It's been talked about since this past offseason; however, 36 games into this new season, Carmelo Anthony finds himself suiting up with the Denver Nuggets, playing with a team he'd love to leave.
As the frustration builds, it won't be long before Carmelo Anthony finds himself on a new team. How long can he really play for a city he's trying to escape? How long can the Nuggets continue to play with his patience?
While moving a guy of Carmelo's value is no easy task, the Nuggets need to get the ball moving. Their initial demand from the New Jersey Nets—five draft picks—was absolutely ridiculous. Their three-team deal seems a lot more plausible; still, it seems there's a hang-up somewhere. As long as the trade talks continue, Carmelo and the other players involved sit idly by, futures and careers hanging up in the air.
I'll be honest: I don't quite understand why Carmelo wants to move. Sure, it's always nice to get a change of scenery, but you know what they say about the grass on the other side...
If he's searching for a ring, the prize may be closer than thinks.
The West is unpredictable. The Spurs sit in first place, marching on old knees and fragile ankles, relying on veteran experience to keep them standing tall. The Mavs continue to rely on their old horse, Dirk Nowitzki, but as he struggles with right knee problems, it may soon be time to put him down. The Lakers continue to have on-court issues with their defense, functioning (until just recently) like a poorly oiled machine.
And while the Nuggets aren't necessarily "close" to taking the top spot in their conference, the possibility of making a strong playoff run makes them contenders for the championship. What they desperately need is consistent play out of their power-forwards and their bench, who are all currently under-performing from last year.
Kenyon Martin and Chris Anderson have struggled to get healthy this year, but lately both have started to get their legs underneath them. JR Smith and Al Harrington have struggled with their shots this season, but when they inevitably heat up, Denver can be a difficult team to beat, especially in a multi-game series.
In comparison, the East is consistent, and consistently good for that matter. The Heat are practically unbeatable these days, having won 21 out of their last 22 games. The Celtics may be old but have managed to keep their key players relatively healthy thus far, though Kevin Garnett is still trying to come back from a calf injury and Kendrick Perkins is looking to return from ACL surgery. Despite this, the Celtics have only lost nine games and have terrific team chemistry. Both Chicago and Orlando have played well this season, and continue to get better despite having lost Joakim Noah for some time (Chicago), and having a massive overhaul on their roster (Orlando).
Were Carmelo to go to New Jersey, he'd be joining the second-worst team in the East. And while he'd likely have Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups at his side, the Nets would still be a massive rebuilding project in the years to come.
Brook Lopez has shown he is a star in the making, but has yet to play with other star players. It has yet to be seen if he can establish his place as a key member of the lineup when surrounded by other quality talent, or if he will fade into the void.
New York would actually give him the best chance of success between the two, having a high-speed offense with less of an emphasis on defense. However, like mentioned previously, he would still be competing in a high-caliber Eastern Conference, where winning against Miami, Boston, Orlando, or Chicago would be extremely difficult.
While this merry-go-round with Carmelo happens, Dwyane Wade sits patiently, waiting for the end of the regular season and his chance to get another ring with this All-Star team. Back in 2003, who would've thought that at this point in their careers Wade would be in the most comfortable position of his entire draft class, with a ring already on his finger.
Drafted behind LeBron James, Darko Milicic, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade was an often forgotten player until the Heat won the championship back in 2006. And while Darko has been on four teams since being drafted by the Pistons, LeBron James and Chris Bosh searched for a championship team they could join this past offseason, and Carmelo's future in question, Wade has been able to sit back and focus on his game.
James came to him, looking to play on a championship-caliber team. Bosh came soon thereafter in a sign-and-trade with the Heat, eager to play with the likes of Wade and James. All the while, Wade's future has never been nearly as uncertain, and that kind of piece-of-mind has significant benefits.
Watching as Carmelo Anthony's situation develops, Wade must be sitting back, laughing to himself wondering "What did I do right to deserve all this success?" as he polishes that massive diamond on his finger.
This week I wanted to do a little "Stock Watch," having chosen not to do a player update last week for fantasy. Note that this isn't strictly a free-agent update, but a general Stock Watch, as I am not only a fan of quick grabs off free agency, but also an outspoken supporter of making necessary, beneficial trades.
Going UP, UP, UP
- JJ Hickson, PF/C: 15.0 PTS, 10.0 REBs, 1.3 STLs, 1.0 BLK per game in the past seven days
Hickson has benefited drastically from Anderson Varejao's absence after his season-ending injury this past week. While he hasn't shot for a particularly high percentage, Hickson's return to the starting lineup will only help his fantasy value, especially if he is able to turn around his shooting woes. If you're in a league that had previously given up on Hickson, be sure to pick him up.
- Jason Richardson, SG/SF: 17.0 PTS, 2.3 3PTM, 3.0 REBs, 3.0 ASTs per game in the past seven days
Jason Richardson has finally found his place in the Magic offense, shooting over 60 percent on the floor in the past week. While he isn't as major a contributor as when he was with the Suns, Richardson's offensive efficiency should be much higher with more offensive weapons to play with.
- Aaron Brooks, PG: 24.0 PTS, 5.0 3PTM, 5.0 ASTs in one game back from injury
Brooks shined in his first game back from injury, scoring 24 points and hitting five three-pointers. While it may seem like a cop-out to choose a semi-star as a player on the rise, Brooks' considerable time off the court was severely detrimental to his fantasy value. As he looks more and more healthy, Brooks' value will rise back to its rightful place. In the meantime, see if you can grab him at a low price.
- Carl Landry, SF/PF: 19.7 PTS, 4.0 REBs, 1.3 STLs, 1.0 BLK per game in the past seven days
In the past week, Landry has made a strong case for his return to the Kings' starting lineup. He has been an efficient scoring machine, shooting 60 percent from the field. Currently, Landry is fighting with a rather inconsistent Jason Thompson for the power-forward position, a battle that Landry should win if he keeps his production up.
Going DOWN, DOWN, DOWN
- Channing Frye, PF/C: 11.3 PTS, 2.0 3PTM, 7.3 REBs, 1.0 BLK per game in the past seven days
I don't really know what to make of the Channing Frye situation. Yes, he just got his spot back in the starting lineup, but at the same time, he's got Marcin Gortat right behind him, as well as Grant Hill if the Suns decide to throw Mickael Pietrus in. While I wouldn't outright drop him, you may want to consider trading him for higher value in the event he later busts.
- Marc Gasol, C: 9.7 PTS, 6.0 REBs, 1.0 STL, 2.7 BLKs per game in the past seven days
What on earth happened to Marc Gasol? It seems like Zach Randolph is cleaning up all the boards these days, and even Gasol's scoring is taking a major hit. While he's still a blocking beast, his other categories have dropped off. 6.0 REBs per game is nothing for a starting center. While this may not be a permanent thing, until Gasol can get his groove going things may be a bit rough.
- Kyle Lowry, PG: 7.8 PTS, 6.5 ASTs per game in the past seven days
Any hope Lowry had at being a consistent fantasy producer was killed with the return of Aaron Brooks to the Rockets lineup. The bulk of Lowry's success came when he was in the starting lineup, and as soon as Brooks is good to go, Lowry will be quickly relegated back to the bench.
- Darko Milicic, C: 5.8 PTS, 5.0 REBs, 1.3 STLs, 2.3 BLKs per game in the past seven days
Darko is once again having trouble putting the ball into the basket. It has been a long time since his three game stretch of 20 points a game, and his shooting is once again, inconsistent. While he remains a reliable guy for blocks, unless you're dying for them I'd keep him out of my lineup. Even his rebounds are pretty weak.
I'm currently sitting comfortably in third place in my league, waiting for Gerald Wallace to get back in the game. While his time out is not hurting me, it certainly isn't helping. I'm a patient guy, though, and I hope it pays off. Still waiting on that Mike Dunleavy guy though...not too sure about that one.
Til next week, I am Kevin, keep it classy.
For the previous week's article, please click here