Nuggets May Not Be Able to Afford Waiting on Carmelo Anthony Trade
After today's news broke that the Nuggets, New Jersey Nets, Utah Jazz and Charlotte Bobcats were discussing a deal that would send Anthony to the Nets, the 'Melo suitors who were on the outside looking in wondered exactly how seriously to take these talks. After all, the pragmatic play would be to wait, to test the market now with these sorts of discussions -- set the early price on what is a monumental move and let the situation develop while ignoring the substantial pressure being applied by Anthony's representatives to get him out of the Mile High City.
Sure, the February trade deadline clock would be ticking and the fears of losing Anthony for nothing would be forever-rising, but that timeline extends all the way to sign-and-trade possibilities next summer and simply can't dictate their every move. What's more, waiting until mid-December -- at a minimum -- would open up the possibilities and potentially sweeten their pot. That's when the elite class of free agents who signed this summer would be available for trade, as league restrictions mandate that such players can't be moved until Dec. 15.
"You're basically trading for two-thirds of the market (right now)," said one front-office executive.
But the Rocky Mountain foundation just might be too fragile, too fragmented, for the Nuggets to wait. Especially if George Karl is their last hope of convincing the three-time All-Star that he should stay.
The under-appreciated Nuggets coach has plenty of his own frustrations to deal with these days, and it's hard to imagine his zeal for the "Save 'Melo Movement" is too high. After fighting off cancer this summer and deciding to return to the bench, his good friend and former Nuggets executive Mark Warkentien, who was one of his few backers in the organization, was shown the door in early August.
Then in mid-August, Karl's son, Coby, was waived by Denver in a move that one source close to the team says still has Karl "furious." Now comes the revelation that longtime assistant coach and fellow Karl confidant Tim Grgurich is deciding to leave the team.
This hurts the Nuggets on two fronts: 1) It's a blow to Karl's already-dwindling comfort level, to be sure, and 2) Grgurich was Anthony's right-hand man on the coaching front, too, one of the few people who could motivate him to do things like, well, stay in shape and play hard consistently. Meanwhile, it appears no one else within the organization can get in Anthony's ear.
When new general manager Masai Ujiri was hired in late August, he intended to meet with Anthony in person to share his vision of the team as soon as the player would make it possible. The former Toronto executive had just lived through the end of the Chris Bosh era with the Raptors, watching the forward sign with Miami while Ujiri learned lessons about retaining star-type talents that he was eager to implement. But the two never met when Anthony was nothing short of dismissive, and his lone meeting with a Nuggets official, that being new owner Josh Kroenke, was reportedly an unproductive one as far as Denver was concerned.
Yes, the price for Carmelo Anthony might indeed be more than Derrick Favors, Andrei Kirilenko and a couple of first-round draft picks. But with the way things are crumbling in Denver, the Nuggets might never know.
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