The trade deadline seems a lot closer now that Christmas is over with, and it's clear that something needs to be done with Carmelo Anthony.
The Nuggets have taken a very "wait and see" approach to the situation so far, but that stance has yielded little to no results. I can't blame them for keeping him around a little while to see if they can change his mind. If he reconsidered and signed the extension, the Nugget brass comes out looking like geniuses. The only problem with that, is that Carmelo Anthony is not staying in Denver. Not for anything.
Anthony will be in a new uniform next season, or possibly even this season. The only thing that the Denver Nuggets can do about it, is try to get something in return for their superstar. While the Nuggets still have some breathing room before the February 17 deadline, it would benefit them greatly to start out the new year in grand fashion.
If they are going to trade Melo away, they will need time for their new players to gel before the start of the post season. The best idea for both parties concerned, is to deal Carmelo as soon as humanly possible. Denver is still focusing on the pain it will cause the franchise, while what they need to focus on is letting the healing process begin.
The biggest thing the Nuggets are worried about is not getting equal value back in return for Carmelo Anthony.
A reasonable concern, right?
What they haven't seemed to consider yet, is that there's a way they can up his stock.
Blockbuster trades have not exactly been scarce in the last few weeks, and the Nuggets could cash in with a Carmelo trade if they strike while the trading iron is still hot. Several teams have interest in Carmelo besides New Jersey, and the Nuggets would do well to start a bidding war between the interested parties.
If Denver can convince teams they are committed to dealing Anthony to the highest bidder, offers will begin to pour in. The only reason offers have been less than desirable so far, is that most teams are convinced that Carmelo would only go to the Knicks or the Nets. The Dallas Mavericks are also quietly in the hunt for Anthony's "talents", and I wouldn't count them out of an effort to deal for Carmelo to make a push for the title this year.
The bottom line is, there is a large pool of interest for Anthony around the league. It would be best if Denver started to pit them against each other in an effort to max out the return they'll get for their superstar.
The observational time in Denver is over for this situation, Carmelo Anthony is not going to sign an extension.
Anthony has made it painfully obvious for the fans and organization alike to see that he does not wish to continue being a Nugget. This intense display of disdain for his current franchise goes beyond mere suggestion or words, with Carmelo rejecting a $65 million extension that would last him three more years.
Let's forget for one moment just how much money $65 million is, and focus more on what kind of a statement Anthony is making by rejecting it. Carmelo does not strike me as an idiot, so he has to know the NBA is heading for a lockout next season. With this knowledge he must also know that a new collective bargaining agreement will be negotiated as well.
I'm not saying that Carmelo is going to blow through his money al'a Dennis Rodman, and I'm also not suggesting that Carmelo won't be able to get a lucrative contract with the new CBA. What is a pressing reality for Mr. Anthony however, is the fact that he may have to settle for less money. If he's willing to risk millions of dollars on a gamble, he obviously does not like his situation.
Carmelo made everything clear with the rejection of the extension under current regulations.
He wants out, and Denver should know that by now.
Denver needs to realize that their efforts to retain him have failed, and they should start rebuilding around someone who wants to be the face of that franchise.
Remember what happened with this guy? I'm sure Denver does.
Cleveland never even entertained the idea of trading LeBron James before he could leave them, and now their best player is Maurice Williams. While this is not the exact same situation, it should be easier for Denver to see what the right thing to do is. LeBron may have worn New York hats and become friends with famous rappers, but Carmelo is practically screaming to be let go.
Like the LeBron scenario, Denver would not get equal value back for Carmelo Anthony. But isn't it better to get something back when you know he's going to leave you? LeBron and Chris Bosh left their teams in ruins by walking during free agency, and if Denver is not careful, Carmelo Anthony could do the same thing.
On the flip side of things, Denver could get some great building blocks in return for the star forward. Imagine if Denver would decide to rebuild around Aaron Afflalo, Ty Lawson and Nene? You could get a few quality players, some picks and the Nuggets could be back in the postseason before you know it.
The biggest problem with this theory is that franchises need superstars to sell tickets. Make no mistake, that's why Denver is clinging to Carmelo Anthony. With Anthony's mind made up, the best move on the table is to get some quality future contributors in return to join their great front court (Lawson, Afflalo).
One thing is for sure, Denver does not want to hear that Carmelo is "taking his talents" to New York City.
The Denver Nuggets as they are currently structured are in an unfortunate class of the NBA, as far as teams are ranked. They join the Dallas Mavericks and the Orlando Magic in the tier of teams that are consistently good, but rarely show greatness.
You always think that Denver has a shot to go deep in the playoffs, and then they get swept, or handled easily in the first round. It's because they seem to have all the right pieces, and then a string of poor decisions derails them before you know it.
While it's something that no franchise wants to think about, the question begs if this Denver team could even realistically compete for a title with the roster they have.
The simple answer is no.
The complicated answer is that if they could be a just a piece or two away, but which pieces?
Do you get rid of the veteran point guard that led a team to the championship?
Do you ship out the star forward who's the face of the franchise?
Do you play the guessing game and start swapping role players with other teams, hoping for a better fit?
It's a dangerous game they would have to play to lift themselves to the elite level.
In my opinion, this Denver team is not going to win a title, so the best option is to let Carmelo do what he wants, and start trying to assemble a team that can compete for a championship in the coming years.
We all know that Carmelo wants to move on, now what about the guy who hasn't quite made those plans yet?
Chauncey Billups was once dubbed Mr. Big Shot, but is now nearing the twilight of his career. He still plays good to great on any given night thanks to his veteran intelligence, but it won't last forever. If you have to deal Carmelo, it may be a smart move to also deal Billups while there are still teams that would find him beneficial.
Ty Lawson has shown that he can put on quite a show when given the minutes, so why not get back some valuable pieces back for an aging Billups? This way you deal a superstar of past and present, and get back enough role players and picks to start a team around a very talented front court of Lawson and Afflalo.
All I know is that if I were forced to deal Melo, Billups would be a part of the deal. That way they can maximize what they get back with minimal losses.