NBA
Posted on: August 25, 2010 10:07 am
Edited on: August 25, 2010 10:18 am

Report: Griffin turns down Nuggets GM offer

Report: Nuggets must turn to plan B after Suns assistant turns down GM offer.
Posted by Matt Moore

Well, back to the drawing board. ESPN's Ric Bucher is reporting that David Griffin has turned down the offer of general manager extended by the Nuggets last week. Bucher reports that Griffin turned the offer down due to a paltry salary (less than the $1 million baseline for GMs) and due to confusion over the hierarchy in Denver. Josh Kroenke, son of Nuggets' owner Stan Kroenke, met with Carmelo Anthony last week to try and smooth out the situation with him requesting a trade. Meanwhile, advisor Bret Bearup is considered heavily involved in personnel decisions according to multiple media sources. With that kind of structure in place, along with Melo's possibly iminent departure , the job obviously lost its luster to Griffin.

Raptors executive Masai Ujiri is apparently next on the list. The question has to not only be what kind of a position the general manager will have with so many hands in the pot, but what the direction of Denver is going to be over the next few years. With Anthony leaning towards greener zipcodes, J.R. Smith on the block , and the future of Chauncey Billups in the air as well, Denver's not exactly looking like the most attractive destination. So this could take a while. But it is an NBA general manager position, and as such, they should be able to get the position filled at some point. The problem is that in a delicate time, with training camp getting closer each day, the Nuggets are still without an official general manager. And that's only got to make the situation that much more unstable for Carmelo.

For an interesting look at the work Ujiri has done, check out this HoopsAddict interview with him from June.
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