I don't know if it's been brought up, but Denver recently fired Mark Warkentien, who was their vice president of basketball operations (Paxson's job), and Rex Chapman their vice president of player personnel.
Now offering Carmelo the massive extension is easy. It doesn't require them to find a new VP of basketball operations, because if he signs it then you're happy to keep him.
However, trading him or not trading him is a more difficult decision. The ramifications of that decision will carry on for years, and you probably want your new basketball guy to come in and make that choice so he can shape the team in his own model.
Does the new GM want to trade him for talent and continue to try to build? Does he want to blow the whole thing up and start from scratch? Is he looking to get into the deep lottery to hope to find another star, or is he hoping to keep fans in seats in the short term?
On top of the decision on how to set the future is the business side. I threw out a number of 20-25 million yesterday on how much money Denver might lose by trading Anthony prior to the season tip off. Going through and looking at their financial numbers on Forbes that seems a bit high. I'd estimate the cost to be around 15 million.
Is anything they're going to get in terms of trade value be worth 15 million in cash compared to just letting him walk next season or taking less value in a S&T?
If I'm Denver, I think I'm going to the Knicks and settling for 2014 and 2016 unprotected picks along with Dannilo Gallinari and Eddy Curry (to match salaries) for Carmelo. I'll first ask for swap options on 2013 and 2015 and other young players like Chandler and Douglas as well just to have room in the negotiation process, but in the end that's what I want.
The thing is, I'm quite sure I don't trust Amare Stoudemire to be a factor in four years, and I'm absolutely certain he won't be in six years. The far in the future picks are probably something most present GMs are willing to give up largely because it improves the team a ton now, may be worth nothing later, and there's a good chance you won't be there when they're gone anyway.
From Denver's perspective, those picks are far out in the future, but there's a fair chance New York sucks in those years. It's probably 50/50 for any team playing right now to suck in those years unless they have a superstar talent that's under 24, and even then that player could change teams or get hurt by then.
Nothing they get in terms of present value is likely to help them all that much, so take a shot in the dark on the long future while staying far beneath the cap and bringing back one decent prospect in the process.
Follow this up with a trade of Chauncey Billups to Portland for Andre Miller, future draft picks, and young prospects as well (or a different team if someone outbids Portland, but they're such a logical destination). This plan completely tanks your team in the near future, allowing you to attempt to rebuild through the lottery while stocking yourselves with potential for the future and a crapload of cap flexibility.
However, none of that can get done without the new GM in place. He's not in place yet. As such, look for Anthony to stay put.
As for the Bulls best offer? Deng + Gibson + 3 1sts perhaps (2011, 2013, charlotte), it's not terrible, but there's very little chance of two of those picks being anything remotely worthwhile. The new Bulls would be a top four team in the NBA.
Deng's a starter, Gibson's a quality player on a great contract, but neither are going to turn the franchise around. They aren't good enough to win now, but they set your franchise up avoid being one of the worst teams as well stopping you from getting those elite lottery picks and perhaps leaving you in no mans land.
On the other hand, no mans land is probably more abhorrent to die hard fans than owners. While tanking in the lottery for a superstar sounds good in theory compared to late lottery or 1st round exits, in practice, it's highly unlikely that your team ever gets the star. Teams have tried this for a decade without ever landing a franchise player, and your sales are completely in the toilet for as long as the attempt is made.
In short, while a 1st round playoff exit is a terrible spot for a team to be year after year, 20 wins and not getting superstars is even worse when it comes to the profits and reputation. Only the die hard fans are going to sit by and watch a loser to hope for the next best thing. Your casual fan base is going to go to sleep, and it won't be easy to get them back.
All these factors will come into play, but before they do, there needs to be someone running the ship. Until that happens, Carmelo, the Nuggets, and those hoping for a trade will be in limbo.