Carmelo Anthony has placed his cards on the table. He wants out of Denver.
My gut feeling tells me that his decision to leave has little to do with basketball, but more to do with returning to the East Coast, where he grew up.
If Anthony were to stay in Denver, the Nuggets would not only contend this season, they would also have some serious cap room to bring in a star player such as Chris Paul after the 2011-2012 season.
As ugly as the Nuggets salary cap situation looks right now, only three players—Chris Anderson, Renaldo Balkman and Al Harrington—will be under contract after next season. Together, their salaries will count for less than $13 million against the cap.
Denver would of course look to keep some of the players headed for free agency, but the fact of the matter is that they are in prime position to build around Anthony in the near future, even if they have to wait for free agency two years down the road.
Melo's decision to leave is not about basketball. Nothing Denver can do will keep Melo in Denver, so the time to trade him is now.
As rumors continue to fly about the Nets being the most likely destination for Melo, I can't help but wonder why it shouldn't happen.
The Nets have the location that Melo wants and the assets to trade to Denver that make sense for both teams.
Rumor has it that the Nets are offering a package of Troy Murphy, Kris Humphries, two draft picks and Derrick Favors for Melo.
I think Denver would be foolish not to accept.
This deal would give them a young guy with loads of potential in Derrick Favors, along with a couple adequate big men with expiring contracts in Humphries and Murphy. Top off that deal with a couple first-round draft picks, and it seems like a good trade to me.
If this trade were to go through for Denver, they would have major cap space next summer, with $15 million coming off the books between Murphy and Humphries expiring contracts, and another $23 million coming off due to the expiring contracts of Kenyon Martin and JR Smith.
Who knows how good Favors will be, but given his freakish potential (he is often compared to a young Kevin Garnett) and the two draft picks, Denver should jump all over this trade.
How much is Melo really worth anyways?
Yes, he scores a lot of points, but is it actually worth it for the Nuggets to have to run their offense through him, even if he isn't playing well?
Are Melo's stats worth having to bench another player in his favor, regardless of whether they are outplaying him or not?
Is it good for Denver's offense to have Melo jacking up contested jumpshots while his teammates watch?
That's the cost of having a "superstar."
And I do not put Melo in the same category as Kobe, Wade or LeBron. He's not on that same level as Chris Paul or Deron Williams, either.
Those are the players you have to find minutes for. They make everyone around them better.
Melo doesn't, but if the Nets are crazy enough to put him on that same pedestal, Denver should take full advantage of them while they can.