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Weekly Optimism: So...you hear the one about Melo and the Knicks?

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You know the one where Melo decides to become a vendor at Madison Square Garden and sell hotdogs to adoring fans? Wait...maybe that one just occurred in my head. Oh well.

With speculation again running rampant after the Nuggets trip to the east coast, let's explore the Nuggets options going forward. Or lack thereof.

To be perfectly frank, the last 48 hours has been by far the MOST we have heard on the record about Carmelo Anthony's extension situation. The unfortunate part is once again it has come in a flurry of information that is processed, disseminated and debunked. All very quickly and all head spinningly contradictory.

From a recent report, Carmelo is  concerned about the Nuggets roster going forward. Then there is ESPN New York's Chris Sheridan's "report" from yesterday . Which was quickly debunked by Denver Post writer Benjamin Hochman, here. Basically we have Sheridan claiming that Melo will only sign the extension if he's traded to the Knicks, and then we have Hochman coming out saying that is not true based on a "league source".

I'm not tired of this per se. I'm just not surprised this stuff came out while the Nuggets were in New York, and this will most likely continue until the trade deadline if Melo remains in Denver with an unsigned extension. It's a very unfortunate fact of life and I sympathize with those who just want it to be over with. December 15th is just around the corner, and newly signed free agents from this past off-season, will then be eligible to be traded. This changes the dynamic of the Nuggets position with Melo in a way that can wield a bit of leverage back in the Nuggets' direction. Before I dissect that, let me just state unequivocally the only two options left (in my opinion):

 

1. The Nuggets trade Carmelo with no extension signed as a "rental" player with less haul, but more flexibility to pursue desperate teams looking to make a playoff push or the crazy ones that think they can convince Melo to ink an extension on their own.

OR

2. Melo has a change of heart and signs the extension and stays (albeit a long shot).

 

Melo has a simple choice. Stay with the Nuggets or get traded to a place you don't necessarily want to be. The Nuggets are dead serious, and are not afraid to trade Melo to Charlotte (I maintain that the more the Nuggets push this option, if true, the more it benefits the Nuggets) or another NBA outpost. There's simply no other option. The Knicks have actually grown quite conflicted on trade prospects, and as this article in Newsday states, they kinda like their team now. If Melo wants to be a Knick, he may have to do it via free agency, which would be cheaper for the Knicks anyway. As was proven today, the Knicks don't necessarily need Anthony to be a winning team. 

Yet, as Melo himself said, "signing the extension is important." So his options are limited to the Nuggets if he wants the $65 million. Otherwise the Nuggets get what they can via a "rental" trade to whomever has the most attractive package of expirings and young players.The New Jersey Nets, god bless 'em, will remain dogged in their pursuit of Melo. You have to admire their ability to stick with it. In a way, the NJ trade seems to be the best option for the Nuggets (Derrick Favors, Troy Murphy, a couple of first round picks) if they have to lose Melo, but a confluence of circumstances has diminished the possibility of this trade going through although it will remain an option as long as the Nets want the offer on the table.

As pointed out by reader runningdonut, the longer this plays out the longer it will eat Melo's teammates up. It's already affected the play of Chauncey Billups (in my opinion) and it's only a matter of time before it wears on the others. While I appreciate this fact, I don't see this endgame playing out until just before the trade deadline in February. By then, a desperate team owner (I'm looking at YOU Mark Cuban) will make a ridiculous trade proposal that's too good to pass up. Then the Nuggets will pounce.

Now there's mitigating factors. The Knicks recent hauteur may be a bargaining chip to get the Nuggets to bring down their asking price (currently Danilo Gallinari, Landry Fields, Eddy Curry's expiring contract and a pick from another team) because  they perceive that they have the Nuggets over a barrel. I doubt this is the case. They think they can get Melo as a free agent so why would they trade for him now. Another mitigating issue is the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and the potential that existing contracts may be rolled back anyway. This would certainly ease the pressure to sign the extension if contracts are going to be retroactively rolled back. I'm not sure the NBA Players Association will allow this to happen, but you never know.

All-in-all, I've got to say I really don't know what will happen. If you would have asked me the day before yesterday I would have said Melo will sign the extension ... now, I'm just not sure. I hope he does. Still. He's been my favorite player on the Nuggets since his rookie season and part of me doesn't want to give up the guy who saved basketball in Denver.

At the same time, optimistically speaking, my hope is that the Nuggets make the best of this and have a good season. Melo will be here for a couple months more (I believe this in my gut) so why not go out and enjoy it? Don't hold grudges, don't be angry. It's been almost eight great years and I for one don't regret a single moment.

For what it's worth, here's Melo's last tweet (re-tweeted from teamcarmelo15) from last night:

 

"IF U FOLLOWING ME PLZ STOP WITH THE @carmeloanthony RUMORS! I KNOW FOR FACT THAT EVERYTHING Y'ALL HEARING ISN'T TRUE. SO PLZZZ STOP!!"

http://twitter.com/carmeloanthony

 

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