Q&A on Carmelo Anthony’s alleged interest in the Houston Rockets

After SI’s Chris Mannix’s Wednesday report of Carmelo Anthony’s alleged interest in the Houston Rockets, I got together with Jeremy Wagner of ESPN TrueHoop’s official Denver Nuggets blog, Roundball Mining Company. What ensues is our conversation about, among other things, the plausibility of a deal between Houston and Denver.

Rahat: On Wednesday, it was reported by Chris Mannix that Carmelo Anthony would be open to signing a contract extension with, in addition to the New York Knicks, the Houston Rockets or New Jersey Nets.  To begin, what do you think is the likelihood of Anthony being traded?

Jeremy: At this point it is clear that Carmelo Anthony is not convinced that Denver is the place for him.  As long as the Nuggets cannot be assured that he will return to play for them following this season it is only prudent to begin shopping him around the league to determine his value. Whatever that value is, it will certainly be greater than nothing, which is what the Nuggets could end up with should he exercise his early termination option and sign somewhere else following the 2010-11 season.  Because of that I do believe Carmelo will be traded sometime before the trade deadline in February.

Rahat: Up to this point, with the reports of his interest in the Knicks, I had assumed that for Anthony, the driving force was to, rather than leave Denver, simply go to New York; ie: I did not feel he actively wanted out of Denver.  With this latest report regarding Houston, it appears the motivation is to leave the Nuggets.  Did this come as a surprise to you and do you have any insight into his mindset in this force of departure?

Jeremy: Carmelo certainly does like Denver and he knows if he stays, he will be regarded as the best player in franchise history.  The reality is the Nuggets seemed to have seen their best chance at competing for a championship come and go last season when they were once again eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.  Carmelo realizes that and while Denver has done a pretty good job of pairing him with some extremely talented running mates in Allen Iverson and now Chauncey Billups most of the Nuggets key players are either injury prone or in the twilight of their careers.

I believe as you stated at first he was simply enthralled with playing in New York.  However, with the Nuggets dealing with a closing window and then seeing Miami pull off their free agent bonanza he began do dream about other possibilities.  I am not surprised that he would consider teams other than the Knicks.  If the driving force behind his decision to to be in the best position possible to win a championship, he would be crazy to only consider the Knicks simply because they are in New York.

I do think Houston is an odd fit and I question who leaked the report that Carmelo would consider the Rockets. Not to go all conspiracy theory on you, but I have to wonder if the Nuggets are doing their best to create some competition and urgency in an effort to driving up the price.

Houston is a team that can offer a young player or two, salary relief and draft picks.  The Knicks have reportedly offered Danillo Galinari, Eddy Curry’s expiring deal and a future draft pick, which will have to be in 2014 at the earliest.  That is not a great haul for an All-Star and borderline MVP candidate.  If the Nuggets want to save any face here, they must pull off a good deal and without teams competing against each other, Denver may struggle to do better than New York’s offer.  Houston could certainly create some competition, real or imagined.

Rahat: A leak from the Denver front offices could certainly be possible, but at the same time, I wonder what purpose that would ultimately serve insofar that Anthony would not want to unnecessarily deplete his new roster; were there really no interest, he would comeforth and refute the report, bringing us back to square one.

Regardless, let’s assume for a moment that the report of his interest is true.  Who among the three teams could offer the package most enticing to the Nuggets?  Among the Rockets’ assets, apart from their core, are Jordan Hill, Patrick Patterson, Chase Budinger, the expiring contracts of Shane Battier and Jared Jeffries, and the New York Knicks’ draft picks in 2011 and 2012.

Jeremy: That is a good point about Melo not wanting to weaken his future team and I thought about that, but I would not totally discount his desire to get paid as well.  The only way he gets his extension is if he is traded prior to the trade deadline.  Even a sign and trade would cost him money, especially considering it will be consummated under a new CBA.

The question is do the Nuggets try to make a deal that will keep them a playoff team, or do they decide to rebuild behind Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo and Nene.  Personally I think they are better off rebuilding.  I get no satisfaction out of first round exits year after year and I would like to see some bold action to attempt to bring a championship to Denver.

Out of the three teams Carmelo has been rumored to be interested in the Rockets, Knicks and Magic, I think the Magic are the least likely destination.  I doubt the Nuggets would be interested in Vince Carter, although he would fit the bill for a player they could acquire in an attempt to remain a playoff team next season and if Denver goes the picks and prospects route, Orlando could not offer Denver prospects and high draft picks.

As mentioned above the Knicks are prepared to offer Gallinari, Curry and a future draft pick.  If I was Denver I would hold out for Anthony Randolph in place of the pick, which would not come for a few years.

Before we get to the Rockets I think we need to mention another team.  The Nets could put together a nice package with Derrick Favors, Troy Murphy and a draft pick or two.  I seriously doubt they would part with Brooke Lopez, but he would probably seal the deal in favor of the Nets if he was available.

I have to wonder how much of their stockpile of assets Houston would be willing to give up.  Obviously the expiring contracts of Battier and Jeffries would be a must.  The two picks owed from the Knicks would be enticing, especially since by sending Melo to Houston those picks would be more valuable than if he were sent to New York. In fact, the value of those picks could be used as leverage the Nuggets could use with Houston as a Knicks team with Melo would decrease their value.  Jordan Hill and Patrick Patterson are nice assets too and either one of them would sweeten Houston’s proposal.

I think the decision comes down to the Knicks and Rockets, assuming Lopez is off limits, and if you want to know which offer I would select, you will have to check out my post on Friday where I name a fictitious winner of the Indian Summer of Carmelo.

While Carmelo may be interested in Houston, I wonder if the interest in mutual.  Daryl Morey is a fan of statistical analysis and efficiency on both ends of the floor.  Carmelo is not an overly efficient scorer, in fact when compared to the other elite scorers in the league he is one of the least efficient.  Plus I have always admired the way the Rockets play unselfishly with great ball movement and patience.  George Karl likes to refer to Carmelo as a ball stopper meaning when the ball hits Melo’s mitts, it stays there.  That does not seem to fit with what the Rockets like to do.  Then of course there is the matter of Carmelo’s defense, or lack thereof.  Carmelo is a big name, but is he a player that makes sense for the Rockets?

Rahat: I think New Jersey easily has the capacity to put together the best package if putting either of Brooke Lopez or Devin Harris in play.  Having said that, one wonders if Carmelo would still consider the Nets a desireable destination sans either of those players, given his entire motivation for this exit.

I feel the Rockets are the only team that can put together an attractive offer while still having enough left over to contend, given their aforementioned assets.

I want to get to your other point in a bit, but first, what do you think it would take (in a Rockets offer) at the bare minimum for the Nuggets to bite?  What’s an offer with which you would be pleased?

Jeremy: Because of the shortage of teams Carmelo would agree to sign an extension with I think the Nuggets will be choosing from a handful of less than exciting offers.  Even so in order to send Carmelo to the Rockets I personally would want at the very least the expiring contracts of Battier and Jeffries, Hill or Patterson, and the Knicks picks.  To guarantee the Rockets are the big winners they would probably have to add in Buddinger and $3 million.

In your opinion who should the Nuggets target in negotiations with the Rockets between Hill or Patterson?  Hill seems to have more potential, but Patterson would seem to be a safer, but less exciting prospect.  Would you agree?

Rahat: Pretty interesting that you feel that that would be all it takes; Rockets fans would be dancing in the streets if landing Carmelo without sacrificing either Aaron Brooks or Kevin Martin – I think most of us considered it a foregone conclusion that Brooks would be required to consummate a deal.

Your assessment of Patterson/Hill is dead on.  I think, given his ceiling, the Nuggets would prefer Hill, while ironically, the Rockets would prefer to keep Patterson, given that the latter is more ready to contribute.

Jeremy: I do not think Denver would be interested in Brooks due to the presence of Ty Lawson.  Denver would certainly welcome Kevin Martin, but I was working under the assumption, possibly a false one, that Martin was quasi-untouchable.  If the Nuggets are looking to rebuild and achieve some cap flexibility, which is the route I would prefer they go, Martin’s contract, while reasonable, might be more than they are interested in acquiring.

By the way, I would like to see Denver shed the contracts of Chris Andersen, four years $20 million and Renaldo Balkman, 3 years, $5.0 million in any trade involving Carmelo.  So take that for what it is worth.

Rahat: I had felt that either of Brooks/Martin would be necessary, not with Denver as an end destination necessarily, but as simply “value”, parlayed to another team at a later date if Denver so chooses.

The Rockets have a trade exception from the Ariza deal with which they could absorb Andersen, but I do not think they would be too eager for such a transaction given that he would cost them $10million/annually (due to tax implications.)

To revisit your earlier point: Melo’s inefficiency has been well-documented, especially amongst stat-heads.  One would imagine Morey would subscribe to this thinking, but at the same time, if drawing from his public statements, I don’t know that Morey is the staunch idealist he is characterized as by the media.

While intrinsic to conventional philosophy, he’s spoken many times of the need for a “star” and to that end, Carmelo Anthony would seem to fit that need.

Having watched him up close, are the criticisms warranted?  Is Melo truly elite and can he lead a team to a title?

Jeremy: Carmelo is an elite talent, but to this point in his career that talent has not translated into becoming a transcendent player on the court.  He can do almost anything he wants to on the court, including playing defense.  Sadly he places value on his ability to score and as a result does not utilize his other talents to help his team win.

There are few players who can score in as many was as Carmelo can, yet instead of exploiting the advantages the team earns due to the attention he receives from the opposition Melo frequently forces his way into the teeth of the defense in an attempt to prove he can do it.  Carmelo has never made that leap from I can do it, to we can do it and as a result makes things more difficult on himself than it needs to be which leads directly to the surprising void between his talent and his lack of efficiency.

After watching Carmelo play in Denver for seven seasons I have come to the conclusion the Nuggets are better off with someone else paying him $20 million a season.  Carmelo will absolutely get you at least 25 points a night and plenty of regular season wins.  Even so until he begins to value wins over accolades neither he nor his teams will reach their full potential.

He talks about winning championships and I do believe his desire to win a title is what is driving him to want to leave Denver, but he is constantly held back by his refusal to do what it takes on the court to earn one.

I firmly believe if Carmelo is your alpha dog, you are not winning a championship.

Do you believe Houston would go so far as to part with Kevin Martin, who was acquired less than a year ago to provide outside shooting and scoring punch to compliment Yao Ming, for a player who may be more talented, but less efficient and who is not even a mediocre shooter from behind the arc?

Rahat: I go back and forth on that one, as that’s a question which would make for a classic philosophical case-study.  Given each player’s inabilities on the defensive end, they probably can’t coexist at the wings – do you trade the poster-boy for offensive efficiency to finally fill the conventional “star” role?

I also wonder if Courtney Lee was acquired to make preparation for a Martin-Melo swap.  To answer/dodge your question, I don’t know, but I hope not.  This team would be scary explosive with Martin/Melo, while I could maintain (for this year, at leat) willful oblivion regarding their inabilities.

About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of Red94.net.

in conversations
  • flipasta

    I have to say, Jeremy's eloquent analysis of Carmelo's game is something I've been wondering about. A lot of intelligent people, including Rahat, have been very high on the idea of Carmelo coming here. But I can't help but wonder, with a TS% of .548 (right around league average), will he necessarily make our offense better? Will he make us a better defensive team? Will he improve our team rebounding (DRR = 13% last year)?

    I'm not saying his TS% isn't impressive given how much defenses must key in on him, but I'm just not sure he'd improve our team, ludicrous as that may sound given his obviously elite talent level.

    I'm not trying to start a storm here, but I have an honest question to whoever: How will we get better if we do a blockbuster deal? Is Carmelo worth it, or should hold our cards in hopes of another elite talent coming on the table?

  • Jack Tusco

    The best case for trading the draft picks from Knicks for Carmelo is if they don't and the Knicks take Carmelo, the draft picks could become worthless middle round picks,rather than an almost certain high pick .
    Carmelo's inside game could suffer with Yao Ming. Yao takes up so much space it's difficult for team mates to operate.
    What about trading Yao to Denver or through a three way? We know he won't play 50% of the games. We know his ball handling has become very suspect in the past two years. He has trouble handling passes and holding on to rebounds. On the other hand if Yao would take up position outside of box he could pass to a slashing Anthony,but since we have only seen this a few times up to this date,it must mean Yao or coach not comfortable doing this.
    The Rockets waited too long to trade Dream,who became a shell of his former self the moment he got his new contract,and we have to hope they have not waited too long to trade Yao.

  • robert

    Just wanted to say this was the best interview/roundtable yet. Jeremy provided a lot more depth in analysis than has been previously seen in these things. I'll be checking up on RMC more often now…

  • zen monkey

    Teams usually don't trade an all-star until they have to. I would guess that the Nuggets will try to make their star happy this season, looking to make trades and establish a better team, or at least sell some more tickets meanwhile. This gives them until the trade deadline to make a convincing argument for him to stay, and a lot can change before then that would make other teams looks suddenly appealing.

  • Stephen

    If Denver wants to stay competitive they ask for Martin,if they go for a rebuild they want expiring contracts.

    Assuming Carmelo was traded for a package including Martin,Rocket fans should not overlook Carmelo's time w/Team USA where he spent much of it as a PF.
    Given Adelman's proven desire to play small,Anthony could see significant minutes at the 4 w/Shane at SF. This would be Houston's version of 1 in,4 out(and Yao is significantly more adept than Howard on the offensive end).
    Between Martin and Carmelo,Martin is cheaper and more efficient,but Carmelo offers more flexibility,much better offensive rebounder. While Caarmelo is a “ball-stopper” of epic proportions,Martin is hardly better,having never averaged as much as 3 assists per game in his career.

  • luislandry

    That's not exactly accurate, watching their actual play. Martin might not have great court vision, so he doesn't find people in a position to shoot, and he's also running around a lot which means he doesn't face the basket and looking for cutters. Reggie Miller averaged 2.5-3.5 assists most of his career. Martin is very quick to give the ball back up to a creator such as ABZ if an opportunity to do what he does best (shoot or create contact) isn't there. Carmelo is more the definition of a ball stopper.

    That said, if we're talking about who's a straight up better player, I'd say Carmelo for sure, due to his offensive versatility, size, better defensive potential, and (sadly) possibility of getting star calls. The types of calls I'm talking about come up surprisingly most on defense. Paul Pierce has rightly been credited with doing a good job defensively in the playoffs on LeBron James in the past few years. Other players playing the same big physical style are rarely allowed to play that way, but refs are unlikely to whistle borderline blocking type fouls on stars. I can see putting Carmelo on LBJ, telling him to back off and let him shoot, and getting some rest for Battier in such a matchup…or allowing Battier to guard D-Wade.

  • rahat_huq

    I don't think that is fair. Martin may not rack up assists, but he doesn't literally hold onto the ball like Anthony does.

  • Alituro

    What I wonder, is how much of Melo's inefficiencies on both ends come from coaching directive and team shortcomings? In my 30+ years viewing experience, I can't seem to ever remember a Karl team that focused on solid team defense. As far as offense goes, it's no mystery that Melo is the goto guy on the Nugs, how many of his failed attempts at scoring came by virtue of a last ditch effort, based on the fact that noone else on the floor had much of an ability to create? Is his lack of effort on defense due to heightened expectations on offense? T-mac's efficiency took a big hit too under similar circumstances, when all he had to help him at times was Hayes, Alston, Battier and maybe Deke, or even an underexperienced Scola or Juwan Howard in the mix, if Yao was sitting, there was nowhere else to go for points. That being said, I think Houston gives Melo the opportunity to really thrive and finally reach his ceiling which we have not witnessed yet because he will be surrounded by a supporting cast he can rely on to create shots if he can't. He will also be surrounded by a cast who practice good defensive fundamentals, which is an infectious trait on the floor, there is no sweeter thing to witness in this sport IMO than having a team that relenlessly shuts down an opposing offense for 24 seconds, play after play via good spacing, helping and smothering at all the right times.

    When I read the previous article I couldn't help but hope the offered package from us would be Battier, Jeffries, Hill and 1 or both NY picks. It was reassuring to have that hope reiterated by the Denver gent above. I honestly couldn't find completely sane justification for including Martin because basically all we would gain through it would be a couple points a game, but we would stand to lose the chemistry that Martin brings and we've been working so hard to build. Denver would be best served, if Melo leaves, to enter complete rebuilding stage mostly because of hobbled big guys and a 34 year old Billups. After next season with the NY picks, and a slew of expirings, the world would be open to them. If Denver wanted to somehow include Birdman in the deal, that would be OK too as long as we retain our core, it would only bolster the 5, especially defensively. Finally some news to get excited about.

  • DarkHorse

    Good stuff Rahat.

    I can't help but get excited about Carmelo in principle, but another part of me fears another Tracy McGrady-esque scenario, mainly because of the obvious shortcomings in Carmelo's game, (if viewed under the microscope of truly elite players) and in general his attitude.

    In a sense, and Jeremy alluded to this, he seems like the anti-Morey kind of guy, with the exception of the fact that Morey seems to value max contract players who are truly better than their salary. I'm just not sure you can say that with 'Melo.

    Still, any package landing 'Melo that doesn't involve Brooks, Scola, Martin, or Yao is a solid win in my book.

  • durvasa

    I have some hesitation on fully endorsing a deal for Carmelo, for the reasons Jeremy stated. Are we better off chasing a championship with the “Detroit model” (no superstars), or going after a title with Carmelo Anthony as our superstar? As superstars go, I don't think Carmelo's impact on winning is particularly impressive. Perhaps I'm just paying too much attention to the adjusted +/-, PER, and TS% stuff. But even when I watch Carmelo play, I find his style frustrating. As Jeremy alluded to, he seems to force things on the offensive end too much for my liking.

  • Dan T

    You know – everyone is assuming that Houston is targetting Melo. What if Houston is targetting a Nugget, but maybe not the one everyone expects. If Denver send Melo out somewhere, what are the chances that Billups (a more statistically appealing player) stays happy with that situation? He has 2 years at roughly 13 mil – much better bargain and an upgrade for sure. Especially if the return package includes Brooks and NY picks – which as correctly stated can remain valuable by Devner trading Melo to NJ instead of NY. This would also help foster Denver's rebuild after this season as well.

  • luislandry

    Hehe, this is a bit ironic because Detroit had the very opportunity to be the superstar team if they picked Melo over frickin Darko. I wonder how 2004 would have gone down. Who knows, they might have traded Prince knowing Melo was the future…

  • Saad

    Melo has never played with such a balanced team (assuming we don't lose too many assets), I don't think enough importance is being placed on that. While his teams have always scored a lot of points, they have never been stacked in all positions offensively like the Rockets are. My point is, he would have to do less on the Rockets, leaving more energy for other things… defense, rebounding, etc.

  • rahat_huq

    As excited as I am about the prospect of acquiring Melo, the more wired parts of my brain keep telling me this would be a huge mistake.

  • Tony

    Those are definitely some concerns I have about Carmelo but I think Daryl would pull the trigger on this one. With the return of Yao (under the assumption that he returns at least 80% healthy), the Rockets will probably be a very efficient team, not to mention the FT attempts and percentages completely rising. I think what lacks for the Rockets is a person who can command the ball and take over a game (Yao can do it at times but I don't think we should count on that especially after the type of surgery he has had.) With the exception of the Pistons run, there has always been a 1-2 punch in every team that has won the finals in the last decade or so, whether it is Pierce/Garnett, Gasol/Bryant, Wade/Shaq and Duncan/Parker. With the addition of Kmart, we have the Ray Allen/Manu Ginobli/Trevor Ariza/ James Posey who can hit the 3's we would need to win. Even with some players being traded for Carmelo, this team would still be better than the team with Yao/McGrady (With the added benefit that Melo and Yao has been past the first round………) Gotta pull the trigger if it was given to the Rockets.

  • Mike B

    Great stuff.

    He kind of puts a damper on acquiring Carmelo after all the excitement, and I do wonder if he's right that Carmelo cannot be the alpha-dog and win a title. But, I think that's a chance you have to take, especially if we can get him without giving up Martin.

    A lot of people point to T-mac and are afraid of that happening again — but I look at it very differently. If you put the '05-'06 Mcgrady with the current Rockets supporting cast, how far would we have gone? We certainly would get out of the first round, and I think would have been true contenders with a healthy Yao. I think 'Melo would have the same effect.

  • rox02

    I think as far as Houston is concerned, it's how much they are giving up and how much that will affect their chances to win. How well Melo will play in Houston shouldn't be the key question mark. Everyone knows he can play, but just questions on how hard he will play. But if Houston is just giving up Battier who plays the same position, Jeffries, one of the young reserve power forwards, and draft picks – Houston has absolutely nothing to lose. The worse thing that could happen which should always be a concern is getting an unhappy egocentric star who doesn't play up to his max contract. Been there done that and that might be the only reservation. But if Melo makes any attempt at playing, I seriously doubt Houston has lower chances to win with him over Battier given everyone else in the trade are somewhat nonfactors in their rotation.

    Jeremy gave us great insight from insider the Denver camp, but if attitude was a concern, Houston has to roll the dice if their rotation wouldn't be dramatically affected. They rolled the dice with Artest, and that was a much more questionable call. Despite what many will always think of Artest in Houston, the guy did play hard and up to his limit at least. Melo has a much higher ceiling. Will Houston's team oriented mentality catch on? Will Aldeman's player's coach win favors? If Artest is an example, then roll the dice. No matter how one can criticize Melo's stats or efficiency, he will give Houston one thing that they lack currently – someone who you can give the last shot to and have a good chance of adding points to the board.

  • luislandry

    Never thought about this…he's still clearly one of the best PGs in the game, I actually think those point guard rankings Dwyer did were accurate to put him at #6. Ty Lawson is also waiting to explode…

  • I dont think I agree with Jeremy's opinion on Carmelo's reason for not being efficient. I think even with the teams he has been on he has always been the man and had the bulk of the scoring load on him.
    Roster Highlights: JR Smith, Steve Blake, AI, Kenyon Martin, Marcus Camby
    Roster Highlights: Camby, Nene, AI, Kenyon Martin, JR Smith
    Roster Highlights: Camby, Nene, AI, Kenyon Martin, JR Smith, Chris Anderson
    Roster Highlights: Camby, Nene, Kenyon Martin, JR Smith, Chris Anderson, Billups, Lawson
    None of those rosters really scream contender, they can be good but none of them can really take the load off compared to the Rockets roster.

    I mean what looks better?
    Scola/Hayes/Patterson or Hill (whoever doesnt get traded)


    Harrington/Kenyon Martin
    Afflalo/JR Smith

  • Blake

    As far as offense goes, it's no mystery that Melo is the goto guy on the Nugs, how many of his failed attempts at scoring came by virtue of a last ditch effort, based on the fact that noone else on the floor had much of an ability to create?

    He's played with a good PG and capable big-men his entire career. He takes bad shots because he has poor shot decision. He also needs to take 20 FGA a game to keep his numbers up, so he can keep getting max money.

  • Patrick L

    I dont get you guys.. Last year, I sat on this SAME website and defended trading Landry away while yall said it was a mistake. Im too lazy and busy at work to look specific stuff up but i remember it.

    NOW, we have a chance to get Carmelo for basically Carl Landry and some cap space(thanks, Trevor) and you guys STILL want to get all sheepish on pulling the trigger!! I dont get it..

    I do think that we shouldnt offer Kevin Martin at all though! Shanes expiring, Jordan Hill, w/ the TPE and NY's #1 next year should be MORE than enough. I like Kevin Martin but i dont mind trading him. And i like Carmelo.. But theres no reason to overpay, especially if hes unhappy and most teams couldnt put up HALF that offer.

  • Easy

    Melo is no TMac. McGrady indeed had bad attitude, probably worse than Anthony. But TMac's PLAYING STYLE is not “selfish” in the sense of ball-hogging. He was one of the best passing wings ever played the game, besides his obvious talent on scoring.

    The criticism about Melo is not just that he has selfish attitude, but that he does not make his teammates better. That is not true about TMac. The fact that TMac could have made use of this current Rockets team with lots of offensive weapons does not mean that Melo can too. Their games are very different.

  • RL

    While talent wise, Carmelo has what it takes to make championship team. I think the most important issue is attitude. Is he willing to be coachable, hard working, do that coaches asks of him, and have a team first attitude? I'm less worried about his lack of focus on defense at this point(Look at Ray Allen, no-one hardly looks at him as a defensive player but the defense he had played in Boston these past 3 years was admirable) I'm also less worried about him playing “selfish” at this point; that is missing mainly because he keeps on wanting to take offense into his own hands.

    The main thing for me is whether he has a humble attitude (like Durant or Garnett) and is willing to change so he does learn those things. If not, he will be like AI and remain a great scorer but not a great basketball player.

  • Dan G.

    I would agree with most of what was said, but I have to disagree on Denver being able to use the New York draft picks we will receive as leverage if they trade Melo to New York. I do agree if Denver trades Melo to New York, the draft picks' value would go down, but not by much. Even if New York lands Melo, I still don't think New York is a playoff team this year. They would have no more trade assets to get better (what are they going to offer someone a draft pick 7 years from now?), and there are no more Mike Millers, Big Zs, Haslems etc. to fill out the roster.

    And if I was Denver, if I trade Melo to New York it would hurt the draft picks I would be receiving more than the Rockets. Denver wouldn't receive draft picks until 2014, which gives New York time to add maybe Chris Paul or fill out their roster with solid veterans. It would basically give New York time to build a championship team, and then the draft picks Denver would receive are worthless. Denver trades Melo to Houston, and Denver would be guaranteed a lottery pick next year, and maybe the next because let's face it, we are talking about the Knicks.

  • JT

    As exciting as it would be to have Melo in a Rockets uniform, getting him in a trade would require the Nuggets to get an acceptable package of players in return. Just because the salary works in the NBA trade machine, it doesn't mean the other team is going to jump all over it.

    At the very minimum, the Nuggets will ask for Martin, Brooks and probably Jefferies expiring contract. No way a #1 from the NYK is going to be enough. That said, there are other FA's in 2011 other Melo who might be available in a trade. What about Al Horford or Marc Gasol? Also don't forget Yao is a UFA in 2011, he'll try to sign for a max deal as well.

  • Stephen

    Carmelo's assists per game:
    2.8,2.6,2.7,3.8,3.4,3.4,3.2 career of 3.1
    Martin's career assists per game,
    0.5(just 10mingame),1.3(27min/game),2.2,2.1,2.7,2.6(Sac) and 2.3(Hou).
    I'm not claiming 'Melo is a better passer,I'm saying Martin is a particularly poor one. What does it say that Ariza-he of the godawful handle and forced shots-before the trade was getting better than 3 assists a game,whereas Martin only got 2.3 passing to the same players?
    I can see many reasons for preferring Martin over Anthony,but passing is not one of them.
    (And after noting the paltry assists numbers between the two of them,I would say that in addition to bad perimeter D,there would be zero offensive flow if the two were paired.)

  • Nobody is Better Than Jordan

    It'll be weird if Denver asks for Brooks, considering they've already got Billups and Lawson.
    In this scenario, I could see Brooks being bought out, since he is inexpensive – then taking his talents to south beach where he'll start with the super friends…no…?
    So then what can Denver offer Brooks? A chance to scratch and claw his way to a 2nd string position?
    Denver's going to insist on a lot. I just hope Houston doesn't walk away from it with only one player.

  • It scares me too… but is it a response to t-mac memories?

  • AnthonyThompson

    I agree that Brooks probably wouldn't interest the Rockets very much. For one, they're supposedly not going to deal Billups, so having Brooks back him up for a season, along with Lawson would be a waste of talent. Then there's the bigger matter of them being very high on Lawson, for good reason. Besides Brooks, the only other attractive trade option is Martin and they might not be interested, instead preferring youth and more money to work with. I think they would take Patterson over Hill who had a terrible rookie year and then continued to have a rough sophomore summer league stint. Hill has too much bust potential to be the centerpiece young talent in a deal for their franchise player.

    I think the best offer could come from the Nets because they could offer Favors. That would trump any other proposal. But if you're Carmelo and want to win, why would you go to a 12 win team? Sure they have some nice young talent but that young talent won 12 freaking games. That's a major indictment of that young talent. Franchise caliber big men can have an outsize impact on wins and for Lopez to lead them to 12 wins does not speak highly of him. They went out and only added role players to their roster besides Favors and Murphy who has never been in the playoffs. If you can control your destination, why would you take on so much risk? I wouldn't.

    All in all, the Nuggets are in rough shape.

  • Nobody is Better Than Jordan

    There's a lot for the Nuggets to consider here.
    With Melo's approval of Houston, it signals a mutual respect upon parting ways.
    So that's good.
    If all Denver considered was NJ or NY, it'd be much much more tougher for them both.
    Because I think it's pretty obvious Houston is the key to ensuring Denver and Melo walk away happy.
    My primary concern, as a Rockets fan isn't really the loss of one or two starters. It's more about our young players like Budinger, Patterson, and Taylor – and I'd also like to keep at least one of those NY picks. Unfortunately, it'd have to be the 2012 one because everybody sees the real value is in the 2011 pick – presumably with NY tanking in the 10-11 season.
    With all that said, I'm not necessarily excited about this deal unless Houston can attain another Center/PF in the deal, like Birdman. I think Denver will feel entitled to both picks and at least one of the younger players mentioned above, most likely Patterson. In which case, I think we'll be able to justify an additional move to secure another player in the deal. To ensure we remain strong at the 5, with questions surrounding the health of Yao and the age of Miller, the Rockets should add another big guy down there with proven ability who can rotate between PF and C. I think Birdman fits the bill.

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  • JT

    The reason for suggesting Brooks is he is what Bill Simmons would classify as a 'cost effective building block' where he has a good contract (albeit will be a RFA in '11), young and upside. In the right team he would be an asset (any team without a elite PG) and a definite nice piece of any potential trade deal. Unlike deals incorporating Jefferies, Battier and Hill and NYK picks, since Jefferies and Battier are expiring contracts and older than Brooks and Kevin Martin, why would any team try to retool around that? Even if the Nuggets are high on Lawson, who are you going to have more chance flipping for another piece? Kevin Martin and or Brooks or Battier and or Jefferies?

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  • P Rich

    I hear everybody talking about the Knicks pics. Keep in mind that those pics likely won't be lottery. Also be sure that those rumors are coming from Denvers camp. The rumors of NY has some substance(starting with the toast). Also take into account CP3's desire to play in NY and the Knicks ability to sign both of them in the near future.

  • P Rich

    I hear everybody talking about the Knicks pics. Keep in mind that those pics likely won't be lottery. Also be sure that those rumors are coming from Denvers camp. The rumors of NY has some substance(starting with the toast). Also take into account CP3's desire to play in NY and the Knicks ability to sign both of them in the near future.

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