In the wake of a certain “Decision“, the basketball world has been turned upside down and NBA owners have been in a frenzy.
The system in which the owners hold all the cards and make all the rules has been outright shattered. In fact, owners have become so terrified of losing their star players, there have even been whispers of incorporating the NFL’s “franchise tag” system. (For a brief explanation of the franchise tag system see at the bottom of the slide).
The situation in Miami left the Cavaliers and Raptors without their best players or much to show for their loss. Denver has undoubtedly taken note of this and although they are trying their hardest to keep Anthony, it's no secret that they’ve softened in their resolve not to trade him.
As a front office, Denver has made all the right moves so far and with that in mind, I present seven reasons why the Nuggets won’t rush into a hasty mistake, at least not before the trade deadline.
Denver has already shown tremendous patience with Anthony in their refusal to jump the gun and cut their losses with him. It is still their hope that the Nuggets do well enough to perform up to Anthony’s standards.
Though the Nuggets are sitting at a mediocre 4-4, their losses so far have come from the undefeated Hornets, the Dallas Mavericks, the Chicago Bulls and the Indiana Pacers.
The Bulls and Mavericks are essentially shoe-ins to make the playoffs in their respective divisions and it took a 20 for 21 shooting performance in the third quarter for the Pacers to keep the Nuggets at arm's length.
The Nuggets will see brighter days prior to the trade deadline.
Along with Tim Duncan, Anthony is the only player in the league with seven or more years of experience to have led his team into the playoffs every season of his career.
There’s no reason to believe that the Nuggets won’t correct the ship and continue the trend. Anthony may be eyeing Chi-town now, but when you think about the Baby Bulls, consistency is the last thing that comes to mind.
If the Bulls, now sitting at 3-3, continue the up and down trend they’ve established in their previous two seasons and the Nuggets reassert their position as one of the top teams in the West, don’t be surprised if Anthony has second thoughts.
Anytime you align with two top four scorers at their respective positions, you’re going to suffer statistically and no one knows that better than LeBron James.
No one expected James to run away with MVP voting or a scoring title this year, but neither did anyone expect one of his worse overall statistical seasons to date.
Though James’s 8.6 assists per game ties the career high he established last season, he’s also averaging a career high in turnovers (4.38), a career low in rebounds (5.5), and his 44 FG% is by far the worst we’ve seen from him since his rookie season.
Sure James and the Heat have time to figure it out, but we can already take one lesson from them: two dominant scorers can’t always co-exist peacefully.
If Anthony were to leave the Nuggets for Chicago, the Bulls would not only risk stunting the growth of Derrick Rose, but they would also need Anthony to accept a diminished role in the team’s offense (particularly after the return of Carlos Boozer).
When James made that choice, he did so with the knowledge that he could dominate the game in more ways than his sheer scoring. The aforementioned 8.6 assists James earned last year was the highest assist average of any small forward ever.
Even Larry Bird.
Anthony’s game isn’t nearly as diverse. Though he may believe that Chicago would offer a better chance at a deep postseason run, the sacrifice it would take for him to co-exist with Rose could leave both players with stunted production.
Nothing Anthony has said or done screams “get me the hell out of here!” Instead, his demeanor and sound bites tend to lean more toward disappointment with the team’s direction and a desire to remain relevant in the changing landscape of the NBA, whether in Denver or elsewhere.
A blockbuster trade with Chicago would certainly keep Anthony relevant by means of increased media coverage, but if the Bulls failed to achieve anything of significance (i.e. anything bigger than a Central Division title), the coverage Anthony would receive wouldn’t be the kind he bargained for.
With a bit of foresight by Anthony and a steady improvement by the Nuggets, Anthony may re-sign with the Nuggets for a short term contract sooner than people think.
We survived Y2K and 6/6/06, but the Mayans nailed it: We won’t survive 2012—at least not with our NBA intact.
The collective bargaining agreement, lockout or whatever you want to call it is coming and it doesn’t seem like much can be done to stop it.
There’s nothing more that a professional athlete of any sport loves more than job security, particularly with the end of the world looming. In the likely event that the Nuggets hold on to Anthony until the trade deadline and beyond, there’s no telling what kind of rules and regulations the NBA may establish in 2012.
Talks of the franchise tag and the destruction of the “unrestricted” free agent option already in place are just a couple of problems Anthony and those in his boat need to be wary of.
Anthony may not be worried about the lockout just yet with half a season ahead before the trade deadline, but won’t likely come across a deal more lucrative than the three-year $65 million the Nuggets offered. If Anthony’s heart really is set on leaving, the Nuggets won’t make that easy for him.
All in all, 2012 may actually wind up saving the Nuggets’ future.
Raise your hand if you thought the Hornets would start off the season 7-0.
Don’t mind the shotgun I just cocked. It has nothing to do with the question I just asked…really.
Seriously, the Hornets may be among the biggest deterrents keeping Melo in Denver.
Other than Chicago, the only team with a realistic shot of landing Anthony is the Knicks—and everyone knows about the toast Chris Paul made at Anthony’s wedding which foreshadowed a potential uniting of Paul, Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire.
Well it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. The Hornets have Paul under contract for two more seasons and weren’t going to ship him out even before their miraculous start to the season.
No one will call them championship contenders just yet, but anytime a team starts off 7-0, can claim victories over the Nuggets, Spurs and Heat, they’ve got some potential.
Paul didn’t seem willing to try to force his way out of New Orleans before and certainly won’t now.
It's doubtful that Anthony would head for the losing atmosphere of the Knicks without knowing that Chris Paul is right behind him.
In all likelihood, you can scratch off another of Melo’s options here.
After the destruction of the four team mega-deal that involved Denver, Utah, Charlotte and New Jersey, the Nuggets haven’t been offered anything that’s piqued their interest.
Though reports have it that Chicago offered Deng, one of the worst things they could do is to take on the contract of an overpaid player who struggles with offensive consistency.
Thanks but no thanks guys, you can hold on to Luol Deng.
If the Nuggets were to lose Anthony, they couldn’t realistically expect to come across a scenario in which they’d break even but they’ve proven to be far too wise and patient to overzealously jump at the first offer they get.
If the Nuggets decide that moving on from Anthony is the best option for their future, Anthony may actually become more valuable closer to the deadline.
Take the Sixers for instance. The Sixers are a struggling team that seemed to be on the brink of something in 2008 before falling by the wayside ever since.
They overpaid for Andrew Iguodala, a good but not great talent, and Elton Brand, who never shaped out to be the 20 and 10 guy they’d hoped for.
If the Sixers persuaded Denver to trade them Anthony for either of those pieces, it would be a beneficial situation for everyone involved, besides Anthony of course.
Denver gets something of value in in return for Anthony, and the Sixers would finally be leaving the depths of NBA purgatory and would be able to begin the rebuilding process with the money saved by letting go of Brand or Iguodala.
They would also have their biggest attraction since Allen Iverson, albeit only for a few months and who knows maybe they get a playoff berth out of it too.
What does the deadline have to do with any of this?
Simple, by then the Sixers will likely be in the middle of yet another dismal season and with the opportunity to make the biggest splash they’ve had in recent memory closing quick, they’re far more likely to attempt a deal at that time than they are now.
The Sixers aren’t the only non-contender that may benefit from even a few months of Anthony’s presence, but they’re certainly one of the teams most in need.
The Nuggets have absolutely no reason to rush. Certain things in the NBA, barring injury or tragedy are just going to happen no matter what.
The Lakers will win the West’s No. 1 seed for the fourth consecutive year.
The Dallas Mavericks will rack up another 50 win season before burning out in the playoffs.
The Clippers will continue to be the Lakers’ ugly step-sister.
The Boston Celtics will win the Atlantic Division.
Certain things just…are. If the Nuggets are really incapable of holding onto Anthony, why rush dealing him away?
They’re still in the thick of things in the Northwest Division, which they’ve won the previous two seasons, and nothing can possibly be gained by rushing Melo out.
If I’m Denver management and Anthony is going to make me sweat, why not return the favor?
Often, being a GM or owner of an NBA team is like being a quarterback in the NFL. If you hold the ball for too long, pass up shorter gains for a homerun play, you get sacked and have nothing to show for your loss.
Cleveland and Toronto learned that the hard way.
However, if you get rattled and rush or force the pass you aren’t much better off, i.e. the $80 contract the Sixers signed Iguodala to or the ludicrous $119 million dollar contract the Hawks used to re-sign Joe Johnson.
Though the Nuggets' future may be up in the air, they’ll be best served to weigh their options as they come along and only cut their losses with Anthony if there’s no other choice.