Newsday's Al Iannazzone takes you inside the Knicks.
Source: Carmelo to Knicks "a moot point"
Let's rewind the track to when we reported in Thursday's Newsday that there has been some resignation on the Knicks end regarding trade scenarios for Carmelo Anthony.
A source with direct knowledge of the situation said, "It's really a moot point," because the Denver Nuggets have made it clear they're not interested in dealing with the Knicks.
Again, this is something we told you a few weeks ago: Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke, who was livid at the open discussions at Carmelo's wedding in July about he and his new bridge, Lala Vazquez, coming to New York. The Knicks don't have a dynamic package to offer in the first place, but the Nuggets haven't even engaged in meaningful conversations to involve other teams, as we see they have with the Nets.
There was always a great deal of hesitation within the Knicks hierarchy to make an aggressive play for Melo, because it would mean gutting the young roster. From the Knicks' perspective, it would make more sense for both them and Carmelo if they got together via free agency in 2011 because he would be joining a much deeper and more talented roster than he would if the team had to move Danilo Gallinari, Anthony Randolph and Wilson Chandler, plus who knows how much else for a draft pick, in a trade.
Obviously after losing out on LeBron James after a two-year wait, there is a push from Carmelo's side to put pressure on the Knicks to make a desperate play like we've seen from past regimes. But, again, how do you make a desperate offer when the other guy - in this case it's Josh Kroenke, son of team owner, not new GM Masai Uriji, who is the point man - isn't taking the call?
Really, if this was just about the Knicks lack of a first round pick, do you think Donnie Walsh would have gotten one with one of his players by now? Let's not forget the Pacers offered a first for Anthony Randolph in late August and I've heard the Spurs like Wilson Chandler enough to do the same.
Really, Carmelo's people screwed this up from the start (big surprise here). Rather than trying to force the issue for selfish reasons, tick off an owner and destroy your client's image with his current fan base, Carmelo should have simply left the three-year, $65M extension on the table, offered no suggestions that he wanted to leave and declined to speak any more about it publicly. In other words, he should have followed LeBron's script from 2009, not the one from the Summer of 2010.
The rush to force a trade from Carmelo's perspective, of course, involves the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement and fears from his camp that, under the new system that is expected to be much more restrictive than the current deal, he'll never see the kind of money he has on the table right now.
We're here to tell you he is a bit misinformed.
Let's recall the 2004-05 NHL lockout and one of the most controversial issues that led to the entire season being cancelled: the league's call for a 24 percent rollback on current contracts. The reason for the rollback was to re-set the value structure of current contracts to fit into the hard cap system they wanted to put in place. In other words, no grandfathering. Everyone was going to see the belt tighten, not just the unfortunate ones who were free agents.
With the NBA looking for a similar system, I've heard from a couple of executives around the NBA that there absolutely has been talk about issuing a rollback on current contracts. It may not be as dramatic as the 24 percent that the NHL imposed on the union, but it's absolutely going to be in play.
So even if Carmelo signs an extension now for $65M, he is not likely to see all of it on the other side of this lockout anyway. Would he still see more of it? Possibly, because there will likely be a reduction in the cap on max contracts in the next CBA. But how dramatic of a difference are we talking at this point?
These are things Carmelo has to consider this weekend, while he mulls this proposed four-team blockbuster that would land him in Newark with a team that will have decent, playoff-caliber talent, but isn't anywhere near a better situation than the Nuggets, especially with Chauncey Billups.
But on the other hand, Carmelo takes this move because he's banking on the future of the Nets, with Jay-Z, Mikhail Prokhorov and the anticipated move to Brooklyn, where that franchise's brand will blow up globally.
In Denver, they're already cutting back. Three assistant coaches are gone - including the respected Tim Grgurich, who was the closest with Melo - and only one of those spots is being replaced. A person with knowledge of the situation told me the team even cut the staff's travel per diem almost by half for this season. Stan Kroenke is stepping away from the franchise in January to take over the St. Louis Rams. It's being left in the hands of his son, Josh, who wants to run things himself. And that includes basketball operations.
The indications I get are that Carmelo just doesn't want to walk into training camp and deal with the incessant media inquiries and rumors that are sure to follow him everywhere he goes, not to mention the intense scrutiny he will receive from Nuggets fans in Denver.
The Nets played this well. Carmelo wanted New York and realized the Nuggets weren't going to accommodate him with a trip to the Garden. The Nets are the next best thing.
And if he does go there, does that make them better than the Knicks?