In the never-ending saga that is the pursuit of Carmelo Anthony, the latest twist in the plot line involves a proposed three-team trade between New York, Denver and Minnesota that was first reported by ESPN's Chris Broussard on Saturday.
As you probably know by now, the potential deal sends Carmelo to New York with Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewer and a first-round pick from Minnesota going to Denver; in addition, the Timberwolves would receive Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry's infamously expiring contract.
With the Feb. 24 deadline quickly approaching, the pressure is squarely on the Nuggets front office to get some kind of a deal done. Although this particular deal would be a no-brainer from a Knicks' perspective, there are still several factors that could prevent it from going through.
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In what has surprisingly been the least scrutinized aspect of this trade, one has to wonder why Minnesota would be interested in getting involved with the proposed deal. As it stands, the T-Wolves would have to give up Corey Brewer; who is a consistent role player averaging 8.7 PPG and 24.5 MPG.
Granted, those numbers don't blow anyone away, but they do prove the former Gator to be a contributor—something Anthony Randolph is not. Although there were high hopes for him in training camp, Randolph has been unable to crack Mike D'Antoni's rotation thus far.
Many, possibly including the Minnesota front office, will view this as a glass half-full situation—"He's got plenty of upside, but hasn't had a chance to prove himself yet".
However, the more conservative glass half-empty stance would say that Randolph must be consistently performing poorly in practice if he can't get on the court for a team that could really use some more production from their bench.
As a long, versatile forward, he would be perfect in D'Antoni's system, so there must be some glaring deficiency he has that the coaching staff is witnessing in practice to justify his lack of playing time. At best, Randolph and Brewer cancel each other out.
The part of the equation that really doesn't make sense for the 'Wolves is the first-round pick that they're apparently prepared to give up. Considering the fact that they currently hold the league's second-worst record, it's very likely that the draft pick in question would be in the top five.
This means that they would be throwing away the opportunity to draft a potential franchise-caliber player. Is that really a risk worth taking in return for Anthony Randolph?
Alright, we all know it's not exactly breaking news that Denver has always been unsatisfied with what the Knicks are offering in return for their superstar. Although Anthony has a considerable amount of leverage in these trade discussions because of his impending free-agency and his unwillingness to sign an extension with most teams, this doesn't necessarily mean the Nuggets have to trade him to New York.
Several teams have expressed interest in "renting" Carmelo for the season including the Mavericks, Rockets and most recently, the Lakers. (The Lakers have reportedly discussed a straight-up 'Melo-for-Bynum swap.)
The Mavs and Lakers are willing to make the trade without 'Melo signing an extension because they are championship contenders this season, and if he pushes either team over the edge, their investment will have paid off.
It's possible that even more elite teams will come forward in the next two weeks, presenting offers that will likely outweigh what the Knicks can put on the table.
It may be evident to the media and the fans that Carmelo no longer wants to play for the Nuggets, but from reading quotes from their owner Stan Kroenke and GM Masai Ujiri, it seems as though they still retain some hope that 'Melo can be persuaded to stay.
It's possible that the Nuggets will take the risk of keeping him until the end of the season with the ideal situation, from their perspective, resulting in a deep playoff run reminiscent of their 2009 Western Conference Finals trip.
Then, hopefully, they can convince 'Melo to stay on the basis that they can offer him the chance to win a title in Denver in the coming years, especially with the Lakers' and Mavericks' respective windows of opportunity closing sooner rather than later.
Also, the monetary aspect of this whole fiasco needs to be taken into account. We would be naive to think that the $65 million on the table is not causing Anthony to lose some sleep at night, particularly with a potential lockout looming for next season.
The bottom line is that Denver is the only team that can offer him that much money in guaranteed salary.
As evidenced by the fact that they're low-balling the Nuggets with their latest offer, the Knicks are clearly not hell-bent on trading for 'Melo before the deadline. They feel safe in the knowledge that 'Melo's number one choice has always been to play at Madison Square Garden, whether that comes about via trade or this summer's free agency.
Unless it looks like a trade is actually going to be completed with another team in the meantime, with 'Melo agreeing to sign the all important extension, the Knicks don't need to gut their roster now when they can get him for practically nothing in July.
If Denver doesn't accept the Knicks' current offer, the likelihood is that Donnie Walsh will sit tight for the rest of the season rather than frantically throwing in Gallo or Fields at the last minute to sweeten the deal.
How many trade scenarios have we seen so far this season involving Carmelo Anthony?
The over/under has to be at least somewhere around eight at this point. So far, none of these deals have been completed, so what exactly should make us think that this potential deal will be "the one?"
When you have trades involving three or four teams, it's almost impossible to convince each party to pull the trigger, let alone match up all the salaries.
By my unofficial count, nine teams (Knicks, Nets, Lakers, Mavericks, Rockets, Bobcats, Jazz, 76ers, Timberwolves) have been mentioned in the same sentence as the phrase "Carmelo Anthony trade" this season.
If this prolonged saga continues to hold its form, expect a few more twists and turns before a final deal is either agreed upon or scrapped at the last minute.