Last night, the Knicks finally closed a deal for Carmelo Anthony and (damn it!) Chauncey Billups, as well as Anthony Carter, Renaldo Balkman and Shelden Williams. But while the Denver Post is talking up what the Nugs received in return, the national press is already writing off D-town's ballers for this season, and possibly for many to come.
The Post's take is understandable. After a proposed deal with the New Jersey Nets fell through in January, the Nuggets seemed likely to keep Chauncey but get little in return for Carmelo. Instead, the team's braintrust managed to pump up possible transactions with the Lakers and those same Nets in order to get the Knicks to bid against themselves.
The result? Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofrey Mozgov, three draft picks and $3 million in cash.
Not bad. But after the news broke last night, virtually the entire conversation on ESPN involved what the trade meant for the Knicks, with little attention paid to Denver. Take a conversation between SportsCenter host Steve Levy and former Nugget Jalen Rose, speaking on the phone from a restaurant, where he had just ordered grilled chicken dumplings. The vast majority of the chat found Rose gushing about New York's move, and how it set up the franchise to lure a big-time point guard -- probably Chris Paul, whose wedding toast set off the Melo sweepstakes last summer, or Deron Williams -- in 2012. And while Rose had good things to say about Nugs management for making the swap happen, his comment was a conciliatory toss-in at the end of the segment, not a key point of interest for the national audience.
Then there was ESPN Radio's Jason Smith, who this morning declared that Denver, which is currently in position to be the seventh seed in the playoffs, will not reach the upcoming post-season. Too many moving pieces, he suggested, and too many teams behind the Nuggets playing well.
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That's probably correct, especially since there remains the very real prospect that Denver will deal one or more of the Knicks acquired yesterday. Note reports that the Nets will give up two first-round draft picks for Felton and Mozgov.
If that happens, the Nugs will really have scored a coup -- but a long-term one rather than something expected to pay immediate dividends. Should those picks come to fruition, and are used well, Denver will have a chance to rebuild more quickly than East Coast pundits believe. Until then, however, the Nuggets, who've been smack dab in the middle of the national radar for months thanks to the Carmelo rumors, have skidded off the screen entirely.
More from our Sports archive: "Carmelo Anthony's house for sale: Take a photo tour of current (and future?) Nuggets' mansion."