Carmelo Anthony trade: Would the Nuggets be better off without Melo than with him?

Amid all the speculation about a Carmelo Anthony trade to places like New Jersey, New Orleans or Chicago -- the sort of deal that might also send Nuggets other than Chris "Birdman" Andersen packing, too -- most Nugs fans have contended that keeping Anthony here represents the best-case scenario.

But is that really true?

Bleacher Report's Danny Doocker argues "no" in the just-published piece "Inconvenient Truth: Why Carmelo Anthony Should Leave Denver."

Doocker acknowledges that Anthony is one of the league's best players. But given that, he feels the Nuggets should have made a better showing in the playoffs than they have during his tenure with the team. So despite a third consecutive fifty-plus win season, he writes, "Something has to change or the Nuggets will become the West's version of the pre-Decision Cavaliers.

"They are great through 82 games, but you must not ask them for anything more," Doocker adds. "The fact is, maybe the person to blame is the guy we least suspect, Mr. Anthony."

How does he back up this argument? By noting that the Nuggets are twentieth in the NBA in points allowed due in part to Melo's indifference to defense, and by suggesting that Denver would be better off with five legitimate scoring options rather than the current three: Anthony, Chauncey Billups and J.R. Smith. As such, he advocates a move for the likes of the 76ers' Andre Iguodala, whose name was prominently mentioned as a piece in a three-team trade involving the Nets.

His conclusion: "Like it or not, it is in the best interest of the Nuggets to get rid of Carmelo Anthony and the sooner the better."

This argument isn't completely off-base. Gambling that a superstar would ink with his old squad as a free agent blew up in the faces of execs for the Cavs and the Raptors, and the Nuggets can't afford to wind up in the same situation.

But while Anthony isn't capable of winning a ring all by himself, more or less, he can certainly be part of a winning package here or elsewhere.

Simply put, Denver hasn't had enough pieces to win it all in recent years. Injuries have something to do with this situation, but personnel strikes me as a bigger factor. We've all been waiting for J.R. and Nenê to reach their full potential, not wanting to admit that, in all probability, they already have. They're bumping up against the ceiling of their productivity, and expecting more from them could be futile. The Nugs need a stronger presence in the middle and more consistent pop off the bench to hit the heights even if Melo defies expectations and signs that contract he's been ignoring for months.

And if he doesn't? Then Doocker's right -- he's got to go, whether fans cheered for him at last night's scrimmage or not.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts