This time the Nets really are out of the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes. He’s a Knick and the Nets are left to try to make moves that don’t hurt their future salary cap flexibility, but also help them on the court now and next year.
Devin Harris and Troy Murphy are the Nets most likely to pack their bags – although something tells me their suitcases are packed and by their doors as they just await a call.
They know they’re going, and the Nets aren’t getting anyone back as exciting as Anthony, a potential franchise changer. He was the only player available of that ilk on the trade market and the Nets did everything – literally, everything – they could to get him.
General manager Billy King put together countless trade proposals to appease Denver and he suggested to owner Mikhail Prokhorov that they get back into the Melo-mania after the Russian billionaire pulled them out last month.
The Nets had to get back into it. Sorry to sound cliché, but you have to be in it to win it.
This is a team that has gone 29-110 over the past two seasons. So you have to take your chances and swing for the fences. The Nets struck out, but they’re going to try to spin it that at least they made the Knicks give up more than they wanted for Anthony.
It’s probably true, but it’s of little consolation to their fans, who wanted something to look forward to after all of these lean years, especially since Jason Kidd left.
This puts in perspective the importance of stars in the NBA.
With Kidd, the Nets won 55.6 percent of their games – including his last half season when he didn’t want to be with them – and nine playoff series. Since he left, the Nets are 108-224 and haven’t seen the postseason.
That’s why King and the Nets did everything they could to get Anthony and make it difficult for the Nuggets to say no to them, and ultimately forced the Knicks to give up more than they wanted. The Knicks did give up a lot. In the end, it's probably more than what the Nets were sending to Denver, even with the four first-round picks.
The package featured Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler and Timofey Mozgov, plus a No. 1 and two No. 2 picks. Initially, the Knicks didn’t want to part with Gallinari and Mozgov. The Nets can look at that as a small victory if they want, but it’s not much of a consolation prize.
Don’t let anyone kid you, they wanted Anthony. They knew what Anthony meant to their franchise, to their Brooklyn move, to their potential for getting other players.
It’s important that the Nets maintain their cap flexibility. But after all that has happened between free agency over the summer and in the Anthony proceedings, it’s hard to believe having all that money means the Nets really will be in position to get Deron Williams, Chris Paul or Dwight Howard in 2012.
The Knicks are the leaders in the clubhouse now to get the superstar point guard to team with the superstar tandem of Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. Maybe it will be harder for them because the Knicks gave up some players they could use in trades. But if Paul or Williams want New York, they will find a way to get there.
The Nets will be about to open their new arena in Brooklyn in 2012. Maybe that will entice someone to come join them, help them usher in the new era of Nets basketball. But it’s hard to envision a superstar coming.
The money is the same everywhere and the opportunity is greater in this major market. But it may not be enough to sell to a star.
Follow me on Twitter: @Al_Iannazzone
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)