Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov showed his hand and the Nuggets got greedy, while the writing on the wall said the Nuggets didn't have that power. That power is in the hands of Carmelo Anthony who, despite their peacocking, isn't as much 'theirs' to deal as they're posturing.
Before getting into the details, this guy is a badass: "I never met with Carmelo and I never spoke with him. Maybe he sent me an email, but I didn't see it. Or maybe the carrier pigeon got lost."
Carmelo Anthony's camp, undisputedly led by agency consultant William "World Wide Wes" Wesley, made it clear to the Nuggets organization that 'Melo would exercise the early termination clause in his contract after the 2010-11 season if he was still a Nugget. That was leaked to the press with his wish to only be traded to Chicago or New York and "New York" has generally been interpreted only as the Knicks.
'Melo's wishes were crucial because what it would cost to deal for him would be so much that no reasonable organization would finalize a deal without a signed contract extension negating the early termination possibility. That 'Melo would be promised to his new team on paper for what's been reported as three seasons after this one.
When the Nuggets demanded Joakim Noah in the Bulls package offer with Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, and a draft pick, the Bulls quickly -- and wisely -- walked away. They did so in a way that left no ambiguity to the rest of the league that the incredibly finite number of buyers had drastically shrunk when they extended Noah's contract.
The Nets stretched too far and Denver got greedy
With only one realistic buyer left, the Knicks lowballed and the Nuggets said no. Then, the Nets figured they could be aggressive carpetbaggers. They made huge offers that ended up as a 14-player deal that included a third party and draft picks. It was reported they were willing to gamble on their ability to convince 'Melo to sign an extension once he became a Net.
The Nuggets demanded another draft pick at the eleventh hour.
The Nuggets are a ridiculous mess of silliness and Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorv clearly got sick of Denver's presumptuousness. Enough to fly back from Russia and remove any ambiguity by calling a press conference to say he's told his management team to stop negotiations.
He added that this has taken too long -- a jab at Denver management. He said this had gotten too expensive -- a jab at their presumptuousness.
Prokhorov was willing to make a huge gamble to acquire 'Melo, but Denver continuously acted like they had more to offer than they did and when it was clear all they have is a rental, the Nets gave them the finger.
The Nets told the Knicks: you are the only buyer.
The Nets told the Nuggets: now you'll see what it's like to be the beggar.
Bulls and Knicks to the Nuggets: you know where to reach us
World Wide Wes reportedly went to Chicago hours before Prokhov's press conference to attempt courting the Bulls back into negotiations. (Wes' agency also represents Coach Tom Thibodeau, FYI.)
He's clearly doing this to act as if he isn't ignorant to Denver's will, but the Knicks don't seem to be fooled by all of this. They offered a package as large as Wilson Chandler, Anthony Randolph, Danilo Gallinari, and a draft pick to Denver. They've even included Landry Fields.
Unlike Prokhorov, Knicks President Donnie Walsh didn't extravagantly walk away from the table, but halting counter-offers was his way of saying: "We're being insanely generous with this offer, knowing we can simply sign 'Melo after the new collective bargaining agreement is signed. If you can get more for him to be rented, we'll still get him. If you can get more in a deal where 'Melo willingly signs an extension, LOL!"
Prokhorov gets it; Denver, not so much
The Nets are moving to Brooklyn and into a new building that right now has zero tickets sold. Prokhorov deserves applause for his aggressiveness, but there's a time to be aggressive and there are time to refuse being self-defeating.
This wasn't just the best basketball decision for the Knicks, but also the undoubtedly wisest business decision for the self-evident reasoning presented above. The Nets are doing the same after a more necessary heightened flamboyance, but there's that poker saying: if you don't who the sucker at the table is, you're the sucker.
Denver's been trying to make the Bulls, Knicks, and Nets all suckers. Only the Nuggets are left at that table with the Knicks and Nets taking a nap on the couch after saying, "Wake me when you're done shuffling and ready to deal."
I said the Nuggets posturing was going to come back to bite them in the ass and they'd be forced to relatively give 'Melo away to the Knicks. Despite dramatic leaks and what-nots week-by-week, the road is progressively leading to that because the Nuggets are stupid.
The Nuggets need this deal, not 'Melo. 'Melo is getting paid and playing for a contender, regardless.