NBA Buyer Beware: Getting 'Melo Alone Will Only Leave You Hungry for More
To satisfy owner Mikhail Prokhorov's unrelenting George Steinbrenner-like thirst to make a huge splash before he's even got his swimming pool fully built, the New Jersey Nets are in the midst of trade talks that might bring them Denver forward Carmelo Anthony, Chauncy Billups, mildly fading Piston vet Rip Hamilton and a few other back end roster parts not even worth mentioning at this particular point.
For this, the Nets are willing to ship out about half the team. Devin Harris, who by the numbers at least is about on par with Billups, youngster Derrick Favors, who almost all NBA aficionados like as one of the game's best very young emerging players, along with a vast compliment of expiring contracts and at least two first round draft picks, one of which is looking like a surefire high lottery choice in the NBA draft to come.
(Even that is not enough to quench the thirst of rainbow dreaming Denver management who are now intent on dumping contracts and are simply unwilling to digest the eventual likelihood that they are the pseudo lame duck in this situation and the closer they get to the trade deadline the shorter the offer, or offers should logically get.)
Let's say the Nets were to reel in this trio of players. Hamilton, who's averaging 13.5 points per game on 41 percent shooting, Billups, a Devin Harris-like 16 point per game, albeit on 40 percent shooting, and Carmelo Anthony, one of the league's best shooter/scorers (and much better than middling rebounder), to a team with center Brook Lopez and some fifth player they can find on the Newark corner of Continental and Main.
What might we expect of them then?
An immediate turn of events? With a current record of 10-27, will this reconfigured lineup resurrect the team's playoff hopes for 2011? Go on a big run, squeeze the Nets into an eight spot, generate all kinds of excitement for next year in New Jersey, Brooklyn or whatever metropolitan city or borough happens to come up with the next best housing offer.
Agghh, ugghhhh, aaagghhh!
That choking sound you just heard is the potentially loud, collective exhale of all Net fans holding their ever loving breath.
Just as likely, or in the alternative, the team will simply become a little more exciting to watch in the very short term.
Soon after get back to losing a whole bunch as Billups morphs into full on three-ball hoist mode, Hamilton repeatedly gets beat by opposition two guards (as he''s been forced to play out of position to accommodate 'Melo at the three). And, in a worst case scenario, watch Anthony run, not walk, but run across the minute bordering territory that separates the New Jersey Nets from the New York Knickerbockers to sign with Donnie Walsh and Madison Square Garden's re-emerging finest, which in truth is what he's been hoping on all along.
Yes, that is without a doubt a worst case scenario. Mr. Prokhorov, with his Russian savvy and very recently acquired familiarity with the ways of the NBA, figures he can reel 'Melo in with a little caviar, a close up gander at Beyonce, and of course the $65 million extension, chump change we're led to believe for this seeming egocentric Eastern billionaire.
But Carmelo Anthony already has all the green he needs, has a a very passable celebrity wife of his own in La La Vasquez, and that $65 million, well even in the face of a complete meltdown between NBA owners and the Players Association, you have to figure 'Melo will find a way to get his for the years to come, particularly when you contemplate he'll be the one true marquee player out there during the reasonably imminent free agency signing period to come.
Phew, that was all quite a mouthful and even with there's a little something more we'd like to add.
Sin duda, (come on hombre, bone up on your Spanish), Carmelo Anthony is indeed a great player, a marquee player, but in seven seasons prior to this one, on not great, but pretty well balanced Denver teams, the Nuggets have managed their way out of a first round playoff match only once, albeit a run to the Western Conference finals in 2009 against the Lakers.
Extrapolating, it is not at all far fetched to surmise, if you try build a team around 'Melo from scratch, (so to speak), or add him as a prominent piece to a little better than average group, you might certainly expect improvement, (at least at the turnstile!) But even with all his attributes, the career marks of 24 points and eight rebounds per game, Carmelo Anthony is simply not the type of player to put an NBA team on his back and win a title.
"Well few players are," you might say in response, and of course you'd be correct. But Anthony is not signing for long dollars without return expenditures as LeBron James & Chris Bosh did in Miami, or Amar'e Stoudemire did in New York.
With a month to go before the trade deadline and several before Anthony could be an outright free agent, the Denver Nuggets are looking for a heist, they're looking to strip your team down to the bone in return for this wonderful player's services.
That might work out well for both sides, but on the other hand it just may handcuff the 'Melo recipient side for years to come and leave that organization and it's fans hungry for much, much more.
That's if Anthony even decides to stay on. In the alternative, he might just decide to keep his travel bag packed until season's end and go home to the New York Knicks, where he could unite with a strong cast and actually win something before he retires.
For players who already have all the money in the world, that would appear to be the all consuming goal. That's how LeBron and Chris Bosh ended up in Miami next to Dwayne Wade, and that may just be the reason why Carmelo Anthony would prefer a better landing spot than the New Jersey Nets.
We'll soon find out.
And that's it for today,
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