Carmelo Anthony is continuing to push Denver to find a trade that will send him to the Knicks and has stepped back from a willingness to commit to the Nets. On Saturday, the Knicks were exploring ways to put together a package that might land Anthony.
Over the weekend, Anthony began having doubts about agreeing to a contract extension with the Nets. Yahoo! Sports reports that the four-team blockbuster that would send Anthony to New Jersey, which seemed to be gaining critical momentum on Friday night, is now at "a perilous crossroads."
Anthony’s desire to make a long-term commitment to the Nets started eroding when former Nets' players related their experiences with an empty arena, the apathy of fans, and the team playing in the shadow of the Knicks and Madison Square Garden. Anthony was already concerned about joining a team in New Jersey that would not be close to contention even with him on board.
"He’s having second thoughts on Jersey," a league source told Yahoo! Sports. "He’s pushed [Denver] to explore other options."
While the Nuggets still believe the deal with New Jersey gives them their best return, Denver engaged the Knicks on Saturday in discussions centered around Danilo Gallinari, Anthony Randolph and Toney Douglas, according to sources.
Sources indicated that the Knicks are working to pry draft picks to send the Nuggets in a deal for Anthony, and have contacted the Rockets for this purpose. Before last season's trade deadline, the Knicks sent their 2012 first-round pick to Houston, and agreed to swap picks with the Rockets in 2011, in a move to dump the contract of Jared Jeffries.
Okay, I'm going to get vilified for this, but whatever. I'm rooting for Carmelo Anthony to go the Knicks or Bulls barring any significant changes in the Nuggets' demands. Here are the reasons why:
1) First and most importantly, the deal as currently constructed is not very beneficial to the Nets. Yes, the Nets would get a top-7 player who they could market as the face of the franchise. They would however, be losing Derrick Favors who can (notice, I said can) fill the PF-void the franchise has had since K-Mart was traded for the next decade.
Favors' upside is unfathomable, he's actually a bit taller and eight pounds heavier than Dwight Howard was when he entered the NBA. Favors' has world-class athleticism and a great NBA body. Not only does he have the physical attributes necessary to succeed in the NBA, but he also has the workhorse mentality. He drives to improve his game everyday and is notorious for being a gym-rat. Since the Nets have drafted Favors he has put on about 10 pounds of muscle and he just turned 19.
There are some questions about Favors' attitude, many critics claim that he is too nice and that he lacks the killer mentality necessary to be a force in this league. As stated earlier, it should be noted that Favors' just turned 19, for some players it takes time to develop that instinct. Dwight Howard was labeled the same way when he entered the league and many say he is still too nice to be an alpha-dog. He is however, evidence that a player can dominate the floor without possessing the eff-you mentality that so many of the greats have.
Many claim that Favors is a high-risk, high-reward player, meaning that he has tremendous potential, but could also be a bust. The popular comparisons are Tyrus Thomas and Stromile Swift, both of which are flawed.
When Tyrus Thomas was drafted he was considered to be a superior athlete similar to Favors, but there are two distinct differences between Thomas and Favors. Thomas' pre-draft measurements were 6'8 (in shoes) and 213 pounds. Favors' pre-draft measurements were 6'10 and 246 pounds (he has since bulked up to about 255). The other attribute that separates the two is attitude, they are polar opposites. When Tyrus entered the league he was thought of as "cocky, hard to coach and at times lazy." Favors has been described as very coachable, a hard-worker and extremely humble." While it is very possible that Favors doesn't live up to his hype, the comparison to Tyrus Thomas is illogical and the only similarity between the two is their athleticism.
When Stromile Swift was drafted with the 2nd pick in the 2000 draft by the Vancouver Grizzles he was expected to be a star. Swift displayed superior athleticism, great shot-blocking ability and a very competitive attitude on the court. Off the court however, Swift was described as "selfish, unpredictable, extremely stubborn and every coaches nightmare." Swift advertised a 6'10 frame with the potential to put on a lot of muscle (similar to Favors), but only weighed in at 220 (26 pounds lighter than Favors). The comparison of Favors to Swift on the court is merited, both were considered to be superior defenders with unbelievable athleticism. Both were considered to be limited on the offensive side because they relied on their superior athleticism to score points. But the significant difference between the two, is their attitudes. Favors is willing to learn and Swift wasn't, and while Swift is putting up 30 a game out in China, Favors has a much higher chance to fulfill his potential because of his willingness to learn and be coached.
2) Not only do the Nets lose Favors, but they would also have to give up Devin Harris. Devin Harris played very well under coach Avery Johnson during the Dallas days, displaying a good balance of play-making ability and defensive talent. Coach Johnson never released the shackles off Harris though, because he felt that Devin was too young and wasn't ready to efficiently run the offense without his guidance. Now Harris is three years older and has displayed an ability to score at a very high clip (when healthy) and to run a team. If Johnson can re-instill Harris' ability to lock down the opposing team's point-guard every given night then Harris can most definitely return to all-star status. With the help of shooters (Morrow, Murphy, Outlaw and James) Harris should be able to penetrate without the defense collapsing as much as they did last year. It is also important to note that Harris has put on 15-20 pounds of muscle this off-season in an attempt to decrease his rate of injury.
Harris also has very good chemistry with the Nets' franchise-center Brook Lopez. Even with Harris missing 17 games last season, the duo of Lopez and Harris lead the league in alley-hoops. It also appears as if Lopez and Harris have a good relationship off-the-court. Harris is very critical in Lopez's development and if the Nets were to start Farmar or T-Will the Nets young-talented center could regress.
3) Over the last decade the NBA draft has gotten significantly deeper. Many teams are finding above-average and even all-star players in the late first round. In the reported four-team deal the Nets would be losing two first round-draft picks -- their 2011 first-round pick and the Warriors' 2012 first round pick (protected 1-7). Both of those picks could prove to be very valuable as trade chips or to bolster what is already an extremely talented young roster.
4) The Nets are giving up way too much in this trade in which they should be the aggressor. The Nuggets are operating out of a position of desperation, they need to deal Carmelo Anthony before this year's trade deadline, more preferably before the season starts The Nuggets are aware that if they choose to trade Melo before the season starts they can get more value. Nonetheless, they have no leverage in the situation because they have no use for Carmelo. Hypothetically if they don't lower their demands for Anthony the Nuggets could be left empty-handed. Billy King and the rest of the Nets' front-office need to realize that they are operating out of a position of power. They could swap Terrence Williams for Derrick Favors and the value would still be significantly higher than what other teams are offering. So far (according to the reports), King has proved to be an ineffective poker player and has not displayed the shrewdness that Thorn did while working on big trades.
5) Carmelo Anthony's preference is to play elsewhere -- Chicago or New York. His preference is to join Amare Stoudemire in New York and play under the bright-lights of MSG. Melo's thinking is that the Knicks could maneuver a deal for Chris Paul as early as this year, but more likely next off-season. With young assets such as Anthony Randolph, Danillo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Eddy Curry's contract it is very plausible that the Knicks could acquire CP3. But, if the Knicks were to trade for Melo they would no longer possess these assets and they wouldn't be able to acquire Paul until 2012 when he becomes an unrestricted free-agent. It would be prudent for Melo to play this year out in Denver and then join the Knicks next off-season so that the Knicks still have the assets to trade for Paul. It is reported that Anthony is also open to going to Chicago to play with Rose and Boozer.
If Melo doesn't really want to play for the Nets he is more apt to complain if things don't go well off the bat. It is conceivable that Carmelo could approve a trade to the Nets (by agreeing to sign an extension) because he feels that he has been backed into a corner and then realize that he made a grave mistake. The fallout could be catastrophic. Anthony could attempt to force his way out of New Jersey and become a team-cancer. In this day and age of players running the league I wouldn't put it passed Carmelo to do this.
6) Something that hasn't been talked about too much is the potentially disastrous relationship between Carmelo Anthony and coach Avery Johnson. Johnson demands a lot out of his players, especially on the defensive. He preaches discipline, accountability, communication and an understanding of his defensive system. Johnson takes a very upfront approach to coaching, he's not afraid to get in his players faces and call them out when they make mistakes, even if they're stars (see: Dirk Nowitzki). Anthony has never had a coach that has held him accountable and isn't afraid to challenge him. Anthony is known to be a very stubborn player with an unwillingness to put in a lot of effort on the defensive side of the ball. Johnson will not accept this. The potential for the relationship between Johnson and Carmelo to blow up is very possible and the fallout wouldn't benefit the Nets as a team.
7) How fun would it be to watch Melo join the Bulls or the Knicks and have him face off with the Talents in South Beach. Imagine Rose, Melo and Boozer versus Wade & company or Paul, Melo and Stat taking on Wade's assistants. It doesn't hurt that I have partial ownership of Knicks season tickets, if the Knicks could acquire Paul and Melo then the Garden would be back and one of the greatest rivalries of the 90's (Heat vs Knicks) would return. You can't blame me for wanting Melo to join the Knicks, can you? Yeah, well probably. I guess that means I'm not a true Nets fan. But, with the way the league is headed why not have superstars join forces and try to take on the Heat. Who knows, at this rate it's not out of the realm of possibility that the Stern will abolish the majority of the NBA teams and just leave those with stars on them. Get your popcorn ready.