The incessant Carmelo Anthony rumors seem to be hitting a fever pitch. Apparently, the basic framework of a three-team deal is in place, but a fourth team may join the fray at some point, depending on whether Denver can find a taker for one of their bad contracts. The fourth team doesn't matter much, to me. I'm only interested in whether or not the trade will change things in the Eastern Conference, and more specifically, in the Atlantic Division.
If the latest rumor comes to fruition, this is the lineup the Nets would be left with:
- PG: Chauncey Billups
- SG: Rip Hamilton
- SF: Carmelo Anthony
- PF: Kris Humprhies
- C: Brook Lopez
- Bench: Jordan Farmar, Travis Outlaw
The Sixers would have to get a couple more players in return, but no one of note unless they somehow wind up taking on Al Harrington, which seems impossible given how little they have left after the bulk of the deal is complete. So say they have Outlaw, Farmar and then five or six marginal NBA players to round out the bench.
Is that squad good enough to make any kind of noise for the remainder of this season? I don't think so. You've got minus defenders at three or four positions, no bench at all. No interior defense (though Humprhies is a solid rebounder). No quickness at the guard positions. I don't see any way that team will make any kind of a push. The Nets currently sit 17 games below .500, and while the change in venue may perk up 'Melo and Rip, Chauncey has already publicly stated he'd prefer a buyout or an extension if he's traded away from his hometown team. So a disgruntled Chauncey.
Looking to the future, can you build a team around Lopez and 'Melo with limited draft picks and a barren free agency market this coming summer? I suppose they could bide their time and make a big run at Dwight Howard or Chris Paul when they move to Brooklyn. A CP3, Melo, Lopez triumvirate would be tough to defend.
Ultimately, I think the Nets are bidding against themselves in this situation and Denver is doing everything they can to take advantage of their apparent desperation. When all is said and done, Denver is going to come out of this smelling the best. They really don't have any leverage. If the Nets walk away from the table, Denver is either going to be forced to take a last-second crappy deal from a team with no hopes of re-signing Melo, or they're going to watch him walk next summer and recoup a big trade exception. Getting Derrick Favors and a couple draft picks out of this situation is a king's ransom. Even if Favors doesn't pan out, the draft picks will probably be high and they're saving money.
Detroit is strictly dumping salary, though they'll also get a solid PF in the deal. I still can't figure out why Murphy has been completely dismissed by the Nets and has more healthy DNPCD's than games played. Detroit gets a clear upgrade in the frontcourt, should they choose to use him. They'de be biting the bullet on the Petro deal, but their overall savings would be around $17M, and they aren't even going to have to include a pick.