Ian Thomsen: Adding Carmelo still leaves Nets short of title contention - Sports Illustrated

Adding Carmelo still leaves Nets short of championship contention

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As the Nets appear to close in on a long-speculated trade for Carmelo Anthony, all parties are waiting for final word from Anthony on whether he would commit to an extension with New Jersey.

The proposed three-team deal would plug Anthony into the New York market as early as 2012-13, when the Nets are hoping to move to Brooklyn. In the meantime Anthony would spend the remainder of this season and next season (pending an anticipated lockout) at the team's interim Newark location -- not an ideal circumstance to him.

Would the Nets be able to build a contender around him? The proposed deal would cost them two first-round picks as well as power forward Derrick Favors (the No. 3 pick in last year's draft) and former All-Star point guard Devin Harris. In addition, Chauncey Billups has made it clear he will seek a buyout if he is sent to New Jersey in the deal.

That would leave the Nets with a core of 26-year-old Anthony at small forward, 32-year-old shooting guard Rip Hamilton and center Brook Lopez, 22. The deal would also eat into their cap space and leave them short on draft picks.

They would celebrate beating the Knicks in the race to acquire Anthony, and yet they wouldn't be viewed as contenders on the same tier as Miami, Orlando or Boston (though the Celtics are a short-term concern as they will be turning over their elderly roster after next season).

Anthony can put a stop to the trade by refusing to make a long-term commitment to New Jersey. He could force the Nuggets to pursue a deal with the Knicks, who, according to a league source, are not willing to surrender all of their young talent -- Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Landry Fields -- in order to acquire Anthony.

If Anthony essentially vetoes the move to New Jersey, then the Nuggets will be left to consider three options: A deal with the Knicks -- long thought to be Anthony's preferred destination -- that will return fewer assets to Denver; a lesser deal to another team willing to "rent'' Anthony for the remainder of this season, with the unlikely hope of convincing him to sign an extension; or a decision to hold onto Anthony in hope that he will either agree to an extension with Denver or participate in a sign-and-trade after the season that could bring assets to the Nuggets.

It makes sense for Detroit to be trying to unload Hamilton's $21.5 million commitment over the next two seasons, not only for cap relief but also to end his unhappy relationship with coach John Kuester. Should the proposed deal be consummated then the Nets will also be happy to have a Top-10 talent in Anthony, while the Nuggets will have assets in Favors and draft picks with which to rebuild.

But the Nets cannot be expected to surrender those goods without Anthony's consent. That is the main reason why this proposal may ultimately dissolve.