It was reported this morning that Carmelo Anthony has once again rejected a contract extension that has been on the table for quiet a while now. Denver was hoping that Carmelo would feel differently about leaving the town he has played for since he started his career in the NBA after spending time with his family over the holidays. That didn’t happen.
The New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets have really been the only teams with a shot at landing Carmelo. The Nets are struggling to make a trade that makes sense with all their available trade options, while the Knicks are just trying to make a trade at all. The Mavericks, on the other hand, have not been public about their interest in Carmelo other than a bold statement by owner Marc Cuban saying they could be interested in a “rent-a-player situation”.
The truth is Dallas is more than capable of making this possibility a reality. Here is a very realistic scenario that would land Carmelo in Dallas and provide Denver with assets to build on and financial relief. This is not coming from a trade expert, so bear with me.
Dallas Mavericks trade: Caron Butler ($10.56 million), Brendan Haywood ($6.9 million), Rodrigue Beaubois ($1.16 million), and Alexis Ajinca ($1.47 million), and their first round pick
Denver Nuggets trade: Carmelo Anthony ($17.15 million), and Al Harrington ($5.77 million)
First of all, it is important to note that the trade falls between the league rules of a 20 percent differential in traded salaries since the difference is actually slightly over 14 percent benefiting the Nuggets. Now let’s analyze how this trade benefits both teams.
Dallas is not trading Butler here because he is injured. They are trading him because what he brings to the table is completely replaceable by other players in the roster. This is not a shot at Butler, who is a phenomenally consistent player and hard worker. The reality of the situation is that he is an average scorer that gets most of his points from mid-range jumpers and can create his own shot. Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki provide the same abilities.
Carmelo Anthony, who would literally just replace Butler in the line-up, provides a new set of skills lacking from the current Mavericks. He can make the mid-range jumper as good as or better than Caron Butler, but he can also get to the free throw line at will and play in the low post. These are two skills the Mavericks desperately need.
If Denver trades Carmelo, they will go straight into rebuilding mode. With that said, keeping Al Harrington would probably not be something the team would want, especially with another big like Haywood in the line-up. Harrington would fit perfectly in Dallas, coming off the bench for Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler if the team decides to play small. That way, Shawn Marion can keep playing small forward rather than subbing in for Dirk.
Letting Brendan Haywood go will open more minutes for Ian Mahinmi, another true center, to keep learning and improving. Although Ajinca has also made strides, he isn’t the true back-up center the Mavericks need.
While looking at salaries, it might not be obvious that the golden piece of this trade is Rodrigue Beauabois. Yes, Dallas does not have multiple first round picks to offer, but can a first round pick get any better than Beaubois? I don’t think so. He will provide an amazing combo guard for years to come for the Nuggets. Picturing him with Ty Lawson in the backcourt quickly resembles what Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis have been able to do in Golden State.
If this trade was to be considered by both teams, Caron Butler would become just an expiring contract. Denver would not be contending for a playoff spot without Anthony and by the time Butler comes back from his injury, it might be too late for a playoff push. Regardless, he is still a solid player Denver might want to keep for a few more years at a reduced salary than what he is paid now.
As far as Haywood, he is a little too good for a back-up role at this point and he knows it. He is a professional, but it is a matter of time until his frustration starts getting stronger. The fact that Ian Mahinmi and Alexis Ajinca have shown great promise as of late is not helping his case either. Nor is his 27% free throw shooting. Denver was very interested in Haywood this summer and there is no reason to believe they wouldn’t be now. After all, they are still in need of a true center.
The first pick that Denver would get in this trade would actually be a late first round pick given Dallas’ record. Regardless, it would still be a great pick for a solid rotation player.
Both teams get potentially better with this trade. Denver gets a first round pick and an amazing young player in Beaubois. They also get the true center they need in Haywood as well as a big man prospect in Ajinca. Last but not least, they also get a late first round pick and an expiring contract in Caron Butler that is not just dead weight like, say, Eddy Curry from New York. These are all great pieces to start rebuilding and have a solid team in the next two years after the Lakers and Spurs finally slow down, if they ever do.
Dallas gets the offensive enforcer they wanted Butler to be. They get that second superstar in Carmelo and rather than a Robin to a Batman, they get a Wade to a LeBron. Dallas can still bring Terry and Marion off the bench and start Stevenson, which has proved successful. Dallas, in my opinion, automatically becomes the favorite in the West, even better than the surprising Spurs.
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