As we approach the start of the 2010-11 NBA season, it is beginning to look more and more likely that Denver will deal Carmelo Anthony before next week’s opening camp, with the Nets emerging as the frontrunner, at least for today. The word is that New Jersey would be willing to give up 2010 No. 3 overall pick Derrick Favors, first-round draft picks, and expiring contracts, which is certainly a favorable package for a Nuggets team that could be thrown into rebuild mode very quickly.
Earlier today, SI.com’s Ian Thomsen took a look at some potential suitors for the Nuggets’ star forward, and had this to say on the possibility of Melo landing in Rip City:
Let’s jump to the bottom line: What if the Blazers were to package Greg Oden in an offer for Anthony? It would be a bold change of direction that would ultimately be worthwhile for the Blazers — they would be exchanging their injured center for one of the top half-dozen players in the league (ranking Anthony in the elite group with Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant).
Let’s say Denver was able to persuade Portland to offer Oden, Nicolas Batum, Rudy Fernandez and Andre Miller (who is in his final fully guaranteed year), along with a first-round pick and $3 million cash. The Nuggets could sell their fans on Oden’s overwhelming upside and that of Batum as a two-way prospect at small forward.
Oden’s health worries everyone, but imagine if he stays healthy. Then the Nuggets have a chance of exploiting a 7-footer whose talents made him the No. 1 pick ahead of Durant in 2007. Trading Oden can make sense for the Blazers in exchange for a contending hierarchy of Anthony, Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge — all 26 or younger.
Would Anthony be willing to commit long term to Portland? Maybe he doesn’t like the idea of moving to a smaller market, but his opinion could change as this story plays out over the weeks and months ahead.
I get that the Blazers have enough young talent and expiring contracts to put together an intriguing package, and I also get that it’s fun to fantasize about superstar players coming to Portland (see also: Paul, Chris), but let’s be realistic here.
First of all, if Denver has decided to try and move on without Anthony and get back into contention quickly (and looks that way more and more with every passing day), there’s no way they trade the NBA’s third-leading scorer to a division rival.
Second–and this is key–let’s say we live in a fantasy world where division rivalries don’t matter and the Nuggets agree to trade Melo for Thomsen’s Oden/Batum/Rudy/Miller/picks/cash package. If you’re Portland, you only pull the trigger on that deal if you have it in writing from Anthony that he will sign an extension. And I’m not sure he would. All indications are that he wants to play in a city more conducive to LaLa’s career (meaning basically just New York or New Jersey out of the teams with a realistic chance of landing him), and Portland isn’t nearly high-profile enough.
And what’s more, I’m not even sure it would be in the Blazers’ best interests to trade for Anthony, at least not if that means giving up both Oden and Batum. That’s a lot of defense to sacrifice, and Thomsen’s assertion that Melo is a top-6 player in the league is a stretch. Top 10, sure. But if Portland is really going to try to go after a superstar player, wait until next summer when New Orleans gets serious about shopping Chris Paul. The Blazers need a long-term point guard far more than they need another scorer who needs the ball in his hands.
In short, there isn’t really anything to see here. Melo probably will get traded sooner rather than later, but it won’t be to Portland. And I’m completely okay with that.