NBA Trade Rumors: Meet the Masterminds Behind Carmelo Anthony to the Nets
'Melo's leaving, 'Melo's leaving not. 'Melo's leaving, 'Melo's leaving not.
There seems to be little doubt that Carmelo Anthony will be a New Jersey Net. The only question that remains is, when?
As of now, Anthony would appear to be making his way back to the East Coast by way of a three-team, 15-player trade, with the Detroit Pistons jumping in to dump Rip Hamilton and his salary into the Hudson River.
Then again, the deal is seemingly far from done, with Anthony himself coming out on Monday and saying that a move to the Meadowlands is far from imminent.
In the meantime, let's have a look at the men (and woman) behind the Herculean effort to get 'Melo out of the Rocky Mountains.
Carmelo Anthony: Big Fish on the Market
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The best place to begin, of course, is with Carmelo himself.
The saga that is now seemingly in its final throes began during the 2010 Summer of LeBron, when Anthony first declined a three-year, $65 million extension to stay with the Nuggets, ultimately signaling that he wanted out of Denver.
Since then, it's become clear that 'Melo wants to return to his (and his wife's) East Coast roots, preferably as a member of the New York Knicks, though Anthony himself has never actually said as much.
Though New Jersey clearly isn't Anthony's first choice as far as destinations are concerned, the Nets would seem to be the only team at this point that has both the desire and the tradeable assets to add the three-time All-Star.
La La Vazquez: 'Melo's Wife Wants to Move Back Home
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Though Carmelo's motivations for moving may be somewhat clear, who else exactly is driving his desire is still a bit of an unknown.
Some have suggested that 'Melo's biggest motivator is personal, in the person of his new wife, Alani "La La" Vazquez.
The two were engaged for more than five-and-a-half years before finally tying the knot this past July and have a three-year-old son together, Kiyan.
Like her hubby, the MTV and VH1 personality is a native of the Big Apple, more specifically hailing from Brooklyn.
As such, a move back to the Tri-State Area would seemingly satisfy Vazquez in terms of both career and family.
Leon Rose: The Man Behind the Man at the Center of the Deal
Professionally, Anthony's agent, Leon Rose, is in charge of making sure his client's wishes are fulfilled.
Rose is among the most prominent agents in the NBA today, with a client list that includes, aside from 'Melo, the likes of LeBron James, Chris Paul and Richard Hamilton.
As such, Rose may also be the most powerful agent in the game, and given the fact that he is both 'Melo's and Rip's agents, his fingerprints are clearly all over the proposed 15-player deal, which would be the biggest of its kind in NBA history.
World Wide Wes: The Man Behind the Man Behind the Man
As big as Leon Rose may be in NBA circles, there is nobody with a more ubiquitous presence behind the scenes than William Wesley.
The man known alternately as "World Wise Wes" is perhaps the single most powerful man in basketball, having reportedly engineered, among other things, LeBron James' move to Miami.
A move by Anthony to the Brooklyn-bound Nets would certainly include World Wide Wes, a consultant with media powerhouse Creative Arts Agency, among the major credits.
Mikhail Prokhorov: Big Russian Has Big Money in His Pockets
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So, if Leon Rose and World Wide Wes are so powerful, why is it that the Nets, one of the NBA's most woeful franchises, are the likely destination for one of the league's few franchise stars?
Look no further than Mikhail Prokhorov, the team's owner.
At 6'8" tall and $13.4 billion deep, the Russian business mogul took over as majority owner in New Jersey in 2010 with the goal of turning the Nets into NBA title contenders within five years.
Landing Anthony would be a huge step in the right direction for the "Nyets," and it just so happens that Rose and Wesley are fond of the big billionaire as a potential partner in turning 'Melo into a global brand.
As such, bringing Anthony and Prokhorov together would appear to be a fantastic business move for the aforementioned principals and their representatives.
Billy King: Tangled Up with the Nets
Helping Prokhorov to broker the 'Melo deal is Nets general manager Billy King.
The former front office maestro in Philadelphia took on the task of rebuilding the Nets into Eastern Conference contenders upon arriving in New Jersey in July of 2010, though his first attempted move–luring LeBron James–ultimately went bust.
Should King manage to bring Anthony to the Meadowlands, he would have both a significant feather to add to a cap already adorned with a trip to the NBA Finals with Allen Iverson as his star player, as well as a tremendous piece around which to build the Nets into a legitimate title contender in the East.
Masai Ujiri: Tough Task for a Rookie General Manager
If King is to get a deal done, he'll have to persuade the seemingly cold-footed Masai Ujiri to get on board.
The first-year GM for the Nuggets, the first-ever African-born man to ascend to such a position in the history of American sports, returned to Denver in 2010 after spending four season as a scout for the Nuggets earlier in the decade.
Upon arrival, Ujiri was charged with the nearly impossible task of getting "equal value" for a franchise superstar while dealing with a very limited list of potential suitors.
Some have criticized Ujiri for dragging out negotiations with the Nets for months, even though New Jersey clearly has the best combination of assets, desire and (relative) attractiveness to 'Melo of any suitor with whom the Nuggets could potentially deal.
Then again, time is currently on Ujiri's side, with the NBA trade deadline still a solid six weeks away. As such, there's no pressure for Ujiri to pull the trigger until he gets the most he possibly can in return.
Josh Kroenke: New President, New Roster?
While Ujiri concerns himself with preserving the integrity of the Nuggets' roster as one that can win games, new team president Josh Kroenke must do whatever he can to keep the fans of Denver interested in basketball after taking the reins from father Stan, who just took control of the St. Louis Rams.
Of course, that means working with the GM to put a worthwhile product on the court every night.
That will be much more difficult for the young Kroenke without Carmelo Anthony on his payroll.
Then again, it's tough to pity a guy who runs three different professional sports franchises, along with the Avalanche of the NHL and the Rapids of MLS, before the age of 30 and who is a blood relative of the Walton family of Wal-Mart fame.
LeBron James: How to Win Championships and Influence Superstars
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It's quite possible that the man most responsible for 'Melo's move to New Jersey is also the man who preceded Anthony by two spots in the 2003 NBA Draft.
Some have suggested that Carmelo hadn't entertained thoughts of sugarplum fairies and superstar conglomerates until LeBron teamed up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami to form the Heatles.
Thus, LeBron may very well turn out be Carmelo's version of Cobb from Inception, though Anthony would hardly be part of a triumphant trio like LeBron's, as capable as Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton may be.