With Carmelo Anthony’s extension still remains unsigned, it seems like the Denver Nuggets may need to start planning for life after Carmelo.
It’s tough because Denver has a team that can compete with the Los Angeles Lakers in the West, especially with Carmelo Anthony at the helms. However, if the Nuggets need to go in a new direction with their squad they need be on the proactive and avoid another Dikembe Mutombo situation again.
But the issue remains when do you give up on Anthony signing the extension? Do you give up all hope and trade him before the season? Or do you start the season with Anthony and give this squad one last hurrah and if it doesn’t seem to work out trade him before the deadline? Or hold on to him until next summer and take a chance on losing him for nothing?
In all three scenarios there remains the issue – will the Nuggets get a fair offer since there is no guarantee that Anthony will play with any team, outside of the New York Knicks, next season? There are only two teams that could peak Anthony’s attention enough for him to sign an extension to play there – Chicago and New York. Both teams are back East and both seem to have the ideal team to compete – at least on paper that is. While other teams are interested in Anthony, they may not be willing to give up a lot to get the superstar – but there are numerous options to replace Anthony in Denver:
DANILO GALLINARI/ANTHONY RANDOLPH: Any package involving Anthony to New York has to involve these two players. And put them together and you get a 21-year-old, uber-athletic forward who is one of the top shooters in the NBA and has potential to be a top defender in the League. Apart, Gallinari, who just turned 22, is a solid role player but at best will be a good shooter in the NBA. In his first two seasons he has nearly shot .39 percent from behind the arc. He scored his career-high 31 points last season versus the Boston Celtics and has been compared to a young Toni Kukoc. But Gallinari’s athletic ability limits his potential. Randolph, only 21, has more star potential but he has a lot to learn about the game. His athletic ability is out of the roof and he has potential to be one of the top defenders in the NBA, but he is very raw. They would be a good start to the Nuggets rebuilding.
After two seasons the duo has averaged:
Gallinari-109 games, 12.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, .426% FG, .389% 3-pt, .829% free throw
Randolph-96 games, 9.2 points, 6 rebounds, .9 assists, .73 steals, 1.3 blocks, .454% FG, .758 FT%
LOUL DENG: Deng, while he isn’t along the same level as Anthony, he is a poor man’s version of the superstar. Deng definitely isn’t as good offensively of Anthony, but who is. However, Deng can score points, and can do it consistently. He scored 20-plus in 28 games and played his best ball in the playoffs when he had 20 or more points in three contests and spending much of the time guarding LeBron James. Deng is a long player, and is much better on the defensive side of the ball and is a very good rebounder – especially for a small forward. While Deng has a good basketball IQ, he isn’t fluid with the basketball and isn’t a very good ball-handler. Now the question would be who else would Chicago part with to get Anthony? No doubt the Nuggets would want the Bulls’ center Joakim Noah in return – but Chicago would be quicker to part ways with second-year forwards Taj Gibson, James Johnson and possibly picks. Gibson showed a lot of promise after his rookie season, while Johnson struggled.
Here is a quick comparison of Deng and Anthony’s career statistics:
Deng 403 games, .474 FG% .309 3-pt% .767 FT% 15.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, .99 steal, .6 block
Anthony 514 games, .459 FG%, .308 3-pt%, .801 FT%, 24.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.15 steal, .45 block
DANNY GRANGER: You want an ideal replacement to Anthony that doesn’t carry the same hype, meet Granger. He has averaged 20 points the previous seasons and he hasn’t missed a beat on the other side of the ball, either. He is greatly underrated, partly due to he plays for a team that doesn’t win and he played college ball at University of New Mexico. Granger is a year older than Anthony, but is a much better shooter – especially from behind the arc and from the charity strip. Like Deng, Granger isn’t as fluid with the basketball as Anthony – but he is a lot better off the ball. However, there is doubts he can lead a team like Anthony does. There is a very slim chance that the Pacers would give up Granger in order to get Anthony’s services for one season – because it is doubtful he’ll sign an extension with Indiana. Denver could hope that Indiana would do a three-way trade with New York and take on Randolph, Gallinari and Raymond Felton. A lineup of Granger, Lawson, Nene, Arron Afflalo and JR Smith would be a nice core to build off of for the future. .
Here is a comparison of Granger and Anthony’s stats the previous two seasons.
Granger- 24.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, .428 FG%, .361 3-pt%, .848 FT%, 1.52 steal, .82 block
Anthony- 28.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, .458 FG%, .316 3-pt%,.83 FT%, 1.28 steal, .43 block
Granger- 25.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, .447 FG%, .404 3-pt%, .878 FT%, 1 steal, 1.4 block
Anthony-22.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists, .443 FG%, .371 3-pt%, .793 FT%, 1.1 steal, .4 block
GILBERT ARENAS: Probably the hardest thing about trading Anthony, is replacing him with a player that can be just as unstoppable. And while Arenas has had his troubles, he is about as unstoppable as there is. But he may be the best opinion for the Nuggets, especially in a package deal. No doubt the Wizards want to get out from under his contract and no doubt ‘Agent Zero’ wants to once again prove the world wrong again. The Wizards may even part ways with a few of their young studs (Nick Young, Javale McGee, Al Thornton or Andray Blatche) or maybe a few protected picks. Is it worth it? Maybe, especially considering that Arenas is only 28 and he can’t be worst than he is now. An offer of Blatche/McGee, a draft pick and Arenas should make both squads happy. Arenas when healthy is similar to Anthony, teams have a hard time defending him with his range and quickness. Also with the Nuggets he could play at his natural position at shooting guard. Let’s not forget about how Arenas turned the Wizards around when he came there. Before he got there the Wizards made the playoffs just once over the previous 16 years. But when he was healthy the Wizards made the playoffs all three seasons, including advancing the Conference semifinals once.
TAYSHAUN PRINCE/SHANE BATTIER: If Anthony leaves Denver, they may have to go in a direction similar to the Detroit Pistons. Where they play as a team, with no dominant scorer and everybody does their job. If they do that two ideal players for the Nuggets would be Prince and Battier. Prince played with Billups and Afflalo in Detroit and he showed how valuable player he was. He’s long, versatile and can defend and shoot threes. Battier is a vocal leader who can play defense and shoot threes. Both are the ideal team player – but not good options to replace Anthony
JEFF GREEN: Green, if he doesn’t sign an extension with Oklahoma City would be the second best small forward available in the free agent market in 2011 behind Anthony. Green has been overshadowed playing next to Kevin Durant and is forced to play out of position at power forward. Green has been solid, if not unspectacular. He can pass, rebound, score and play defense. Now the question is he ready to take over a team that used to be led by Anthony?
But, honestly, it’s tough to even think about replacing Anthony. He is the best player that has ever played for the Nuggets, but if he leaves you have to make the best of it.
(Photos by Jonathan Maness)
Topics: Anthony Randolph, Carmelo Anthony, Chicago Bulls, Danilo Gallinari, Danny Granger, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Dikembe Mutombo, Gilbert Arenas, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, James Johnson, Jeff Green, Joakim Noah, Kevin Durant, Loul Deng, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Raymond Felton, Shane Battier, Taj Gibson, Tayshaun Prince, Washington Wizards