On July 10, 2010, Carmelo Anthony’s life changed forever.
No, not because this was the day he married longtime girlfriend LaLa Vasquez. It was because his good friend Chris Paul made a tipsy, somewhat-serious toast about forming another “Big 3” in New York, beginning eight months of trade rumors and hearsay that has negatively affected not only devoted Denver fans but the team itself.
First, everyone tried not to panic. It seemed unlikely Melo would sign with the Knicks, an infamously dysfunctional franchise, when the team he had come thisclose to a finals appearance with offered a lucrative extension package.
Melo, for his part, was quiet but seemed to offer fans some comfort with his September appearance on the George Lopez show saying, “I’m a Nugget” and dismissing rumors.
With the beginning of the season came a terrifying sentiment from Melo in a conversation with Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports: “For me, I feel it’s time for a change.”
The rumors hit their stride with stories about the Knicks and Nets courting Melo while the Nuggets front office scrambled to keep plans behind closed doors, as the fact that the franchise couldn’t keep its star became more clear. Even the Pistons made things interesting with talk of a huge multi-player deal.
However, plans kept leaking, prompting the Nets to pull out of their trade talks.
For the fans, this has been a horrible, never-ending roller coaster ride, with many looking forward to the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
So far, all of the deals for Melo look terrible. I mean, Danilo Gallinari, Landry Fields, Eddie Curry and a vague first round pick?
And the Nets deal wasn’t much better. Then the T-Wolves jumped in with the Knicks.
With Minnesota, the deal became Wilson Chandler and Corey Brewer to Denver along with a future first-round pick, Melo would go to New York, and Anthony Randolph and Eddie Curry would go to Minnesota.
This was a much more entertaining trade, as Chandler could develop nicely in Denver coach George Karl’s system and Brewer could add some much needed defense to the current Nuggets roster.
A story broke that the Lakers were considering hopping into the pot by offering Andrew Bynum for Carmelo Anthony, a deal which, if nothing else, would get the Knicks/Nets to stop jerking around and offer something less insulting.
As of this writing, the Nets and Knicks are supposed to be offering Melo deals by the end of the weekend.
Here’s the reality: Feb. 24 is five days away. It is all just speculation until Melo is packing up his apartment. What we are left with are four options:
1. Melo goes to the Nets: The “deal is off!” reports may have been put out on purpose so the Nets front office could come up with a plan unmolested by the media. This deal is pretty likely to happen, especially with recent meetings having taken place.
If Melo wants New York, he’ll get it. Across the smelly river in scenic Newark, before he and his franchise destroy south Brooklyn with their new stadium. It is up to the Nuggets to make sure the team doesn’t get left with just Derrick Favors, a couple reserves and a few first round picks.
Of course, this is assuming no other teams will be involved. As the deadline gets closer and Melo hesitates with the Nets, they’ll really have to pull out all of the stops to get him.
2. Melo goes to the Knicks: I think this is about as likely as the Nets trade, especially if the Timberwolves or another team get involved again. Raymond Felton is good, but he is not a star.
Wilson Chandler would put some numbers up for us, but we’d still be lacking a major scorer. And who knows what else the Nuggets would willingly give away?
If the team could play intact, Chandler and Felton would be short role players on a team of short role players.
3. Something crazy happens: This means that something could come out of the woodwork, like the Bulls or Lakers make a play for Melo.
The Lakers coming in is even less likely. Melo, as a scorer, would butt heads with Kobe Bryant, and as we all know, there’s no way the black mamba is stepping down gracefully.
Not only would he be second fiddle, but Melo in L.A. would make him more hated in Denver than Kobe. There could be other deals waiting to shock us all, as other bloggers have predicted over the past few months.
Hey, it ain’t over till it’s over.
4. Melo resigns with Denver and the world goes back to normal: I hate putting this last, but we all know that this is never going to happen.
Not to say that if it did, I wouldn’t be ecstatic as a Nuggets fan, but there has been trouble brewing ever since Stan Kroenke stepped down and the Nuggets cleaned house in the front office.
After a heartbreaking Western Conference Finals loss in 2009 followed by an embarrassing first round elimination in 2010, Denver seriously needed to reconsider its plans.
Frankly, who can blame Melo for looking elsewhere? LeBron’s decision made disrespect a point of pride for star players, and if he somehow pulls a championship out of this season, the NBA will never be the same.
Listening to the rumors has been an absolute nightmare, and I’m sure even those of us that aren’t Nuggets fans just want it to end.
For the Nuggets, this season has been a wash, as they have chalked up losses to some of the worst teams in the league, while showing their potential in bursts against title contenders.
The inconsistency is incredibly frustrating, and if Melo leaves, I predict the season will end in turmoil, with the new roster slowly becoming accustomed to one another.
Hopefully, without a scorer, the Nuggets will buckle down on defense and look to work together (let’s get those team assists up already) to win games.
Though this loss is almost surely upon us, I’ll reiterate: It ain’t over till it’s over.
Only then will you see Nuggets fans doing anything but cheer for the best Nugget since Alex English.