Preface: This is a long post but I think it's useful to get to the core of what we're looking for.
It's really an underlying argument to this entire trade process, but what type of rebuilding/assets would people prefer if Melo ends up demanding a trade and we do move him? There's a lot of definitions of rebuilding but I'll break them down into the following:
1) High Potential/High Risk Youngsters - Basically this means the Nuggets are looking for lottery ticket type players on rookie scale contracts. Names I've seen in trade talks that I include in this section would be Favors, Aminu, Griffin, T-Will, Hill, Gallinari, and Randolph. These guys all have enormously high ceilings but due to numerous factors, they have all have a pretty high degree of risk associated. Also, these players are all pretty highly valued by their own teams meaning the rest of the trade package would probably be pretty light. The idea behind this methodology is we get a potential franchise player to replace a franchise player or we stink so bad we'll have a high lottery pick in which case we'll have another opportunity at a franchise player. Super high risk involved regardless.
2) Medium Potential/Medium to Low Risk Youngsters - Players who are considered solid, contributing rotation players with little star potential on rookie scale contracts. Guys like Damion James, Patrick Patterson, Omri Casspi fill in this area. These types are already or probably will be solid rotation players as decent starters or good bench players. The Nuggets will likely be in the lottery with these players but not so horrendously bad we'll have a ton of ping pong balls. It's probable the Nuggets could get two players, potentially even three, of this type of caliber in any deal. The great hope is we can add another top-flight starter through another trade down the road.
3) Picks, picks, and more picks... and cap space - We eschew current young players on NBA rosters for those to be determined. Most "superstar" trades of the past fallen under this category. These trades will likely involve a lot of expiring contracts to accompany the draft picks. The Clippers, Houston, and New Jersey all have the ability to offer three 1st rounders in the next three years (assuming lottery protections don't kick in) plus 2nd rounders. The owed picks to these teams are all pretty intriguing (Clippers own Minnesota's unprotected 2012 1st, Houston owns NY's top 5 protected 2012 and swap rights in 2011, and New Jersey owns GS's 2012 top 7 protected) so there's at least the chance we may get very lucky with the lottery in addition to likely mid-late natural 1st round picks from those teams in 2011 and 2013. This option gives us a ton of cap flexibility and the ability to fashion a roster of our choosing through the draft picks. Still, there's a lot of risk assumed in this type of deal simply because draft picks are by nature unpredictable, both in what spot the pick will be and which players will be available, not to mention the actual development of the player. This option does also clear for a lot of cap space which grants us the ability to play as the third team in other teams deals picking up assets in that way (see. Houston deal with NY, Eric Maynor to OKC, Michael Beasley to Minnesota, etc) or by signing FA's.
4) Retooling, not rebuilding - In this case we're looking for packages around good starters who have already shown NBA ability. Kevin Martin, Aaron Brooks, Vince Carter, and Chris Kaman come to mind. It's likely the Nuggets will remain playoff contenders but extremely unlikely we're Championship contenders. This route has very little risk in the fact we'll never have to see the likes of Junior Harrington/Vincent Yarbrough/Ryan Bowen on the team wallowing in the cellar. Low risk, pretty low ceiling.
Those are the four main options I can see. While I realize most deals out there incorporate several facets of these deals, they generally all lean toward one category or another. We're not gonna see any "Favors, T-Will, James, Murphy, and 3 first-rounders" or "Griffin, Gordon, Kaman, 3 firsts type of offers" on the table which fulfill numerous options to the fullest. I'm curious what people's preference is.
I'm in the option 1 category. Just get me one potential franchise level player, risk and surrounding package be damned. I'm a believer that you have to have a franchise level player (not necessarily super-elite like Kobe, Durant, James, Wade, etc) or there's no real point in playing the game. Even if the player we trade for doesn't pan out, it's likely we're gonna have a very high lottery pick so we have a chance to get another franchise player that way. In an absolutely glorious and fortuitous world, the player we receive in the deal shows promise in the first year, we suck, get another high lottery pick, and then they both blossom together in year two or three. Basically what the Nets have now with Lopez, Favors and arguably T-Will or the Clippers with Gordon, Griffin and Aminu. The risk associated with this course is off the charts but I'm not content with just competing, I want championships. However, I completely understand when people run for the hills thinking we might end up like the 2002 Nuggets again and want a lower risk associated with any trade we make.