Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010
By Mark Schanowski
OK, I know this seems like strange timing after Luol Deng scored a career-high 40 points Monday night against Portland, but then again, maybe its perfect timing for the Bulls to make another pitch for unhappy Denver superstar Carmelo Anthony.
In case you havent been following the behind-the-scenes drama, let me get you caught up. After the Nuggets opening night win last week, Anthony told reporters its time for a change. He added he wont sign the 3-year, 65 million contract extension offered by the team, saying now is the time for him to make a move to re-start his career.
The Nuggets front office was hoping Anthony might be swayed by re-joining his teammates and head coach George Karl after a long summer, and somehow be persuaded to accept the extension, especially given the uncertainties of what changes could come in the next collective bargaining agreement. But obviously, thats not the case.
Anthony saw Dwyane Wade recruit fellow superstars LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami this past summer and watched Carlos Boozer and Amare Stoudemire move to major markets in the Eastern Conference. He also sees a Denver roster thats loaded with bad contracts and broken down players. Clearly, the long-term outlook for the Nuggets isnt all that encouraging.
So, Denvers first-year general manager Masai Ujiri is probably going to have to trade Anthony before the February deadline, or watch him walk away in free agency next summer with the Nuggets getting nothing in return.
The other development from last weekend came out of Philadelphia, where the 76ers' best player, Andre Iguodala, said hes tired of losing and might ask for a trade if the team doesnt begin to show some signs of progress after a slow start under new coach Doug Collins.
Reportedly, the Nuggets have interest in Iguodala, seeing him as a possible long-term replacement for Anthony at the small forward position. Ideally, Denvers front office is looking for an expiring contract, a young player with star potential and draft picks, but if they cant get that, a player like Iguodala might be their best hope of staying competitive while gradually re-structuring the team.
So, heres where the Bulls come in. Doug Collins has a long-standing relationship with the Duke basketball program, since his son Chris has been an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski. Doug has always spoke in glowing terms about Deng, and might see him as an ideal fit as the starting small forward in Philadelphia. And, if the 76ers need a little extra incentive, the Bulls could include a 1st round draft pick in a trade offer for Iguodala.
The trade then gets expanded to a 3-way deal, with Deng and a No. 1 going to Philly, Iguodala, Taj Gibson and the 1st round pick the Bulls acquired from Charlotte in the Tyrus Thomas deal going to Denver, and Anthony coming to Chicago. Im not 100 percent sure about the salary cap math, so James Johnson might have to be included in the package going to Denver for the salaries to match. The Bulls then instantly become the favorites in the East with a starting line-up of Anthony, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose and Keith BogansRonnie Brewer. And, they would be set up for at least a four-year run at championships, assuming Carmelo signs the same extension the Nuggets have been offering.
As youd expect, there would be a number of hurdles to clear for this deal to happen. Right now, Iguodala is starting at shooting guard for Philadelphia and Collins would have to be convinced its in his best interests to trade his best player for a small forward like Deng, who would join Thaddeus Young, Jason Kapono and former Bull Andres Nocioni to form a log-jam at that position. The trade would also force Philly to rush top draft pick Evan Turner into the starting lineup at shooting guard. Turner was the No. 2 pick in last summers draft and has a world of potential, but he struggled at times in the preseason, and Im not sure if Collins thinks hes ready to handle 35 minutes a night.
Also, its hard to know for sure how interested Denver actually is in a player like Iguodala, who started on the U.S. gold-medal winning team at the World Championships this past summer, but has multiple years remaining on a contract that pays about 12 million a season. The Nuggets might decide to go back to New Jersey and try to structure a deal based on promising rookie power forward Derrick Favors and Troy Murphys expiring contract, plus draft picks. Or, they could go to Anthonys top choice, the Knicks, for a package built around Eddy Currys expiring deal and one of two promising young forwards, Danilo Gallinari or former DePaul star Wilson Chandler, plus draft picks.
Any way you look at it, NBA general managers will be playing some serious poker over the next few weeks to see what if will take to get the Nuggets to cash in their talented chip.
So, what do you think? Would you make the deal suggested above? Or, should the Bulls just wait for Boozer to get healthy and play on with the team already assembled? Please post your comments in the section below or feel free to drop me an e-mail.
The Bulls played a great all-around game in win over Portland and Deng showed he can be a good fit playing off Rose in Tom Thibodeaus offense. But the reality is, this is Luols seventh NBA season and hes probably somewhere in the 10 to 15 range among NBA starting small forwards. The Bulls came up short in their bid to sign James or Wade over the summer, now they get a second chance to acquire one of the top six players in the league. If Denver would take Iguodala in a deal for Carmelo, isnt this an idea worth pursuing?
Mark Schanowski hosts our Bulls pre- and postgame studio coverage with 15-year NBA veteran Kendall Gill. You can also watch Mark on SportsNet Central, Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 and 10.