Carmelo Anthony trade: Are Nuggets stalling trade because they want Nets to keep losing?

Yesterday, we told you that a blockbuster three-team deal to send Nuggets Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to the New Jersey Nets had hit a roadblock, reportedly because the Nugs wanted the Nets to take relatively new acquisition Al Harrington off their hands, too. But is that the actual reason for the latest delay? Maybe not. One source suggests the Nuggets may be more interested in the Nets continue to blow for as long as possible.

That's the word from the New York Daily News' Stefan Bondy.

At yesterday's practice session, Bondy notes, Anthony implied that he's losing hope of eventually winding up as part of the Knick's lineup, as he's long hoped. "New York is playing well right now. I don't think they're looking at me," he said. "They wouldn't want me to come in there and mess what they have up. That's what I've read."

Of course, this could simply be a ploy on Melo's part to get the Knicks back to the table. But if the club has indeed started to see Anthony as a disruptive element rather than the final piece of the championship puzzle, he could finally be willing to ink a long-term deal with the Nets -- the main thing that's prevented the trade from happening thus far.

So what's the rub now? According to a rival GM who spoke with Bondy, "the Nuggets don't feel the need to pull the trigger until closer to the February 24 trade deadline."

Bondy interprets this rationale like so:

Part of that philosophy is based on the assumption that the Nets (10-27) will continue losing without Anthony, and therefore the 2011 first-round pick the Nuggets receive in the trade will have greater value the longer they wait.

Makes sense to some degree -- but there's a great deal of risk involved in this game outside the game. Given the complications involved in a multi-team transaction, one or more parties could get cold feet during the next six weeks or so, because of injuries to key trade components or many other factors. Moreover, the Nets would likely keep sucking for quite a while after Melo's arrival due to the difficulty he'll likely experience in finding a rhythm with his new teammates. (Example: The Miami Heat early in the season.) And given the NBA's use of a draft lottery, as opposed to a simple worst-picks-first approach, the Nets' pick would fall within a range of slots no matter their final win-loss record.

With that in mind, the Nuggets should make the trade earlier rather than later. It won't be pretty, but it's time to step toward the future rather than continuing to linger in limbo.

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

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