Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
The ‘Melo deal: Who/what comes out the big loser in all that maneuvering?
[Editor's note: That question, and the following answers, were submitted before the Nets' stunning deal to get Deron Williams from Utah on Wednesday.]
David Aldridge: Gotta be Jersey. The Big Russian has swung and missed at LeBron, STAT, Boozer and now Anthony, and has to put all of his eggs in the 2012 free agent basket. Big gamble. Prokhorov could well get the last laugh; with a hard cap he may wind up with two or three stars for a fraction of what his opponents have had to pay in the past year. But that’s way too much iffin’ for anyone to feel comfortable with, having to sell season tickets and suites for Brooklyn in early 2012–before those free agents commit. The Nets may be forced to overpay, either via trade or free agency, to get the first star in place, and hope the dominoes fall their way later.
Steve Aschburner: New Jersey got spun around and turned inside out by all the maneuvering for Anthony. Loved Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov went he drew his stern line in the sand – somebody had to stop, or at least stall, the madness at that point – but his line was just that: sand. His team got involved again and ultimately just expedited the deal that delivered Anthony to New York. The fallout – how rattled some Nets players got by all the speculation – undercut whatever they were hoping to accomplish this season on the court.
Fran Blinebury: Don’t know that anyone came out “a big loser,” unless you count fans in cities other than NY, LA, Miami & Chicago, who have to be feeling like they are living in mere bus stations that the superstars will pass through on the way to their destinations. While the earlier Nets deal that was on the table was better, the Nuggets eventually got a decent package in return for Carmelo. The Knicks didn’t lose, but to mix sports metaphors, they didn’t hit a home run either.
Art Garcia: The ‘Melo Man is getting what he wanted all along, the big money and the bigger stage of Broadway. Denver gets some nice young pieces and usable draft picks to rebuild with, and just as importantly avoids the embarrassing fate of Cleveland and Toronto. The ones getting it in the shorts now, as they have for the last seven months, are those too often are forgotten in all of this. Nuggets fans today feel like it’s been a wasted season. Not only did they lose a franchise player — those don’t come around too often — they also had a hometown favorite (Chauncey Billups) get snatched away. Less than two years ago they were tearing the lid off the Pepsi Can in the Western Conference finals. Cheering on ping-pong balls can’t be as fun.
Scott Howard-Cooper: The Nets. All that buildup when Mikhail Prokhorov bought the team, only to miss out on the big free agents in the summer and now to miss out on Carmelo Anthony despite a trade package that was easily better than what the Knicks gave up. Anthony obviously wouldn’t commit to signing with New Jersey, a slap.
Shaun Powell: Not sure there are any losers. The Nets had no shot at Carmelo, and the gazillion reports that had him going to Jersey were bogus, because Melo wasn’t going to sign a contract extension. The Knicks got the next coming of Bernard King and the Nuggets were able to grab something while they could for their star and avoid a Cavaliers-like fate. Perhaps the loser was Timofey Mozgov? Can he get any good Russian food in LoDo?
John Schuhmann: The Nets. Not only did they get rejected by Carmelo, but in pursuing him, they’ve completely devalued both Devin Harris (who has been disinterested for much of the last couple of months) and Troy Murphy (who’s been sitting at home since December). Harris was an All-Star two years ago and Murphy averaged a double-double each of the last two seasons. Now, the Nets feel like they have to trade both, and they might not get anything of value for either.
Sekou Smith: The New Jersey Nets‘ locker room (and I‘ll refrain from naming them since they‘ve all been through that enough already). At one time or another every player on the roster was rumored to be involved in the ‘Melo deal that never was. For a team already teetering on the brink of disaster this seven-month affair could not have helped. Even worse is the fact that in the final analysis, the Nets clearly never had a shot at landing Anthony (no matter how many times it was written that a deal was close or whatever). In the meantime, the Nets found a way to completely devalue an entire roster with lackluster performance after lackluster performance, due in large part to the endless speculation that said team would be no longer at any moment. A playoff bid certainly wasn’t in the plans for the Nets, but they could have been something more than what we’ve seen so far this season.