The Carmelo Anthony trade rumors got so ridiculous that TNT's Craig Sager actually asked Anthony himself about them during the All-Star Game on Sunday.
Late last night, according to ESPN, Anthony was finally dealt from the Nuggets to the Knicks in a three-team trade that reportedly will involve as many as 12 players, although calling Eddy Curry a "player" is a misnomer -- he hasn't played at all this year and in only 10 games since 2008.
Our SB Nation Bulls site Blog-a-Bull says the deal helps the Knicks, who have already defeated the Bulls twice this year, and it might make the Bulls' first-round playoff series tougher, because the Knicks and Bulls are currently matched up in playoff order, the East's No. 3 vs. No. 6. I'm glad he's not headed to the Bulls -- the Bulls have done quite well, thankyouverymuch, without him, and breaking up the Bulls when they're just getting Joakim Noah back and are hot, would have been a huge mistake.
But more importantly, this deal points out what's wrong with the NBA as currently constructed, and why there may be a lockout after this season.
First of all, deals like this are made almost strictly for salary-cap reasons. The Nuggets are in seventh place in the West and could move up three or four spots -- why would they want to trade their best player? Granted, they got several pretty good players in return, but right now -- when teams begin jockeying for playoff position -- is probably the worst time to mess up your team chemistry.
Second, this isn't quite a LeBron James deal, but it was basically dictated by Anthony, who sent out the message loud and clear that he wanted a contract extension, something the Nuggets apparently weren't willing to give. It was just a matter of finding a team that was willing, and the curious dance back and forth with the Nets and Knicks had to be distracting to Denver. How can you focus on winning when your best player doesn't really want to be there?
This sort of thing has been taken to absurd heights by ESPN, which now has an NBA Trade Machine on its website, where you as a fan can construct deals. For example, I just got Kobe Bryant traded to the Bulls, in exchange for Luol Deng, C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer, Brian Scalabrine, Omer Asik, James Johnson, Taj Gibson, Kurt Thomas and Keith Bogans.
On what planet does that make any sense? The site told me "This trade is successful!" So what? So it matched salaries. This is how fantasy sports has begun to ruin following teams. Fans are constantly making up trades that might make sense in a fantasy league where you've got the player for a couple of months, but would be ridiculous in real life.
This deal isn't going to help the Timberwolves, for example; they're just included in this deal (and so is Curry, who may never play in the NBA again) for cap reasons. When players like Anthony -- let's not even get into the LeBron James saga, where he pretty much dictated how the Heat were put together this year -- can decide where they want to go, rather than have GMs build a winning team, the structure is broken. This is one reason there may not be a NBA season next fall. The NBA has 30 teams and under the current structure, probably a third of them go into each season with zero chance of making the playoffs. It's great if you're a fan of the Lakers, Heat, Celtics, Spurs or, now, the Bulls -- but NBA fans in Washington, Minnesota, New Jersey, Sacramento and other outposts who never sniff the playoffs must be thinking, "Why bother?"
I don't know the answers to these issues, but they have to be fixed. Players shouldn't be able to dictate these deals. The NBA is real close to being permanently broken.