So here it is, Monday afternoon, and as we all await word on what Carmelo Anthony will or will not say at the Nuggets' media day today (J.A. Adande will bring you the blow-by-blow), it's worth taking a look at why the New Jersey Nets still have to believe they are in the lead when it comes to acquiring Anthony.
All the latest trade chatter regarding Anthony can be found here in Marc Stein's latest news story. But the broad landscape still remains much the same as it did through last weekend: Anthony still desires a trade to one of the nation's three largest media markets (New York, Los Angeles or Chicago). And with the Chicago Bulls refusing to include Joakim Noah in their offers, and the New York Knicks unable to put together a package of everything the Nuggets are seeking, New Jersey's offer reigns supreme for the time being.
The four-team deal the Nets have helped engineer would give the Nuggets a prime young talent in Derrick Favors, the No. 3 overall pick in last June's draft; a large expiring contract in Andrei Kirilenko, who can actually play when healthy; and a pair of what would appear to be high-quality first-round picks -- the Nets' own 2011 first-round pick, and a first-rounder owed to the Nets by the Golden State Warriors, with 1-7 lottery protection in 2012 and 1-6 protection in 2013 and 2014.
As mentioned here when Knicks president Donnie Walsh spoke with the media last week, New York has been trying without any luck to acquire a first-round pick from another team to sweeten a trade offer believed to be built around Anthony Randolph, the expiring contract of Eddy Curry, along with Danilo Gallinari and/or Toney Douglas. In fact, the Knicks tried without success in August and early September to move Wilson Chandler for a first-round pick, which they then would have shipped to Portland for Rudy Fernandez.
As of Sunday night, the Knicks were thinking they were out of the mix -- unless Anthony were to withdraw his agreement to sign an extension that would keep him with the Nets long-term, something Anthony and Nets part-owner Jay-Z discussed in person last week in New York.
So the Nets are sitting on their same offer (which would cost them Favors, Devin Harris, the rights to Jarvis Hayes along with the two first-round draft picks) as Denver appears ready to make one final sales pitch to 'Melo after spending the weekend taking one more look around the league to see whether something more appealing might be cobbled together.
Very few teams own the rights to multiple first-round draft picks in the next couple of years, as New Jersey does.
Among those who do:
Chicago: The Bulls own their own 2011 and 2012 first-round picks, plus they have the right to receive a first-round pick from Charlotte in 2012 (the Bobcats' pick carries lottery protection in 2012, 1-12 protection in 2013, 1-10 protection in 2014, 1-8 protection in 2015 and becomes unprotected in 2016).
Houston: The Rockets have their own 2012 pick and the Knicks' 2012 first-round pick, plus they have the right to swap first-round picks with the Knicks in 2011.
Minnesota: The Timberwolves have the rights to a future Utah pick (protected 1-16 in 2011, 1-14 in 2012 and 1-12 in 2013), plus a future Memphis first-round pick on which the lottery protection declines from 1-14 in 2011 to 1-12 in 2012, 1-10 in 2013 and 1-9 in 2014 and 2015.
L.A. Clippers: The Clippers have the rights to their own 2011 first-round pick (protected 1-10) and to Minnesota's first-round pick, although the Timberwolves' pick carries 1-10 lottery protection in 2011 before becoming unprotected in 2012. However, the Clippers also owe the Oklahoma City Thunder a first-round pick that likely will be the worse of their own 2012 picks or Minnesota's 2012 pick).
Toronto: The Raptors have their own 2011 first-round pick plus Miami's (provided Miami makes the playoffs, which is a safe assumption).