Just when we thought that the dust had settled on major NBA roster moves this off season, Carmelo Anthony threw a major curveball by requesting a trade and setting off a flurry of trade rumors about where the disgruntled star might end up. Filtering through these trade rumors, it’s evident that some of them represent legitimate possibilities, while others are utterly non-sensical. Here’s an outline of some of the current trade rumors swirling, broken down in to likely and unlikely destinations.
Carmelo Anthony Trade Rumor #1: New Jersey Nets
The New York post reported that the New Jersey Nets have a “legit shot” at landing Carmelo Anthony in a trade. It makes sense for Denver’s perspective from a number of different angles. The Nuggets would be sending Carmelo Anthony to the Eastern Conference, which they would surely prefer to do. And the New Jersey Nets have the kind of young talent that the Nuggets would seek in a trade. Rumors abound that a package of Devin Harris, Derek Favors and a first round pick might be dangled in front of the Denver Nuggets.
The Nuggets surely covet Brook Lopez, but it’s unlikely the Nets would give up one of the most talented young centers in the league in order to land Carmelo Anthony.
Though the New Jersey Nets are currently in rebuilding mode, it could be an attractive destination for Carmelo Anthony as well. He openly desires to play in the New York market (though the Knicks seem to be his preferred team). The Nets are in the process of moving to Brooklyn, renaming and rebranding the team, and have a dynamic billionaire owner in Russian oil baron Mikhail Prokhorov. Perhaps the chance to be the centerpiece of a dynamic team would appeal to Anthony’s sizeable ego.
Carmelo Anthony Trade Rumor #2: Los Angeles Clippers
A bevy of internet rumors (much of it hearsay) indicate that Carmelo Anthony’s new wife, LaLa Vasquez, is a major source of his discontent with the Denver Nuggets. Vasquez has aspirations (perhaps the more apt term is delusions) of becoming a tv or film star, and would prefer the exposure of the Los Angeles market. Forget about the Lakers; they’re unlikely to shake up a championship chemistry and it’s impossible to imagine Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant sharing the ball. That leaves the Clippers.
The Clippers are appealing to Denver because they also have intriguing young talent. The prize for the Denver Nuggets here would be young shooting guard Eric Gordon, and possibly center Chris Kaman as well. It makes sense for Carmelo Anthony because it’s the Los Angeles market. But hey, it’s also the perennially bad Clippers, who seem to find a way to screw things up even in those rare years that they manage to combine a significant mix of talent.
Carmelo Anthony Trade Rumor #3: Sacramento Kings
As is the case with the New Jersey Nets and the Los Angeles Clippers, the Sacramento Kings have a plethora of young talent that the Nuggets might find tempting. Sam Amico of NBA.com reported that the Kings were one of three teams the Nuggets were interested in making a deal with (along with the Nets and Timberwolves).
Demarcus Cousins, the #3 pick in the 2010 NBA draft, is certainly an intriguing prospect. Jason Thompson, though he may not have the same star potential, is another “big” with significant upside, and Omri Casspi is a sharpshooting perimeter player that the Denver Nuggets might find desirable.
It’s less clear that the Kings would be a suitable destination from Anthony’s perspective. Sacramento is one of the smallest NBA markets, and Carmelo Anthony wouldn’t have a bona fide star to play with. Still, it’s closer to southern California and Sacramento does have a highly respected front office, and a tradition of putting together competitive teams, recent difficulties not withstanding.
Carmelo Anthony Trade Rumor #4: New York Knicks
This is the potential trade destination that everyone is talking about. Earlier this summer at Carmelo Anthony’s wedding, Chris Paul embarrassed Nuggets ownership by giving a speech stating that he and Anthony should go play with the Knicks along Amar’e Stoudemire and form their own “big three” to take on the Miami Heat trio of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Lebron James.
The problem with this is, the Knicks have nothing to offer. Danilo Gallinari is an intriguing young player, but he’s the only desirable commodity on the Knicks roster and he simply isn’t talented enough to be the centerpiece of the package. Bigs who shoot from the outside and have trouble rebounding aren’t exactly the anchors of upper echelon NBA rosters.
So Anthony can insist on the Knicks all he wants, but if there isn’t enough talent to take back, the Nuggets won’t have much desire to trade him here.
Carmelo Anthony Trade Rumor #5: Minnesota Timberwolves
With the exit of Al Jefferson, there are no stars left on a fairly weak Timberwolves roster. Sam Amico did mention this as a possible trade destination, but it seems like the motivation behind that “leak” might have been to ruffle Carmelo Anthony’s feathers a bit. From Anthony’s perspective, Minneapolis might as well be Siberia. There’s simply no reason why he would agree to a contract extension with the Timberwolves, and why would a rebuilding team want to rent Carmelo Anthony for a season?
Carmelo Anthony Trade Rumor #6: Chicago Bulls
There’s been the least amount of internet chatter about this potential option, but it bares mentioning. It’s not New York, where Carmelo wants to be, and it’s not LA, where LaLa Vasquez wants to be. But among all those states in between, it may be the most cosmopolitan market. Chicago is stacked with talent that the Nuggets might find desirable. Would Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and a first round pick be enough to land Anthony?
With a nucleus of Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer, and Derrick Rose, the Bulls could vie for a top seed in the Eastern Conference immediately. And as is often the case with blockbuster trades, some team that’s slightly off the radar screen often rises up at the end and completes the deal. Perhaps for Anthony, that team will be the Bulls.
Carmelo Anthony’s next team is going to be determined by two factors. First, it’s going to have to be a team that has enough talent to tempt the Nuggets to trade away a player that has taken them to the playoffs for seven straight years. Second, it’s going to have to be a team that he’s willing to sign a contract extension for.
Despite public statements to the contrary, Anthony has gone to great lengths to alienate the Nuggets franchise, and there’s a 90% certainty that he’ll be sporting a new jersey come the beginning of the upcoming season. But unless a highly complicated three way trade option emerges, you can forget about Carmelo Anthony being a New York Knick. Focus on the Sacramento Kings, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the New Jersey Nets instead.
Kerber, Fred. The New York Post. “Nets have a legit shot at landing Anthony.” http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/nets/nets_legit_suitors_in_race_for_melo_wClL6Fjerc6KbdT9sCGb1N. Accessed 8/31/2010.
RealGM. “Nuggets Want to Deal Carmelo to Nets, Kings, or Wolves.” http://www.realgm.com/src_wiretap_archives/68888/20100828/nuggets_want_to_deal_carmelo_to_nets_kings_or_wolves/. Accessed 8/31/2010.