The Melo-drama will soon finally be over in the Mile High City. Nuggets fans, players and coaches can, at long last, move forward and start anew.
Anthony was asked about the proposed deal today and said, “I really don't know. I'm waiting to see Masai (Ujiri) and Josh (Kroenke)... They haven't been here (Denver) so I'm just patiently waiting until they get back so I have a sit-down with them.”
The deal is not completely finished yet and Anthony has to be persuaded into signing his extension. According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, Melo's agent Leon Rose pulled strings to get Denver native Chauncey Billups included into the deal to join Anthony in New Jersey with Rip Hamilton.
Because the Nuggets front office wanted to get as much as possible back from trading away their two biggest star players and to make the deal work financially, the Pistons became involved in the trade process as well.
The full deal is as follows:
Denver Nuggets Receive:
New Jersey Nets Receive:
Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton (from DET), Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter, Renaldo Balkman/Al Harrington
Detroit Pistons Receive:
Troy Murphy, Johan Petro
With multiple star players being moved around, this is the definition of a “blockbuster trade” and the 13 total players ties the mark for the largest trade in NBA history.
All that movement impacts all three teams mightily and puts them in three unique levels of the rebuilding process.
The Pistons open up cap room for next year and beyond by dropping $37 million by losing Hamilton's $25 million in the next two years and Murphy's expiring $12 million—they will be a major player in free agency in the summer of 2011.
The Nets would now have a dynamic and explosive starting four; with Billups, Hamilton, Anthony and Brook Lopez—they could conceivably complete for the East next season (at 10-27 currently, the fantastic four would have to make up a lot of ground quickly to be playoff-bound this year.) The trade would make New Jersey the furthest along in the building process of the three teams involved.
The Nuggets would find themselves somewhere in between the other two teams—not completely starting from scratch but not necessarily ready to compete by next season either.
The deal is interesting from the standpoint of Denver's point guard situation, as Ty Lawson has been steadily growing into the point guard of the future and Devin Harris (16.6 PPG, 6.8 APG) is actually out-performing Billups (16.9 PPG, 4.9 APG) this season.
Would George Karl move forward and move Lawson (10.8 PPG, 4.0 APG) to starter, or would he start Harris? Harris has been the starter in New Jersey for the past four seasons, but would he be willing to back up the emerging Lawson as he did in Dallas his first three years?
Either way, Denver's back court depth would grow with this move.
And trading away Anthony leaves a major void at the small forward position for Denver, but third-year guard-forward Anthony Morrow could step into that role or at least split time with Gary Forbes. Morrow can flat-out fill up the basket, scoring 12.8 PPG on 45.9 percent shooting from the field this season, and he's a career 45.1 percent shooter from beyond the arc.
Morrow's 6'5” 210 pound frame suits the shooting guard position more than it does small forward, and Karl could also start JR Smith—as he did when Melo was out due to injury earlier in the year—at the three spot and let Morrow backup the two. Plus, Morrow gives the Nuggets more depth at shooting guard, meaning they could be more likely to trade away Smith, who is in the final year of his deal with Denver.
Derrick Favors, the 6'10” 245 pound power forward, was the most coveted piece in the deal for Denver, because he's a rookie and the Nuggets desperately need to move younger in the front court. Kenyon Martin will likely remain the starter for the time being, but he's in the last year of his contract and Favors could transition into Denver's starting four next season.
Favors is an athletic and lanky power forward who loves to crash the boards. In around 19 minutes per game with the Nets, Favors has averaged 6.7 points and 5.1 rebounds, putting him 26th in the league in rebounds per 48 minutes, far ahead of the Nuggets' Nene. Meaning when his minutes rise, he could be one of the better rebounders in the NBA.
Also included in the trade to Denver would be Ben Uzoh, a 6'3” 205 pound rookie guard (2.9 PPG, 1.4 APG) and Stephen Graham, a 6'6” 215 pound veteran guard-forward (4.0 PPG, 2.2 RPG). Both Uzoh and Graham would simply provide depth; Uzoh would likely replace Carter as the third PG and Graham could help play the three spot as his brother Joey did last year.
Which starting five option would you choose for Denver?
Here's a look at potential starting lineups/benches for the Nuggets:
Option 1: Starters: Harris, Afflalo, Smith, Martin, Nene
Bench: Lawson, Morrow, Forbes, Favors, Andersen
Option 2: Starters: Lawson, Afflalo, Smith, Martin, Nene
Bench: Harris, Morrow, Forbes, Favors, Andersen
Option 3: Starters: Lawson, Afflalo, Morrow, Martin, Nene
Bench: Harris, Smith, Forbes, Favors, Andersen
Option 3a: Starters: Harris, Afflalo, Morrow, Martin, Nene
Bench: Lawson, Smith, Forbes, Favors, Andersen
Overall, the Nuggets will instantly transition into a younger team if this trade goes through. To wit, the average age of the five players the Nuggets are trading away is 30.4 years old and the players they would get in return, only 24.2 years of age.
Plus, acquiring the two first-round picks sets Denver up for the future and possibly a much quicker rebuild than anyone could have expected after trading away their lone superstar.
Of course, it will all depend on the continued development of Lawson, Afflalo and Favors, and the astute drafting by Ujiri and Kroenke in the next two drafts. But if the three can grow, they would represent a solid core of players to build around. And it would make the process of building a championship contender that much easier if one of the three developed into a star.
In the world of superstar trades, it's difficult to evaluate “equal” trade value. But for the Nuggets, this was close to equal, essentially the best deal out there.
Harris represents a point guard that can produce as well as Billups, at half the age. Favors is the much-needed big man of the future in Denver. The two first-round picks are a welcome sight for draft drought-stricken Denver and the other ballers will be used as role players, traded or cut at the end of this season.
Some are speculating that since one of the first-round picks going to Denver is New Jersey's that the Nuggets won't actually pull the trigger on the deal for nearly a month, ensuring that the pick is higher rather than lower due to the likely improved play by the Nets post-trade.
Nothing is a done deal as of today, but it seems quite likely that this deal will go through sooner or later, hopefully sooner for the Nuggets players and fans.
Billups the bystander
While this trade may be a surprise to many of the players associated with the “Massive Melo Move of 2011,” the biggest bystander is Chauncey Billups. The King of Park Hill, who hooped at George Washington High School and at CU, wants to be a Nugget for the rest of his playing career and even wants to join the Denver front office when he's retired.
But that's the world of professional sports.
It's a business first and foremost and Billups must have started having the sinking suspicion the Nuggets weren't going to keep him beyond this season when he wasn't offered a contract extension at the beginning of the year. Denver would be able to save $11 million in a buy-out next offseason and with the growth of Ty Lawson, it was unlikely the aging Mile High hometowner would have remained a Nugget in 2011 anyway.
Billups is a fan favorite in Denver and it's likely some of the other players were in their cities (Hamilton) as well.
It is amazing how one man's desire to be traded is affecting 13 others, but it comes along with the territory of being a superstar in the NBA.
Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist actively seeking a career in journalism. Along with being the CSU Rams Examiner, Kurtzman is a Denver Nuggets, Denver Broncos and NBA Featured Columnist for bleacherreport.com, the Colorado/Utah Regional Correspondent for stadiumjourney.com and a weekly contributor to milehighhoops.com.
Rich also heads up PR for K-Biz and Beezy, a Colorado-based rap group.
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