The trading of Carmelo Anthony before the start of the season has gone from “if” to “where and for whom” if we are to believe the latest reports. And we do, as all signs point that way and have for a while.
But from the list of possible trading partners out there — both the ones preferred by Anthony and the ones the Nuggets ownership has forced into the conversation — it is clear that winning a title is not why Anthony is doing this.
From what we can gather and other reports, the list of teams Anthony is interested in includes New York, Orlando, Chicago, Houston and New Jersey. The Nuggets want young players and picks, so they have brought the Clippers and Golden State to the party.
Who on that list is closer to winning a title than the Nuggets? None, really. Unless Anthony thinks he can draw Chris Paul to wherever he lands to form a new superteam, which is a pretty big gambit. But he gets no closer to a title with any realistic move right now.
Maybe Orlando would be a contender. But they would have to get past Miami and Boston in the East (and Chicago is pretty good, too). And while Boston will fade Miami is going to be a powerhouse — an only improving powerhouse — for the next five years. While the Lakers are a power in Denver’s way in the West, their window is shorter.
In the west Houston makes some sense — if you think Yao Ming can stay healthy and ignore how good the Lakers are. Getting Anthony would recreate the concepts behind the McGrady/Yao pairing that never quite panned out. And the Rockets could offer a nice package in a trade of something like Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger, plus they have something the Knicks do not — Knicks draft picks. The Rockets could offer up their own 2011 pick (which comes with the right to flip with New York) and the Knicks 2012 pick.
Anthony allegedly pushed for New York but the Nuggets see no sense in that because what can the Knicks really offer? The expiring contract of Eddy Curry, somebody like Wilson Chandler and picks in 2014 and 2016? Not enticing.
The Clippers are considered frontrunners and they certainly could put together a package of nice young players. Chris Kaman would be a big salary piece but Eric Bledsoe and maybe even Eric Gordon could be part of the package, along with picks. But do not think Blake Griffin will be part of the deal, the Clippers are too invested in him.
This also is where cooperation comes in — would Anthony really do a sign-and-trade to the Clippers? Would he trust the prime of his career to Donald Sterling? Anthony and the Clippers need to be on the same page here.
The Nets may make the most sense. They are soon to be New York, they have young players like Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, the big contract of Troy Murphy could be part of the deal. What the Nets would want is to keep Brook Lopez and rookie Derrick Favors to pair with Anthony, in what could be a very good combo going forward.
But with the Heat looming in the East, is that closer to a title than Denver right now? No.
Which makes me think more and more that winning is not the primary motivation here.