Carmelo Anthony

Why the Warriors might gamble on Melo

I know there are many reasons for the Warriors NOT to trade for Carmelo Anthony, so let’s go through those first.

1. Though Melo doesn’t have a no-trade clause, the chances of getting Anthony to agree to an extension with Golden State before being traded to the Warriors are only slightly better than the chances of Jed York’s text to Adam Schefter coming true.

2. The Warriors’ biggest problem, among many, has been their inability to play defense. To say Melo isn’t the best defender in the NBA is like saying that Brett Favre isn’t the most romantic guy in the NFL. Not that I’d know who’s the most romantic guy in the … oh, never mind.

3. The first time the Warriors called about this (and I think it’s pretty safe to save they’ve called about this little matter), Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri probably did nothing but say, “Curry. Curry. Curry. Curry. Curry. Curry…” until Larry Riley hung up.

That’s really about it. And after being pretty anti-Melo-trade from the start, I found myself slowly feeling a little differently about the Warriors’ chances of getting him AND if it’s even a good idea in the first place. First Joe Lacob pretty much came out and said he wanted to get three stars, and the Warriors as currently constructed, in his words mind you, had two (Stephen Curry and David Lee). Then there was the Nuggets’ failed 4-way trade with the Nets, Jazz and Bobcats, which showed that while Denver is serious about getting something done, they’re willing to wait for a “better offer.” One which may or may not come.

Then I went to “Tweedia Day,” which happened in large part because the soon-to-be-new-owners want to make a media splash when they take over the team … they want the people who care about the team to know these guys are different from the previous regime. This sort of preemptive goodwill made me start thinking of Peter Magowan in 1993, when at the beginning of the free agent signing period the Giants dropped a bomb on Major League Baseball and signed Barry Bonds to a then-record 6-year, $43.75 million contract, which was especially shocking seeing as the Giants played in a stadium where the outfield walls were cyclone fences.

Then there’s the fact that the Warriors have never had much luck with high draft picks (besides Curry), and as currently constructed will probably win 30-39 games, so the draft’s out when it comes to getting the third, and hopefully best, superstar. And finally, the only superstars that could possibly get moved right now are Melo and Chris Paul, who would make Stephen Curry superfluous and has a bad left knee.

I also remembered that other than Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, and occasional glimpses of brilliance from Chris Bosh and Kobe Bryant, the best player on the USA Olympic team was Melo. The FG% wouldn’t tell you that, but Melo more than held his own in international competition.

Then I started thinking about the three reasons I listed above, and I thought, “Yeah, but so what?”

So what if Melo only plays four months with the Warriors and leaves? Doesn’t that mean the Warriors will be left with a nice little bit of cap room?

So what if Anthony doesn’t play defense? With the new focus on acquiring defensive-minded role players like Dorell Wright, Rodney Carney, Louis Amundson and Charlie Bell, the Warriors would have guys to pick up fouls, dive after loose balls, guard perimeter superstars and do all the dirty work. The last reason not to trade for Melo, the Curry reason, is the toughest. No way the Warriors are letting him go for anything.

Still, so what if they ask for Curry? Say “no” and be creative with the trade chips you don’t mind parting with — Biedrins, and to a lesser extent, Ellis.

I admit the prospect of the Warriors getting Melo in a trade is far-fetched at this point. The Warriors would have to find multiple trade partners since they only hold one first-round draft pick in the next two years (the pick in 2012 the Warriors stupidly traded to the Nets for Marcus Williams is one of the most valuable trade pieces in the NBA right now, and was a prominent part of the proposed Melo deal that fell apart).

But what if two things happen — the Warriors are patient and the Nuggets can’t find a trade they like?

What if the Nuggets try to wait out the market, and with the impending work stoppage looming everyone wants to stand pat? Or it’s December, and Anthony’s going off to the press, the Nuggets are losing and the threat of getting nothing for him looms large? The Warriors would have a couple things going in their favor.

1. They have nothing to lose. Sure, they’re building a team around character guys, and it’s a new era and “oh wow, look at the new uniforms” and everything else, but Lacob seems to know that the road they’re on has a ceiling of No. 6 seed in the West. And that’s IF this team meshes well, Ekpe Udoh comes back healthy relatively soon (like this season) and shows he’s close to as good as he should be considering where he was drafted, and they get a good player next year in the middle of the first round. Lee can put up numbers. Curry is one of the more interesting stories to pay attention to going into the 2010/11 season, but compared to the Lakers, Heat, Celtics, Magic, Thunder, Blazers and even Bulls, the Warriors’ current nucleus falls way short.

2. The Nuggets have always been interested in Biedrins, and if he jumps out to a nice start (10 pt/10 reb, only below-average at the FT line instead of historically awful), a 24-year-old big who can rebound would probably have some value to a team that’s pretty much starting over.

I don’t want to get all Bleacher Report here and pretend Melo’s going to get traded to the Warriors. He probably won’t, mostly because the Warriors don’t want to rent Melo and/or give up Curry in the process. But I just can’t see Lacob and Guber patiently taking over the team, and as Monta said during Tweedia Day, thinking let’s “see what happens.” The Warriors have been putting together decent young nuclei and seeing what happens for the better part of two decades, and it’s gotten them a 2007 slogan and not much else.

So what if Anthony says “no way” to an extension with the Warriors, and they trade for him anyway? He’s still in a contract year, which means he still has to play hard. Say the Warriors make a run, and sneak into the playoffs as a 6th, 7th or 8th seed (very possible, as this team would be unstoppable on the offensive end, especially if they were able to land Melo simply by giving up Biedrins, expiring contracts and future picks), and make a run to the Western Conference Finals (which would be possible, as the rest of the West other than the Lakers is ripe for the picking as the Spurs fade, the Mavericks keep throwing money at problems, the Suns are starting over, the Thunder are overrated and the Blazers suffer catastrophic injuries every day).

The Warriors’ fans have shown that they’ll come out to Oracle, even if the product is substandard. So why not gamble? The worst that can happen is the Warriors start over next year with Curry, Lee and cap space. And maybe, just maybe, Melo comes here, gets a taste of what it’s like to play in front of a sold out crowd at Oracle, and wants to stay. The NBA isn’t like baseball or football, where with good scouting and drafting, over time you can create a winner. In the NBA, patience is for losers. You need to be a boss like Jerry Buss or Pat Riley, and take whatever you can. There aren’t many options out there, which is the main reason why I wouldn’t be shocked if Lacob and Guber did all they could to take Melo all for themselves … even if for only a four months or so.

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