Backdoor Cuts: Anthony wants trade

February 10, 2011

The constant flow of trade rumors surrounding Denver Nuggets small forward Carmelo Anthony has been the most intensely covered story of the NBA season. It’s also the most anticlimactic. The repetitiveness and speculation characterizing each potential trade report is enough to drive any sports fan mad.

The four-time all-star has looked uninspired and disengaged for much of the past year and has been adamant about his desire to join the reinvigorated New York Knicks, his hometown team. In an attempt to capitalize on their imminent move to Brooklyn, the lowly New Jersey Nets have also made a determined bid for Anthony, but Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov pulled the team out of the discussions. Reports leaked early this week that the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers entered into discussions with the Nuggets regarding a potential Anthony trade. The Lakers’ involvement is such a surprise that it forces you to wonder if this is just another back-page story designed to play mind games with NBA fans.

Now that the Lakers have entered the talks for Melo and further added to the whirlwind, we really must ask: does he actually make any of these teams better?

In the NBA, Melo has only once put his team in contention for a title, reaching the 2009 Western Conference Finals after losing five consecutive playoff series. His defense has also come under heavy criticism, as has his ability to raise the play of his teammates, since he is a shoot-first player.

These traits hardly sound like an appropriate fit for a team like the Lakers that prides themselves on stalwart defense and already possesses Kobe Bryant, a player that also demands an endless supply of shots. A Melo-Kobe marriage would be a risky experiment for the Lakers. There’s really no sense in trading away the team’s young talent to acquire a player that really does not fill the Lakers’ needs.

Of the teams said to have had serious talks regarding a trade for Anthony, the Nets would likely immediately gain the most from a basketball standpoint. Yet Melo, whose contract expires at the end of this season, has insisted that he would not sign an extension with the Nets, potentially leaving the team with a gutted roster and no superstar. This has led the Nets and Nuggets to essentially end their talks, despite the Nets’ offer of what appears by far to be the best trade package for the Nuggets.

Anthony’s other rumored destination, New York, is perhaps the most likely, since he has made public his burning desire to play for the Orange and Blue. While the addition of Melo would bring unparalleled buzz and hype to the Knicks, trading for him could prove to be too costly to benefit them on the court. Though Melo would likely flourish in New York’s up-tempo offense, the price tag would likely force the Knicks to part with several of their talented young role players, among them Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, and Landry Fields, who have been vital to the team’s success this season. The Knicks are worse off if they dispose of multiple up-and-coming, team-oriented players to acquire one more star. They should take their chances and sign Anthony as free agent this summer.

So, even after hearing about these trade rumors all season, it is in every teams’ best interest (besides the Nuggets) if Carmelo Anthony just stays put, giving us all the more reason to be annoyed every time another Melo trade story pops up. Quit wasting my time and just let me know if he reaches a deal.


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