The next time your phone rings, don't be surprised if it is a member of the Denver Nuggets front office on the line.
It seems like the Nuggets are going to take a page out of the "Glengarry Glen Ross" book and start cold calling everyone to see who wants to make a deal for Carmelo Anthony. Regardless of what you tell them, they're going to whisper that you're interested and then turn their attention back to the Knicks to see what they're going to do.
That is what's going on with the reports linking Anthony to the Lakers right now. It's not hard to accept that there would be some interest from L.A. in bringing 'Melo in to bolster a run at another title, but it is impossible to believe that they would be willing to part with Andrew Bynum to make it happen. Their biggest strength is the pairing of Bynum and Pau Gasol inside as counterweights to Kobe Bryant on the perimeter, a strength that would disappear if they pulled the trigger on any trade that sent Bynum to Denver.
Maybe there's actually fire behind the smoke, but it feels like a grand bluff because the end result of the deal wouldn't make the Lakers a likelier champion than they are without the deal. Bluffs work in poker because no one can be sure what cards you have in your hand, but the NBA isn't set up that way. The Knicks know what the Lakers have, they know what the Lakers want to do and they know that the Nuggets have a long history of overplaying their hand.
It's important to remember that the deal with the Nets didn't fall apart because Anthony refused an all expenses paid trip to Newark. It may have ultimately gone nowhere because of that, but it fell apart because the Nuggets kept pushing to get a sweeter deal from the Nets without any regard to how little people like agreeing to one deal before finding the other party with their hands out once again.
There's been some talk that the Nuggets hope that the next CBA sees the NBA institute an NFL-style franchise player tag that allows teams to keep a free agent for a pre-determined salary for one year. That's not a serious threat because it simply keeps this whole Melo-drama alive for another season. It's one thing to punt a few months of one season, but to do it again out of stubborness is colossally stupid.
When you see the Nuggets running around like crazy to find anyone willing to dangle their feet in the pond, it becomes hard to believe their motivation is anything other than keeping Anthony from landing in the place he wants to be. That's understandable because it's hard to feel good about the way Anthony has orchestrated this whole thing while under contract to Denver. At some point, though, every businessman knows he needs to make the best deal he can and then move on to fight another day.
With two weeks left until the trading deadline, that day is drawing awfully close.