As I’m sure you’ve all seen, Billy King and the Nets are once again coming to the table to try to deal for the elusive and desired Carmelo Anthony. Oh, and by Billy King and the Nets, I really mean Leon Rose, Anthony’s agent. You can check the details here from Mark, but the trade for Melo basically entails the Nets giving up Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Troy Murphy, a couple of first-rounders, possibly Johan Petro and Anthony Morrow. In turn, we get the efficient scoring of Anthony, Chauncey Billups, and Richard “Rip” Hamilton. Umm, okay. I personally don’t like this trade although it’s probably the best one compared to previous alleged offers. However, why would the Nets want to get old like this?
I get it, the Nets stink and I’m level-headed enough to admit it. I mean, it’s kind of empirical if you watched last night’s game against the Washington Wizards! My kid, who roots for the Nets when they’re not playing the Celtics, was filled with that child-like optimism thinking that the Nets could come back after a horrendous first quarter, but being an adult with enough jaded experiences in life, knew they wouldn’t. Sometimes I think the front office acts the same way my kid did… kind of delusional.
If Billy King and company really think that Carmelo Anthony is going to make enough of a difference with the current roster or a new one that includes a 32 (Rip) and 34-year-old (Billups) and no bench, well, that to me is equivalent to taking a trip to the Joshua Tree out west and shrooming it up. Granted, Billups’ contract is up after this season and Rip’s has two years and $25 million left, which will come off the books in time for a potential Chris Paul free-agency run, but I still think it’s a bad deal, relatively a good one, sure, compared to aforementioned Melo deals, but bad nonetheless.
I guess I’m old-fashioned in believing that if you have a good organization and a good coach, you can actually develop players. Imagine that! I know that that’s supposed to be done in college, but we all know that college ball is all about money and preparing players to make more money. A good number of coaches don’t care about their players’ development knowing that said super-talented player will leave after a year anyway. No longer do you have deep connections that you’ve seen in the past of players with coaches such as Dean Smith, Louie Carnesecca, Bobby Knight, the late John Wooden and all of the old greats. Well, there’s Mike Krzyzewski actually. However, you get my drift.
In any case, mixed with developing young talent, you need some veterans and using free agency is a good way to add some leadership and experience, hopefully more of the former. Billups is undoubtedly a leader and could help a team, but his time will be up come April and he can sign anywhere. Will the Nets re-invest in a 34-year-old point guard? Billups is no Jason Kidd or Steve Nash and a recent surge since coming back from injury aside, Billups has been having a bad season. Do I think he can turn things around? Definitely… if he stays with the Nuggets where there are some nice complementary pieces and a competent back-up point guard. I’d just rather not bother with Billups and even moreso, Hamilton. I’ve been a fan of Rip since his UConn days, but think that he’d be more effective as a bench scorer as just a perimeter guy. I’m not knocking perimeter guys because Ray Allen is awesome, but Hamilton is no Jesus, which is appropriate since he won’t save any franchise moving forward in his career.
That all said, I do like Melo, but not at the price the Nets are paying. If the team could keep Harris and/or Favors instead of trading them, I’d love this trade. I know, I’m being selfish and dreaming in thinking that a professional basketball team would actually give in to my whims. But, hey, if Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke can do it, why can’t I?
I don’t think the Nets will get to the playoffs if this trade goes down. The Nets are in too deep of a hole and the team would be giving up too much as to not have a good rotation going. And if you say this trade is for the future of the Nets, well, other than Melo, it really isn’t. Billups and Hamilton are burdens in this trade for the Nets just so they can get Melo. We all know this, especially since Billups will be gone in a few months and Hamilton after another full season at a bad value.
All of the eggs are in the Melo basket and with better talent, he never got past the first round in six of his seven seasons. I know it’s an old argument and perhaps overused, but it is what it is. When a team has Melo as its main man, nothing great will happen. Good, sure. Very good, I’ll buy it. Great, no way. And guess what, Melo knows it too. Why do you think he is demanding to be joined by other star players wherever he ends up?
I’ve followed basketball for a long time (a quarter of a century) and I know championship teams can’t just have one superstar and that’s it to win. Teams with rings need a complementary star and excellent role players as well. The exception may be Billups and Hamilton’s championship Pistons team as they didn’t have any superstars by the regular world’s definition, but had the aforementioned duo, the best defensive player in Ben Wallace, and great role players. My way of thinking, and I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with me, I don’t think Melo is a superstar. Superstars take teams on their backs and hold themselves accountable for every bad thing that happens. And when good things happen? They praise their teammates. For all intents and purposes, Anthony wants to leave his current teammates and they haven’t even won anything. Ever.
So, I’ve been doing a lot of complaining and crapping on this trade proposal and it has to be asked. What the hell would I do then? Go young. Young teams such as the current Nets squad stink. It’s just natural. But, eventually, these young guys get a solid season or two under their belts and get better. I truly believe it can happen here.
Brook Lopez has had an easy going of it in his development, but has hit a rough patch this season, which I think he can overcome and only be better for it – developmentally and mentally. Anthony Morrow is getting his opportunities and has the talent and easy-going demeanor to get better and not let anything get him down. And a big reason I don’t like any Melo trade, Favors has shown some really great ability in establishing position, a willingness on both man and help defense, athleticism for days, and a blue collar attitude despite being a subject of trade rumors since he took the floor in a Nets practice jersey. This young trio is a great base to build around – a player who has been mentioned as one of the best up-and-coming bigs, one of the best three-point shooters of all-time, and the youngest player in the league who compares favorably to Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett (fouls aside).
Theoretically, the Nets have five first round draft picks in the next two NBA Drafts, but considering the protection factor for the Golden State Warriors (lottery-protected in 2011, top 11-protected in 2012) and Houston Rockets (lottery-protected in 2012), the only realistic additional first round pick will be the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2011 first round pick (top 18-protected). Currently, the Nets would pick fifth in the draft and if trades, particularly this Melo trade, don’t come through, it’s realistic the Nets will pick in the top five through eight spots. And if karma decides to be good to the team after last year’s draft lottery torture, maybe the Nets will have the first overall pick! Okay, probably not… well, hopefully. So, which youngster would be available and fit the Nets as currently constructed?
Kentucky’s star freshman Terrence Jones will likely be available with the Nets first pick in the first round. He’s a 6’8″ wing that can slash to the hoop, hit the mid-range jumper, finish at the rim and in transition, an excellent passer, solid NBA-ready body and never stops. If I’m the Nets, he’s the dream choice, especially considering how four and five heavy the draft will likely be.
If the Nets get a pick in the latter half of the lottery, UCLA’s Tyler Honeycutt fits. He’s 6’8″ with a smooth athletic game. Honeycutt has excellent mechanics on his shot, a long wingspan, is slippery around the rim, intense, and has the tools to be an excellent defender.
And while he’s dropped due to high expectations unfulfilled, Harrison Barnes, the preseason top freshman and even AP All America first-teamer (talk about expectations) will be amongst the top picks. There’s some talent there with the Nets’ first pick in the first round and I’d be happy with any of the three above, particularly Jones whom I think can make an immediate impact in the NBA.
So, with the second pick from the Lakers, who will be available? The pick will probably be 25th or higher, but there’s still some intriguing picks. A pair of point guards come to mind immediately and both are playmakers. Brandon Knight, Kentucky’s other big frosh recruit, can put the ball in the basket at a legit lead guard height (6’3″) can create for others nicely and was considered one of the top players during his prep career. Duke’s Nolan Smith, also 6’3″ with long arms, is more of the traditional passing point guard and possesses both a high basketball IQ and pedigree (Oak Hill Academy and Duke). He’s not a spectacular player but solid overall and would be able to run an NBA team from a bench position right away.
Obviously, there is still a lot of time in order to assess the draft, but the aforementioned are very good players and would add to a young Nets team. Will they stink again in the 2011-12 season? Maybe, but just like the constant Melo trade rumors, who knows? I think it’s worth the shot to try to build from the inside with a solid base of players, as opposed to putting it all on one with the hope of getting Chris Paul. Hope only got the Nets so far during the magical 2010 summer of free agency.
Melo is a money-grab in order to sell tickets for the Nets’ future home in Brooklyn. But, I guarantee that that arena will be rocking regardless during the first season, maybe even the second… just in time for that young group to have matured and earn the borough’s love. Maybe even the NBA’s.