If Carmelo Anthony wants to be a Knick, he has the leverage to make it happen. But does he have the patience to play chicken with the Nuggets? Does he have the confidence to risk potentially losing some millions in the new collective bargaining agreement?
Conversely, do the Knicks have the patience and confidence to wait for him?
As Adrian Wojnarowski reports for Yahoo! Sports, the Nuggets and Nets remain hot and heavy in their lovemaking, with desperate intent to give birth to a deal. And as I've been warning you since August, both parties want nothing more than to see the Knicks wind up empty handed. For the Nuggets, it's a personal show of power -- that they didn't submit to the superstar's wishes -- and for the Nets it would be the first stone slung at Goliath as Mikhail Prokhorov attempts to topple the giant as his franchise prepares to move onto New York soil.
The Nets want this bad and it seems they're more desperate than the Knicks, who are feeling so good about their winning record that the debate is whether they should focus more on significantly upgrading areas of need at the center and backup guard positions, rather than tear up the roster for another superstar.
Make no mistake, the Knicks want Carmelo. They know they need another talent of that level to compete with the Celtics and Heat for a championship. But if you can't get the Nuggets to engage in meaningful conversations about trades, you can't ever get to the point of actually making a trade. It's like constantly asking a girl out on a date. Eventually you realize she ain't ever going to say yes and you are risking losing potential dates with other girls if you keep your Saturday night's clear just in case she does eventually say yes.
In the previous blog, I tried to come up with some creative scenarios that might work with the Nuggets, only to realize, upon deeper studying, that my ideas were flawed. And the more I talk to people about this situation the more I'm coming to the realization that it's less about what the Knicks have to offer and more about the fact that it's the Knicks, not their offer, that has the Nuggets turned off.
Remember, the Kroenke's were there at Carmelo's wedding when Chris Paul made that infamous toast about he and Carmelo joining Amar'e Stoudemire in New York. There is a good relationship between the franchises at the ownership level, but that doesn't remove the competitive spirit. Plus, if you can get multiple first round picks and a 19-year-old power forward who was selected third overall, you've just set the foundation of a rebuild.
The best the Knicks can offer are young players who would be more of a re-set, not a rebuild. Sure, perhaps they can get a first rounder for Anthony Randolph, but it would be lottery protected for sure. And the 2014 first rounder the Knicks could also throw in is just too far away to sell to what will be a depressed fan base in Denver.
The Knicks can't really cut bait until they get word from Carmelo that he would accept an extension with the Nets, which, of course, is a form of tampering (yeah, because that kind of business doesn't go on in the NBA). But as the trade season starts to pick up and teams are starting to reach that point in the season where they decide whether to stay the course or abandon ship, the Knicks need to be agile enough to strike in certain areas:
* - PORTLAND: It's still early, but if they're ready to break up an injury-plagued core that just hasn't been able to take the next step, there is great opportunity there. Both Marcus Camby and Andre Miller would be great fits. If not Camby, who last season expressed a strong interest in returning to New York, Joel Przybilla could be another option. With the revelation of his knee issues, does anyone take a chance on acquiring Brandon Roy? Probably not with five years and $82M left on his contract. The Knicks can ill-afford this kind of a gamble, though he would be a potentially dynamic pick-and-roll tandem with Stoudemire, you'd basically have two highly paid star players with concerning knee issues. Fughedaboudit.
* - CLEVELAND: The Cavaliers are a disaster and clearly need to start over in 2010 A.L. (After LeBron). Anderson Varejao is a franchise favorite and loved by the fans there, but his contract is an albatross, especially when you consider how he's not nearly as effective without LeBron on the floor. But next to Stoudemire, he'd be the perfect complement for his hustle, rebounding and defense.
* - MEMPHIS: When they drafted Xavier Henry, it was a clear sign that O.J. Mayo's days were numbered. Or it was just a typical Grizzlies move: rather than draft need, just draft an asset. Still, the Grizzlies are enamored with Henry and Mayo is miserable as a reserve in his third NBA season. The cost-conscious Grizz would move him, I'm told, to save the $5.6M salary next season and then restricted free agency in 2012. Mayo would be a nice third guard -- he's not really a point guard, but he could be effective in the pick-and-roll -- and another young player to develop. Forget uberbust Hasheem Thabeet, but another thought off that roster is Marc Gasol, who is headed toward restricted free agency. He is the perfect big man for the Knicks system -- high IQ player who can pass, shoot, rebound and defend the rim -- but what I'm hearing is the Grizz don't want to lose another Gasol. They'll throw money at him just like they did Rudy Gay. So with that in mind, if you're the Knicks, do you consider Zach Randolph?
* - ATLANTA: Following our trend of bringing back ex-Knicks who fared well in D'Antoni's system, Jamal Crawford will be looking for a new contract this summer and the Hawks are already in the red with the contracts they've given to Joe Johnson, Al Horford and Josh Smith. Would they move Crawford, despite his value to them as a scorer off the bench? Probably unlikely, but Crawford could be an option for the Knicks as a free agent.
* - GOLDEN STATE: The Warriors were listening to offers for Monta Ellis over the summer, but have been much happier with him this season after seeing an improved attitude. He's a ridiculously prolific scorer who might make for a great pick-and-roll tandem with Stoudemire. Then again, he might also be a maddening teammate for Stoudemire, considering how little Ellis looks to pass. Probably not the right fit here, especially since he'd have to play the two-guard spot and just does not defend.
* - MINNESOTA: Luke Ridnour was a target this summer, but the Knicks went with the bigger, stronger Raymond Felton. Ridnour has the skill set and court vision to run this system well, but the T-Wolves like him for all the same reasons on a young team, especially with Jonny Flynn just coming back from injury. They'd be more than willing to give up Sebastian Telfair, whom the Knicks have considered, but is he really an upgrade over Toney Douglas?
* - KINGS: Jason Thompson is a nice player who is struggling there and the New Jersey native might do well next to a star big man such as Stoudemire. Thompson can rebound, which the Knicks need, and can run the floor. His mid-range game is decent and he also has good hands. The issue, of course, is basketball IQ, but perhaps that can be taught. The Knicks coaching staff has done a great job in working with Wilson Chandler, who came into the NBA very raw but has steadily shown improvement in his decision-making. Another thought off this roster? Beno Udrih.
* - 76ERS: If it's a "name" player you're after, there's always Andre Iguodala to consider. He has four years and $56.5M left on his contract and the Sixers may consider some future cap savings. But then again, they're right now holding the eighth seed in the East. It may only take 38 wins to snag that spot, so the 76ers might not want to part with Iguodala just yet, especially with the struggling Bucks facing an immediate future without Brandon Jennings. Iguodala would be a nice addition here, especially on defense and in transition, but his lack of a perimeter game would be an issue.
* - OTHER IDEAS: The Bobcats are in a tailspin and you can imagine what that's going to lead to with impetuous personalities like Larry Brown and Michael Jordan in the mix. There's little off that roster to like, but remember Boris Diaw was always loved by this coaching staff and has played alongside Stoudemire in the past in Phoenix. Diaw is in terrible shape and is often so apathetic during games. But he is a big body who can pass the ball and knows this system well . . . Similarly, Jared Jeffries could work out a buyout to escape Houston and considering how much the coaching staff loved him here, Jeffries would be a no-brainer to add at the veteran's minimum . . . Rafer Alston has always wanted to play for the Knicks and has the creativity to run the break and push the ball as a guard off the bench. Too late in his career? He's right now unsigned, though word is he was considering a move to China . . . Another unsigned veteran guard to consider is Ronald "Flip" Murray . . . What do the Magic plan to do with Jason Williams and Chris Duhon now that they're buried on the bench following the trades that brought in guards Jason Richardson and Gilbert Arenas? Duhon's contract is a bit much if you're the Knicks, but Williams is very affordable. He's crafty and can hit the three, but his body is showing its age when it comes to quickness and athleticism . . . Utah has an abundance of guards and Earl Watson could be had at an easy price, but, again, you have to consider the upgrade factor . . . It's highly unlikely that the Suns will move Steve Nash and he certainly won't ask for a trade, so that's not a scenario to consider. The player off that roster who is most intriguing from a Knicks perspective is Robin Lopez, who has played next to Stoudemire and knows this system. The Suns just picked up Marcin Gortat, but they have little reason to move the popular Lopez, who makes a very affordable $1.8M. But it would add to the Knicks-Nets rivalry to have him around to battle with brother Brook.