COMMENTARY | With the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony slated to make their lone regular-season trip to the Mile High City on Friday -- and potentially the last one for Anthony in a Knicks uniform -- it's a good time to reexamine the trade that seemingly keeps on giving to the Denver Nuggets.
The Knicks, of course, landed their coveted superstar with the blockbuster trade in 2011.
For the Nuggets? They reeled in key pieces of a team that set a franchise record for wins last season. Those pieces not only include forwards Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, but also point guard Andre Miller, who returned to the team via a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers for Raymond Felton, one of the players packaged into the Anthony trade.
But biggest prize of all, at least for the Nuggets, may be yet to come.
The Nuggets will receive the Knicks' unprotected first-round pick in 2014, the most anticipated NBA draft over the past decade. Some are comparing the crop of talent to the 2003 draft class that included LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Anthony among the first five picks.
The Knicks are throes of a horrid slump, losing six in a row and falling dangerously close to cellar of the Eastern Conference.
With center Tyson Chandler expected to be out for another couple of weeks with a broken bone in right leg, there's a decent chance the Knicks will miss the playoffs this year.
That means the Nuggets may have a shot at securing one of the top 3 picks in the 2014 draft via the lottery even if they manage to make the playoffs. And there is an early consensus top 3 in the draft with Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Jabari Parker.
The downer is that the Nuggets won't have two first-round picks, unless they unload forward Kenneth Faried or pull off another trade.
The team has to send either its pick or the Knicks' -- whichever is lower -- to the Orlando Magic as part of the trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers and landed the Nuggets Andre Iguodala, who skipped town for the Golden State Warriors this past offseason.
There's no arguing that the Nuggets did better than expected in the Anthony trade, considering their hands were tied.
But if the Knicks continue their collapse and miss the playoffs, it could go down as one of the more lopsided trades in recent memory -- in favor of the team that lost the superstar -- when factoring in the chance that Anthony may bolt New York after just three full seasons.
Earlier this year, Anthony told the New York Observer that he wants to opt out of his contract next summer.
He later backtracked and said he wants to retire as a Knick. Still, it's hard to envision Anthony staying put, or at least not opting out to test the free agent market, if the Knicks don't make the playoffs.
So when the Knicks arrive on Black Friday for one of the few in-demand Nuggets games of the season, don't boo Anthony.
Give him a standing ovation because, as it turns out, the Nuggets are better off without the superstar forward. And Anthony might ultimately help his former team land a future superstar forward with a higher ceiling.
Andy Vuong lives in Denver and is a former Nuggets season-ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @andyvuong.
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- Denver Nuggets
- Carmelo Anthony
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