Drop a pin out of a skyscraper, and chances are you’ll hit a Carmelo Anthony trade scenario.
Last season, teams were consumed by the rush to woo LeBron James. 2010-11 has been all about franchises making half-hearted plays for Carmelo Anthony. Melo is both underrated and overrated at the same time. No one seems to covet Anthony, and yet he’s simply too good to not go after, especially when the price of admission is so low.
Curiously absent from all of these rumours is the idea that Melo, one of the league’s better young players, gives a damn about determining his own future. Supposedly he’s now asking the Nets to make a convincing pitch. Yet New Jersey has been at the centre of these talks for some time. That Anthony himself isn’t completely sold on their future, and yet was willing to sign an extension there, is more than a little demoralizing.
Really, is Carmelo Anthony — terrified of an impending lockout — just about the money?
Consider where we were five months ago. At Melo’s wedding, glasses were raised to the possibility of a new super-team, consisting of new Knick Amar’e Stoudemire, Anthony, and disgruntled Hornets point guard Chris Paul. The Heat marked a new era of player self-determination, at least for the best of the best.
Fast forward to now, where a perennial All-Star might go to a lottery team he doesn’t believe in … just because the grass is greener, and the money is right.
This isn’t just about Melo chickening out, or showing his true colours. The Heat didn’t exactly destroy the competition right out of the gate, and even now, as one of the league’s elite teams, they are so top-heavy that their box scores verge on parody. It remains to be seen whether the pieces really fit. If they’re compensating with talent, can any other superstar threesome possibly muster up this much of it?
At the same time teams are realising that there might be something to that old-fashioned notion of rebuilding. The Knicks were supposedly Carmelo Destination #1, site of the great Anthony/Stoudemire/Paul mind-meld. Now, they’re doing pretty well relying on cats like Wilson Chandler and Landry Fields. Danilo Gallinari looks like a star in the making — and on a rookie deal, is dirt-cheap compared to Melo. The Nets pine for Anthony, but at the same time, their Brook Lopez/Derrick favours frontcourt is exactly the kind of thrifty burnt-offering that’s keeping the Knicks from staying all up in the Melo-stakes.
This summer, it looked like All-Stars were going to run the league. With the New Year, they are looking more and more like dinosaurs, or albatrosses, or whatever unholy combination of the two you can dream up when your blood sugar runs low. The question is, what effect will this have on the CBA negotiations. We had thought that a latent class division could fracture the owners’ block. Maybe it’s the players who are headed in that direction instead.
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