An NBA trade, or the events leading up to the completion of an NBA, can be compared to many arduous or inclement events. It can be compared to building a pyramid over several generations or surviving a Category 5 hurricane. I like to think of it as a grotesque front office marathon. The talks begin a month into the season, ESPN prematurely reports and laments on potential deals, and the team that ends up with the coveted player is the last one mentioned in February. This February the player is Carmelo Anthony and the team appears to be the New York Knicks.
Now yes, I am going to source ESPN here (which may invalidate the rumor before it begins turning into a real boy!), but the late rumor is that the Knicks, Nuggets, and Timberwolves may be embarking in a ménage a trios that includes at least five players and a draft pick and is one piece from becoming a done deal.
The Knicks would be shipping Anthony Rudolph and Eddy Curry’s expiring eight–figure contract to the Timberwolves and Wilson Chandler to the Nuggets. The Timberwolves would send Corey Brewer and a first round draft pick to the Nuggets. The Knicks would receive Carmelo and Carmelo would receive a three-year $65 million extension.
So who wants the one piece? The Minnesota Timberwolves do. Really, how does a team with Kevin Love and Michael Beasley at the forward spots benefit from the addition of Anthony Randolph? Sure they will be able to keep their eight figures in cap space thanks to Curry’s contract, but what good does this do when no one wants to play in Minnesota? So, the question is: What will the Timberwolves receive to make this deal happen and will this bring in a fourth team?
The Timberwolves desperately need help at the point guard spot. Ricky Rubio is never coming over to play in the Land of a Thousand Lakes and Jonny Flynn has been usurped by Luke Ridnour as the starting point guard. Do the Nuggets or Knicks have any point guards Minnesota could whet their lips over? Yes, his name is Ty Lawson, but he is the heir apparent to Chauncey Billups.
Part of the Nuggets plan to rebuild the franchise post-Carmelo is to start Lawson. Alas, these are the cracks that quickly grow into impassable canyons over the course of NBA trade talks. So, how does this deal continue?
Well, Carmelo does not have to initiate this trade before the end of the season, but he wants a max contract and Denver does not want to become Toronto 2012. Both these key pieces want this deal done. Then, add the pressure the Knicks GM is receiving from the majority owner to complete this deal (despite it being cheaper to sign Carmelo after the season is over and possibly after the CBA negotiations ends any hopes of a 2011-2012 season). So, one of these teams is going to cough up a piece it does not want to, whether via the addition of a fourth team or with these three.
As a Chicago Bulls fan I would be ecstatic if the deal falls apart. While I was one of the throng of voices that did not want Carmelo ruining the Bulls team chemistry, I fear he would be the piece to put the New York over the top and transform them from a 6-8 seed and into the top four. I want no part of Knicks tickets for a second round series after Carmelo and Amare have had half a season to learn how to play with each other in Mike D’Antoni’s system. I want no part of them in the first round either (they have the Bulls number), but would choose the latter if forced.
So pay attention to every rumor over the next two-plus weeks and see if the Knicks or Nuggets are willing to give up a player key to the long term liver function of the franchise and complete this marathon. As a Bulls fan I hope not.