Since everyone is fully caught up (and has been caught up) with the Carmelo trade hysteria, and the rapidly permutating versions of this trade; I think the question has to be asked if the Nets are better with or without Carmelo Anthony ? First and foremost, obviously the Nets would be better with Carmelo - but the question becomes at what price are they better with Carmelo? Adding Carmelo via free agency would be a no-brainer - of course the Nets are better.
The current trade on the table (and I am only focusing upon the Nets-Denver trade rumors - not focusing on a secondary deal that would send Devin Harris someplace else) is roughly to send Troy Murphy's expiring contract, Derrick Favors and 2 or 3 future first round picks plus cash for Carmelo Anthony and Al Harrington. Under this deal Carmelo would sign a 3 year extension for $65 million dollars and Harrington is signed for $6+m in 2011 and 2012 and $7+m in 2013 and 2014.
This equates to adding roughly $28 million in payroll for Harrington over the next 4 seasons (he is also owed $5m+ for 2010 season - in which we would be paying a percentage of his contract). As well as adding $21+m annually for the next 3 years in Carmelo.
Currently the Nets have the following draft picks in the bank for the next 3 seasons:
2011 - Nets and Lakers first round picks, Nets second round pick
2013 - Nets have their own first and second round picks
Assume that we are dealing 2 first round picks - most likely our 2011 first rounder (a top 5 pick at this point) along with the Warriors protected pick in 2012 (we can not deal our own first rounder in back to back drafts) and the Warriors pick is more valuable than either the lottery protected Rockets or Lakers picks will be.
Barring other trades our starting lineup after the trade will be:
PG - Harris/Farmar
SG - Morrow/Sasha/Uzoh
SF - Carmelo/James/Outlaw
PF - Hump/Harrington
C - Lopez/Petro
Salary wise we will have added roughly $50m between Carmelo and Harrington (beginning next season) while losing the salary of Favors ($23m until 2014 season) and the value of the rookie contacts for the 2 draft picks (lets assume rookie scale is unchanged and will be comprable to the obligations to Favors and James which would be $4m the first year, then $6m, $8m and $10m in 2014). Carmelo's extension will not be on the books in that final 2014 season as is only a 3 year deal, while Harrington will still be on the books for $7.6 million. This equates to $56m total in salary we would be sending back to Denver (Favors thru 2014, along with 2 first rounders).
Next season our roster would essentially be the same after the trade - as we will be using up cap space with Carmelo extension and adding Harrington to the roster.
If we were to not make this trade our roster would be:
PG - Harris/Farmar
SG - Morrow/Sasha
SF - Draft pick (Terrence Jones?Harrison Barnes?)/Outlaw/James
PF - Favors/Hump (if we resign him)
C - Lopez/Petro
We would then be adding a late first round pick (Lakers) and an early second round pick.
Honestly, I am not so sure that the roster for 2011 with Carmelo and Harrington is better than the roster would be in 2011 without Carmelo - and our salary cap situation is much better in 2011 without Harrington on the books. I do not think that this trade makes us significantly better this year, and I do not believe it makes us better in 2012 or 2013 either.
If I were the Nets GM - I would tell Denver thanks, but no thanks. I would hold onto Favors and allow him and Brook to develop into what could be a dynamic PF/C combo. I would have faith in my ability to draft a quality wing player in the lottery in the 2011 NBA Draft who could step in as the third piece of the puzzle and have an eye on being a contender 3 years from now. Adding Harrington and Carmelo to this roster does not make us a championship contender now or in 3 years. Sometimes the best moves are the moves not made.