Updated: January 20, 2011, 7:23 AM ET

1. Where Do We Go From Here?

By ESPN.com

New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov essentially squashed any hope of Brooklyn-born Carmelo Anthony becoming the Nets' new star by ordering his team to drop all Melo-related trade talk.

So ... where to now? Our TrueHoop Network bloggers outline where the Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks and Nets go from here:


With Prokhorov informing the basketball world the Nets are no longer in the "let's give the Nuggets all our best assets" business, it appears the Nuggets are being forced back to square one. But while their preferred option may be off the table, it does not mean their hands are tied.

The Nuggets are not enamored with the Knicks' assets, but a trade with New York would be the simplest way out. If Denver decides to take the path of least resistance, they could probably complete a deal with New York before you eat your next meal. But for perhaps the first time, the chance of Carmelo being pawned off to a team looking for a late-season push seems possible. The Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks or another darkhorse team might be able to pull together some decent assets to entice the Nuggets.

And don't completely write New Jersey off, either. Regardless of what Prokhorov said, it may take only a call and a concession from Denver to get things rolling again.

But despite all of the distractions, the Nuggets still have a pretty good team. At any time, Denver can announce it's not trading Carmelo to see if it can recapture the magic that made it a contender for much of last season. Does Carmelo really want out of Denver so badly that he will walk away from $85 million in guaranteed money? Hanging onto him is the only way to find out.

Maybe, when all is said and done, we will look back and see the only possible outcome was for Carmelo to end up in New York. Just do not expect the Nuggets to give up on working for something more before the arrival of the trade deadline.

-- Jeremy Wagner, Roundball Mining Company


Sure enough, the wheels fell off the Carmelo Anthony deal. And unless it's a cunning ploy by owner Mikhail Prokhorov and general manager Billy King to acquire him for a lesser price, Anthony will not be playing at home in Newark this season. After a wild media conference that showed off the best of Prokhorov's hard-handed Russian charm, the Nets took on the Utah Jazz -- without Carmelo and relatively free of rumors -- and used a well-balanced attack en route to an upset victory on Russian Culture Night.

So where can the Nets go from here? The answer is simple -- up. Now that the stink of the Melo saga has finally rolled off their shoulders, the Nets can focus on playing as a complete team instead of worrying about who might not be in practice the next day. It's only one game, but the difference between the scurrying team on the floor during the previous 12 games and the confident one against Utah was staggering. Without Anthony, the Nets still have a young, solid core, which includes former All-Star point guard Devin Harris, cornerstone center Brook Lopez, 3-point machine Anthony Morrow and, of course, the prize of the no-deal, Derrick Favors.

Favors, the youngest player in the NBA, still has skyscraping upside and is playing surprisingly efficient basketball despite his inexperience and the swirling cloud of rumors. In just more than 18 minutes per game, he's shooting 55.1 percent from the field while grabbing almost 16 percent of available rebounds. There has never been a teenage rookie in the history of the NBA who played up to that level. The closest? Some guy named Dwight Howard. Favors may never have the game-changing impact that Howard has, but that's a pretty solid start to hang your hat on. I know the Nets are impressed.

-- Devin Kharpertian, NetsAreScorching


With the Nets now out of the picture, the Knicks become the front-runner in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes. And GM Donnie Walsh would be wise to do all he can to make Melo-to-NYC a reality. The problem is the fact that he will not necessarily be able to put together an optimal package for the All-Star small forward without giving up some key pieces that have triggered the team's turnaround this season.

Should Walsh gut the current roster to offer a package close to the haul New Jersey had reportedly offered? Yes.

The Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls now feature legitimate three-man cores that will make it hard for Eastern Conference teams to compete for an NBA Finals berth in the next half-decade. I like Danilo Gallinari as much as anyone, but he, Ray Felton and Amare Stoudemire are no match for those other squads -- even if you presume that the supporting players can gel in the coming seasons. So if Walsh has to part with some or all of Gallinari, promising rookie Landry Fields, Wilson Chandler, Bill Walker and a few picks (one of which they reportedly should be able to acquire by dealing Anthony Randolph), then that is the cost of pushing a team that hasn't been relevant in more than a decade toward contender-status.

In Mike D'Antoni's system, Carmelo's volume scoring will not inhibit an offense -- it will buoy the team. There will be plenty of shots to go around, and while a team that has Stoudemire to finish in the paint would ideally prefer a wing with better play-making ability than Anthony, sometimes talent is too good to turn down. Anthony's defensive lapses will also become more forgivable in D'Antoni ball, in which we will also likely see his 3-point accuracy get back near the career-high 37.1 percent he posted just two seasons ago.

Swing for the fences, Donnie Walsh. New York needs this.

-- Jared Wade, Both Teams Played Hard/Eight Points, Nine Seconds

Dimes past: 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8-9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15-16 | 17 | 18 | 19

2. Nets' Loss Knicks' Gain?

By Chris Sheridan


NEWARK, N.J. -- Great news for the New York Knicks, right? Not so fast.

As much as it seems Carmelo Anthony is driving the bus here in the never-ending MeloDrama as he tries to leverage his way into a trade to the New York Knicks, that is not entirely the case.

The man ultimately in charge of where this drama turns next is Stan Kroenke, whose son, Josh, is now the nominal owner of the Denver Nuggets, but who ultimately will have final say on what is best for the family's NBA franchise.

And if Donnie Walsh isn't willing to make a truly fair offer, do not underestimate the possibility of Kroenke unloading Anthony to a team that would be willing to use him as a rental for the remainder of the season while watching whether Anthony is really, truly willing to leave $83 million on the table -- the $18 million he is due to be paid next season, plus the nearly $65 million in additional money from the three-year contract extension that Anthony has refused to sign.

A league source with knowledge of the Nets' and Nuggets' maneuverings said Denver's first step upon hearing of the Nets' withdrawal was to start taking another lap around the league, making calls to teams to gauge what they'd be willing to offer.

No team will ever be able to match the pile of assets the Nets were willing to mortgage their future on, but there might be somebody out there with enough expiring contracts, extra draft picks and young, talented players to trump any low-ball offer Walsh might make.

Read the rest of Sheridan's column at ESPN New York.

3. Daily Dime Live

Zach Harper, TrueHoop Network bloggers and fans gave their pre-, in- and post-game opinions -- as well as their reactions to the latest Melo drama -- in Daily Dime Live.

4. Nets Walk Away From Nuggets, Melo

By Henry Abbott

Let's pretend you're a marginally popular high schooler, and you want to go to the prom with a big-deal girl.

You know you're a long shot, for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that she's dead set on going with another, more popular kid.

One good way to play it is to make sure she knows you're her dream date. Tell her that again and again. It probably won't work. But it's a decent way of maximizing your slim chances. People like to be wanted. And if for some reason she can't get together with that other guy ... you just might charm your way to the top of the list, with your earnestness and your flowers.

What you can't do, if you're the long-shot date, is play it cool and expect everything to work out. You can't play hardball. You can't ignore her and drive her crazy.

Well, the Nets are that marginally popular dude. And I'll be honest, I have been admiring their dedication to Anthony. Through all of this, they have had the best offers, shown the most love.

Check out the rest at TrueHoop, ESPN.com's NBA blog.


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