Posted by Royce Young
You're supposed to believe the Orlando Magic haven't made any inquiries into Carmelo Anthony's availability. At least that's what general manager Otis Smith is telling you.
But we all know better. A tier one superstar is potentially on the block and Smith's team is in the market for an upgrade at small forward. And as Ken Berger reports , the Magic are one of the teams on top of Anthony's list. Yeah, I'm sure Smith hasn't at least asked about 'Melo's situation.
But let's operate under the assumption Smith hasn't. Assuming he might make an inquiry into Carmelo's availability, what might he offer up the Nuggets in exchange? Matt Moore already laid out a thought-provoking plan to get Anthony to where he supposedly wants to be in New York. A package including contract relief in Eddy Curry's dead body plus quality players like Danillo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler or maybe Anthony Randolph is definitely a nice option. But the Magic will try and do better. They have to if they want 'Melo.
First, there's the option for the obligatory cap flexibility/relief move. That means Vince Carter and his $17.5 million deal which actually matches Anthony's current contract. The teams could straight swap players, but no way Denver goes for that. At least common sense says no way. The Nuggets would need to add a player like Chris Andersen to get back Mickael Pietrus or Brandon Bass, but if that's the case, the deal is just getting worse for Denver.
As far as Carter, his contract expires next season (2011-12 is non-guaranteed) and he's at least a player that will contribute unlike Curry. He's not exactly a small forward replacement and will have to fit in with Aron Afflalo and J.R. Smith, but Carter would at least help keep the Nuggets competitive for now.
Why would Denver want Carter? Other than the fact he can still play some , because the the Nuggets have a number of players coming up in free agency soon. Both Nene and Chauncey Billups are up in two years (though Billups is non-guanteed in 2011-12) and J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin next year meaning the Nuggets would have a large sum of money to toss around next summer all while staying competitive. But overall, this is not a great plan for the Nuggets.
A better, more sensible move for Denver is adding a trio of quality players. Targeting Brandon Bass, Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus means the Nuggets get a good small forward in return, plus two solid big men, a position Denver has been looking to improve this year. (Denver would need to throw in Renaldo Balkman to make numbers work, but if they're getting back two bigs, it would need to clear out room in the frontcourt anyway.) Yes, it's a step down from Anthony, but any time you trade one of the top seven or eight players in the league, it's going to be hard to get a comparable deal. Actually, scratch that, it's basically impossible. But Denver's other option is to let Anthony walk and get NOTHING in return. You know, the LeBron/Bosh exit plan. And teams that could offer really intriguing deals like the Clippers (Chris Kaman and Eric Gordon?) evidently aren't on Anthony's radar.
Though in the end, if you're Denver's yet-to-be-named GM, what deal do you jump at? New York's hypothetical offer of Curry, Chandler and Gallinari (or Randolph) or Orlando's pretend offer of Gortat, Bass and Pietrus? Honestly, that's a tough call. But one the Nuggets' next front office captain will likely have to make sooner than later.