Carmelo Anthony trade: NY Knicks back in mix because Nuggets soften on Anthony Randolph?

Yesterday, we shared reports that a Carmelo Anthony trade is unlikely to happen this week. Now, an organization source hints that with the collapse of a deal with the New Jersey Nets, the Nugs are now seriously looking at shipping Melo to his chosen destination, the New York Knicks, with Anthony Randolph reportedly a component.

That's the word from CBSSports' Ken Berger, who writes that the Nuggets are "apparently coming around in their opinion about the 21-year-old big man," who had earlier been considered "mistake-prone and too much of a project." Now, however, Randolph could become at least a "peripheral piece" in a trade. But Berger doesn't expect anything to happen quickly, suggesting that talks could drag out all the way to the February 24 trade deadline.

Why would the Nuggets suddenly believe Randolph has significant upside? Hard to know, especially after reading this CBSSports fantasy analysis excerpt, updated January 19:

Randolph doesn't shoot the ball as well as [Shawne] Williams and he lacks a bit on the defensive end. Randolph hasn't played since mid-November, back when the Knicks started the season 3-8. One team that has expressed interest was Minnesota, but until any deal is in place Randolph will continue to ride the pine in New York.

Given that Randolph is having trouble simply getting on the court at Madison Square Garden, the Nugs' change of heart about him can probably be chalked up to its shrinking number of options. The perception is that Anthony will only ink a long-term extension with the Knicks -- and if there's no chance another squad will be able to romance him over the next few months into signing up long-term, the only option remaining is a rent-a-player scenario, which will net little for Denver.

Hence, Nuggets execs seem to be realizing that unless the Nets reverse course, which seems unlikely, they're better off taking a lesser deal from the Knicks than a much lesser deal from the Houston Rockets or Dallas Mavericks.

If so, Randolph could soon be sitting on a bench in Colorado instead of one in New York.

More from our Sports archive: "Carmelo Anthony trade: Did Amare Stoudemire, NY Knicks kill 4-way deal featuring NJ Nets?"