Although the idea of a Carmelo Anthony sign-and-trade to the L.A. Lakers has been floated in recent days, the likeliest departure scenario continues to revolve around a Melo-Amare Stoudemire-Chris Paul team-up for the New York Knicks in 2011.
But could that situation be circumvented by luring Chris Paul to Denver instead of the Big Apple? And if so, what are the odds?
This question was raised by Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla in a weekend mailbag piece. In response to a fan frustrated by the Nuggets' inability to bringing in anyone to Denver more interesting than former Knick Al Harrington, Kiszla wrote, "If Denver desires to show Anthony how much it craves a championship, when guard Chris Paul really starts kicking and screaming about wanting out of New Orleans, the Nuggets better be first in line."
Paul might well be available, but getting him sooner rather than later would be a big challenge. His contract doesn't expire until 2013, and while he could exercise a player option a year earlier, that's a year too late from Denver's perspective. After all, Anthony could decide to pull up stakes in 2011 -- meaning the Nuggets need to acquire enough talent to convince him to stick around right away, not a year or two from now.
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With that in mind, getting Paul pronto would be ideal -- but that won't be easy. Paul is the Hornets team these days, and for the Hornets to part with him in a blockbuster trade, they'd have to believe he was definitely going to leave at the earliest possible opportunity and receive something approaching equal trade value in exchange.
The latter would likely mean parting with fan favorite and hometown hero Chauncey Billups or convincing Chauncey to step back and let Paul take the dominant role -- which isn't beyond the realm of possibility, since Billups is a team player who's on the older side of the point guard equation.
Still, the degree of difficulty in luring Paul is so high that it's got to be considered the longest of shots.
But that's the kind of shot it'll take to keep Carmelo in powder blue.