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What the three-team trade really says: The Nets want Melo

Dec 14, 2010, 11:59 PM EDT

Denver Nuggets v Charlotte Bobcats Getty Images

Step back and look at the Nets/Lakers/Rockets trade that is all but official — Terrence Williams is tweeting about his new home already — and one thing jumps out:

The Nets are really serious about getting Carmelo Anthony.

The Lakers get cap relief and another big man in case their good ones get hurt again. The Rockets roll the dice on a talented wing player who was deep in Avery Johnson’s doghouse. Both get a nice win in the deal.

The Nets get a little win that they want to turn into a big, big win.

This trade gives the Nets two more first round picks — the Rockets pick in 2012, and the Lakers pick in the upcoming 2011 draft, which will be late in the first round and not tremendously valuable — as well as another expiring contract in Sasha Vujacic to move. Oh, he can shoot a little too, I guess.

Those are assets the Nets can use in any trade — and GM Billy King has said he wants to make multiple moves — but still when you talk Nets trades your are really talking about Carmelo. He is the big fish.

Tomorrow’s trade — which becomes official once Joe Smith can be moved — means the Nets can now offer young up-and-coming forward Derrick Favors, expiring contracts in Troy Murphy and Vujacic, plus a bevy of first round picks for Anthony. Denver is not likely to find a better deal unless Mark Cuban goes drunk trading one night.

Especially compared to the Knicks shrinking offer — that Houston first rounder was the one New York was rumored to have a deal in place for, so they could sweeten their offer to Denver. The Nets pulled that rug out from under their growing rivals.

Two other points here.

One is the ultimate stumbling block for the Nets remains would Anthony sign an extension in New Jersey? Did his people give a serious it Knicks-or-bust ultimatum? Depends on who you ask, with multiple reports on both sides from respectable sources. Chatter behind the scenes is also conflicted. Choose to believe what you want, but this remains the big question.

Secondly, is this really a good trade for New Jersey? Carmelo Anthony is not a guy like Chris Paul who comes in and starts creating for others, he comes in and takes a lot of long, contested two pointers, drives the lane some but doesn’t dish much, and his touches take the ball out of the hands of Devin Harris and Brook Lopez. Anthony can score but he is not much of a defender. You can market him but will Avery Johnson really like and want him? There are very smart Nets fans who say it’s not worth it, the price of Favors and picks is too high.

Clearly the Nets management is not thinking that way. Unless they don’t get Melo to come, in which case that will be their spin.

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