NBA Trade Rumor: Carmelo Anthony to New Jersey (again), with Cleveland involved

During his seven-plus seasons in Denver, Carmelo Anthony has shared the court two of the most accomplished guards in recent NBA history — first Allen Iverson, then Chauncey Billups. He has played alongside explosive scorers like J.R. Smith and Al Harrington, and been supported by rugged interior players like Nene and Kenyon Martin and Marcus Camby. For the most part, ‘Melo has usually had at least a solid, if not stellar, supporting cast.

And yet if the latest trade rumor involving the three-time NBA All-Star has any validity to it, ‘Melo may find himself in a position to carry a mediocre roster beyond its potential.

The Nets and Nuggets are still in trade talks, and according to ESPN this morning, were reportedly close to a three-team deal involving the Cavaliers. Denver would have received Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and three first-round draft picks. The Cavs would get Troy Murphy. And the Nets would get Carmelo, Al Harrington, and Cleveland’s $14 million trade exception.

The deal reportedly fell apart because Denver and Cleveland wanted more draft picks than New Jersey was willing to give up, and of course because nobody is certain ‘Melo would sign a contract extension to stay with the Nets beyond this season.

And could you blame him?

The other night I watched the Nets edge a tired Chicago team in the fourth quarter (the Bulls had arrived in New Jersey at 4 a.m. that same morning) with a crunch-time lineup of Harris, Sasha Vujacic, Stephen Graham, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez. That lineup was only slightly a result of injuries — Anthony Morrow is inactive at the moment — so should ‘Melo land in Jersey under the rumored trade, he’d be looking at a lineup where it’s Jordan Farmar, Vujacic/Morrow, Harrington, Humphries and Lopez surrounding him.

Of course, that’s only the basketball part. If ‘Melo just wants to be in the New York area, the Nets (or Knicks) would obviously make efforts to surround him with quality players. But for now, if his main objective is to win, Denver looks like the better option.