Carmelo Anthony

The Denver Nuggets’ new vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri has quite a conundrum on his hands. He’s trying to convince Carmelo Anthony to sign a three-year, $65 million contract extension but multiple sources close to Anthony have reported that he has no intention of staying in Denver beyond this season. To make matters worse, rumors abound that Anthony really wants to play for the Knicks so any other team wanting to acquire him might not have any more success than the Nuggets in getting him to sign an extension.

If you’re a Nuggets fan, you most likely want Ujiri to hang on to Carmelo at least until the February trading deadline in the hopes that the Nuggets will emerge as one of the top teams in the West and therefore convince Anthony to change his feelings about his future in Denver. This remains the most likely way this drama will play out, but that doesn’t stop fans of the other 29 teams from salivating over the idea of seeing Anthony in their jersey.

(A fan of both the Knicks and Anthony posted this Photoshop of ‘Melo in a Knicks jersey on Twitter and @carmeloanthony re-tweeted it. Make of that what you will.)

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of Ujiri and pretend that we’ve concluded that we have to trade Anthony or risk losing him to free agency after the 2010-11 season. Obviously, there would be no shortage of interested parties — especially the Knicks. So let’s head to the ESPN Trade Machine and see what kind of deal we can work out between Denver and New York.

The trade machine doesn’t let you include draft picks in your proposed trades, but that’s a moot point with the Knicks because the Rockets have the option to swap first round picks with the Knicks in 2011 and they also own the Knicks’ first round pick (top-five protected) in 2012. Anyway, here’s what I came up with in terms of a theoretically possible Nuggets-Knicks trade.

That’s Anthony Randolph, Danilo Gallinari and the obese, expiring contract of Eddy Curry for Carmelo Anthony. Since Randolph was traded to the Knicks on July 9 and a player can’t be traded as part of a group within two months of being acquired in a trade, this transaction couldn’t take place until about a week from now.

The funny thing about this proposal is that I’m quite sure the fanbases of both the Nuggets and the Knicks would hate this. Nuggets fans will think it’s not enough to get in return for ‘Melo (since only Randolph and Gallinari are actually usable players) and Knicks fans will think that’s too much to give up for him since they can just sign him outright in the summer of 2011.

So here’s where I try to convince these fanbases that this is actually a good deal. Let’s start with Nuggets fans. Gallinari and Randolph are both very good, very young (Gallinari is 22 and Randolph is 21) prospects and if you can get two young players of their caliber in return for Carmelo, that’s a very good starting point for the rebuilding project your team will likely need to undertake. As for Curry, he’s obviously never going to put on a Nuggets jersey but that $11 million expiring contract could potentially be a useful trade chip later in the season — and even if it isn’t, it will help your team on its journey to the other end of the cap.

Now for the Knicks fans. I’m well aware that most of you think that you shouldn’t have to give up Randolph AND Gallinari because you’re convinced Anthony is just going to sign with your team regardless. I’m both amused and surprised that so many Knicks fans would feel this way considering what happened with LeBron James this past off-season. Even if Carmelo has his heart set on New York at the moment, who is to say he won’t change his mind between now and next July?

This trade could potentially make the Knicks a top-four team in the East this season, assuming both Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire stay healthy. From there, it simply becomes an issue of adding supporting pieces and we can probably assume that New York would become a particularly attractive free agent destination if the Knicks had a one-two punch of Anthony and Stoudemire.

I’d like to hear from both Nuggets and Knicks fans about this proposal, but I’d also like to read what fans of other teams think. Feel free to propose Anthony trades to other teams, but keep in mind that those teams might not be willing to offer very much if they think Carmelo could be a one-year rental. As for me, if I was the GM of either the Nuggets or the Knicks, I think I could talk myself into this deal.