Source: Denver Listening to Trade Offers for Carmelo Anthony
According to a front-office source who has recently spoken with Denver about trading its reportedly disgruntled small forward, the Nuggets are fielding trade offers for Anthony for the first time in a manner that is nothing short of lottery-style.
"Send it in," league executives are being told of their proposals for the three-time All-Star who can be a free agent next summer.
Then, very much like that contest you sign up for at the local grocery store, you simply hope the phone rings and the caller names you the lucky winner (or at least wants to discuss the fine print). On the flip side, contestants shouldn't expect a call back unless the offer sparks genuine intrigue.
The Nuggets, the source told FanHouse, have made it clear they have interest in top-tier young players, future first-round draft picks, young assets (i.e. high-upside players with relatively-affordable contracts), and salary-cap savings. Denver has a payroll for the coming season of approximately $83 million, far beyond the salary cap of $58,044,000 million and well into the league's luxury tax territory of $70,307,000.
The other key factor remains Anthony's stance on any possible destination, as any team that traded for him would certainly want assurances that he would sign an extension. The word is clearly spreading around the league, as an ESPN.com report Sunday evening detailed almost identical guidelines for teams pursuing Anthony going forward.
The Nuggets remain in the most-compromising of situations, as Anthony's wandering eye coupled with a roster that has little long-term viability in its current form mean it's a hard sell these days in the Mile High City. Denver has just three players with fully-guaranteed contracts for the 2011-12 season (Al Harrington, Chris Anderson and Renaldo Balkman), while Anthony ($18.5 million) and power forward Nené ($11.6 million) both have high-priced player options for that campaign.
Anthony is hardly the only core player whose future is in flux, too, as the contract of point guard Chauncey Billups is only partially guaranteed for 2011-12. Despite Billups' assertions that keeping him around for the cost of $14.2 million that season would improve the team's chances of keeping Anthony, his situation presents yet another dilemma inside this Nuggets' quandary.
Investing in Billups would fit a blueprint that also includes Anthony, but committing that sort of salary to a soon-to-be 34-year-old only to lose Anthony next summer would hardly fit the likely plan of getting younger and finding a new core. As previously reported by FanHouse's Chris Tomasson, the Nuggets would have to pay Billups $3.7 million if they part ways with him next summer.
Meanwhile, much has changed since late June, when Anthony was offered a three-year, $65 million extension that remains on the table. Team executives Mark Warkentien and Rex Chapman were shown the door in early August when their contracts were not renewed. Former Toronto assistant general manager Masai Ujiri was hired as the team's general manager in late August, with his level of influence significant but certainly below that of soon-to-be owner Josh Kroenke (the son of owner Stan Kroenke) and team adviser Bret Bearup.
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