Paul And ‘Melo In NOLA Becoming An Increasing Possibility

New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul (R) and Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony rest during the second half at the Pepsi Center in Denver on November 27, 2008. New Orleans beat Denver 105-101. (UPI Photo/ Gary C. Caskey) Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom

Paul and Anthony want to play, can it be in New Orleans?

According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Hornets have been seriously looking into a trade with the Denver Nuggets for Carmelo Anthony. A recent post by Stein talks about Chris Paul’s happiness with the organisation and while he says Paul is happy he leaves it a very open-ended question, leaving unhappiness to be just around the corner. Here’s an excerpt:

Demps knows, though, that the roster needs at least one more player closer to Paul’s talent zip code before the Hornets can start thinking about a return to contention in the West. And rival executives say he’s certainly been trying.

Few GMs, according to NBA front-office sources, have pursued deals with Demps’ fervor over the past month, with Peja Stojakovic‘s $14.3 million expiring contract serving as his primary trade chip.

I don’t all that often trust ESPN writers, more so analysts in their assessments of NBA franchises (outside of bigger markets) because rarely do they pay close attention to the minute details. Us more familiar with the team also tend to over-estimate the team and its ability, but with Stein his information I find a little bit more credible.

His opinion I certainly do not agree with, but his information I do. At the very least he’s a competent Adam Schefter equivilent, their opinion is often wrong, but their research and rumors are true, or close to.

Back to the bigger news at hand however, Carmelo to the Hornets seems a lot more realistic, whether it be now or in a year’s time.

Some will dismiss Anthony waiting a year to play with Paul, but I wouldn’t be so sure. I verminently believe that Paul is pushing Anthony to come to the Bayou city. Let us assess the two possibilities put forward by Stein (and others out there).

1. The Hornets pursue a trade with the Nuggets

It saddens me to say this, but any trade for Carmelo Anthony would involve Marcus Thornton. Denver is just not going to want a bunch of old veterans and draft picks in return. It’s sort of like the whole Bulls scenario of Joakim Noah. The Bulls will not let go of Noah to get Anthony and the Nuggets won’t take anything without Noah in it.

For the Hornets Thornton has to be involved in the trade, and I don’t know if we are willing to do that.

If a trade was to go down I would expect to see something like this:

Marcus Thornton, Quincy Pondexter, Peja Stojakovic and 2 First Round picks for Carmelo Anthony.

OR

Peja Stojakovic, Marcus Thornton and 2 First round picks for Carmelo Anthony

There are any number of options but we have to look at it from Denver’s perspective and what they want.

- They want young, promising players

-Multiple first round picks

-And big fat expirings

Now people think they can pick and choose at these demands. But Denver wants all of these in one trade. I think the first trade is one that Denver would look at favourably, but one in which we would not.

If that first one was to go through it would result in a lineup like this.

PG: Paul/Pargo/Green

SG: Ariza/Belinelli/Green

SF: Anthony/Alexander

PF: West/Mensah-Bonsu

C: Okafor/ Gray/Smith

I don’t believe it’s that much better than the starting lineup of Paul/Thornton/Ariza/West/Okafor. It’s just to some, they will look on paper and say, “Oh two MVP candidates on one team, must be good!” When in actuality it is not.

The more likely scenario is the following.

2. Carmelo signs as a free-agent with the Hornets

I don’t mean this is the more likely situation to happen for everything invovled with the Carmelo Sweepstakes. I just mean it’s the most likely scenario where he goes to the Hornets.

I say this for a couple of reasons.

The first is that any trade deal involved with the Hornets is going to involve Thornton and I don’t believe the front-office will part with him. Thornton just has to much potential and ability to give up for Anthony who, while in his prime, doesn’t have the same up-size in the long-term future.

The second reason is that I thoroughly believe Paul has told Carmelo that the only way they play together if it’s in New Orleans.

One source close to the situation confirmed to ESPN.com that word has indeed been transmitted from Paul to Anthony that teaming up in the Bayou might be the solution for both of them.

If you think about it, Paul has two years (seasons) left before he can leave in free-agency. By that time Melo will have commited somewhere and the opportunity to play together will be highly unlikely. The Hornets will have the capspace to sign Anthony in the next free-agent period as the contracts Stojakovic, Green and Smith all come off the books at around 21 million dollars.

The third and final reason I think Carmelo will be likely to go to the Hornets through the free agency route is that he says he doesn’t mind playing another year with Denver. This reason does have its holes of course. The Nuggets will certaintly want to trade him if they believe he wants out. Added to that they saw Lebron leave the Cavs with nothing (before Miami gave them some compensation).

To be brutally honest I don’t think it will happen, nor do I think it’s the best option of bringing a championship to New Orleans. But you guys must remember that if Anthony comes to the Hornets, the likelihood of Paul staying with the team for the long-term increases dramatically. Does it make sense? No, but the truth is if Paul has another superstar along side of him he will likely be there for a long, long time.

Topics: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dell Demps, Denver Nuggets, Marcus Thornton, New Orleans Hornets, Quincy Pondexter, Trade Ideas

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  • CoastalGame

    Great work, love the opinions. But I don’t get how you can brush through the lineup analysis, saying a lineup with Melo instead of Thornton doesn’t change that much:

    “I don’t believe it’s that much better than the starting lineup of Paul/Thornton/Ariza/West/Okafor. It’s just to some, they will look on paper and say, “Oh two MVP candidates on one team, must be good!” When in actuality it is not.” (Grayson)

    I realize this article is supposed to focus more on the technical aspects of how likely a trade is, and what details are involved, but i find your quote above very alarming (“when in actuality it is not”). It isn’t? I agree that Paul/ariza/melo/west/okafor isn’t the ideal lineup, but I think it is seriously formidable. I think you grossly overate the potential of Thornton. Thornton had a great rookie season, and I expect him to have a similarly productive 2nd season, but he is not some prodigy, future all-star. He is a 4 year college player (JuCo transfer) and has almost reached his peak. It is very common for 4 year guys to come into the league and contribute from the start, they do not continue to improve exponentially though. I see Thornton becoming a Terry type player, who will get more FT attempts because of his aggressiveness.

    Still I agree that a thronton + picks for melo isn’t something to jump at, but I would like to hear more of your analysis on the actual on-court impact that a trade like this would have.

    • http://swarmandsting.com James Grayson

      Good points Coastal, I think the reason I sort of brushed through it was that it’s unlikely to happen so I was more focusing on HOW a trade would happen.

      I think the reason that Thornton in my view is much more valuable is that not only does he post a great PER, but his contract is so very good and allows the Hornets with big future flexibility. If we trade away Peja, Thornton and Pondexter for Melo, we lose all our flexibility. So while the starting lineups may be better, our ability to get any bench/rotation players is severely hindered by Peja’s contract being gone etc.

      I also think Melo is grossly overrated. Sure he is an All-Star but he’s not as good as some rate him (next to Lebron and Kobe…he’s not).

      Read this article on Thornton and it’ll show just how valuable he is.

      http://www.hornets247.com/blog/2010/08/27/breaking-down-thorntons-game-is-he-untouchable/

      • CoastalGame

        I’ve read that article. In all actuality I am a monster supporter of Thornton. I was playing some devil’s advocate, because normally I find myself loving him to perhaps a fault. (I drafted him in the 2nd round of a deep Sim league I am, so I will continue to pull for him – he’s been a gem. And like the hornets I have him signed cheap.)

  • onpointlikecp3

    This is my first comment on her, but I have been on At The Hive. First, I would NEVER get rid of MT for Melo. If Melo wants to play here he can come in Free Agency. I’d much rather have him locked up long term than lose good expirings, picks and Buckets. A lineup of:
    PG: CP3
    SG: Buckets
    SF: Melo
    PF: West
    C: Mek
    6th: Ariza
    Is much scarier than the lineup above.

    • http://swarmandsting.com James Grayson

      God yes, and Welcome to the site onpointlikecp3!

      I think Melo’s chances of taking the free-agent route are increased, though not all that high.

      I would never trade MT for Melo ever, however I’m putting it out there that Denver will want MT in return and that Monty and Demps would have at least thought about it. We have to remember what we want is not the same as what the front office wants too, so they could view Thornton as dispensable even though we do not. It’s the nature of the game.

      • onpointlikecp3

        Kind of like Randy Moss. Being a Patriots fan, I didn’t think they’d trade him because he opens things up for the Wes Welkers, Aaron Hernandez’, & Danny Woodheads of the world. But the FO made what seemed the best decision in their eyes, so I’m not going to argue.

        • http://swarmandsting.com James Grayson

          Hmm, well I do think the Patriots front-office is significantly different from ours. They have a history of trading away key pieces of their team who are usually veterans.

          I don’t think this team will trade away any young pieces. I think trading David West might be on the block but I’m not so sure.