The New Jersey Nets will have $23 million to spend next summer, with many folks hoping the cash could lure Carmelo Anthony. But if that scenario plays out, the Nuggets will get zip for their superstar. No wonder most observers still see a trade to Chicago as the likeliest Melo scenario. As for other teams: Are the Golden State Warriors now in the mix? And would the Houston Rockets leap to the head of the class if they dangled Yao Ming?
Those are among the questions posed by NBA.com's Art Garcia, who sees a sign-and-trade as the most logical option for the Nuggets and interested Anthony shoppers.
Chicago's atop Garcia's list of possible Carmelo destinations, in part because the Bulls are "poised to win big" and have "some nice pieces to send back to the Mile High City to get a conversation started." Still, with Joakim Noah reportedly off the table, he wonders if "a package built around Luol Deng...including young talents such as Taj Gibson and James Johnson" would be enough to entice the Nugs' Masai Ujiri.
The answer to that question should be "yes," Mr. Ujiri.
HIs next candidate is the New York Knicks, mostly because the franchise so desperately needs Anthony. But as he points out, a sign-and-trade won't work, because "the Knicks currently don't have any enough value on the roster to make a deal with Denver. The Nuggets simply don't want what New York is willing to move."
Amen to that.
Next up? This intriguing take on Houston:
General manager Daryl Morey isn't afraid to shake up the roster. The Rockets made a strong run at Chris Bosh this summer, and H-town has long been a popular locale for players. Building a bridge to the franchise's future around Melo has to be bouncing around inside Morey's noggin.
There's a definite opening at small forward now that Trevor Ariza is gone. A combo needed for Melo could include any of the following: Aaron Brooks, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and Shane Battier. And what about Yao Ming? Have to think about that, don't ya, Daryl?
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Morey may consider shipping Yao, but the Nuggets should ignore such entreaties. Obviously, he's a dominant big man of the sort that are rare in today's NBA. But his recent injury history makes him way to big a risk, especially considering what the Nugs have gone through with Kenyon Martin.
Also on Garcia's radar are the Nets (albeit only if Anthony's still available come next summer), the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Clippers and, at the bottom of the ladder, Denver. But arguably his most interesting theory involves the "dark horse" Golden State Warriors, whose Monta Ellis has a fat contract the Warriors might like to lose. Ellis has torched the Nuggets on a number of occasions, and he's got plenty of upside, given his relative youth.
That said, a deal with Chicago still looks like the best prospect for the Nuggets -- as long as members of the team's braintrust come to grips with the fact that Anthony has already mentally moved on, and that sitting around hoping he changes his mind is a recipe for disaster.
Which Nugs fans won't want to be eating this time next year.