As the rumor mill starts to churn more heavily about the eventual destination of Carmelo Anthony now that it's accepted he wants out of Denver, there will be conflicting reports. Some will say that the Nuggets don't care a lick about what Carmelo wants and will trade him to whomever they please. These reports will be sourced out of the Nuggets camp or those close to them. Others will say that the Knicks are still in play or that one of his preferred teams is likely. Those, as you can guess, will come from Melo's camp.
It's a cute game, but has little to do with what will actually occur. What's interesting is how this will play out and determining who exactly has leverage in this situation. And that's where the latest tweet from the reliable Sam Amico comes in.
Amico reports the following concerning prospective partners for the Nuggets:
Early word around NBA is Nuggets will try to trade Carmelo to 1 of 3 teams: Wolves, Kings, Nets. In other words, careful what you wish for.
less than a minute ago via web
It's very likely that Amico's on the money here. These are the types of teams that the Nuggets will be targeting as trade partners. They're loaded with young talent, draft picks, and a handful of expiring contracts. The Nuggets will get what they want for Melo. Who cares what Melo or CAA has to say about it?
Well, for one, the teams that will be trying to trade for him.
The problem with this tactic lies with the original source of this whole shebang, Melo's extension. As a free agent next summer, the Nuggets were trying to lock down a max extension for Melo. His reticence to sign that extension was the first sign that maybe Anthony wasn't quite as happy as he let on.
It's also that extension that maintains Anthony's leverage. Because those teams do have what the Nuggets want. And the Nuggets certainly have what those teams want... to a degree. They have access to Carmelo Anthony... for a single season. It's Anthony's own control over the subsequent season that will prevent the Nuggets from trading him to whomever they please.
Any team looking to acquire Anthony will want him in an extend-and-trade that locks him up for further seasons. After all, these teams have already established a core of young players, they've done their cap cleaning and draft building. They won't be giving up players with upside and future picks for a one-year rental of Anthony. Which means the Nuggets need him to sign the extension. And Anthony's only likely to do that if he assents to where he's being traded.
Anthony's extension and trade flexibility are inter-connected. The Nuggets don't just have to find a trade partner looking to acquire Melo enough to surrender the pieces they're looking to get back, they have to find a partner attractive enough to Anthony to convince him to commit to the future.
We have three actors in this little play. Anthony and his people wants his extension under the current CBA, and to relocate to a new team that fits the lifestyle which he wants to become accustomed (fame, fortune, and championships), as well as maintain their leverage in negotiations not just for Anthony but future clients. His current team needs to get the pieces they want back for Anthony and maintain their leverage in negotiations with players to not be held hostage by their demands. And his new team wants Carmelo Anthony to make them into a contender, for the next three years and beyond.
The Nets are a prospective partner, because they are relocating to Brooklyn, a market he likely finds attractive. The Kings have two definite stars, but the market isn't really there for him. The Wolves? Um... Darko's fun to hang out with?
But any of these teams have to be able to convince Anthony they have the combination of elements he desires or else they'll only be renting him.
The Nuggets have leverage, that much is clear from the events of the past week. The best scenario is convincing him to stay in Denver, sign the extension and move forward. But that bridge may have already been crossed, then lit on fire. But to act like Carmelo is subject to the whims of the Nuggets ignores not only the realities created by his extension situation, but the new reality of the empowered player that have shifted the NBA so greatly in the past three months.