The “Carmelo Anthony to New Jersey” trade talks have heated up to a point where by the time you read this Melo could already be on his way to the Eastern Conference. Let’s say the purposed 3-team deal goes through. This is what it could it look like with more players likely to be included to balance salaries.
New Jersey gets: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, and Richard Hamilton
Denver gets: Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, Anthony Morrow, and at least two 1st round picks
Detroit gets: Troy Murphy and Johan Petro
Who wins? Well New Jersey is currently 10-27, so acquiring an All-Star and 2 former All-Stars for an overrated point guard, their undeveloped 1stround pick, a bench guard, and two unknowns looks like a good deal. Any way for them to land Carmelo, and of course convince him to sign a contract extension, they have to do it, even if it means snagging the 2004 Pistons backcourt.
Despite having one of the league’s worst records, the Nets are just 5 games back of a playoff spot in the East. Could a core of Billups, Hamilton, Carmelo, Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez, Travis Outlaw, Jordan Farmar, and Sasha Vujacic pass the likes of the Pistons, Raptors, Bobcats, Bucks, 76ers, and even Pacers? In a word, sure. I think this group would feast on the lower half of the Eastern Conference and make a serious run at the post season.
If they get there however, do the Nets have a chance against the Celtics, Heat, Magic, or Bulls? In a word, nope.
But put yourself in the sad shoes of a Nets’ fan. You have to do whatever it takes to get one of the best players in the NBA. Billups is a free agent after this year (team option for $14 million next season) while Rip is on the books for $12.65 million thru 2012-13. Not the worst price you have to pay to get Anthony, plus there is a chance he could recruit a few fellow stars in the next couple of years, Chris Paul anyone?
Where does this leave Denver? Tough spot to be in, really two choices here, 1.) keep Carmelo, who has 1 foot out the door, and do all you can to hang on to the 6thseed in the West with no real chance of advancing in the post season or 2.) deal your star player/ face of the franchise for young talent and picks as to not see him leave for nothing, see James, LeBron, and Bosh, Chris. If the Nuggets were more of a contender I’d say ride it out and see if you can somehow squeeze out a title, but since that’s not the case, get whatever you can for him, and that’s what it looks like they’re going to do.
Detroit, meanwhile, sneaks in and grabs Murphy, who they wanted, and shed Rip who has become a problem and a bad contract all in one. Not bad.
Other winners in this deal are the teams that are 7-10 in the West as Denver is likely to see a bit of a decline. I am interested to see what kind of run Favors will get with Nene, Sheldon Williams, Birdman, Kenyon Martin (when he returns), and even Al Harrington.
How about the star power in the East if Carmelo comes over? Unreal, he would join LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Shaquille O’Neal, Dwight Howard, Gilbert Arenas, Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, Joe Johnson, and Amare Stoudemire. There’s a lot of future Hall of Famers on that list.
-Heat Check: Miami has won 21 of 22. LeBron, Wade, and Bosh certainly look as though they have figured it out. I fully expect the Heat, in part because of the injuries to the Celtics, to be the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and perhaps hold the best record in the NBA. I thought Mike Miller would be a seamless addition to the rotation, but that’s proving to be more difficult. I still believe their best crunch time lineup involves Miller. He’ll need to stop the DNP-CD’s if I’m going to be right.
-Scoring with the best of them: Kobe Bryant is now up to 9thall-time on the NBA’s scoring list, just passing Oscar Robinson. Shaquille O’Neal is 5th on the list and 1stamong active players. Six other current players are in the Top 50 all-time. Kevin Garnett (22nd), Dirk Nowitzki (25th), Ray Allen (27th), Tim Duncan (29th), Paul Pierce (34th), and Vince Carter (37th).
-Dunk Contest: No Nate Robinson, no problem. I actually like the group selected (willing) to take part in this year’s Slam Dunk Contest. We all know the years of Jordan vs. Wilkins are long gone, even Vince or Kobe. But look at the guys this time around, Blake Griffin, Brandon Jennings, JaVale McGee, and Serge Ibaka. I typically don’t enjoy the power forward or centers who throw it down, but the game dunks alone from Griffin and McGee have been outstanding. Maybe they need guys trying to block their shots to be exciting, but I say give them a chance.
As for Jennings, he only has a couple of dunks this season, but he should be fun to watch. Especially with a bunch of 6’10 contestants he’ll look even smaller and more impressive. The Dunk Contest could be past its prime, but count me in this year.
Nate Robinson is already the only 3-time dunk champion, so he doesn’t have anything to prove this year. Wilkins, Jordan, Harold Miner, and Jason Richardson all won twice.
If you are wondering who had a better career, Harold Miner or Gerald Green, well you have a debate on your hands. Miner played in 200 games and averaged 9 points per game, while Green played in 181 games and put up 7.5 ppg. Miner was out of the league at 24, Green done by 23… at least for now.
Rich Keefe is an anchor and fill-in host on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston and frequent collaborator on the CelticsHub.com podcast. He also writes for The Sports Brief. He writes his Around The NBA column every Monday for CelticsHub