The Waiting Game
Patience will be vital if a Melo deal is to work out.
by Sam Cadet
The Nets’ front office laid another egg in failing to land Carmelo in a four-team deal. On the other end, Denver has Melogate to serve as a distraction until they quiet trade rumors one way or another. But I’m pretty sure that both teams will live. As a matter of fact I have reason to believe all parties can benefit at different capacities by leaving things as is momentarily.
Let’s say the deal happened and the Nets sent away Favors, draft picks and Devin Harris as a part of the four-team deal for Melo. Harris, despite sustaining injuries mixed with some uninspired play at times, is still a gifted scoring point guard with upside. Jordan Farmar would’ve taken his place as a starter by necessity and would have to bear the growing pains Harris already endured with Avery Johnson. With that said, Devin is due for resurgence now that he’s a proponent of AJ’s coaching style. Plus he’s capable of realizing his potential if Avery trusts him to create plays.
Additionally it’s too early to give up on Favors. He’ll need to address his awareness, low post skills and killer instinct among other aspects of his game. But he hasn’t played a drop of NBA ball. There’s no telling how vital he’ll be if he’s willing to learn; especially in a league where competent big men on both ends are in short supply. At any rate it’s a tough proposition to give up a young guard and your future for a star that’ll realistically get NJ to the first round. What’s more is a Melo contract extension in this scenario would make it difficult for Jersey to surround Anthony with ample talent in his first years with the team.
Denver’s spoils would’ve introduced some much needed depth to its roster. Kirilenko would be another force to strengthen Denver’s perimeter defense and also has a hefty contract to unload. Devin would initially come off the bench for Billups since Chauncey’s a savvier and more experienced talent. But they lose a dynamic scorer in Anthony as their offense thrives on players creating their own shots. Harris would help off the bench in that regard. But everyone would have to shoulder the weight. Chauncey already has experience in stepping up as evidenced by his great run while Melo was out for much of January. Yet the jury’s out if the supporting cast, namely JR, Afflalo, Martin and Nene, are consistent enough to step up throughout the season.
As it stands, Anthony and Denver can make the best out this ordeal as long as everyone’s on the same page. They’re a few egos removed from the squad that took L.A. to six games in the ‘09 Western Conference Finals. Granted, Oklahoma’s thunder is brewing and they’re only a big man away from being the next big threat right now. But until that transpires the Nuggets have their usual roles in tow to make another run in Melo’s contract year. And with George Karl cleared to coach they’re bound for redemption after an embarrassing first round defeat to Utah.
It’s not all doom and gloom on Jersey’s end as well. They won’t make the Playoffs this year but they’re bound to make strides after their dismal ‘09-10 campaign. They spent too much money on their supporting cast this offseason. But it’s a need they acknowledged especially considering how they were plagued with injuries year round. Anthony Morrow’s consistent jumper will give Jersey’s poor perimeter shooting a much needed boost. Travis Outlaw is another interesting acquisition in that he can contribute from the outside. He can also provide flashes of athleticism as a starter or off the bench. Farmar would be best as a decent backup for Harris and gives some crucial depth at the one as well.
Meanwhile Terrence Williams is a bona fide athlete and he’s becoming a better slasher. His jumper isn’t quite there yet. But he’s made strides in summer league in his form and shot selection. It’ll be interesting to see if he’ll have a breakout year offensively since he has the handles to produce space for mid range Js.
The Nuggets could’ve benefited from a deeper roster and future picks at the expense of having one of the NBA’s biggest stars. By the same token, Carmelo’s refocused game along with Chauncey’s leadership and Karl’s coaching enabled them to make lofty post-season expectations. Money is always a factor. But Anthony has a competitor’s spirit when motivated. He’s better off staying put for the year to see if the mile high club has another run left in it. If not, then he can head out east to NY or NJ and help another team get over the edge without dismantling its roster.
It’s also true that Jersey needs more reliable offense along with interior defense to make noise in the East. The Nets can unload Troy Murphy’s contract next summer and they may have another crack at Anthony if he plays another year in Denver and opts out. If that plan falls apart the Nets can develop Favors until he’s ready to start. In the meantime they could balance out their team even further by grabbing Carl Landry and Jamal Crawford to bring in some vital scoring inside and out. Then the franchise can mull over possibly stealing a low playoff seed next year and go from there.