With rumors of a Carmelo Anthony trade getting more exasperating everyday and sports writers getting more ridiculous with irrational deals, it has become more than necessary to look at what teams can offer in a deal for the Nuggets star.
The New Jersey Nets have all of a sudden become the front-runner for the Denver small forward and have reportedly offered all three of their power forwards along with a 1st-round pick in a proposed deal according to ESPN. Yet with rumors becoming more rampant than ever even this proposed deal is merely speculative. In any deal, the Nuggets would clearly be looking for cap space, young players, and draft picks, all of which the Nets have. However, there are other teams in competition with the Nets for Anthony. Two of the likely necessities in any deal would be the aforementioned compensation for Denver and Anthony signing an extension with the team that trades for him. With that in mind there seems to be 5 teams that could facilitate a trade directly with the Nuggets, without involving other teams, and could still sign Anthony to an extension.
1) New Jersey Nets: The Nets are the clear front-runner as of this afternoon. This could change quickly, however, in the next few hours. The Nets have already repeatedly said their young center Brook Lopez is untouchable and none of the other 4 teams can offer anyone close to his talent level, as Lopez is widely viewed as the 2nd or 3rd best center in the league. The rest of the roster seems open to negotiation, but there seems to be a consensus on what players would be involved in trade negotiations; those being point guard Devin Harris, power forward Derrick Favors, shooting guard Terrence Williams, small forward Damion James, and power forward Troy Murphy.
Ideally, the Nets would like to keep Harris who, although somewhat injury prone, was an All-Star only 1 year ago. Favors, the #3 pick in the draft is one of the most talented player in terms of potential that most teams could offer and his athleticism, rebounding, and defensive prowess has already received rave reviews. He is, however, still raw, but could develop into a primetime player down the road with his 6'10, 250 pound frame. The Nets would be wise to hold onto the #3 pick since players of his physical stature are rare and a very good power forward will be necessary to compete with Chris Bosh and the Miami triumvirate if the Nets do indeed desire a championship more than being playoff contenders.
For the Nets, the best combination of players would be the combination Williams, James, Murphy, and 3 first round picks, including the 2012 pick they acquired from Golden State. Williams offers the Nuggets a player with superior athleticism, very good court vision, and the type of player who can develop into an above average starter. Will he ever be a star, probably not, but unless other teams are willing to give up talent greater than Williams, the Nets would be wise to hold steadfast on including Williams as the centerpiece. James, the Nets other first round pick, is widely seen as the sleeper of this past year's draft and would offer the Nuggets a defensive and rebounding presence at small forward automatically and is no slouch of a scorer coming out of Texas shooting 37% from the perimeter.
Along with these two young players, Troy Murphy would not only be an expiring contract, but also a player who can average 15 points and 10 rebounds, while shooting 40% beyond the arc. With all of the injuries the Nuggets have to their frontline, Murphy would be a welcome addition. The 3 first round picks, including the Golden State pick are what makes the Nets a serious competitor. If Nets' GM Billy King is smart and wants to prove he can swindle teams like his predecessor Rod Thorn did, he will refuse to include Favors in any deal and continue the 5-year plan Nets' management spoke about in the offseason.
2) New York Knicks: The Knicks have two key players that will likely be involved in any deal for Anthony and those two players will have to be the center of any deal involving the Nuggets' small forward. Those two players are clearly Danilo Gallinari and Anthony Randolph. Gallinari would offer the Nuggets a player who is quickly showing that he could be the second coming of Peja Stojakovic and is already recognized as one of the best 3-point shooters in the league.
Randolph, on the other hand, has yet to establish himself and the type of player he is. However, he has shown serious potential in limited time and could eventually become a player similar to Rudy Gay down the road. Randolph clearly has the most potential out of any Knicks player and could develop into a go-to-scoring option eventually. The Knicks, unlike the Nets, don't have the ammunition in first round picks that the other four teams have so in order to get Anthony may have to offer both of these young players and undoubtedly the Nuggets would have to bite.
A deal of Eddy Curry, Randolph or Gallinari, and Wilson Chandler would be ideal for the Knicks, but when comparing a deal involving Murphy, Williams, James, and 3 first round picks, the Nets clearly have the advantage. If the Knicks offer Randolph and Gallinari, however, they clearly would be the frontrunners with or without the first rounders.
3) Chicago Bulls: It's very simple for the Bulls and Nuggets if negotiations are going to continue between the two teams, any deal will have to involve Joakim Noah. In any deal, salaries must come close to matching and unless the Nuggets completely change their stance on a deal and accept an overpaid Luol Deng (4 years, 51 million), Noah will have to be included since any other players involved don't come close to the talent level offered by the Knicks or Nets.
Power forward Taj Gibson looks like a solid complimentary player as a 5th scoring option on good teams, but does not nearly have the potential of players like Williams or Gallinari.
James Johnson, a combo-forward, barely received any playing time off the bench last season (6 mpg) and projects as another solid player off the bench. Hence, unless Denver completely changes what it desires and accepts Deng, the Bulls chances for Anthony are all in the Joakim Noah basket.
4) Houston Rockets: The Rockets could easily outbid most of these teams by offering Denver starting point guard Aaron Brooks. However, that would defy the whole point of acquiring Anthony and allowing him to team with Brooks, shooting guard Kevin Martin, and the oft-injured Yao Ming. Martin, although a talented scorer, is another fragile player and has a long-term contract (3 years, 36 million), so he is also highly unlikely to be included.
More likely, the Rockets would offer Denver a plethora of players including Patrick Patterson, Jordan Hill, Courtney Lee, the expiring contract of Shane Battier, their first round pick, and the Knicks 2012 first round pick. If Denver goes for quantity over quality the Rockets seem like the best choice. However, Lee has already likely hit his ceiling as a good defensive shooting guard and streaky 3-point shooter and Hill has flashed little potential over his first two years in the league.
This deal would be made in order to acquire Patterson and the first round picks. Yet if the Nets were to offer 3 first rounders, Williams, James, and Murphy, the Knicks were to offer Gallinari and Randolph, or the Bulls were to offer Noah then the Rockets would likely have to take a backseat in Denver's trade preferences.
5) Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers could easily blow all 4 of these teams out of the water with the young and talented players they have on their roster. Last year's #1 pick Blake Griffin would likely be off the table, but the Clippers have much more talent beyond the talented power forward.
Some combination of Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan and 2010 first round picks Al-Farouq Aminu and Eric Bledsoe could easily be sent to Denver so long as owner Donald Sterling and the rest of the Clippers front office were able to convince Anthony to sign a long-term extension.
For the Clippers any deal involving Kaman would likely include Aminu, while any deal involving Gordon would likely involve either Aminu or Jordan and a first round pick. If the Clippers were to offer Kaman and Gordon as some sports writers have suggested, then the Nuggets should be sending Anthony on his own plane to L.A. as soon as the deal is done.
However, the more intelligent and likely deal would involve one or the other being sent to the Nuggets in exchange for Anthony and possibly a player like Aaron Afflalo.
*With so many "rumors" from unknown "sources" the Carmelo Anthony saga seems to be getting more grueling everyday. Who are these sources? No one knows. Yet what everyone does know is there are too many reporting different scenarios, some that don't even include the matching of salaries.
Others include the future teaming of Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Chris Paul in New York or both players teaming with Brook Lopez in New Jersey if the Nets or Knicks were to acquire Anthony via trade. These "sources," however, fail to describes how Paul would be acquired when neither team would have the cap space to acquire both stars unless both were to take a major pay cut. Despite the triumvirate in Miami reportedly willing to do so in order to play together, it is highly unlikely both Paul and Anthony would be willing to do the same considering the taxes both players would have to pay in New York that aren't paid by the Super Friends in Miami.
Instead of making a play for Anthony now, teams could decide to wait into the season and see what they have in their young players until the trade deadline. It is when teams get desperate that they make mistakes.
The goal of every team should be a championship and any team will have to compete with Orlando, Miami, the Lakers, and Thunder for the next 5 years. Can the addition of Carmelo Anthony help these teams take the next step to compete with the top teams in the NBA. Of course. But not at the cost of giving up the players that would surround Anthony and allow them to compete for a title. These teams must consider what other teams are likely willing to and can give up for Anthony and proceed from there.
NBA General Managers should consider the possibility that giving up high quality players for Anthony when competing teams were unwilling too could keep their franchise in the middle of the playoff picture, while teams like the Heat, Magic, Lakers, and up-and-coming Thunder compete for Championships. Being a 50 win playoff team is nice, but being a championship team is better.
GMs need to ask themselves this question: would the addition of Anthony and subtraction of the players you trade allow you to beat those teams in the playoffs? If the answer is no, then they need to question whether with the acquisition of Anthony and his maximum contract would you still be able to acquire the pieces necessary to beat those teams? If the answer is: I believe so, then that is the wrong answer. You must know so and have a plan to acquire certain players to reach that championship level. That is what turns playoff teams into championship teams.
As much speculation as has happened over the past few weeks, it can only get worse, as every "sportswriter" and "expert" has his "source" of where Anthony will wind up. Yet no one has proven anything more than that speculation and because of that, nothing has been gained by anyone, except a few headaches to NBA fans waiting for the drama to end.
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