When the New Jersey Nets call Denver brass to discuss a trade for superstar forward Carmelo Anthony, and they will, the whole roster, minus Brook Lopez, has to be fair game.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, Anthony has stated that he is open to signing a long-term deal with either the Houston Rockets or the New Jersey Nets if traded there. This brings Anthony’s list to three including the New York Knicks.
Anthony is now on the trade market and is a realistic target for as many as 22 teams. After scoffing at a three-year, $65 million extension in Denver, the star forward has made his opinion regarding the Nuggets franchise crystal clear.
Denver has every reason to trade Anthony, which seems like a blasphemous idea from its own end. First and foremost, the Nuggets will lose Anthony in free agency next season, that is guaranteed. Plus, the Karl Nuggets have run their course. Karl’s lingering health problems and an aging roster highlighted by Kenyon Martin and Chauncey Billups indicates Denver is heading into rebuilding mode.
The Nets are all-too familiar with rebuilding.
Denver cannot afford to lose Anthony without compensation. Cleveland and Toronto lost LeBron James and Chris Bosh, respectively, without garnering anything in return. A midseason trade could have netted Toronto a big man like Andrew Bynum. Now Toronto is caught with its tail between its legs.
Finally, the Nets have more to offer than any other team inquiring about Anthony. The Knicks’ best package would include an injury-prone Danilo Gallinari, Eddy Curry’s expiring contract, and a 2014 first round pick. None of that is appealing. If a team plans to rebuild, it won’t wait until 2014 to see the fruits of its labor. Nor will the fans.
The Nets can offer the best package.
Terrence Williams alone is a better young prospect than any team in the bidding can offer for Anthony. The Nets could spruce up that package with a first-round pick and virtually any other player on the roster besides Lopez.
Anthony and Lopez could entice Chris Paul to join them come free agency in 2012. Trevor Ariza won’t be the difference in New Orleans. Paul will eventually bolt.
Now, why is Anthony so important? Obviously, he’s a star player and a clear difference maker for any team. But the Nets have loftier goals.
With a team moving to Brooklyn and an owner promising the world, the Nets cannot afford a trip to New York with only Lopez as a headlining act. If the Nets can’t attract Anthony, they won’t attract any other free agents. Free agency in every summer from here on out will look like the last one.
The last two years were about building a better team in the future. The future starts now. Carmelo Anthony or bust.