The Melo-Drama (sorry, I just had to) continues to spin around the Denver Nuggets and forward Carmelo Anthony, with the latest news being Anthony could very well stay in Denver and sign the extension. Already news of his trade has taken over the league, especially in New York where Carmelo fever is rampant enough that they're chanting his name in the Garden.
But one team that continues to be on the outskirts of the Carmelo rumors are the Houston Rockets. They've been mentioned off-and-on in terms of a trade for Anthony, and something like that would make the Rockets relevant in the Western Conference again.
The only problem is the Rockets would have to take some steps first to land Anthony, but here's 10 ways they can do that.
Rockets receive: Anthony, PG Sebastian Telfair (from Minnesota)
Timberwolves receive: PG Aaron Brooks (from Houston)
Nuggets receive: C Yao Ming (from Houston), SF Corey Brewer (from Minnesota), Minnesota First Round Pick
The Rockets get the scorer they desperately need and also hold on to key pieces like Kevin Martin and Shane Battier. Denver takes a hit in taking Yao (who's currently hurt), but he is an expiring contract according to HoopsWorld.com and should he decide to re-sign, could benefit from a change of scenery. Denver also gets a first-round pick from the Timberwolves, either the pick from Utah or Memphis.
Minnesota gets another expiring contract and more cap room in a deal strangely similar to the three-team deal involving the Knicks.
Again, like the three-team trade in which the Rockets receive the scorer they need and the Nuggets free up money. But since Ming is an expiring contract who's hurt, the Nuggets won't take him empty-handed.
So the Rockets give up their first-round pick this year, which they could switch with the Knicks but should end up with a higher draft pick than New York, (can you believe that?) or a couple of future picks down the road to secure Anthony.
This is extremely unlikely, but an option as the 2010-11 contracts match up and fulfill the trade rules.
According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls are very high on Lee. This deal would make sense as the Rockets are able to grab an expiring contract and a very cheap one at that in Scalabrine.
Meanwhile the Bulls get a guard who they very much like and a good shooter who's become the next Theo Ratliff in terms of a trade chip. Plus the Bulls have the cap space to be able to make a deal for a player like Lee, who could be a help to the Bulls' bench.
Daryl Morey has been very smart in the moves he's made so far to rebuild the team more around guys like Kevin Martin and Luis Scola. Since he's taken over, he's been able to jettison Tracy McGrady and draft very well.
But the Rockets need that player that can make them a contender again, and it doesn't seem like Ming is that guy. In Houston, the Rockets will always be hard-pressed to compete with the Texans. But coming from someone who lived in Houston when both the Toyota Center opened and Yao Ming was drafted, there was never a great vibe in that building and in the city until T-Mac came to town. That actually got fans down from the lounge into the expensive lower level seats.
The Rockets need that type of player again, and they have the willingness to pay 'Melo what he needs.
Miller was signed to provide depth and support to Yao Ming, but he's struggled mightily. Trading Miller would do wonders in terms of clearing cap space as well as a roster spot.
But, easier said than done.
Miller is making $4.4 million this year, and he'll still have at least one more year on his contract being due upwards of $4.5 million next year. Only a few teams, if any, have the cap space to swallow that type of a deal much less take it on. So this is more or less a pipe dream.
This is a key point to remember as we head closer to the trade deadline because Morey does have this ace in the hole in the form of Jeffries' expiring contract. At $6.8 million and change, it's useful not only as an expiring contract but to add money value to match up the salaries.
Jeffries can be a valuable bench player, but his contract status makes him more valuable. The Rockets have a few other expiring contracts, but Jeffries might be the most expendable.
Then there's the curious case of Brooks, who not that long ago almost carried the Rockets through the Western Conference Playoffs by making it his own personal coming-out party. But this season has been slowed by injuries, inconsistency and even a one-game suspension for leaving the floor.
He might be best served by a change of scenery and his low price tag as well, as his shooting ability makes him valuable as a trade asset. Of course, there's the question of what the Rockets will do at the point with him gone, but they could cross that bridge later.
And since the Nuggets are stacked with point guards, Brooks would have to be part of a different trade.
Rockets receive: Anthony, Telfair
Nuggets receive: SG Kevin Martin, SF Jared Jeffries (from Houston), Brewer
Timberwolves receive: PG Aaron Brooks
A little different take on the three-team deal I proposed earlier, with the Nuggets adding Kevin Martin and the expiring contract of Jeffries. Telfair and Brooks are both expiring contracts, so they will cancel themselves out.
But this frees up the money for the Rockets to try and extend Anthony, while the Nuggets get a scorer back in Martin who can slide into the two or possibly the three and get some financial breathing room.
Rockets receive: Anthony, C Tony Battie (from Philadelphia)
Nuggets receive: SF Andre Iguodala, PF Darius Songaila (from Philadelphia)
76ers receive: Martin, Jeffries (from Houston), PF Shelden Williams (from Denver)
Philadelphia has been looking to unload Iguodala for a while, and while also getting two expiring contracts in Jeffries and Williams, also get a proven scorer in Martin. Not only is he a scorer, he's also a very good shooter, something the 76ers have lacked for a while. Of course, with the 76ers in playoff position, the question will be would they make a move like this, even for a better player in Martin?
Denver gets the slasher in Iguodala, who will have pieces around him and won't have to be the guy and an expiring contract in Songaila.
And Houston gets Anthony and unloads the Jeffries contract; they also pick up an expiring in Battie who could provide help and depth to the Rockets frontcourt. A mix of draft picks could also make this deal work as well.
With any head-to-head deal involving these two other teams, Martin would have to be involved because he is the only Rocket who makes close to enough money to make a straight trade go through. And you've heard all the arguments before about these two, with Anthony being a star forward and Martin being a proven scorer who comes cheaper than Anthony.
Jeffries adds the expiring contract and money factor to make the trade cap-compliant. Adding Shane Battier and his expiring contract instead of Jeffries would make the trade work as well, but I would think the Rockets would rather not part with Battier's defense if they had to.