So , at long last, the Nets courtship of Carmelo Anthony is over . Nets owner , Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, pulled the plug on the deal saying “Really I am not happy with the way how this deal has gone until now.” The declaration comes not a moment too soon .The proposed deal had been under discussion for more than a month with several stops and starts, only for one thing or another to stymie it . At one point when it appeared it was about to be signed , the Nuggets backed out in order to wring yet more concessions from the Nets . The latest obstacle was the uncertainty over whether Anthony would sign a contract extension with the Nets .
Frankly , I have had my doubts about the viability of the deal right from the beginning . It didn’t make sense for anybody , not for Carmelo , not for the Nets and not even for the Nuggets.
Carmelo supposedly wanted out of Denver because he wants to play for a championship contender, preferably a big market team . The Nets just don’t fit that description. Inspite of playing so close to the Big Apple , the Nets don’t have any glamor ; if anything , they are more anonymous than the Nuggets. Even when the team moves to Brooklyn , it will be second best to the Knicks in terms of fan following in the metropolitan area. That was true when they played in Long Island , it has been true in New Jersey and it will still be true in Brooklyn.
If the Nets had made the deal , they would have given up so much in terms of players and draft picks that they would not have been able to field a contender for at least three seasons .Under the deal they would they would have to give up a starting point guard Devin Harris ,sharpshooter Anthony Morrow, promising rookie Derrick Favors, two first round draft choices and three journeymen players. In return , they would have gotten Anthony and Chauncey Billups( from Denver) and Richard Hamilton ( from Detroit) but Billups and Hamilton are both getting on in years and besides, at this point in his career,Hamilton is little more than a ball hogging jump shooter. In three years time , Billups and Hamilton will have retired and Anthony would be thirty. Other than Brook Lopez , a fair to middling player but not a franchise center , Anthony would not have much in the way of a supporting cast ; the lack of draft picks would see to that. Anthony ‘s dream of playing for a championship team would be further away than it is in Denver. The one advantage to Anthony in coming to the Nets would be that his wife , a New York gal, would be able to better pursue her acting career. I think though that would come at too steep a price for Anthony.
These protracted negotiations which ultimately ended in failure have painted both Anthony and the Nuggets into a corner. Anthony will be desperate to sign a new contract soon because the upcoming CBA negotiations will probably result in tightened restrictions on player contracts and player movement. He may not be able to command as much money as he can sign for now. There is also the very real threat of a lockout next season . He would love to get his contract signed now but who would be able to sign him ? All the contending teams have already set their rosters and would be reluctant to tinker with them now ; most of the others do not have the bargaining chips to swing a trade for him.The trade deadline is less than a month away and other teams will be bargaining from a position of strength.The LA Clippers would seem to be the best bet but that scenario too has its drawbacks . Would Anthony be happy playing for a team owned by tightwad Donald Sterling ? Would he be able to share the limelight with a budding superstar in Blake Griffin ? And as long as Kobe is playing for the Lakers , Carmelo would always be in his shadow if he played for the Clippers.
The best scenario for Carmelo would be to sign the max extension and stay with the Nuggets . Denver has a great coach , a good supporting cast and came close to upending the Lakers a couple of seasons ago. It will be difficult for them to beat the Spurs or the Lakers this year but they represent Carmelo’s best chance for a championship.
When Prokhorov first bought the Nets , I was not thrilled at the idea of a foreigner , a Russian at that , owning a NBA team . His brash prediction that the Nets would win a championship within 5 years did not exactly endear him to me either . Neither did I like the classless way in which he dumped Kiki Vandeveghe from the front office. Kiki did not cover himself with glory but he did not deserve to learn of his firing through the newspapers .However , I was taken aback by Adrian Wojnarowski’s Yahoo sports article lambasting the Nets owner. Prokhorov did the right thing in pulling out of the Anthony deal , the pity is that he even considered it . It has been obvious to most observers that Anthony and the Nets would be a bad fit , that the Nets were giving up too much and that neither Anthony or the Nuggets were really committed to making the deal . Prokhorov is new to the NBA, is still getting his feet wet and didn’t understand how it works . Once he understood the problems with the deal , he scotched it and he should be praised for acting decisively. The five year time period for a Nets championship is unrealistic but at least now , the Nets can concentrate on the move to Brooklyn and building a team around who they already have .