With the NBA’s February 24th trade deadline quickly approaching, rumors surrounding the status of Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony have reached an all-time high. Once a daily story on the back pages of the New York Post and Daily News, the aptly-named “MeloDrama” has now become constant discussion on ESPN.
(As an aside: why can’t ESPN find something else for Chris Broussard to do?)
As the Sun’s premier biweekly pro-New York sports opinion column, East Coast Bias now offers its own resolution to bring about what has long been inevitable: Carmelo Anthony playing for the Knicks.
The most recent Melo-to-MSG news has involved the inclusion of the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of a new three-team trade proposal. Such a proposal, as has been reported, would have New York sending Eddy Curry (with his expiring contract) and forward Anthony Randolph to Minnesota, as well as swingman Wilson Chandler to the Nuggets. The Nuggets would also receive guard Corey Brewer and a first-round pick from the T-Wolves.
Such a trade is heavily lopsided in favor of New York and unlikely to ever actually transpire. Yet, Donnie Walsh deserves much credit for recruiting a very attractive third trading partner, like Minnesota, who is loaded with young talent and looking to rebuild. With some changes, such a model could evolve from a Knicks pipe dream into a blockbuster deal in which all three teams benefit.
The Nuggets are dissatisfied with the proposal and have said they would expect much more in return for Carmelo. The Knicks, in response, should up their offer to Denver by sending along the diversely-talented Danilo Gallinari along with Chandler.
The Timberwolves have shot-down the three-team deal on similar grounds: an expiring contract and an enigmatic 21-year-old are simply not enough substance in return for a first round pick and starting shooting guard. Minnesota is looking for more than a salary dump— that “more,” meanwhile could very well be on the Denver roster.
Where this hypothetical deal becomes a blockbuster is where Denver and Minnesota stand to gain from each other. While Corey Brewer is a valuable asset at shooting guard, the T-Wolves could use a significant upgrade at that position, and in their perimeter shooting more generally. Enter Nuggets 2-guard Arron Afflalo.
Consider the following: the Nuggets sending Arron Afflalo to the Timberwolves in exchange for forward Michael Beasley and a second round pick (instead of a first).
To review, in this new three-team deal, New York would receive Carmelo and trade away Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Eddy Curry, and Anthony Randolph. The Nuggets would receive Gallinari, Chandler, Beasley, and a second round pick. Minnesota would receive Afflalo, Curry’s expiring contract, and Randolph, while trading away Beasley and the second rounder.
Smiling faces all around.
The Knicks would finally receive their prize: a legitimate superstar to pair with Amar’e Stoudemire. The cost is what the Knicks have known all along it was going to be: Chandler and Gallinari, Randolph’s potential upside, and Curry’s value to a team’s balance sheet. As an added plus, Donnie Walsh would get big points from the Knicks faithful for having hung on to fan-favorite Landry Fields.
(In case you haven’t made it to MSG this season, make no mistake — the rookie Fields, behind perhaps Amar’e, is the home crowd’s most beloved Knick.)
The Nuggets are perhaps the biggest winners of the deal. Whereas the Denver management has been hoping it would get great pieces to begin rebuilding in exchange for its superstar, in this deal, the future would already be in place, and look pretty bright. For Carmelo, the Nuggets get three very high-ceiling very young players, who are already solid NBA starters, with a second round pick thrown in as well. In addition, all three contracts are very favorable for any team’s GM. Both Beasley and Gallinari have team options for the next two years, averaging-out at about $5 million, while Chandler’s team option for next year is just a hair over $2 million. All three guys would start for the Nuggets today: Chandler at the 2, Beasley at the 3, and Gallinari — because Denver has two traditional, defensive, back-to-the-basket centers — at the 4.
Minnesota may appear to be the most shafted of the three clubs, but a closer look at the T-Wolves roster reveals that may not be the case. While Arron Afflalo’s name may not jump off the page for Minnesota fans, it should. Afflalo would immediately become the Timberwolves’ best outside shooter, and represents a significant upgrade over Brewer at shooting guard. Still only 25 years old, Afflalo is averaging 13 points and 2.5 assists per game, while shooting an outstanding 51 percent from the field (4th for guards in the NBA) and 45 percent from beyond the arc (5th best in the entire league). That sort of consistent outside shooting will provide a nice — and necessary — compliment to Kevin Love’s inside dominance.
While some Minnesota-faithful may cringe at the thought of giving away Beasley and his 20 points per game, one need only look at the younger, and perhaps more valuable, talent waiting on the bench. Such a player, who is not getting enough attention in Minnesota, is small forward Wesley Johnson. Despite only playing 26 minutes per game, Johnson is averaging 10 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists per contest. He has played well of late in replace of Beasley (who is battling a minor ankle injury), and the fantasy blogs are already a-buzz with calls for his increased playing time. It’s important to note as well that it was only eight months ago that Minnesota decided to spend its fourth-overall draft pick on Johnson; clearly, Timberwolves management believes he has the potential to be an elite NBA talent. In comparison, Beasley’s market value to the T-Wolves when they traded for him in July was a measly two second-round picks. The deal also represents a salary dump for Minnesota, as they get to move Beasley’s $5 million (and growing) contract. With these pieces in place, and with some more financial freedom, the Timberwolves could make strong offers to players like Marc Gasol or Tony Parker in the offseason, and become legitimate playoff contenders.
The deal would be complex and complicated, but it would be a significant step in Minnesota’s rebuilding, put Denver right back on track to being a strong team in the West, and make New York a championship-caliber club.
Make moves Donnie, make moves.