All things considered, Denver and its young, inexperienced front-office did pretty well for themselves in the Carmelo Anthony trade to New York.
They got the Knicks to give up much more than it had initially wanted to, and didn’t lose their franchise player for nothing in free agency like other franchises did last summer.
When team president Josh Kroenke and GM Masai Ujiri met with the media to discuss the blockbuster trade, they sounded like a couple of wounded soldiers. To hear them tell it, ‘Melo and the Knicks are the real winners here.
From the Denver Post and FanHouse:
“We feel we got killed in the trade because we lost a couple of pretty good players,” Ujiri said. “Obviously, Carmelo Anthony. I feel sad for the city of Denver. I feel bad that this was done on my watch. To lose a guy like that. And also Chauncey (Billups). But I think we had to do it.”
“This was a process that was started by Carmelo; everything that we did just now was at his request,” said Kroenke, who hadn’t spoken on the record during the drawn-out trade process. “Our perceived desire to go young or cut salary (is unfair). The salary thing really hits hard with me because we’ve been in the luxury tax four of the last five seasons. We have a top-five payroll in the league this season. Our market doesn’t even come close to supporting that. The notion that this organization somehow is only concerned with cutting costs is absurd. We’ve explained that to Carmelo. This is all a result of his request to play in a different market.”
Denver is right, of course. Losing a superstar in the NBA, no matter what pieces you get in return, is a devastating blow to a franchise.
The Nuggets will remain competitive this season, and may even hang on and squeeze into the Playoffs. But they and everyone else knows there’s no replacing what ‘Melo represented.
After all, Kosta Koufos isn’t going to save the day.