I had a strong hunch all summer long, but now with the pending acquisition of two more first round draft picks, I'm going to go out on a limb and say Carmelo Anthony will be wearing a New Jersey Nets uniform by December 27th, when they host the Orlando Magic.
Consider it a late Christmas present of sorts to an organization and fan base looking to re-brand as a winner under the leadership of ambitious new owner Mikhail Prokhorov.
The latest deal involves the Nets shipping the out-of-favor Terrence Williams to Houston Rockets, veteran Joe Smith to the Los Angeles Lakers, and netting in return Slovenian marksman Sasha Vujacic, as well as the Lakers' No. 1 pick in 2011 and the Rockets' No. 1 in 2012.
With the move, the Nets shave off $2.4 million for next year in cap space and now have five first round picks over the next two seasons.
In short, the Nets can and will sweeten what's already a saccharine-sweet offer for the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Anthony. No other team in the league can offer up what the Nets can: at least one lottery pick, a promising 19-year-old rookie forward (No. 3 pick Derrick Favors) and expiring contracts.
Another way to look at it is Denver could land two high lottery picks in return for a player they're going to lose at season's end anyhow.
The likelihood of a better offer coming in is slim to none, which is exactly why I believe Nuggets brass will soon pull the trigger.
Great deal for the Nets, right?
Well, this Nets fan and season ticket holder doesn't think so. Then again, I could care less about boosting ticket and merchandising sales and having a more visible product.
I care about winning.
As much as Prokhorov and the Nets are looking to change face overnight, no one will give a damn about the team while it's in Newark-to-Brooklyn limbo.
As it stands now, the stadium is half empty unless it's a weekend afternoon game. Thus, with the real long-term focus of the team being about competing two years from now rather than tomorrow, losing Favors and a lottery pick for a potential walker at season's end is just poor management in my book.
Also, let's say the Nets do convince Anthony to sign an extension. You can bet, regardless of the new CBA, it's going to be for at least $20 million per season.
The problem with that, of course, is Brook Lopez has a mega-deal coming his way too.
Do the Nets want 75 percent of their payroll dedicated to just Anthony and Lopez? Some will say that's fine. Me? I prefer a way to get out of a jam if we get into one. I have no interest in experiencing the Jersey version of the musical, "Allan Houston: My Knee, Your Franchise."
So what do I propose the Nets do instead of trading for Anthony? One of three options:
1. Get a comparable or better talent who is under contract.
2. Get a budding young player who could star in a couple of years.
3. Get a cheaper, accomplished starting veteran who fills a need.
Here are five players the Nets should strongly consider, ahead of Anthony.