Via Yahoo! Sports: (Hat Tip to Fakin)
Okay, I'm jumping the gun a bit here, but I just couldn't resist. It appears the Denver Nuggets, the New Jersey Nets, and the Detroit Pistons are ready to pull off a blockbuster deal, one that will finally end the Carmelo Anthony era in Denver. This one is a bit complicated, so hold on to your hats.
Wow, that was a mouthful. Two teams are completely changing face, while the Pistons are retreating into a shell and rebuilding.
The Nuggets have been essentially forced to do this trade by Carmelo Anthony, who would leave Denver in Free Agency should they not trade him. Seeing that it would be more beneficial to get some actual value for him, they have dealt him in the best possible move for their future.
Below: Breaking Down How the Nuggets Make Out, How it Affects the Thunder, New Jersey and Detroit Analysis!
And even though this trade looks bad for the Nuggets initially, they are making out with a decent future. They get someone to replace Chauncey Billups at PG in Devin Harris, who is a scorer of similar caliber and a better passer. They also get a backup shooting guard replacement in the sharpshooting Anthony Morrow, who will undoubtedly help the Nuggets high-scoring offense and keep them scoring well from beyond the arc, which they lose by trading Billups for Harris.
But, the big question that looms over everything is, "Who can replace the 24 points per game of Carmelo Anthony?". And, quite frankly, the answer is that they don't have an immediate option. It's likely that J.R. Smith will take the starting spot and role for the Nuggets, while Derrick Favors backs him up on the bench. Favors would hopefully be the golden nugget in this trade that pays off for Denver in years to come, but he's failed to impress this year. His best game has him dropping an underwhelming 14 points and grabbing 8 rebounds, and he averages a paltry 7 points and 6 rebounds. Now, far be it from me to label him a bust, but it's fair to say that prospects aren't good for him at this point, especially considering he was a throw-in on this deal.
To round out the deal for Denver, Stephen Graham is a decent defender and could see minutes for the Nuggets, while Quinton Ross and Ben Uzoh are just salary throw-ins and might be cut immediately. Given the level of talent improvement on the Nets, the picks won't be extremely valuable. There is a chance that one of the picks given is a lottery-protected Warriors pick, but given how badly the Warriors are doing, the pick may not pay off until 2013 or not at all. (See here for details on the Warriors pick.)
Overall, how do the Nuggets come out? Well, the Nuggets are a team that prides itself on depth, and one that can perform really well with a man down, even if that man is Carmelo Anthony. But there will be an adjustment period while the new Nuggets players are getting to know their team. Additionally, the Nuggets will cease to be a contender in the West and all of a sudden become very average. Sure, they can still take care of business against lesser Western Conference teams and the garbage in the East, but they won't have that extra punch that wins them games against the Thunder, Jazz, and Hornets of the NBA. Lastly, it creates a team that contradicts itself in age. The backcourt is very young, with Harris, Lawson, Affalo, Morrow, and the SF of Favors. But the Frontcourt is very old, with Smith, Martin, Harrington, Nene, and Andersen all being older players.
But, how does this Trade affect the Thunder? Well, unless some remarkable play comes out of Harris, Favors, or Morrow, this trade severely weakens the Nuggets. We have a home win against the Nuggets on Christmas Day, but the Thunder now have a significant chance of sweeping the series, while rival Utah has already lost a game to them. It also makes the formerly strong Northwest Division a two-team race. Don't get me wrong, Portland and Denver could still very well make the playoffs, but if this trade is made, with things the way they are right now, they will be far behind Oklahoma City and Utah in due time.
Playoffs-wise, it also gives the Thunder a guarantee of sorts. It gives them a good cushion between their current standing and the 7th seed, guaranteeing that they won't have to deal with the Spurs or a rolling Mavericks or Lakers team in the first round. Long-term, it makes the Nuggets much younger and opens the door for them to compete with us down the road.
While what New Jersey and Detroit do from here on out doesn't affect the Thunder much this season, but just for fun, we can take a look at how they'll do.
New Jersey, rather obviously, becomes a playoff team in the East. They are at a dismal 10-27 record now, but it's not beyond one's imagination to think they could slip into the 8th seed before it's all said and done. Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups are reunited in the back court, while Carmelo Anthony will take over for Travis Outlaw at SF. The players are backed up well, with former Lakers Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic forming the backcourt, and Travis Outlaw becoming one of the league's best backups. Anthony Carter stands a chance to break that rotation as well. Their front court takes a severe hit though, with Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries staying, but backups Troy Murphy, Derrick Favors, and Johan Petro all leaving ship. They do get Oklahoma City native Shelden Williams in the deal, but they're still relatively thin, and could go small at times. I wouldn't put it past them to have another deal up their sleeve to fill their front court, either.
Detroit continues to rebuild with this long-overdue deal for Rip Hamilton. They sat on him for so long that he's only good for expiring deals at this point, and that's what Troy Murphy is. Johan Petro is on a three year deal, and the Pistons will undoubtedly give him a chance at developing, though I don't see him being much more than an average backup center. The Pistons do get bigger, but no one really cares as they languish through this season. You'd be insane to think that the Pistons are done making deals as they continue to break up the old championship team. We see them again on March 11th, but it should be an easy win by all accounts.