Carmelo Anthony will be leaving the Nuggets, and the only question that remains is: how does Denver rebuild? The Nuggets have a few options, but here’s one stat to remember before weighing in – with ‘Melo, Denver was in the playoffs seven years in a row (six 1st round losses); pre-’Melo, the Nuggets missed the playoffs eight years in a row.
If you read the Yahoo story, it sounds like the Nuggets are going to nuke the team. Jettison Anthony, Billups, JR Smith, Kenyon Martin, etc. If that is the plan, what do you want in return for Anthony?
The Nuggets made it clear to teams they want young players and draft picks for Anthony, league executives said. The New Jersey Nets and Los Angeles Clippers have emerged as the two most probable destinations for Anthony because they have assets that appeal to Denver. The geography works for Anthony because of his wife LaLa Vazquez’s entertainment career.
Golden State and Houston are contenders, too. What’s more, the Charlotte Bobcats are a sleeper because of Anthony’s Brand Jordan shoe deal and the team’s ability to give the Nuggets a salary-dump proposal.
1) The Nuggets can go the “cap relief” route and deal ‘Melo to any number of teams who will give them back expiring deals and draft picks. The hope is that the team can go after a big-time free agent down the road.
2) The Nuggets can try to bring on as big a star as possible – somebody will have to score when all the stars are gone – and surround them with role players and hopefully, No. 1 picks.
Here’s why we’d go the 2nd route – who’s going to want to go to Denver? (A lovely city, obviously.) What elite free agent is going to want to go to a city where the team’s franchise player wanted out? Plus, the recent trend is that stars want to go where other stars are. Our fear is that if Denver decides to try the cap relief route, the Nuggets could become irrelevant for the next half decade. Or longer. They’ll be unwatchable and a non-factor in the loaded West.
In this instance, we’d advocate a package deal to Golden State for Monta Ellis (and Vlad Rad’s salary dump, and Brandan Wright, who’s never really had a chance). Yes, we’ve hammered Ellis on this site for being selfish. He instantly clashed with Stephen Curry when the rookie arrived, and worse of all, Ellis has a bad contract – $11 million a year for the next four. He hasn’t proven to be a leader. The alternative view: He’s only 24! He’s a terrific pure scorer (25 ppg last year). Why not give it a shot? You can either have cap room for 4-5 years with no potential stars and be a 25-30 win team … or grab a guy like Ellis, hopefully a draft pick or two, and put a few role players around him (Lawson at PG, Afflalo at SF) and try to be in the 6-7-8 range in the West for the next five years.
Perhaps the other best idea we’ve seen: Clippers give up Kaman, Gordon and their 2010 lottery pick Aminu for Anthony. Seems like a lot for the Paper Clips to give up, considering Baron Davis is well beyond his prime, and who knows how good Blake Griffin will be. If you’re the Warriors, you have Stephen Curry, ‘Melo, David Lee and Biedrins, which is a formidable collection of young talent. [Yahoo]