Unfortunately, I believe Carmelo is going to join LeBron and Bosh as a case study for the current and future generation of GM's on how to not build a team surrounding a young superstar. I'd like to outline this case study in hopes that Ujiri and Kroenke learn from past mistakes in hopes of never repeating them again when we get another young superstar. Please note, the following guidelines are for surrounding a franchise level player in their 20's. The younger the superstar, the more these maxims should apply. Older superstars have a different (but still fairly close) set of rules.
1) "Win-Now" is a fallacy. You cannot build a team that's designed to win now, at least not with superstars in their prime. Every time a young or future asset is traded away for a veteran, short of a true, legitimate #2 option or better, it's a mistake. The reason the Nuggets and Cavaliers have failed is because of their inability to look at the long-term and instead, focused completely on the now. If a young or future asset is traded for a different young or future asset, this is acceptable.
2) Contracts, contracts, contracts. Financial flexibility is everything. That's not to say you always need to hoard cap space, but instead, do not lock yourself into numerous players on contracts for anything over 2 years. Front offices need to correctly identify their 2-3 building blocks and lock them in. Everything, and I mean everything, else is expendable. Also in this section is the critical need to have several players on rookie scale contracts. Rookie scale contracts are one of the few true sources of value in the league as you not only own the rights to the player, but you also have them locked in for low salaries and team options, giving you the ability to spend elsewhere and the flexibility to move or drop the young players at your discretion. 3-4 players on the 12 man roster should always be on rookie scale contracts. Also, anybody on your bench past your 8th man should be on a rookie scale contract or earning the veteran's minimum. Your top 3 players should be taking 60% of your payroll, players 4-7 should be taking 30% of your payroll, the last 5 players should be taking 10% of your payroll. At any given time, only 3-4 players should have guaranteed contracts past 2 years (team options or non-guaranteed years are acceptable as well and not counted towards the 3-4 players).
3) Asset management. In addition to cap management and contracts, general asset management must be a critical priority at all times. This is obvious on the surface, but harder to perform in real life. The collection of young assets and draft picks not only allows for the ability to replenish the roster with cheap players, it also also for trade assets. The more assets a team acquires, the more flexibility they create with future potential trades. The front office must always be able to balance future assets vs. current, leaning toward future if there is ever a question.
4) Above else, do not pander towards your superstar. Build your team. Follow your blueprint. Players are just that, players. Their desire to win on a night-in and night-out basis is the reason they're your superstar, but that's also the reason they're not your GM. Players simply lack the patience and foresight to build a team. Make a 3 year plan with another 2 year's worth of contingency. Forecast, don't react.
Hopefully the Nuggets will have another young superstar in the very near future and I pray they follow these guidelines in rebuilding the Nuggets. Otherwise, we might just be walking down this same road in the not to distant future.