The Denver Nuggets have to decide what they want in return for Carmelo Anthony: a package of mediocre players, or a possible playoff run.
The Denver Post cited league sources in saying that the New York Knicks have put an offer on the table sending Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, Eddy Curry's expiring contract and a first round draft pick to the Denver Nuggets for Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Sheldon Williams and either Anthony Carter or Renaldo Balkman.
Sorry Nuggets fans, your owners don't really care anymore. Sure, it'd be nice to get something in return for Anthony if you can't re-sign him, but why do you have to get rid of Billups too? If the playoffs started today, the Nuggets would be in. Without Anthony and Billups, "no chance" doesn't even begin to describe Denver's situation.
Anthony's had a good run since he was picked third overall in 2003. He has made Denver an exciting team. No combination of Knicks players can replicate the impact of Anthony.
Nuggets fans: what would you prefer? A possible run in the playoffs, getting nothing in return except possible end-of-season glory? Or a hodge-podge of mediocre NBA players that may ease the pain of losing one of the best players in franchise history but leave little chance of playoff success?
Let's look at the players the Knicks are giving up. Wilson Chandler's a good, high energy player who can fit into a team's offense, but can't carry an offense on his back. He averages about 16 points per game.
Raymond Felton has developed into a very good NBA point guard, averaging 17 points and 9 assists this season, and is really the centerpiece of the deal. The loss of Billups would put Felton in a high-pressure situation. Felton also lacks the playoff experience of Billups, who led the Pistons to an NBA Championship.
Gallinari is a 6'10" forward who averages less than five rebounds per game. Despite his scoring ability (about 15 ppg), he is a major hole in the frontline. His toughness has been questioned throughout his career.
Mozgov is another high-energy role player who has made the most of limited playing time with the Knicks. He is a good guy to have on the bench, but a liability if he gets too many minutes on the floor.
The expiring contract is, admittedly, nice if the Nuggets want to make a run at a free agent, but the first-round pick will likely be low as a team starting Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire should finish near the top of the league.
The Nuggets are getting a number of role players back in the trade. And while they will not get equal value for Anthony, they need to respect their fans by getting a better package than the one the Knicks are offering.
Never forget the value of an epic playoff run. Fans prefer wins this season to consolation-prize players who will last a bit longer.