A New ‘Melo Deal in the Works?

Lots of chatter overnight about a new mix in teams involved in talks that could potentially land Carmelo Anthony, Chauncy Billups and Richard Hamilton with the Nets at the end of the day. There are LOTS of people reporting this right now, so let me try and take some inventory and hopefully nobody gets lost in the process.

Nets beat writer Al Iannazzone was the first one on top of this story late last night after the Nets were embarrassed by the Washington Wizards. In a nutshell, here’s what Al believes could be going down:

In the complicated scenario that’s being discussed, the Nets would send Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and at least two first-round picks to Denver and Troy Murphy’s expiring contract to the Pistons. In return, the Nets would get Anthony and Chauncey Billups from the Nuggets and likely Richard Hamilton from the Pistons, who are looking to shed salary. Hamilton has two years and $25 million remaining on his contract.

There are many more players involved, including Anthony Morrow going to Denver and Johan Petro to Detroit — to make the salaries match. But this is one of multiple things the Nets are discussing in an effort to land Anthony.

Fred Kerber believes Detroit Pistons rookie Terrico White could also end up with the Nets, while the Daily News Frank Isola, who I believe just yesterday conceded that LeBron James was not coming to the Knicks (just kidding, Frank), thinks there could be potentially 12 players involved in this deal before it’s all said and done. Dan Feldman of True Hoop blog Piston Powered also offers some terrific potential breakdowns to demonstrate exactly how many players need to move where.

Adding more girth to this story, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski is not reporting on the impetus behind this proposed mega-deal:

Anthony’s agent, Leon Rose, also represents Hamilton, and sources said he pushed Nets general manager Billy King to bring the Pistons into trade talks with New Jersey and the Denver Nuggets. Anthony has wanted the Nets to upgrade their roster upon his arrival for him to sign a three-year, $64 million contract extension.

“Leon is driving this one,” one front-office executive told Yahoo! Sports on Friday night.

And the end game in all this? Woj reports whoever ends up acquiring ‘Melo is a front-runner to get Chris Paul in due time (probably before the start of the 2012 season when the Nets start in Brooklyn).

Nothing is imminent here, so don’t get your hopes up about seeing something go down this weekend, but the fact that so many people are on this story is a very big indicator of its legitimacy. I also give credence to it because Iannazzone was the first guy out of the gate with it, not Chris Broussard, Chris Sheridan or anyone else who’s not around the Nets the way Al is. Plus, once Woj gets involved, you know something is up.

As for the deal itself, while I’ve been very critical of some of the other proposed trades out there, this is one iteration I could support. If the Nets are going to give up so much to get Anthony, it has to come at the cost of dramatically changing the face of their roster. Draining all of your first round picks and assets like Derrick Favors and Devin Harris just to drop Anthony alongside Brook Lopez and a bunch of bench players would be a disaster and I couldn’t imagine a scenario where Anthony would even agree to come here to play for that team. But if you bring Billups and Hamilton into the mix, with a wink-wink, nudge-nudge promise of Paul in another year or so, then that idea is a winner.

The drawback? Man, that team is going to be old. Hamilton and Billups have definitely lost a step since their 2004 championship season and the Nets will be left with Miami Heat-esque depth if one of those guys goes down for the long haul. However, I’m on the record in saying if they have to do a trade for Anthony, this is the trade they HAVE to do, not that putrid three-way involving Cleveland that was being brandied about last week.