Three reasons Denver shouldn't rush to trade Carmelo
There has been much talk and speculation over the last few months about the future of Carmelo Anthony. However, the Denver Nuggets have not rushed into anything, and that is a good strategy. Anthony is the team’s star player, and any time a team considers moving its star, every angle must be examined and every move thought out well in advance.
With that in mind, here are three reasons the Nuggets should take their time as they consider the next step they will take in the Carmelo Anthony saga.
1. The catbird seat: Denver is currently in a very strong position with regards to negotiating, and the Nuggets’ front office cannot afford to squander this opportunity.
If Denver truly wishes to trade Anthony, then doing so at this stage of the season would be a monumental mistake. The talent pool of available players will deepen significantly on Dec. 15 once most of this summer’s free agents become eligible to be traded, allowing the Nuggets to field better offers than the few they got in the offseason. Offers of Andre Iguodala, Andrei Kirilenko, or Derrick Favors are far below market value for a player of Anthony’s caliber, and Denver must realize that these offers will only be the opening salvos in what may become an all-out bidding war for Anthony’s services.
As the trade deadline nears, desperate teams looking to inject life into their seasons may offer the draft picks and young talent Denver is seeking in return. Untouchable players may become more touchable, and the Nuggets can pit team against team to see who can offer the best deal.
The Clippers may include Blake Griffin in a deal for Anthony; although, they would much rather offer anyone and everyone else on the roster first.
The Nets may decide that Anthony is worth more than Brook Lopez and become amenable to including the big man in trade discussions, content to possibly pair Anthony with Favors instead.
The Knicks, well, they will need a team or two to help them if they have a prayer of landing Anthony because New York has no one of interest to the Nuggets.
The question arises, however: What if Anthony refuses to sign an extension with the team the Nuggets wish to trade him to? Well…
2. Taking a stand: Anthony currently has a three-year, $65 million deal on the table from Denver. The Nuggets first choice would be to have him sign it and remain with the franchise. However, if he decides not to sign it and leaves to another team through free agency, he will lose money — not just under the rules of the current collective bargaining agreement but likely even more under the next CBA, which may very well place a hard cap on team payrolls.
Anthony currently wants it both ways. He wants his $65 million and to play for the Knicks, and both he and his agent are threatening to enter free agency and leave the team in the lurch, much the way LeBron James and Chris Bosh did this past summer, if he is not traded to a destination of his choice.
But caving to Anthony’s demands is not in the best interests of the Nuggets franchise, and it is up to team president Josh Kroenke and new GM Masai Ujiri to call Anthony’s bluff.
The odds of Anthony passing up a guaranteed $65 million to enter a murky free agency period that could see him accepting a contract that is significantly less than he is currently making are slim. More likely is that Anthony will hold off on signing the extension until the trade deadline passes, then sign and try to force a trade soon after.
Anthony is just the latest player to use ultimatums to manipulate fearful owners and GMs into getting their way. Players have every right to leave the team they are with once their contract expires; that is what free agency is all about. However, players who want the extra salary that goes with signing an extension with their current team must then bite the bullet and make the best out of their current situations.
This is the situation Anthony finds himself in. However, he would like to find himself in a similar situation to the one LeBron James found himself in last summer, and to that end, he is surely hoping that the Nuggets relent and swallow whatever deal gets him out of the Rockies and into Manhattan the fastest — with his $65 million in tow.
It will be up to Kroenke and Ujiri to put their collective foot down and do what is in the best interest of the team, not Carmelo. If Anthony signs the extension to remain with Denver, great. If the Nuggets can find a deal that returns to them assets that are of equal or greater value, great. But if neither of these scenarios play out, then Denver must be prepared to let Anthony walk if he chooses because to trade him simply to keep from getting nothing in return would be even worse than getting nothing at all.
3. To rebuild or not to rebuild: As the Nuggets contemplate whether to trade their All Star, the team must also decide whether it is time to rebuild or not.
If the front office deems the current roster a competitor, then Kroenke and Ujiri may want to look for established players like Iguodala, Rip Hamilton, or Danny Granger who can contribute immediately and keep the team viable.
But if the front office decides that it is time to rebuild, then Anthony can play a huge role in acquiring the necessary assets and shedding the dead weight to do so. For example, in any trade for Anthony, the Nuggets may ask a team to take on the contract of Nene as well, who has a player option worth $11.6 million next season, in exchange for fewer draft picks or lesser talent.
The Nuggets also have the expiring contracts of Kenyon Martin ($16.5 million) and J.R. Smith ($6 million) to dangle for teams looking for salary cap relief. Chauncey Billups would also likely be shipped out since Denver has a capable young point guard in Ty Lawson, and Billups probably would not want to stick around for a rebuilding project.
Considering the situation, Denver will be sitting pretty if it chooses to rebuild. In theory, the Nuggets could assemble a starting five of Ty Lawson, Rip Hamilton, Al Harrington, Blake Griffin, and Chris Kaman and have money left over to spend on free agents in the summer of 2011.
That sounds a whole lot better than Kirilenko, Favors, and some spare parts.
By: Eric Lorenz
> Read all of the pro basketball articles online from ProBasketball-fans.com.