You know your favorite sport has gone off the rails when there's more attention focused on press conferences than anything that actually happens on the court.
Bring on the lockout.
Bring on the franchise tag.
The system is broken.
The two most dramatic moments of the 2010-11 NBA season came on July 8th and January 19th. The first date being when LeBron James callously announced to the world that he had hand-picked the Heat to be his next NBA destination, and the second being when Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov announced that any deal for Carmelo Anthony would be nixed. That's right, the second most dramatic moment of the 2010-11 NBA season came from a press conference announcing something that wasn't happening.
Given that the Nets' proposed offer of Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, Anthony Morrow and a pair of first round picks was about as good as the Nuggets were going to get for Melo, Prokhorov's announcement was disappointing to those (like me) who were ready to move on from the Melodrama already and I suspect shocking to those working on the deal. As Denver Stiffs reader "Teekalong" aptly commented in my recap of the Thunder game: "Man I miss caring about the score at the end of the game."
What I don't understand in the wake of all this is why the Nuggets and Nets went so far down the aisle together without knowing for certain whether or not Melo would say "I do" when they got to the altar. If Melo was never a serious about re-signing with the Nets, why spend all the months, the hours and the brain damage needed to get this deal put together? Nuggets president Josh Kroenke and general manager Masai Ujiri are getting criticized by many (ok, most) of our readers for being too greedy, but I'm not sure it was the Nuggets' greed that killed this deal. Could it be possible that all sides were duped into thinking Melo would be a Net by Melo's representatives Leon Rose and William Wesley (aka Worldwide Wes)?
It seems to me like Kroenke/Ujiri worked tirelessly with Nets general manager Billy King (and with Rose and Wesley) to construct a deal that actually worked for all sides. And in a strictly business sense, the Carmelo Anthony/Chauncey Billups-for-Devin Harris/Derrick Favors/Anthony Morrow/first round picks deal did. The Nuggets would have gotten the young talent, cap relief and picks they desired while the Nets would have gotten the star power they desired plus able veterans to convince said star to re-sign long term.
But what killed a seemingly decent (not great, but decent) deal for the Nuggets were several factors (in no particular order).
First, Rose and Wesley were trying to do what was best for Rose and Wesley rather than what was best for Melo. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I wouldn't be surprised if Rose and Wesley were going to find an extra pile of rubles in their bank accounts had they delivered Melo to Prokhorov and the Nets.
Second, the Nets and Melo's representatives couldn't keep their mouths shut. With all the leaks to the press coming from New Jersey and elsewhere back east, it made it virtually impossible for Kroenke/Ujiri and King to quietly get a sense from Melo if New Jersey was ever a viable destination or not. Had Melo not been blindsided by a reporter telling him for the first time that a Prokhorov/Melo meeting was in the works, perhaps Melo would have been more open to sitting down with Prokhorov in the first place. As reported by FanHouse's Chris Tomasson, now Melo is claiming that he "would have loved" to meet the big Russian, but his defiant disregard for such a meeting just days ago likely prompted Prokhorov to call the whole thing off for fear of being embarrassed by a 26 year old athlete.
Third, in addition to the deal being "too expensive" as Prokhorov said Wednesday, Kroenke/Ujiri and King took too long to get this complex deal put together which exacerbated the second problem with the publicness of it all. I still maintain that a behind-closed-doors, under-the-radar, face-to-face with Prokhorov could have persuaded Melo to become a Net, but maybe I just like Prokhorov a hell of a lot more than Melo ever would. But by the time the press was all over the Prokhorov-is-coming-to-meet-Melo story, Prokhorov and the Nets couldn't risk the public humiliation had Melo said "nyet." (This is most unfortunate for me as I was hoping to host Prokhorov at the new Jake's restaurant...now I don't know what to do with all that extra vodka we ordered.)
And fourth, Melo's apparent reticence to give a straight answer about what he really wants for his future left Prokhorov and the Nets to finally say "enough is enough" and continues to leave the Nuggets scrambling for a deal. Now nearly seven months into this never-ending Melodrama and we still don't know what Melo really wants. Is winning a championship his number one priority? Is living on the east coast his number one priority? Is signing that $64 million extension his number one priority?
But beyond the specifics of the Melodrama which, frankly, I'm damn tired of, the whole situation points to a league-wide system that's broken, ranging from how revenue is shared among owners themselves to the collective bargaining agreement between the owners and their players. The only way to dampen this type of drama is to institute a system where all 30 NBA teams can actually make money and keep their superstars, too.
A hybrid of an NFL/MLB-type revenue sharing system combined with an NFL-type collective bargaining agreement (that, yes, includes franchise-tagging star players) is the best path to getting the outcomes of the games themselves to be of more importance than the outcomes of press conferences.
Here's a rundown of links in the aftermath of Prokhorov's press conference...
Even With Nets Out of Picture, Carmelo Still Expects to Be Traded -- NBA FanHouse
Chris Tomasson catches up with Melo after the Thunder game and gets Melo on the record about being traded, meeting with Prokhorov and the inevitable distractions to come in the weeks ahead.
Kiszla: Nuggets on the clock to trade Anthony after Nets say no - The Denver Post
Mark Kiszla puts the blame on the Kroenkes for asking too much and taking too long.
No guarantee New York Knicks get Carmelo Anthony in trade with Denver Nuggets - ESPN New York
The Nets passed on Melo. Great news for the Knicks, right? Not so fast.
Young NBA Stars Learning From Carmelo's and LeBron's Mistakes -- NBA FanHouse
Danny Granger watches the LeBron and Melo situation closely and notes that the "grass isn't always greener." And he plays for the wretched Pacers!
Prokhorov ends Nets' pursuit of Anthony - NBA - Yahoo! Sports
Adrian Wojnaworski "reports" that with the Nets out of the picture, the Bulls might be back in the picture. Oy.
Nets end Carmelo madness in abrupt, savvy fashion - NBA - CBSSports.com Basketball
Ken Berger says Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov shows he is no fool by putting a stop to the charade that Carmelo Anthony was ever going to New Jersey. Now the Nuggets must decide what to do with Melo.
Charley Rosen: New York Should Nix Carmelo Pursuit -- NBA FanHouse
Rosen explains why Melo-to-the-Knicks isn't as great as it sounds on the court.
Carmelo Anthony doesn't want to be seen like LeBron James, but act with Nets trade can't help image
Carmelo Anthony has gone on record more than a few times this season, saying that he doesn't want to repeat Leon James' mistake and become the bad guy in his never-ending soap opera about where he's headed.
NBA: Carmelo Anthony drama's biggest myths - ESPN
Let's address some of the biggest myths floating around concerning Carmelo Anthony's situation.