Some of you might be wondering about the timing of such an article. Joakim Noah has signed an extension with the Bulls, and most of the media is writing about how this would spell the end of any possible trade for Carmelo. But remember the offer of Deng, Gibson, Draft Picks etc. that has been dangled in front of the Nuggets. Denver cannot afford to just let Anthony go at the end of the year. That would probably spell the end for more than a few in the Nuggets front office.
And yet, Carmelo can waive any trade that he deems unsuitable for himself, by not agreeing to sign beyond a single year. No one in the league would take a risk like that, especially considering the unabashed love that he has shown for the New York area. Sources have already confirmed that at one point, only the Nets, Knicks, and Bulls were acceptable to him. Recently, the Nets efforts have seemingly fallen by the wayside. They had a fair trade on the table that would benefit each of the FOUR teams that would have been involved in their grab at the superstar. Time went on, and nothing came of the effort. So now the Knicks and Bulls seem to be the only contenders. And with that as the backdrop, here is my attempt to convince the final piece of Chicago's championship puzzle.
*This article is a representation of a viewpoint, and not structured to be an ACTUAL letter to Carmelo Anthony. But Carmelo, if you miraculously come upon this letter, I won't complain if you read it.
It seems like you are on the brink of a career changing decision that will lay the groundwork for your basketball legacy. Before I continue, I realize that you are not the one ultimately in control of your future. The Nuggets can trade you to whomever they decide. I also realize that you have a bargaining chip due to it being the last year of your contract. Any team that will be trading for you will, without a doubt, need you to sign an extension to make the transaction worthwhile. So, you do have more than a modest amount of sway in this decision.
Alright Melo, I want you to close your eyes for a moment and imagine your future. Lets pretend that you have signed with the New Jersey Nets. But not the current Nets, who at this point are nothing short of horrible, but a Nets team that has broken apart their team and erased any help that they may have acquired via the draft in the coming years. Now you can play for one of the worst teams in the league in one of the most crime-ridden cities in the country. Also, Think about watching Nuggets highlights on Sportscenter every single night. Each one mentioning the feel good story of how they continue to play their hearts out despite the departure of their prized superstar. Then the attention will shift to the Nets game. Your team will be comfortably below .500 and struggling mightily. I don't think the New York press will let you forget about that.
But wait, you think. What about the insane Russian billionaire owner that everyone is talking about. The way people make it sound, just standing next to Mr. Prokhorov will make you a billionaire by Osmosis. Sadly, a billionaire is virtually worthless in a salary capped league. In fact, in this NBA, its the GM’s who can pinch the pennies that are ultimately successful.
And what about this move to Brooklyn that will suddenly make the Nets relevant. Maybe. Maybe not. If they have traded their assets for Carmelo including 1st round draft picks, its gonna be a long haul before this unlikely resurgence. You’re 26, my friend. These are your championship years. I would assume starting over in a "rebuilding process" might not seem like an enjoyable option.
Across the water from the Tony Soprano body-dumping area that is Newark, sits the beautiful "concrete jungle" that is New York City. Now we tackle the Knicks Offer.
Remember how the Nets moving to Brooklyn would finally bring success to the franchise?
Consider this fact. The Knicks have played in Manhattan, right in the center of New York City, one of the great metropolis’ of the history of the world, and have not won a championship since the early 70′s. Just being in New York doesn't mean a thing, especially in the NBA. In fact, the epicenter of the NBA orbits around Miami after this free agent season with no change in sight. Maybe you think there will be more marketing opportunities in the Big Apple. Maybe for a winning player on a winning team. But we are talking about an already awful Knicks team being stripped for the present and future in their trade for you. Sometimes millions of people watching you is not a good thing. Especially when you will be put in a situation to fail every night. Not only that, but you would be leaving a quality team to try and rebuild with a less than stellar one.
And can we really trust your would-be teammate A'mare Stoudemire to play at such a high level with no Steve Nash?
The style of hyper-overdrive offense that the Phoenix Suns play has undoubtedly padded a few stats over the years. And If A'mare does not play like the star that he may or may not be, the situation will be even worse.
But there are more issues to consider. Imagine 18 million boos aimed directly at you. Ok, I realize thats dramatic. But imagine your reputation being demolished when you cannot live up to the unrealistic expectations that will be heaped upon you.
But maybe you are assuming that once Chris Paul's contract is up, he will join up and become the "Third Musketeer".
That is a nice daydream, but are you really willing to spend the prime of your career hoping that the recently injured Chris Paul will see things your way?
Seems pretty uncertain, especially considering that the salary structures of the league may or may not change after next season. And if that is the case, the changes will be geared toward PREVENTING these "Super Teams" from happening.
The icing on the cake here may be the fact that this is a franchise that has hired Isaiah Thomas TWICE. Yes, how embarrassing. And in his typical fashion of turning gold into fecal matter, he is on the verge of screwing up this deal as well. He is being accused by the Nuggets of tampering with you through back-channels in a less than honorable way. In fact, the rumor going around town is that they have already decided to stick it to New York by refusing any offers. And even if that stance were to change, or possibly is inaccurate, I don't see any of the other teams being accused of such breaches of professionalism. Perception is everything, and the Knicks have been buffoonish in their attempts to make their perception a positive one.
OK, OK. I said I’d keep the Knicks discussion short. But this is the team I actually fear you may resort to. And the only good reason that I have not debunked is the pure entertainment value of the city. It is a hell of a city, with sparkling lights, beautiful women, unlimited dance clubs, and celebrities around every corner. I definitely can't argue that point (Though in all those categories, Chicago is way up on the list as well.)
Here is what you need to ask yourself. Is the chance to hang out in New York worth the damage your basketball legacy will endure?
Not to mention the money I predict you will miss out on.
How about when you crunch the numbers later and realize how much money an NBA champion makes in endorsements compared to a good player on an awful team. Even in New York. That won't feel good.
So you can probably guess, I’m a Bulls fan. And I’ll admit it, this is all part of a devious plan to make you rich beyond your wildest dreams, with championship rings on every digit. I’m going to cross my fingers and hope that notion might interest you. This can happen only if you insist on making the Bulls your ultimate goal. This can’t happen if Joakim Noah is gone as a result of the trade. Whatever happens, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Carlos Boozer need to remain on the squad. Otherwise, things get a little murkier and unsure. So, its time to take the hardball approach for a little while and ultimately use your “sign and trade” leverage as a way to force the Nuggets’ hand. The New Jersey Nets have a better offer it seems. However, you still have to sign an extension to make it work. Refuse the Nets, and the Bulls will be next in line (unless the Nuggets force you to turn down all the other teams that are NOT on your list.) This will take a little willpower, but so does winning an NBA Championship.
Now a quick flash forward to 2011 with the Bulls logo squarely on your chest. The starting 5 of Rose, Boozer, Noah, Brewer, and you has just won the NBA Championship. Not only that, you will have beaten the “SuperFriends” in Miami, one of the fiercest and most hated teams in NBA history. Our town of 8 million people will bow at your feet. Millions of casual observers will have watched you play your heart out game after playoff game. The marketing possibilities both locally and nationally will go through the roof. Your life could quickly turn into a corny fairytale before too long.
But let’s be real. A championship might not happen with the Bulls. Nothing is ever guaranteed. So here is my worst case Bulls trade scenario. You play 5 years going deep into the playoffs every year. The people of Chicago are still buying your jerseys by the handful and lining your pockets. If there is blame to hand down, it would not be shouldered only by yourself. So maybe the championship thing might not work out. Still, playing in front of packed crowds, with talented teammates, opportunities at titles, and incredible exposure, will make for a very worthwhile career.
So think it over. The longer you mull it, the more obvious the answer becomes. Dare to dream while you still can.
** Here is Another Luol Deng / Carmelo Anthony article since both their names have been linked in trade talks **
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