Winderman: Carmelo's distasteful steps potentially good for Denver

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anthony_high5.jpgWhen does free agency start?

By the NBA calendar, it’s July 1.

By the collective-bargaining agreement, it generally is a week later, after the insipid waiting period that’s known as the signing moratorium.

But have the lessons of LeBron and Bosh, as well as the ongoing saga of Carmelo, showed that free agency actually begins some time closer to Sept. 1 or Oct. 1?

Much of the backlash directed toward LeBron James and Chris Bosh (beyond a certain lack of decorum), is over how they never truly showed their hand until it was too late for the Cavaliers or Raptors to get something in return.

At last season’s trading deadline there was a confidence in Cleveland that James would return, a hope in Toronto that Bosh would remain.

So now Carmelo Anthony, through typical NBA backchannels, the same ones that broadcast Chris Paul’s unease in New Orleans earlier this summer, makes it known that he might not necessarily view himself as having a future in Denver.

As a result, as unpalatable as it might be, at least the Nuggets have the opportunity to deal for something in return.

Perhaps sooner, such as before the start of camp or the regular season.

Perhaps later, such as after this summer’s free-agent acquisitions can be dealt on Dec. 15 or closer to the Feb. 24 trading deadline.

While the Cavaliers said they never would trade LeBron, would that have been true if they knew then, felt then, what they know now, feel now?

As for the Raptors? Hindsight shows than some sort of deadline deal would have been prudent, even if it meant a somewhat smaller return from a team looking to rent an All-Star, Major League Baseball style.

Perhaps the NBA needs something like the NCAA has in advance of national signing day, some sort of early commitment period, in this case where impending free agents can make clear a desire to depart, without penalty from David Stern, knowing full well it could create an ongoing unease in their home markets.

At least it would be honest.

If Anthony leaves the Nuggets in free agency for nothing in return, the Nuggets become the Cavaliers, the Raptors. They become irrelevant.

But if Denver at least gets on the same page with Carmelo, a future could be salvaged.

Heck, on Dec. 15 Bosh becomes available for a trade, albeit with a 15-percent trade kicker (hypothetical scenario, only, people).

The Nuggets could do far worse.

And then the brothers Van Gundy can tell us how many games Wade, LeBron and ‘Melo could win.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Watch Michael Jordan’s best highlight from each of his playoff runs (video)

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I’ve become a sucker for this highlight format.

Jazz deny rumored promise to draft D.J. Wilson

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Michigan forward D.J. Wilson said he’d stay in the draft only if he’d go in the first round. Yet, despite not doing any on-court work at the combine, the borderline first-rounder remained in the draft beyond the withdrawal deadline.

What gives?

Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

Kyle Goon of The Salt Lake Tribune:

NBA teams sometimes promise to draft a player. They never reveal that before the draft. So, Utah’s denial doesn’t mean much – even if it’s true.

The Jazz were the last team to give Wilson a full work out before he injured himself in a Spurs workout. So, this rumor could be based on circumstantial evidence rather than leak of a Utah guarantee.

Wilson would make sense for the Jazz, who could see their payroll bloat if they re-sign Gordon Hayward and George Hill (and maybe even Joe Ingles). They could move Derrick Favors, an interior who doesn’t exactly fit with Rudy Gobert. Wilson would give Utah another option with Trey Lyles as developing stretch fours behind Boris Diaw. (Utah could even move Diaw and count on Lyles/Wilson to emerge sooner than later.)

Watch LeBron James’ top highlight from each of his postseason appearances (video)

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LeBron James and Tony Parker are the only players to play in the last dozen postseasons.

(If you’re wondering, Manu Ginobili missed the 2009 playoffs due to an ankle injury.)

It’s fair to say LeBron was a bit more spectacular than Parker in that span. As LeBron enters his seventh straight Finals, the NBA released this awesome video showing LeBron’s best playoff highlight from each year:

There’s no entry for this year. Here’s betting it comes against the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

David Stern: We thought we could re-work Chris Paul-to-Lakers trade until Mitch Kupchak ‘panicked’

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NBA commissioner David Stern – acting as New Orleans’ owner representative, he says – infamously vetoed a potential Chris Paul-to-Lakers trade in 2011.

But that didn’t close the possibility of Paul going to the Lakers.

The New Orleans Hornets (now the Pelicans and not be confused with the current Charlotte Hornets), Lakers and Rockets tried to rework the three-team trade that would’ve sent Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to Houston and Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and a first-round pick to New Orleans. But talks fell apart around the time the Lakers dealt Odom to the Mavericks.

Stern on Nunyo & Company (hat tip: Harrison Feigen of Silver Screen & Roll):

In fact, in the course of the weekend, we thought we could re-do the deal. We really thought that Houston would be ready to part with Kevin Lowry, and we had a trade lined up for Odom that would have gotten us a good first-round draft pick – not we, but my basketball folks. But Mitch Kupchak at the time panicked and moved Odom to Dallas. So the piece wasn’t even there for us to play with at the time. So that was it — just about what was good for the then-New Orleans Hornets.

Remember, Stern – roundly criticized for his handling of this episode* – has blamed the Lakers and Rockets for the lingering perception. This could just be him again trying to shift responsibility.

*Somewhat fairly, somewhat not. Owners veto general manager-approved trades often enough, and Stern was acting as New Orleans’ owner after George Shinn sold the franchise back to the league. But Stern had an agenda as commissioner. He never should have assumed such a large conflict of interest. What he did with the Paul trade was reasonable for an acting owner, but because Stern was also commissioner, it’s fair to question how much New Orleans’ interests and how much the league’s interests factored into the decision-making.

But let’s take Stern at his word – that he and the Hornets thought they could re-do the trade and send Paul to the Lakers. That doesn’t mean they were right. Maybe the Lakers and Rockets (who had Kyle Lowry, not the “Kevin Lowry” Stern named) were never going to part with enough to get Stern’s approval.

And maybe New Orleans didn’t properly convey its interest in still completing a deal. Perhaps, Kupchak acted reasonably by trading Odom to Dallas – for a first-round pick, a deal Mark Cuban would ultimately regret – rather than wait around for the Hornets, who eventually sent Paul to the Clippers.

It’s easy to blame Kupchak, but he might tell a different story.