Carmelo Anthony isn’t screwing the Denver Nuggets by letting them know he wants to move on.
In fact, by giving them the heads-up, and not leading them on until the last minute, he’s doing the franchise a big favour.
There’s something undeniably crass about the trade demand. A player has signed a multi-million dollar contract; he then changes his mind, and wants to change employers before that contract is up. His main leverage? He can sulk, slack, feign injury, or mysteriously disappear from active duty until a deal is made. And yet sometimes, this is the only way for both parties to come out of a break-up with their pride — and their long-term prospects — intact.
Melo has yet to come out and tell reporters, or adoring baby fans seeking autographs, that he wants out. There’s really no reason to; any NBA player making this kind of statement can expect a hefty fine, and making too much of a stink can drive down a player’s value. It’s wishful thinking on the league’s part, or maybe just face-saving PR, that without the actual demand, there is no demand.
Everyone knows Carmelo Anthony will be traded, but at least there’s no soundbite.
Actually, without the petulant theatre, the “demand” part of the equation falls away, and we’re left with something far more reasonable. Especially when, as in Anthony’s case, there’s the added leverage of impending free agency. When Chris Paul tried a similar manoeuvre (supposedly), the two years left on his deal proved a stumbling block.
Anthony, though, is an unrestricted free agent this summer. Behind closed doors, he lets his current team know that he doesn’t plan to re-sign, allowing them to do more than simply cut their losses.
The Nuggets don’t take on the stink of desperation. Melo’s strong play during this time has also made it clear that it’s business, not personal. This strategy also gives the team time to come up with a trade partner Anthony will accept. That’s especially important here, since the perennial All-Star is looking to sign a long-term deal before the CBA expires this summer.
In a perfect world, Carmelo Anthony would not only stay with the Nuggets through this year — he would stay there forever, and stick around through this next uncertain phase of their history. But if players are going to switch teams, it’s better for everyone involved if they don’t wait until the last minute.
It’s still a tedious, drawn-out process, but at least it doesn’t leave a franchise decimated like LeBron James did the Cavaliers — who, incidentally, lost to the Lakers last night, 112-57.
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