February 18, 2011
Every so often, you get the reminder that the Nets are not only run by Billy King, but by an owner who promised an NBA championship for his franchise within five years. And this is what pops up as a result.
Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the New Jersey Nets are attempting to sell not only the Denver Nuggets, but Carmelo Anthony(notes) (a contract extension for Anthony is a prerequisite for both sides) on a deal that would send Derrick Favors(notes), Troy Murphy(notes), Devin Harris(notes), Ben Uzoh(notes) and four (FOUR!) first-round picks to the Denver Nuggets for Anthony, Chauncey Billups(notes), Melvin Ely(notes), Shelden Williams(notes) and Renaldo Balkman(notes). Apparently Rodrick Rhodes wasn't available.
For the Nets, this would leave the team with Anthony (yay!) at small forward in a rotation featuring Billups (who turns 35 before next season), Brook Lopez(notes) (who has hauled in double-figure rebounds -- no more than 11 in a game -- just four times in 57 contests), and not a whole lot after that. There are other players who work Anthony's position, like Anthony Morrow(notes) and Travis Outlaw(notes). And Kris Humphries(notes), assuming he wouldn't want to cash in on his career year and attempt to sign elsewhere this offseason. And, to use Phil Jackson's nicknames for them, Jordan (expletive deleted) Farmar, and Sasha (several expletives deleted) Vujacic.
Vujacic could actually leave as a free agent this summer, and though nobody can stand the guy, the Nets might be forced to overpay to retain his services. Because with Billups' contract (no way the Nets hand him the $4 million buyout next season, and head into work with Farmar starting) and Anthony's contract extension taking hold, the Nets would then be over the 2011-12 salary cap, and that's even using figures based on the current collective bargaining agreement. With Billups' $14 million contract added to the fold, New Jersey could be looking at a $60 million payroll for the rotation listed above.
And though Billups would become a free agent after 2012, Lopez's contract extension would no doubt take hold at the same time. And Billy King may be the all-time leader in terrible mid-level exception signings for his capped-out teams through the years, even assuming there is an MLE after the next lockout. Don't expect the draft to help, either.
This is still a steep price for the Nets to pay for Anthony, and far more than the Knicks seem willing to give up. Among the draft picks the Nets are expected to give the Nuggets are their own 2011 first-round selection, the 2011 first-round pick they acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers, a future conditional first-rounder from the Golden State Warriors and another future first-rounder.
Geesh. This is the price to pay to terribly overrate a nice player and then terribly overpay him.
Even in the current climate, with a salary cap of $58 million and a luxury tax that hits at $70 million, offering Anthony a three-year, $65 million contract is absolute madness. In the NBA we might see following this summer's labor negotiations, one that might drop the salary cap to a level just over twice what Anthony could make in the final year of his contract? This is a franchise-killing deal. Remember, it's not just Derrick Favors. It's not just the draft picks. It's that extension. The only thing that has hindered an Anthony deal thus far, and the only thing that will turn any Anthony deal from this month into a millstone for whatever team deals for him.
The Nets, clearly, don't care. And most media outlets, the ones that are still prattling on about how Carmelo Anthony is a top-five player, won't know the difference. They just won't pay attention to the games, the labor agreement, the play that follows and just pick up on the story when Anthony is either supposedly disappointing his new team (by playing the exact same way that he's always played), or asking for another trade near the end of his deal in 2014.
This isn't to paint Anthony as a malcontent. I give him credit for turning down Denver's big bucks and risking watching as the New York Knicks -- with around $40 million on the books next year, should they retain Landry Fields'(notes) cheap-o contract and part ways with Wilson Chandler(notes) -- try to reel Anthony in as a free agent for whatever a max deal will look like this offseason. He's trying to have his cake (the trade away from Denver) and eat it too (the current-era extension), and nobody should blame him for that.
Here's who you blame. A GM for paying too steep a price for "star power," when Anthony has only advanced past the first round in his seven postseason trips just once, and it was debatable if he was even the best player on the Nuggets the season Billups led them to the West finals. These are the same pay-now/think-rarely/win-never/complain-always owners and front-office types who will be crying poverty this summer during the CBA negotiations.
And blame some media types -- like the radio guy linked above -- for blowing up Carmelo into a player far more prominent and important than the scorer-and-nothing-else he is. Instead of just reporting on the word out there, they add in the bits that tell you that New York needs a guy like Anthony. Because he's famous.
"The best pure scorer in the game," they say. So why doesn't he "pure score" more points per game than Kevin Durant(notes), Amar'e Stoudemire(notes), LeBron James(notes), Dwyane Wade(notes), Monta Ellis(notes), Kobe Bryan or Derrick Rose(notes)?