With the Nets essentially backing out of the Carmelo sweepstakes, it seems more likely that Carmelo is going to be able to force his way to the Knicks. Denver is going to either have to make the decision to take less in assets (as nobody has the assets the Nets have) or run the risk of losing him for nothing at the end of the season. As the deadline gets closer - it essentially becomes a game of chicken for the Denver front office. All the writing is on the wall that Carmelo wants out of Denver and is not going to remain there. Perhaps they pursue a trade where Carmelo becomes a 4 month rental for them - but an interesting scenario would be for the Nets to help facilitate the trade between Denver and the Knicks. I think this is super far fetched as I am not sure the Nets would want to help either the Knicks (for obvious reasons) or the Nuggets (after the past 5 months debacle essentially destroyed their season) - however it could make some sense.....
The Nets are in full rebuilding mode at this point - and have indicated thru their owner (and I believe Billy King prefers this route) that they will follow their 5 year plan and build thru developing young players and the draft. The Nets have also indicated that they will honor a trade request from Troy Murphy and deal his expiring contract someplace else before the deadline. The Knicks do not have the assets to make a trade work directly with Denver - and would need to bring a 3rd team on board. For a rebuilding team (the Nets) and a soon to be rebuilding team (the Nuggets) it makes sense to acquire any mixture of picks, young players and expiring contracts. And with the future of the CBA and salary cap undetermined and a possible lockout looming - acquiring expiring contracts is potentially more valuable this year than it has been in years past.
Here is a trade that potentially benefits all 3 teams:
Landry Fields (from NYK)
Kenyon Martin (from Denver)
Toney Douglas (from NYK)
Kelena Azubuike (from NYK)
Carmelo Anthony (Denver)
Johan Petro (NJN)
Renaldo Balkman (Denver)
Troy Murphy (NJN)
Eddy Curry (NYK)
Bill Walker (NYK)
Quinton Ross (NJN)
Wilson Chandler (NYK)
Knicks 2014 first round pick
The only chance that the Knicks have of getting Carmelo is by dealing a mixture of Eddy Curry expiring contract, Bill Walker, Landry Fields, a future first rounder and Gallinari or Chandler. But if the Knicks want Carmelo that badly - this is a small price to ultimately pay to pair 2 superstars with Felton in the Garden.
The Nets have already indicated that they are going to trade Troy Murphy's expiring contract - it just becomes what can you get back for him. And the ability to unload Johan Petro's mistake of a contract is an added bonus. The Nets would be acquiring 2 promising young players with very affordable contracts in Landry Fields and Toney Douglas who both have an additional year left on their contracts. They gain an expiring contract in Kelena Azubuike who could contribute at the 3 spot off the bench for the remainder of the year and they get back fan favorite (and expiring contract) Kenyon Martin. Kenyon could play alongside Brook - and Favors, Hump and Martin could all see time at center. Martin will reinvigorate the Nets fan base - while bringing back the toughness and confidence that has been sorely lacking since Martin was dealt. He is also a great mentor for not only Favors but for Lopez - and could potentially be resigned cheaply over the summer to pair with Favors, Lopez and Hump to give the Nets a very deep front court rotation.
The Nuggerts risk losing Carmelo for nothing at this point - and while this deal provides much less in the form of assets for the future - they are able to still get value out of this deal. They receive $24 million in expiring contracts (Murphy, Ross and Curry), and 2 young players that they like in Bill Walker and Wilson Chandler along with a future first round pick. Chandler is a restricted free agent which is not ideal - but if they choose not to resign him, he becomes a sign and trade candidate. The Nuggets will significantly reduce their salary cap next year - which is imperative in a rebuilding year. They can also clear additional cap over the summer by letting JR Smith leave and exercising the buyout option on Chauncey Billups.
Honestly, there is very little chance of the Nets willing to be trade partners with either the Nuggets or the Knicks at any time in the near future - however this is a chance for the Nets to unload Murphy and the contract of Petro while taking back a fan favorite in K-Mart which would be fantastic PR for the Nets after the Carmelo fiasco - and gaining a very good starting quality SG in Fields and a versatile defensive stopper in Toney Douglas. And as an added bonus we are gaining an additional $6.9 million in expiring contracts this summer plus a cost savings of $1.7 million (Petro vs Fields+Douglas).
And over the summer we would also have Steven Graham, Hump, Uzoh and Sasha contracts expire. I would resign Hump to a 4-5 year contract and even consider a 2 or 3 year deal to KMart.
More importantly we would have a young core of Lopez, Favors, Morrow, James, Douglas and Fields with 2 first round picks in the 2011 draft combined with veteran presence of Farmar, Harris, Outlaw, Hump (if resigned), Martin (if resigned). This would be a big step in the right direction - particularly if we were able to find our SF of the future with this season's lottery pick.