Carmelo Anthony's wish list starts with the New York Knicks, but that's not the only trade destination he's targeting.
Sources briefed on the state of Anthony's ongoing push to be dealt by the Denver Nuggets told ESPN.com on Tuesday that the Chicago Bulls
are a firm 1A on his list. This is partly attributed to the fact that
the Bulls are much closer to assembling the sort of package Denver would
want in return for its franchise player than the Knicks.
last 72 hours, sources said, Anthony's representatives -- headed by
agent Leon Rose -- have been ramping up the pressure on the Nuggets to
complete a deal with the Knicks or the Bulls before training camps open
leaguewide next week.
Yet sources say that the message from Anthony's camp to the Nuggets has
stayed consistent: New York and Chicago are the preferred landing spots,
with New Jersey and Houston also still in the conversation.
Carmelo's order of preference here is irrelevant. If he'll sign an extension with NJ or Houston then how he feels about them vs NY or Chicago simply doesn't matter. Once you are on the list, your placement on the list is dependent on what you can give up in a trade package.
I'm not sure if Stein and Ford continue to gloss over this point, or whether there is just gray area on whether or not NJ/Houston are actually on the list.
I also fail to believe that Joakim Noah and Luol Deng trump NJ's offer of Favors and draft picks. If I was running a team it sure wouldn't. In this sense, the Bulls are smart in keeping Noah out of the deal. Even with him in the deal they won't beat NJ, but by keeping him out, if Carmelo refuses to sign an extension with NJ then he's not in the discussion for the next round where they can win without him in the deal perhaps.
The thing is, including Noah makes little sense for anyone. Joakim Noah isn't a player you rebuild with. He's a player you win with, however, he's also not the type of guy who can be the primary piece, which Denver would lack. He'd have a huge contract and wouldn't really help them all that much, while the lack of having him would kill Chicago.
Overall, I'll say the same thing I've always said. Chicago has no chance if Melo is willing to sign in NJ, and they are probably only break even odds otherwise. Despite what Melo wants, unless he has an additional hammer to hold over the Nuggets, the Nuggets have to take this thing to the trade deadline.
At the trade deadline, they will know how healthy Deng, Noah, and Gibson are and whether they're playing at a high level. At the deadline they'll have some incite into whether Derrick Favors is a bust or not, and they'll have a clue whether Anthony Randolph and Danilo Galinari have any shot at developing into legitimate desirable players.
The offers aren't likely to change at the deadline, but what they view as the best offer easily could. The only way Melo gets this done earlier, IMO, is if he flat out tells Denver, "these are my choices now, but if you wait until the deadline, I will limit the list even more", however in that case the teams likely to be taken off the list are NJ/Houston not NY/Chicago.
That means if he uses that leverage, the only reason the Nuggets push a trade now is if they like the NJ/Houston package and not the Chicago package which they are still best off waiting and seeing on, and neither the Bulls or Melo are likely to change their mind about each other in the next three months.