Deciding what to do about the future of Carmelo Anthony is a problem which must weigh heavily on the minds of the Denver Nuggets’ organization and fans. Any path the Nuggets take is sure to draw criticism. If he is traded for prospects the team will draw fire for giving up on competing for a championship. Denver will be forced to commit to one of the most heinous and unpopular acts a successful franchise can commit – rebuilding. But if Carmelo stays and Denver fails to win the NBA championship, the organization will be ridiculed for walking away with nothing. Cynics will point to this critical juncture – the decision not to trade Anthony – as the pivotal moment when Denver mortgaged the future of the team because of misguided, foolhardy optimism. While this may very well be a make or break moment for the franchise, it is a far easier decision for me to make.
Bleacher Fan made a passionate plea for making the conservative choice, dealing Anthony to ensure the Nuggets don’t end up empty handed. He drew scathing comparisons between Anthony and several other high profile athletes he deemed unscrupulous in pursuit of a change of scenery. He went as far as to call out Darrelle Revis, Chris Paul, and of course LeBron James, by name. This, however, seems like an unfair comparison because unlike Revis and Paul, Anthony is not demanding a trade before his contract expires. Admittedly, there are conflicting reports fueled by friends, family, and the media about Anthony’s stance on a potential trade. But he is not certainly forcing the Nuggets to deal him. It is rather Denver’s dilemma about what to do with him.
While I highly disagree with his diatribe of athletes seeking better deals in free agency, we did find common ground on the belief that Anthony holds a considerable amount of leverage if he should seek a deal with a new team. The deck is stacked in his favor because with free agency lurking around the corner, the potential of ‘Melo leaving the Mile High City without a championship – and getting nothing in return – could have Denver execs running scared. The fear of such a scenario playing out was enough to prompt Bleacher Fan to suggest the two sides part ways now.
Loyal Homer, on the other hand, was not so convinced. He believes in the talent surrounding Anthony in Denver. He stated that the only wisdom in keeping ‘Melo for another season is to be competitive now. Loyal Homer wrote that Anthony’s friend and teammate, Chauncey Billups, could be a difference maker in the upcoming season, not to mention the corps of players like Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, and Birdman Anderson. With a talented roster and the return of dynamic head coach George Karl, the Nuggets have to be considered legitimate playoff contenders. With that in mind, the urgency to move ‘Melo is substantially diminished.
Similarly, my gut tells me that the Nuggets aren’t likely to acquire anyone in a trade for Anthony that would fill his shoes. The void created by ‘Melo’s departure could not easily be filled, and the team’s ability to compete may be compromised for years. These conclusions led Loyal Homer to support the risky decision to hang onto Anthony for one more run.
I simply could not disagree with Loyal Homer’s logic. A championship could entice ‘Melo to stay and attract more stars to the Nuggets. Loyal Homer implied that keeping Carmelo Anthony for the 2010 season is a calculated risk, but one that could pay off in a big way, and for that reason I’m awarding the victory to Loyal Homer.
Many teams consider Carmelo Anthony the next best thing to LeBron James. So why would a team in pursuit of a championship give a player of that quality up before they had to? In the wake of LeBron’s decision drama it is easy to suggest the Nuggets should take whatever they can get for ‘Melo before it’s too late. But that would mean completely writing off the chances of a playoff-ready team solely on the basis of worst case scenarios.
While I understand that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, I simply cannot support any move that knowingly hurts a team’s immediate competitiveness. The last time I checked, the object of the game is to win. And the object of the season is to win the championship. Any move that hinders that pursuit is not true to the ultimate goal of the sport.