If Chauncey Billups remains with the Nuggets if or when Carmelo Anthony is traded, the outcome could mirror the Phoenix Suns this year. With Amar'e Stoudemire leaving for New York, it appears Suns fans are left wondering about their teams rebuilding process. Should they go ahead and deal their soon to be 37 year-old point guard, Steve Nash, while he still has value and truly rebuild? That's the debate on Bright Side of the Sun, sound familiar? It could if Billups stays.
The particulars ...
Denver: 20-16 (15-4 at home)
Streak: Lost 3 and 4-6 in last 10 games.
Phoenix: 15-20 (6-11 on the road)
Streak: Won 1 and 3-7 in last 10.
Denver: Kenyon Martin (left knee), Chris Andersen (right knee), Ty Lawson (left knee strain), Al Harrington (lower back strain) are all listed as Day-to-Day.
Phoenix: Gani Lawal (torn ACL) is out.
Opposition's Take: Bright Side of the Sun
So, I hear there is a game at the Pepsi Center Tuesday night. Does anyone care about the results?
I'm pretty interested to see how Melo is received by the home crowd, how Billups is received, what sort of signs are around The Can and I guess by the end result Tuesday night too. Just three games ago happiness was found around Nuggets Nation as the team was finally getting healthy, a little win streak was taking shape, but then the Nuggets took to the road and did what they usually do ... played like crap.
And as things have gone this season ... when the Nuggets lose the MeloDrama heats up!
We have Melo's post-practice video comments about all the recent trade talk and trying to focus on this Suns game, we have Yahoo! Sports reporting that Denver is threatening to deal Melo to the Knicks if the Nets don't stop leaking information on a trade and we have a game Tuesday night.
Who will the Nuggets have in uniform tonight? Lawson, Andersen, K-Mart and Big Al all have their names in the injury report above and George Karl's interesting lineups might get even more interesting. Well, I assume that if Lawson isn't able to go that Karl will toss Anthony Carter into the crunch time lineup again because ... well, you know, he's been key for Denver down the stretch all season long in his eight games played.
The Nuggets rollercoaster ride of a season continues to have its ups-and-downs and it wouldn't surprise me if the Nuggets came out and looked great and won by 10+ points. I also wouldn't be surpised if Denver came out tonight and looked as bad as they did against the Clippers, Kings and Hornets recently and lost by 10+ points.
When Karl first arrived in Denver it took him awhile to get a set rotation going as he learned the player combinations that worked for his system. This year the Nuggets have dealt with so many injuries and off-the-court stuff that Karl has had to juggle lineups so much that it has effected the ability of the team to gel and get their defined roles going. Sure, the MeloDrama doesn't help as nobody knows what's going on behind the scenes, but make no mistake that the constant lineup changes, different guys missing time and guys only able to play certain minutes because they are coming back from injury has taken its toll on this team.
Yes, 20-16 is a disappointment on paper when you look at Denver's talent level, but there really isn't anything bonding this team together and they have still been able to maintain a winning record (at least at home). Just imagine your own job and the limitations that would take place and the chaos that would ensue with so many people missing days of work. What would a house look like if only the roofers showed up and the foundation guys were no-shows. What if your surgeon was about ready to cut into you, but you realized you hadn't yet had any anesthesia because the anesthesiologist was at home throwing his/her guts up.
As it stands now, the Nuggets have a three-game lead on both the 17-21 Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies who both currently sit in the No. 9 spot out West. Denver also has a one-game lead on the No. 8 Portland Trail Blazers. While many folks want the Melo trade to be completed so the team can focus on the future, there is still a good chance that Denver, post-Melo, can be in the playoff hunt or at least keep the team they are trading him to down a bit so they can get a higher draft pick after the season. Any NBA fan should know that a team's fortunes can turn around in a hurry with the right draft pick ... like Melo in Denver for instance. Ironic?
While many in Nuggets Nation will ask what the point is of making the playoffs, or even trying, this season is without Melo on board, I will offer this. The front office sure wants to make the post-season and suck some additional revenue out of everyone. In a post-Melo Nuggets world it could be awhile before the Nuggets get another popular national star and the front office knows it.
My biggest concern with all this MeloDrama: what is going on with the front office behind the scenes? If Masai Ujiri and company are so easily parting with Billups, then rebuilding the team on the fly is no longer an option. Dealing Billups and possibly Harrington in a Melo deal shows that the Nuggets will go into a deep rebuild. My thought of the Harrington signing was that he'd be Melo's stop-gap replacement at small forward if Melo left. But now with talk that Big Al could be dealt as well, I wonder what the front office has been telling Melo.
Lots of us are quick to say that Melo wants to go to a big market and that he wants to play for the New York Knicks. I can't be sure because I don't know, but I'd love to know what the conversations have been between Melo and whomever Denver's front office is having talk to him. Can we say for certain that the front office has done all they can to keep Melo here with their long-term blueprints? Has Melo been left with the choice of re-signing in Denver and the team undergoing a bit of a rebuild during his prime? Does Melo really want to leave a team with a veteran point guard, a spark plug point guard off the bench, a borderline all-star center and more than capable wings? I am hesitant to pile a lot of blame on Melo wanting to go to a big market when I don't know the cards the Denver front office is showing him.
The decisions in Phoenix were a bit easier to make. The Suns basically chose to let Stoudemire walk instead of paying him big money for five seasons. Their veteran point guard, Nash, has publically stated he wants to stay in Phoenix despite the end of the Suns dominance taking place. Now it's the Suns' fans who seem to be rooting for their star to jump off the sinking ship and there appears to be a split on folks wanting to deal Nash to help the team's future and those who want to hang onto him and see the team try to keep going.
I didn't write about the Nuggets until just a couple seasons ago, but I have watched the team since my childhood. Whatever transition period we will see should be a very interesting one and one that, for awhile, could have Nuggets Nation in some great debates about how the team should proceed.
All we know going forward is that there will be a game Tuesday night ... but will the winner even win at all?