Could Reports 'Melo Will Only Sign Contract Extension With New York Actually Put Bulls Back in His Market?

Could Reports 'Melo Will Only Sign Contract Extension With New York Actually Put Bulls Back in His Market?

The Knicks are Carmelo Anthony's reported only choice, so now a trade with them is the Nuggets only option. The reasons could oddly put the Bulls back in the running.

Carmelo Anthony cannot be kept by the Denver Nuggets and reportedly will
only accept a trade to the New York Knicks, Chris Sheridan has been
reporting at ESPN
:

The source, using the most definitive language possible, confirmed
what has been widely speculated around the NBA over the past two months
as Anthony has been at the center of trade talks involving numerous
teams.

And while other franchises might be able to make better
offers, Anthony will not agree to sign anywhere long-term unless he is
dealt to New York, according to the source, who has been privy to
private discussions between Anthony, his representatives and the Nuggets
organization.

For over six months, Carmelo Anthony
has repeatedly refused to sign a three-year contract extension with the
Nuggets worth $65 million. His contract expires after this season and
Denver has been stuck with the options of trading him or losing him for
nothing as a free agent. That said, 'Melo has a player option worth over $18.5 million for next year -- almost $2 million more than he'd make in the first year of signing elsewhere as a free agent under the current collective bargaining agreement.

Of course, with the expiring contract
and the price of trading away what it would take to fulfill salary cap
obligations and comfort the Nuggets, no team will trade for 'Melo unless
he has a contract extension. It would simply be expensive in personnel
to rent 'Melo for the remainder of the season, uncertain where he will
sign as a free agent.

This places the power in 'Melo's hands because not having a contract extension is a de facto veto power over any trade. When it was clear the Nuggets couldn't keep him, 'Melo said he only wanted to be traded to Chicago or to the New York area.

The Bulls reportedly offered Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, and a first round draft pick, but Denver wanted Joakim Noah thrown into the deal with a contract extension, as well. Though the Bulls extended Noah's contract, it was implied that Noah wouldn't sign on as a sign-and-trade to Denver, ending the Bulls chances of a straight-up deal for 'Melo.

Rumors have surfaced of the Bulls as parties in three-way deals involving Charlotte and Philadelphia, but have never seemed to have significant teeth.

Reports have shied from suggesting the Absolutely Nots of New Jersey as legitimate candidates because -- well -- they're bad. So bad that what it would take to trade for 'Melo would deplete the team beyond being a squad on which 'Melo would want to play.

The logical one and only option is the Knicks and the Nuggets have feared this being publicized because it effectively kills all bargaining power with the Knicks. New York has reportedly offered a package as big as including Eddy Curry, Danilo Gallinari, Anthony Randolph, and a first-round draft pick. The news that they are the only legitimate shoppers could deflate their ambition to sweeten offers with a draft pick acquired by trading Randolph elsewhere and including well-performing starting rookie Landry Fields.

'Melo's making over $17 million, putting the Nuggets about $23 million over the salary cap, but the Knicks are about $2 million under the cap, so will only have to trade away a bit less than $15 million in contracts for a trade to be legal.

The Nuggets' greed has now come back to bite them in the ass and will probably be forced to take on the expiring $11+ million contract of Eddy Curry and Fields or Gallinari -- as opposed to definitely getting both or comparable players through a third party -- without getting a first round pick.

Monster fail.

As for 'Melo, it's stupid to hate on him. If he doesn't want to stay in Denver, you're proponent of slavery to act as if he's morally committed to stay anyway. Under the current collective bargaining agreement, he can make more money in a sign-and-trade than signing as a free agent -- not to mention a sign-and-trade is more beneficial to the Nuggets, as well. With the CBA expiring this summer and uncertainty as how long a potential lockout will be, it makes even more sense for 'Melo and the Nuggets to execute decisions as soon as possible.

Denver should've known this months ago. And to be honest, compared to how the Knicks will now make lowball efforts, Deng, Taj and a draft pick look damn good right now. Remember, the indication isn't that 'Melo is all of a sudden saying he'll refuse the Bulls, but the acknowledgment that the Nuggets' demand made the Bulls take themselves out.

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