There's been some pulitzer-worthy stuff from the Denver Post lately on this whole saga. If you want to know what really happened without Carmelo's spin (dishonesty) on the situation. . .check out this piece from Benji Hochman. This is a few months of work from the Post, . . and it's really insightful. We'll move forward believing those facts to be true. This went all the way back to last Spring when the Nuggets lost to the Jazz in the playoffs.
So, why didn't the Nuggets call Carmelo's bluff, keep him until after the season, and then see if he'd really leave 20 million dollars on the table? A few reasons, I think. . .1) I don't think Carmelo would've been a happy employee next year. I think he would've sulked through the season, while quietly demanding a trade (sound familiar) and we wouldn't have improved our team. 2) There was always the chance Carmelo would've left and signed with the Knicks anyway (for much less money), and then we'd be left holding the bag with nothing to show for it.
Let's be clear. . . all of this "I wanted to go play for a contender. . where they have a future, etc. " garbage from Carmelo is ridiculous. His best chance was with the Nuggets, he knew this. . . . we had a championship roster, we have for 3 years. We built the team around him, we didn't cut cost. . .we weren't trying to "go young", we had one of the oldest teams in the league. Carmelo's logic, character, and even his play. . .were starting to wear on the Nuggets. Which leads me to the biggest and most exciting point!
These guys, you know the chopped liver left behind, can PLAY! It turns out, as with many superstars . . . that Carmelo was wielding a little too much influence on the court. George Karl and Carmelo are in a current twitter-battle about his lack of defense and slowing down the ball on offense the last few years. . . Carmelo can get as mad as he wants; it's true. Karl was being undercut by Carmelo, . . and he scored too often for anyone to raise too big a stink. But, Karl wasn't happy, and it showed.
To the new squad:
We all thought JR Smith had some serious star potential. . . maybe being held back a bit by Carmelo's ball hoggery (I defy anyone to name me a reserve player in the NBA who has come off the bench for 30+ points so many times, and 40 a couple of times). He's even playing smart now (miracles happen) getting assists and rebounds. I think JR was just content being a crazy uncle/wildcard guy until he got called out to step up his game and grow up. The good news is. . .it's there. JR is a great player, a freakish athlete and he'll get to show it now.
Aaron Afflalo has been playing out of his mind all year, and now. . . .he's been freed up to take all those shots he would've had if Carmelo would've passed out of the triple-team once in a while. He's money, Memphis had no answers, and he had 2 clutch baskets to clinch the Celtics game (that's right, we beat the champs with no 'superstars' on our team) last night.
Ty Lawson, wow. . . Ty will be in the all-star game before this is over. . you heard it here first. That guy is a superstar too. . . and even though we all hated to lose Chauncey in this mess, the bottom line is that Ty should be starting (and if we would've kept Chauncey, Chauncey should've come off the bench). No one can stop him, not even Rajon Rondo, he the best defensive point guard in the league. I can't wait to see Ty, and new addition, Ray Felton against Chris Paul in the first round of the playoffs. . .bring it!!!
Danillo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler from NYK more than make up for Carmelo because they hit open shots (which Smith, Lawson, and Felton create with penetration because no one can guard them). Chandler is going to be a really good player. . . and oh yeah. . . he actually plays defense. These guys are better than advertised, and for a cheaper price too. Gallo makes 3 million next year, Chandler makes 2 million. Carmelo was going to make 17 MILLION DOLLARS. I think we got the better end of this deal. Sure, NY gets their star, and they'll be a playoff team now for a few years. But, what happens when Carmelo has to guard LeBron or Paul Pierce in May? I know what will happen.
Nene. It's time Nene. . . so far he's stepped up well, scored consistently, and led our offense at the beginning of games. If Nene is really worth all that money (I think he is) it's time to destroy lesser post players (such as tonight, vs. Portland) and play some defense. Carmelo was having a negative effect on the Brazilian, and as my kids favorite player, I'm rooting for Nene to overcome and re-learn the game a bit with some fresh players to play with.
See, it turns out, Carmelo was not only "not making his teammates better" he was making them worse. He was such a good offensive player that he could carry everything and put us in the playoffs every year. But, when we hit a player that was better than Melo (it hurts. . .but I"ll say it. . . Kobe) all of the other guys wouldn't step up because they'd been standing out at the 3 point line for the last 6 months while Carmelo dribbled the shot clock away. Sometimes, that's what you have to do when you're on a bad team (Lebron the last 5 years) But, the Nuggets were a REALLY GOOD team. . and Melo was holding some other guys back. Karl was playing him way too much this year. With all of the trade stuff, he should've sat Melo, or regulated him to the D league, and said "when you're ready to play defense and run the stuff I call. . . you can play again". I would've loved that.
I'm excited about our new squad. We'll have some decisions to make in the off-season. . we're suddenly ridiculously deep at all positions. . . .But, this is a great core of guys, and everyone's passing the ball and moving
An under-rated story here is that suddenly we have a NYKnicks starting 5 that Karl can trot out at any time. (Felton, Chandler, Gallo, Mosgov, Harrington). Al Harrington played for the Knicks last year, he still knows all the plays. The other day in practice they were calling out some Knicks plays when Felton was at the point. Try preparing for 2 different basketball teams!! I defy anyone in the Western conference!!
. If you want to see NBA basketball as it should be played. . wide open, passing, good defense, great athletes. . . watch the Nuggets for the rest of this year. Good times.
Since we're so far under the salary cap, maybe Kroenke will lower ticket prices for the rest of the year! (not likely. .but one can hope)
(ps, we still have the Birdman and Kmart as well, who look a little rejuvinated. . I think Bird got a new tatoo to celebrate :) )