We all knew it would happen, as it does with many unhappy superstars who ask to be traded. The Los Angeles Lakers jumped into the Carmelo Anthony trade rumors on Tuesday, a story that, after the initial shock, didn't really surprise anyone who follows the National Basketball Association.
In a drawn-out, slowly-developed story, the Denver Nuggets have had advanced deals in place with a few teams, most notably the New Jersey Nets, and had Carmelo's assent to signing a contract extension with the New York Knicks before balking at the health of Wilson Chandler, who Denver would receive in that deal.
Amidst all the proposed and near-completed deals, Denver's biggest priority is to shed some of its $83 million in payroll, which is fifth-highest in the league, as it looks to rebuild. Dealing Anthony would alleviate some of that pressure, but under the league's collective bargaining rules, the exchanged salaries of traded players must approximate each other if the involved teams are over the salary cap.
Another big way the Nuggets have pursued salary cap flexibility is by demanding that aging point guard Chauncey Billups be taken in a trade for Anthony. So far, none of the serious proposals have included Billups, who says he wants to remain in Denver for the remainder of the season.
Still, the desire remains for Denver to deal Billups along with Anthony. Obviously, they need to trade Carmelo and get something in return before he bolts in free agency, but shedding Billups' contract would be the icing on the cake.
Using the revolutionary NBA Trade Machine, I have devised a few trade scenarios with the Lakers that include Billups and subsequent reasons why each team would or wouldn't do the deal.