It’s on — Nuggets reportedly willing to trade Carmelo

Denver Nuggets interim head coach Adrian Dantley (L) talks with forward Carmelo Anthony during the first quarter against the Utah Jazz in game one in the first round of the NBA playoffs at the Pepsi Center on April 17, 2010 in Denver.   UPI/Gary C. Caskey Photo via Newscom

Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post writes that the Nuggets don’t want to go the way of the Cavs or the Raptors and lose their superstar with basically nothing to show for it.

There is no way Denver can afford to lose the face of its franchise for nothing as a free agent.

The Nuggets are now considering a strategy to part ways with their 26-year-old star forward, according to a league source.

After quietly gauging trade interest in Anthony for weeks, the team’s consternation has only risen as he has made no move to accept a $65 million offer for a three-year contract extension that was formally presented more than a month ago.

The Nuggets don’t want to get LeBron’d.

Well if that doesn’t cause the trade offers to come flooding in, I don’t know what will. It should be noted that the Nuggets don’t even have a general manager at this point, so one would think that little piece of business should take priority. It’s hardly fair to the new GM to trade your superstar away before he takes his job.

What can the Nuggets get for Melo? Well, he’s obviously a coveted player, but with his reported interest in playing in the Big Apple and the leverage of a three-year extension in his back pocket, most teams won’t bother to give up the farm only to rent Anthony’s services for one year.

The two most serious offers will likely come from the two teams in the New York area — the Knicks and the Nyets. The Knicks could offer Danilo Gallinari, Anthony Randolph and maybe Wilson Chandler as well, while the Nets could put a package together that includes Derrick Favors and Terrence Williams.

The Knicks have the upper hand because they are reportedly Carmelo’s first choice.

So if you’re running the Nuggets, would you take Gallinari and Randolph in exchange for Anthony? Let’s not forget that the Knicks just traded David Lee away in order to land Randolph, who has shown a lot of promise and is just 21 years old. In eight games as a starter this season, he averaged 12-6 and 2.4 blocks in just 23 minutes of playing time. In 2008-09, he started 21 games as a rookie and averaged 10-9 and 1.4 blocks in 25 minutes of playing time. And that was playing for Don Nelson, who yanks guys out of the lineup faster than you can say ‘headcase.’

Meanwhile, Gallinari averaged 15-5 in his second season for the Knicks. He’s just 22 years old and is a 6-10 ‘stretch 4’ who hits threes at a 38% clip.

If the Nuggets can land both players and maybe get a future 1st round draft pick out of the deal, they can move forward and build around Randolph, Gallinari and Ty Lawson. That’s not bad. It’s better than the alternative, anyway.

But would the Knicks pull the trigger? Maybe they’d rather wait a year, sign Anthony outright and hold onto Gallinari and Randolph. A lot can happen in 12 months, and there’s a school of thought that they should strike while the iron is hot, but they could also bide their time if they feel like the chances are good that they’ll be able to sign Anthony next summer.

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