20 January 2011
Carmelo Anthony is a member of the Denver Nuggets. At least for now. That is not good news for the rest of the NBA Western Conference, especially when the Nuggets play at home where they are 19-4 on the season.
It is also not good news for the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant, who is 1-10 against Anthony and the Nuggets following last night's 112-107 loss.
Earlier in the day, the New Jersey Nets announced that they had broken off all discussions with the Nuggets regarding a trade for Anthony. Apparently, they were growing sick and tired of all the melodrama. What, you didn't think I would go there? You should know by now...
The Nets said that the talks were getting too exhausting and becoming too expensive. The bottom line is that they were not willing to give up some of their best prospects and draft picks for a player who really only wants to play for the New York Knicks. Giving up players such as Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and multiple first round draft picks for a player who could turn into a three of four month rental just doesn't make sense. Especially for a team who would still not compete in the Eastern Conference.
I still fully expect Anthony to be dealt before the trade deadline next month. It would make absolutely no sense for Denver not to trade him and receive something in return. If they hold on to him and he departs via free agency this summer, the best they could hope for would be a sign and trade, and teams never receive much value in those deals. Whether they liked packages from the Nets and other teams more than they do the Knicks, they will have to get something for him. And whereas he has made it abundantly clear that he would only like to sign an extension with the Knicks, many teams will not offer that much for a rental player - unless they truly feel as if adding Anthony would give them the missing piece to the puzzle for an NBA championship.
San Antonio, perhaps?
Anyway, Anthony was in the lineup for the Nuggets last night, and he showed that he is happy that at least for now, the trade rumors will quiet down for a few days. Anthony dropped 35 points on the Thunder in last night's victory, while also adding 7 rebounds and 3 steals. Anthony hit 12-25 field goals and 11-14 free throws. He demonstrated once again that he could be the missing piece of a puzzle for a contender, but also that he will be an excellent fit in New York by next season.
The Thunder held a 1 point lead entering the fourth quarter, but that is when their shooting went stone cold. This is similar to what happened in Monday night's loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, where they seem to pick the wrong time to not be able to make shots of their own, as well as not stopping their opponents from getting good looks at the basket. While this team is still winning, they are not doing it in the way they expected - with solid defense and lower scoring games. It seems rare that they hold an opponent under 100 points this season. Offensive explosions are great, but defense still wins championships.
Russell Westbrook led the way for Oklahoma City, recording his fifth consecutive double-double with 28 points and 10 assists. He hit 50 percent of his field goal attempts while connecting on 12-14 free throws. Durant scored 24 points, but did so on just 6-18 from the field. He did, however, make all 10 of his foul shots.
Jeff Green was the only other starter to finish in double figures in scoring with 11 points, while Serge Ibaka added 16 points and 9 rebounds off the bench. With the continued lack of production out of Nenad Kristic and Thabo Sefolosha in the starting five, it may be time for Scott Brooks to tinker with the lineup a little. I would consider starting Ibaka over Kristic, although it is not ideal as far as size is concerned. I would also consider starting James Harden over Sefolosha for a game or two and see what happens. I never suggest change for change's sake, but it may be time to try something new.
* Make sure to follow Kelley on Twitter @RobKelley24, as he was named one of the 1,000 Most Influential Sports Writers on Twitter.
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