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'Melo's power play is bad for NBA
There seems to be universal agreement that Carmelo Anthony is trying to pressure the Nuggets into trading him to the Knicks. That’s why he’s refusing to ink the three-year, $65 million renewal deal that’s on the table.
As a result, Denver is faced with a profound predicament. The Nuggets can have Anthony play out the upcoming season and then lose him to free agency without getting anything in return. They can trade him to some team other than New York — one that believes having ‘Melo could give them a legitimate shot at a championship — and have them face the same dilemma. Or else simply yield and trade him to New York for cap room and a bunch of inferior players.
But why oh why would Anthony have such a strong desire to play for the Knicks? Here are some possible reasons:
• The lights are brighter in the Biggest Apple than in Denver.
• When Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni was an assistant coach of the 2008 Olympic team, Anthony found him to be eminently agreeable. No doubt he was. However, being on the coaching staff of an All-Star squad that was participating in a tournament that lasted only two weeks, you can use a velvet hand more than you can coaching an ordinary team for a full NBA season.
• Whereas Nuggets coach George Karl has become somewhat of a taskmaster, D’Antoni is reputed to be far less demanding of his players.
• Since Amar’e Stoudemire and Anthony are essentially one-on-one players, ‘Melo would have infinitely more freedom in D’Antoni’s speedball system.
• Anthony grew up in Baltimore and played at Syracuse, so he’s anxious to return to the East Coast.
• There’s already a secret plot afoot to bring Chris Paul to New York.
• If Anthony categorically refuses to re-up with Denver, then something has to happen in a New York minute — if only because of the instability of the NBA’s labor situation once the 2010-11 season terminates.
There are also several reasons why Anthony’s blackmailing of the Nuggets and forcing a trade to New York would be bad news for the NBA at large.
Such a move would constitute collateral damage from the LeBron/Bosh signing with Miami. Like Cleveland, the Denver franchise would be decimated for the foreseeable future. And if teams like Cleveland, Denver and Toronto failed to keep their heroes at home, then future blue-chip free agents would be understandably reluctant to play in these talent-short ghost towns. (Kevin Durant is the exception that might prove the rule.) This would be the case no matter how much cap room might be available.
Since the best players would undoubtedly seek to play in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Miami and Boston, the future of the NBA could easily consist of a handful of exceptional teams along with two dozen or so bottom-feeders. Not only would there be a boring lack of competitive balance throughout the majority of the regular season, but also small-market teams would be in jeopardy.
Franchises like Memphis, Sacramento, Charlotte, Indiana, Milwaukee, Minnesota and New Orleans eventually could be forced to relocate. But to where?
Another alternative might be to consolidate several of the teams that would be at risk — retract instead of expand.
Considering any possible projection — and hot on the heels of “The Decision” — allowing Anthony to strong-arm the Nuggets would be ruinous for professional basketball as we know it.
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