When the once-inevitable Nets/Nuggets deal that would have sent Carmelo Anthony east publicly fell apart yesterday afternoon, a glimmer of hope must have shot through several NBA front offices and fan bases. Unless breaking off negotiations is a bluff from Mikhail Prokhorov to get some sort of last-second concessions from Melo and/or the Nuggets (which it very well could be), the door now appears to be open for another team to step in and snag Carmelo.
As the Nuggets gauge Melo interest levels throughout the league, there is one team that I think can make a simple deal for Carmelo that makes everyone happy.
The Philadelphia 76ers have the pieces to satisfy Denver. I also don’t think they are in a place where they have to get Melo to agree to a contract extension for the trade work for them. In its most basic form, Philly would send Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young in exchange for Melo. No third team. No complicated 17-player blockbuster transaction. Just this straight up swap. Here’s why it works for both sides:
Denver is never, ever going to get anything close to equal value in return for Carmelo. There is just too much working against them; the leverage other teams have on Denver is too significant. So in that sense, anything of real value they can get in return is a win. Iguodala gives them as close to equal value on a single player-for-player exchange that they could possibly get. While he’s clearly best-suited as second or even third option on a good squad, he’s currently the best player on a NBA team that as of this morning is in the playoffs. Throw in Thad – a young athlete lots of people outside of Philly who don’t watch Sixers game think can play – and the Nuggets actually re-stock their roster young, athletic perimeter talent while still remaining highly competitive in the West. You can’t tell me that an Iguodala/Young haul isn’t more attractive than the Landry Fields/Wilson Chandler/Bill Walker mess that the Knicks are rumored to be offering.
A major sticking point for the Nets in their negotiations with Carmelo and the Nuggets has been the need to sign Anthony to a long-term contract extension. Renting Melo for the next few months does nothing for them – they are desperate to have an A-List player on their roster for when they open up in Brooklyn. There are probably less than 10 players in the NBA that can give them the juice to really make a splash in Brooklyn when they officially move there, and Melo is one of them – hence their unabashed desperation in this whole process. To me it seems like it’s more about Melo’s ticket/merchandise-selling power than it is about whether or not he fits into their basketball plans.
The Sixers don’t have that pressure. Maybe I’m crazy, but if I’m them, I don’t really care if Carmelo signs an extension. Would it be nice to have Melo long-term? Of course. But if he leaves, so what? Iguodala clearly doesn’t fit into their long-term plans; when he was out for stretches this season, you could argue that the Sixers looked liberated and their offense free-flowing. And as far as Young goes, if they can get someone to take him in exchange for something of real value (even if it’s fleeting), they should jump at the chance.
A short-term rental of Anthony at the very least sells tickets in Philly for the rest of the season and makes their little playoff run infinitely more entertaining. (If you doubt that they would do it just for tickets sales, remember this?) If he enjoys his time and re-signs with the 76ers, then great. If he goes elsewhere? Thank him for the massive salary coming off the books and continue to build around Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner.
It’s a simple deal that works for both sides.
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