Carmelo Anthony will go down as one of the most polarizing figures in the NBA, as well as one of the greatest scorers to ever play the game. In his prime in 2010, Anthony was one of the best players on the planet and a coveted superstar by many other teams when it became clear he was going to wind up leaving the Denver Nuggets. While he ultimately was traded to the New York Knicks, it’s easy to forget about the trade to the New Jersey Nets that never happened.
During the late months of 2010, Denver’s Channel 7 reported that the Nuggets had agreed to trade Anthony to the Nets. This trade news was obviously huge, especially after Anthony had recently told Denver that he would not be signing his three-year extension unless he was traded to the New York Knicks, a team he had long been wanting to play for. The Nuggets, however, seemingly pulled the trigger on the trade that sent Anthony to New Jersey, and it was for what would be a haul even by today’s standards.
According to the report at the time, this blockbuster trade centered around Derrick Favors, Troy Murphy, and two first-round picks (from 2011 and 2012) being sent to Denver in exchange for Anthony. While the framework to the trade had been agreed upon, the one thing seemingly holding it up was Anthony, who would have to decide whether or not to sign an extension with the Nets.
This reported agreement was soon refuted, but an ESPN report in January 2011 — just a month later — suggested again that Anthony would likely be heading to New Jersey. According to Chris Broussard and Marc Stein, the Nuggets and Nets nearly came to an agreement, this time with the Detroit Pistons acting as a third team to help.
The proposed deal would have seen a major shakeup in the NBA, with the Nets receiving Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, and Rip Hamilton, and then the Nuggets landing two future first-round picks and six players in total, including Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, and Anthony Morrow. For the Pistons, they were set to receive Johan Petro as well as Troy Murphy, and they were motivated to join the deal in order to help shed Hamilton’s contract and get $17-plus million in savings.
Of course, we know that no such deal ever took place, and it likely had a lot to do with the fact that Anthony was not willing to sign an extension with the Nets. At the time, the Nets were bad and were coming off a franchise-worst 12-70 season. That year, the Nets would go on to finish with a 24-58 record, so it isn’t too surprising to see why Anthony likely wouldn’t have agreed to any deal.
Instead, the Nuggets were finally able to work out a deal with the Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves, and Anthony was traded to the team he had wanted to be on all along. While his tenure with the Knicks didn’t result in much playoff success, Melo remains one of the most prolific Knicks of all time, and he will go down as one of the most iconic members of the franchise.
Still, it is interesting to wonder what could have been had he been willing to sign with the Nets.