When Carmelo Anthony talks dominated the digital airwaves last winter, it was widely speculated that Melo's departure could mean the Denver Nuggets' demise. Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri proved to be a hard bargainer, however, and despite having only one real option as a trading partner, he managed to bring in four quality players along with draft picks in the deal. And not only did Denver not fall out of the playoff race, they have played better since the trade, slowed only recently by a massive slate of injuries.
Just days after Anthony was shipped to New York, the Utah Jazz traded Deron Williams, their own discontented superstar, to New Jersey. Utah hasn't been quite as successful as Denver, but despite a haul heavier on youth and draft picks, the Jazz aren't far behind the Nuggets, and are squarely in the playoff picture out West.
Trading a superstar, in other words, is by no means a death sentence -- not even in the short run. But it's not always a winning move, either. New Orleans went from a No. 7 seed in the playoffs to a 4-23 start after sending Chris Paul to Los Angeles. While it's true that the Hornets are the unluckiest team in the NBA so far (defined by TeamRankings.com's NBA luck rankings, which compare expected wins to actual wins), they've also gotten almost no production from Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman or Al-Farouq Aminu. If Denver and Utah "won" their respective superstar trades, New Orleans definitely lost.
There's one more superstar domino to fall, though. Dwight Howard is on the market, and moving him could change the future of many NBA franchises.