July 8th 2010 was a very special day in the history of American professional basketball. "The Decision", a 75 minute special dedicated to the choice LeBron James would make regarding his immediate future, aired on ESPN and drew out what could have been announced in a tweet into a full blown media circus.
Not only did this event vilify LeBron for a few years, launch a million and one memes, and put a target on the back of LeBron and the Super Friends in Miami, it changed the way marquee name basketball players now approached free agency.
The NBA and the media outlets that cover it try to recreate "The Decision" every year; at the very least, the drama that surrounded it.
After a long drawn out Dwightmare that involved three NBA franchises, the nation now turns to their eyes to media market #1- New York City- for another potential drawn out mess that will eventually dash the hopes of several NBA cities hungry for championships. In what is both a prequel to another LeBron free agency bonanza, and a sequel to a deal that altered Denver, New York, and Minnesota, speculation has now begun on where Carmelo Anthony will play hoops in the future. Start the countdown clock on DECISION II: MELLOWEEN (it’s a working title).
As reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post:
Anthony wants to play for a winner, but desperately wants to play in a big market because of his business ventures — his Jordan Brand sneaker line, his PowerCoco energy drink, his watch deal.
That is why New York, Los Angeles, where he has a home, and even Chicago are on his short list, according to a source. The source said the Clippers — with buddy Chris Paul— are more attractive than the Lakers, though the purple-and-gold have cap space and the Clips don’t.
The New York Knicks are in the midst of one of their most disappointing seasons to date. They are in the bottom of the Atlantic Division- one of the weakest divisions in the weaker of the two NBA conferences. With no visible light at the end of the tunnel either through trades or the NBA draft (the Knicks don’t have a first round pick), of course Melo is looking for a way out. Why wouldn’t he? He’s still one of the biggest names in basketball and in his prime.
In 2007-08 when the Boston Celtics reconstructed The Big Three, it worked perfectly largely in part because it was built around three guys in their prime who wanted to win a title who each were great at their specific thing. Kevin Garnett- a defensive machine, Paul Pierce- a pure scorer, Ray Allen- an offensive specialist, a supporting cast of young talent and role players, all coached by Doc Rivers- a former player, a former coach of the year, and someone who could manage all of these egos to a title. The entire thing was held together by team chemistry- in this case, Ubuntu. This environment isn’t something that is normal in the current NBA landscape, which is why this strategy doesn’t always work.
The flip side of this coin is the current reigning and defending two time NBA Champion Miami Heat. While yes, they also have their version of the Big Three, it is entirely different because they have LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh- three max contract guys that came together through free agency. The pieces weren’t put in place to roll the dice on one of those guys like in Boston- the Heat was gutted to make room to pull this off. Similar to Boston only in the way that this cannot happen every year and would take a miracle to pull off again.
These types of situations don’t come along every year. They don’t come along every five years. There will always be stars combining to win a title through free agency, but it rarely works out. The fact that these two situations came along three years apart is not the anomaly- the fact that they both worked is.
The problem is that to line up a top tier market with two other max level players who are willing to play second banana to a dude who wants 30 field goal attempts a game is a pretty long shot. Like a half time win 50k shot. On ice. Wearing roller skates.
As mentioned in The New York Post article, here are the teams Melo allegedly has on his radar:
Los Angeles Clippers: CP3 and Melo are friends and LAC has made it clear they want to keep Chris Paul happy, however this deal would do one thing- decimate the depth of the Clippers. It would also put strain on Blake Griffin’s game, take the ball out of Chris Paul’s hands, and financially wouldn’t make sense for NYK or LAC in a trade.
Los Angeles Lakers: If the Lakers only goal was to sell tickets then YES- DO THIS DEAL. The Kobe/Melo combo would pack the Staples Center no matter what the cost, but that’s not the end goal for a basketball team. While the Lakers will have the cap space to potentially do this deal, they would have to pack these team with low cost contracts like ice around Kobe’s knees in order to make it work. Maybe LAL sees Melo as the next franchise face of the team, but as Melo turns 30 this summer, how long could that plan last?
Chicago Bulls: The Bulls are the closet team that is build like the 2007 Celtics in that they have three premier guys, vets, youth, and specialists who work hard and all support one goal: winning. The kind of scoring power that Melo offers is certainly on the radar to pair with Derrick Rose, but Melo isn’t the kind of guy that is going to seamlessly fit into the Thibodeau offense or defense.
Brooklyn Nets: c’mon.
New York Knicks: Melo’s best bet might be to just stay put. Maybe they can find a taker for Amar’e and get a draft pick. Maybe they can find a home for Iman Shumpert and some of their other pieces and get Melo a facilitator whose only job is to feed him the ball. Maybe a new coach that can manage the ego of New York along with the ego of the Knicks is all this team needs to turn around the season and keep Melo happy. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
Something is going to have to give eventually. Either Melo’s business deals and sponsorships are going to have to get comfortable in a smaller market, Melo is going to have to take less money, or resign himself to not being the lone superstar on the team. There are a ton of “if’s” “and’s” “but’s” and “maybe’s” that are orbiting Melo-Gate: The MELtdown. (working title).
One thing is definite: Captain America II and Gardians of the Galaxy aren’t the only two blockbusters we have to look forward to in the Summer of 2014.
Follow Padraic O'Connor on Twitter @padraic_oconnor
Photo Source: Chris Trotman, Getty Images
Source: Kurt Helin; ProBasketballTalk
Padraic O'Connor 1/03/2014 02:14:00 PM Tweet Edit