Last night, 7News' Lionel Bienvenu reported that Carmelo Anthony could be traded to the New Jersey Nets as early as today for two first round draft picks, Derrick Favors and the expiring contract of Troy Murphy. (9News' Drew Soicher did likewise.) Problem is, the deal's dead if Melo refuses to sign a long-term contract with the Nets -- which he probably will. So where's that leave the Nugs?
Between a superstar and a hard place -- especially given that de facto GM Masai Ujiri denied the Nets reports to NBA Fanhouse).
As we noted in a Monday post, Melo appears to be holding the Nuggets hostage over his desire to go to the New York Knicks, and only the New York Knicks -- and by not agreeing to sign an extension with any other franchise, he severely limits the Nuggets' options.
They could ship Anthony to the likes of the Orlando Magic in a three-month rent-a-player scenario -- but the Nugs would receive relatively meager compensation for doing so. Or Ujiri and company can tell Melo they're withdrawing the $65 million, three-year contract extension they first tossed out months ago unless he either agrees to stay in Denver or go to New Jersey or another team offering the Nuggets enough to make a transaction worthwhile.
Should they take this last tack, Anthony could lose a boatload of cash if there's an NBA lockout and subsequent changes in the salary structure, as seems at least plausible at this point. But the approach risks exploding into open warfare and forcing Anthony to dig in his heels -- and here's guessing that he'd rather play out the rest of the season and sign with the Knicks this summer after becoming a free agent rather than losing face by capitulating to a Nuggets ultimatum.
So... will Carmelo be traded to the Nets today, or in the coming days? It's certainly possible -- but it's more likely at this point that he'll wind up on the Knicks, with the Nuggets receiving far less than market value.
Which may not be the worst-case scenario, but it's certainly close enough.
More from our Sports archive, circa July: "Carmelo Anthony-Amare Stoudemire-Chris Paul team-up: Don't laugh it off."