Looking back at the Denver Nuggets’ best trade of all time

Denver Nuggets, Carmelo Anthony (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Denver Nuggets, Carmelo Anthony (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

For the Denver Nuggets, Carmelo Anthony was one of the best players on the team for a long time. After being drafted 3rd overall in the 2003 NBA Draft, Anthony was very consistent for the Nuggets for many seasons.

After many seasons of the Nuggets not having a lot of success, Carmelo Anthony requested a trade out of Denver. Specifically, the New York Knicks were his main and only targeted team. This led to the Knicks having a ton of leverage, especially considering Anthony would be an unrestricted free agent that offseason.

After a long time negotiating, the Knicks eventually traded for Anthony and sent over a slew of draft picks and players. The Minnesota Timberwolves were involved in this deal, but nothing substantial happened on their end when it came to what they received or traded away.

With this trade, the Nuggets were sent Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, a 2014 first round pick, and a 2016 first round pick swap, where Denver got the better of the two picks. The most notable players the Nuggets lost were Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.

Looking back at this trade, the Nuggets got a lot more than they could have, especially considering the Knicks could’ve just signed him in free agency only a few months later and would’ve not lost any draft picks in the process.

Let’s look at what those first round picks turned into. The 2014 first round pick turned out to be the 12th overall pick, Dario Šarić. They traded this pick for Andre Iguodala, which was a fine trade back then and still looks that way now.

The 2016 pick swap went in Denver’s favor. They only moved up two spots, but that gave them the ability to draft Jamal Murray 7th overall. Obviously, that draft pick has been a home-run selection ever since then, and Murray might’ve not been able to be drafted 9th overall.

Jamal Murray could be an All-Star this year and is one of the best guards in the whole NBA. The tandem of Nikola Jokić and Murray have proven to be a successful duo, to the tune of an NBA championship.

Without trading Carmelo Anthony, the Denver Nuggets would have not been able to pull off a successful rebuild. Chances are, if Denver held on to Anthony for too long without trading him, the Nuggets probably would not have won the 2023 NBA Finals. If Anthony wasn’t traded, the Nuggets would not have been able to select Jamal Murray.

As for the New York Knicks, they never really had any playoff success. On paper, the duo of Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony sounded enticing, but the team never won anything and never even reached the Eastern Conference Finals as a team.

Eventually, Stoudemire retired, Anthony was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the team went into a lengthy rebuild. Safe to say, the Knicks are doing well for themselves now, as they had an All-NBA 2nd-Teamer in Julius Randle and made it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but even so, that trade didn’t go down as well as New York wishes it could have.

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If the Denver Nuggets keep winning championships with Jamal Murray still on the team, that would really rub it into the New York Knicks’ faces. Seeing what they could have had is hard to see for New York. It would be interesting to see how the NBA would be if the Knicks just waited a few months to sign Carmelo Anthony instead of trading for him.