In a recent interview Carmelo Anthony backed away a little from his recently unbridled demands for a trade out of Denver. Anthony has decided that he will give the Nuggets’ management a few months to work things out and develop a plan for the team’s future.
Anthony alluded to the fact that he was only concerned with winning basketball games and thus would entertain a return to Denver if he believed that it was his best shot at winning a championship.
Anthony went on to declare "I'm not Chris Bosh. We're not the same person. What I do will be straight up. Management knows that." Anthony is referring to Bosh’s exit from Toronto in which he alerted team management via his Twitter account.
While all of this does rebuild some of Anthony’s character it is still as clear as before that the Denver Nuggets need to trade Carmelo Anthony. Anthony has repeatedly rebuffed the Nuggets’ efforts to resign him and has even demanded to be traded already.
While these comments seem to illustrate that he may be backing away from his trade demands, Anthony still wants to see serious progress made on building a contender over the next couple of months.
With a weak free agent class on the horizon and mediocrity being the current theme for the rest of the Nuggets’ roster, Anthony will surely head for greener pastures at the conclusion of the season.
The allure of the New Jersey Nets or the New York Knicks will likely be too much for Carmelo who has seen other superstars branding image skyrocket in larger markets. These teams will also spend whatever they are allowed to in order to appease Anthony and surround him with the appropriate pieces to make a title run.
Denver will not be able to accomplish these goals in the short amount of time and in the long run the Nuggets do not have deep enough pockets to compete with the Knicks or the Nets. Carmelo can say what he wants about winning, but if the situations are comparable, he’s going to head for a bigger market.
You can’t blame Carmelo.
He has played out his contract and given the Nuggets his all. There is a lot of truth to the thought that the Nuggets have not surrounded him with enough talent. Anthony has yet to have a sidekick that produced any kind of fear or wow factor throughout the rest of the league.
Meanwhile Kobe has been surrounded by some of the league’s best talent and quite possibly the league’s best front court. LeBron, Wade, and Bosh took matters into their own hands in building their alliance in Miami. Paul Pierce saw his supporting cast improve virtually overnight and went from the bottom of the standings to NBA Champions with the Boston Celtics.
Meanwhile, Anthony is not getting any younger and Denver does not seem to be getting any better. While loyalty is an admirable quality, they don’t hand out rings for it. How many rings would Kevin Garnett have if he still played in Minnesota? What about Ray Allen in Seattle? Would Pau Gasol even be a household name if he still played for the Grizzlies?
The Nuggets are .500 this season and relying heavily on Anthony for any success they will experience. The fact is that it’s while Anthony may be backing down, the Nuggets should be ramping up their efforts to trade him.
There is no way that the Nuggets will be able to offer Carmelo any future package that will come close to what the Knicks can offer him. The Knicks have Amare Stoudemire who alone will be more attractive to Anthony than anyone the Nuggets have on their roster.
Since Anthony isn’t going to stay, the Nuggets might as well receive something in return for him.
Anthony is a unique asset in that teams that want him are not just renting him for the remainder of the season. They want him long term and will be willing to give up some talented players in order to keep him off the free agent market.
As much as it may hurt the Nuggets and their fans this season, they need to approach the Anthony situation with a Machiavellian mindset. They need to do what's best for the franchise as a whole moving forward. This means taking a loss in the short run in the hopes of acquiring some young talent.
Moving forward the Nuggets will have more cap space, better draft selections, and a combination of their current talent and whatever they can acquire in a trade. While it doesn't sound like the sexy option at the moment, the Nuggets need to realize that to avoid being the next Cleveland or Toronto, they need to dump Carmelo before he dumps them.