Having written four articles on Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets over the past month, I have come to the realization that I am now the World's Leading Authority on the subject. (Yes, I'm kidding.)
As such, I would like to offer my opinion on how the Nuggets should proceed.
I am already on record as saying that I think Carmelo should stay put. For a number of reasons, but primarily because he is in a good situation and can receive max dollars to "suffer away" in a great town that loves its team. There is really no reason not to sign the extension, as it is for just three years and he can always ask the team to move him at a later date if he so desires.
I'm also on record as believing that Carmelo Anthony is not a bedrock, cornerstone player. There is no question that he is a fabulous scorer, but he also happens to lack some significant traits that you like to see in your franchise guy.
From the first rumors of the proposed four-team deal that would have sent Anthony to the Nets, I have thought that this was about as good a deal as the Nuggets were likely to receive. It now appears that that deal is dead in the water.
Recent indications are that the Nuggets now prefer a more straightforward one-team deal, yet they still seem to be looking to receive roughly the same take-back. They want a young player with potential, a serviceable veteran, and one or more first-round draft picks. If they can get some cap-clearance as well, all the better.
There was a fast-moving rumor that the New York Knicks were back in the hunt for Carmelo, but NBA.com's David Aldridge reports that that deal has "no legs." I've been an Aldridge fan for a while, so I'm accepting his story as fact.
Before I get to the ultimate solution for the Nuggets' "Carmelo Problem," let me first start with some indisputable facts.
Indisputable fact No. 1: Carmelo Anthony does not want to be in Denver anymore, and will be playing elsewhere, one way or another, next season.
No, he has not made any public statements to this effect, but, then again, he isn't allowed to do so without getting fined. It is as clear as glass that Anthony is done with Denver.
Indisputable fact No. 2: There is no such thing as a fair value take-back in a deal for Carmelo Anthony.
This should be obvious. Unless some team is willing to trade a top 10 player for Carmelo, any deal the Nuggets make will be tilted in favor of the receiving team.
Indisputable fact No. 3, the last one: Losing Carmelo will cripple the Denver Nuggets...for how long is the only question.
The prognosis for the post-Carmelo Nuggets is bleak, yet it is inevitable, so correctly addressing it is critical.
Now for the solution portion of the article. Sorry to keep you in suspense, but you may have gotten a hint as to what the solution should be from the title.
The Denver Nuggets need to get some dynamite and blow up the team. Period. Full stop. Maybe an exclamation point.
It is a given in sports that mediocrity causes fan apathy, and that fan apathy negatively impacts the bottom line. If the fans get apathetic enough, the team may even end up leaving. It has happened before, and it will happen again.
Don't let that be you, Denver.
Winning is obviously the best way to keep a fan-base happy. The Nuggets have done plenty of that since Carmelo Anthony's arrival in 2003. They have made the playoffs in each of his seven seasons with the team.
With Anthony as good as gone, either before, during, or after this season, that run needs to come to an end.
There is nothing worse than consistently picking near the middle of the draft. Any desperate thoughts by the Nuggets to hold on to being a playoff team need vanish.
The only other thing that can be successfully sold to fans is hope.
To be clear, that hope is the belief that you will again be one of the league's top 10 teams, not a hope that you might scrape into the playoffs year after year without really ever getting any better.
Kenyon Martin is in the final year of his contract. Once healthy, he is also a good frontcourt player who might be valuable for a contending team. Trade him for draft picks and/or young players.
J.R. Smith is in the final year of his contract. When not being a head-case, he can be an explosive scorer off the bench. Trade him for draft picks.
Chauncey Billups, the favorite son, deserves better than stewarding a bunch of kids into the lottery, so trade him to a contender as well. Let Mr. Big Shot get one more shot at a ring, while you collect your draft picks.
Most of all, the Nuggets need to trade Carmelo Anthony as soon as possible for whichever deal gives them the best combination of draft picks and youth. Forget the serviceable veteran. Don't want him, don't need him. A large, expiring contract is what they need, not a good player.
There is talk that the Nuggets might be waiting until after December 15 to trade Anthony, so as to have this summer's free agents in the available pool of players that could be traded.
The only way that Denver recovers from losing Carmelo Anthony is to again get lucky in the draft.
The longer that Anthony is a Nugget, the worse Denver's draft position could be. With Martin and Chris Anderson out for the beginning of the season with injuries, what better time to stink up the joint in furtherance of favorable draft position? Anthony would simply get in the way of that.
Every game with Anthony in a Denver uniform is a game they could win. That would be horrible. Not only do the Nuggets need to receive the best possible draft picks from a trade partner, they need to make sure they are doing everything possible to ensure that their own pick has a lot of ping pong balls attached to it.
Not that they could make any of this public, but the Nuggets need to be asking for terrible players with big, expiring contracts (yes, just like Eddy Curry), a young, questionably promising player (yes, just like Anthony Randolph), and a first-round draft pick that looks destined to be in the lottery.
That's right, I've come full circle on the Knicks. I think they offer the best chance for the Nuggets to be bad enough to rebuild quickly and correctly. I don't think a trade with the Knicks works out well for Carmelo, but I don't care. I don't think it works out terribly well for the Knicks either, but, again, not my concern.
Not only should the Nuggets be acquiring Eddy Curry (assuming the Knicks can get their hands on a good enough first-round pick), but they should play him. Rest the heck out of Nene, and let Curry do all the heavy lifting.
Maybe even ask George Karl to step down, and hire Paul Westhead away from the University of Oregon women's team. Return to the days of the "Enver Nuggets" (no 'D').
Gut the team of any valuable asset as quickly as possible, make Eddy Curry the focal point of your offense, and let the ping pong balls fall where they man.
You don't think Harrison Barnes would look good in the powder blue?