Here at the Beef, we have tried to avoid all the rumors and speculation that have surrounded Carmelo Anthony this off season. We treated it as mere gossip used to fill the sports pages and blogs in what was a news-starved latter part of the summer for the NBA. However, it looks as though we can no longer ignore this story. According to FanHouse, a front-office source has said that the Denver Nuggets are finally looking into moving their All Star small forward.
It seems the Nuggets are approaching the idea of parting with Anthony in a manner that would benefit them the most rather than being forced into a corner by another team and Anthony’s people. They are accepting all proposals for him but are not explicitly shopping Anthony and will only consider those which will be beneficial to the future of the organization. What they are looking for, in return for trading their star, are younger, talented players with a large degree of upside and relatively manageable contracts. Manageable contracts would help to alleviate Denver’s salary cap and luxury tax issues. Their roster expenditures for the coming season are estimated at $83 million which is well beyond the NBA’s salary cap of $58,044,000 million. Any deal would likely include first round draft picks as well.
Simply trading Anthony is not as cut and dry as it may seem on the surface. Anthony becomes a free agent next July. Any team that makes a move to acquire him would likely seek a guarantee that he would sign an extension with them before they pulled the trigger on any deal. As of now, not one particular team has emerged as the front-runner for Anthony but rumors have arisen that the New Jersey Nets have been making a hard push for him. The Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers have also been lumped into the fray for good measure. However, it is widely assumed that Anthony’s desired destination is New York. The Baltimore native would then be closer to his alma mater, Syracuse.
Despite being the subject of the most intense trade rumor speculation since Chris Paul demanded a trade earlier this summer, Anthony has remained mum on the subject. Everyone else has done the talking for him from his agent, to his ‘people,’ various league sources and his wife, Lala. Anthony sure knows how to say a lot without saying anything at all. However, on an recent appearance on the George Lopez Show, Anthony said that he is a Nugget. Mixed signals?
For the Nuggets, they know that Anthony is speaking volumes without even opening his mouth. They certainly do not want to become the newest victim of the scorched earth policy that dominated the way star players left their former teams this summer. Who can blame them? The Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors are shells of their former selves that really burnt bridges when their respective stars left.
Whether or not the rumors that have swirled around Anthony this summer have any weight to them is of little consequence. The Nuggets seem to have accepted their fate and are dealing with it in turn. They understand that they must begin preparing for a post Anthony future. As it is currently made up, the Nuggets are not built to be contenders for several years to come with aging talent and an often injured frontcourt. Moving Anthony would be the first step in the direction towards rebuilding. Chauncey Billups would be the next likeliest candidate to go as he is 34 years old and has a partially guaranteed contract for the 2011-12 season.
It is only a matter of time before Anthony joins the fashionable trend of the 2003 draft class and finds new lodging. The Nuggets know this. A deal looks to be somewhere on the horizon and all anyone has to do is ask themselves “when” rather than “if” Carmelo Anthony will be traded. The NBA trade deadline is in February but it is likely that he will be moved before then. Where he will go remains the question.