NBA / Jan 21, 2011 / 10:30 am

A Nets Fan’s Take On ‘Melo-Drama

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony, Dime #16

When Mikhail Prokhorov bought the Nets back in May, I drank the Prokhorov Kool-Aid like no other. As a diehard Nets fan, I had just witnessed a 12-win season, the team trading away all of my favorite players, and worst of all, losing the Draft Lottery and seeing the Wizards end up with John Wall. My optimism about the team was at an all-time low, and the only thing I could grasp on to for any hope was Prokhorov with his deep pockets and bravado.

After Prokhorov became owner, I saw LeBron James, or at least Rudy Gay, wearing a Nets uniform on Opening Day. I envisioned players lining up to play for the mysterious man from Russia who promised to make his team into a global superpower. Even when all the big-name free agents spurned us and we were left with a disappointing haul of Travis Outlaw, Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro and Anthony Morrow, I justified it as being financially prudent and saving cap space for the Summer of 2011. And when the pursuit of Carmelo Anthony began in September, the excitement rushing through my body was so palpable that I even turned a raggedy old Nets t-shirt into something resembling a Carmelo jersey. I thought finally, finally the Nets were on their way back to relevance, but when the pursuit ended before the season, I was still optimistic – especially after they won their first two games.

Last month, the pursuit of ‘Melo picked up again and my mind went back and forth between optimism and pessimism. By last week, I just wanted there to be a resolution one way or another. Either ‘Melo was coming to New Jersey and being the face of the Nets as they moved into Brooklyn, or he wasn’t, and they would move forward without him. I just wanted the drama to end, but I could never have expected it to end the way it did with Prokhorov, the supposed White Knight, saying the pursuit was over in a press conference. I was glad it all ended, but now I am left confused – both about Prokhorov as an owner, and the future of my beloved Nets.

The first implication I think this trade has for the Nets is it means that no A-List free agents will be signing with them now or in the foreseeable future. They came so close to landing a top-10 player in the NBA and failed, because there was no certainty ‘Melo would even sign the extension with the Nets. This is a situation where the Nets had a ton of leverage: the Nuggets wanted to trade ‘Melo to them, they are moving to his birthplace in two years, and they could offer him maximum money he wanted. Yet they still couldn’t get the deal done and get him to New Jersey.

With no star to recruit free agents, and the sting of being spurned repeatedly by every star player since July, it appears no free agent would sign with this team unless the Nets vastly overpaid for them, something Prokhorov has pledged not to do. Nobody is lining up to play with Devin Harris and Brook Lopez these days, and the Nets, I sadly think, are finally starting to realize that.

Another big factor that will prevent the team from making that big splash they have tried so hard to create is Brooklyn. The Nets have been pitching the aura of Brooklyn and playing in the Barclays Center for years, but yet there is nothing more than steel in the ground at this point. The lure of Brooklyn will not exist until the Barclays Center is finished and the team moves in, because then players will see the arena is no longer just talk. Until then, the Nets will have to cope with playing in New Jersey and the second-fiddle status that offers them in the New York area, and they will have to wait to compete with the big dogs.

While the future is no longer centered around Carmelo Anthony, I still retain some optimism this team can be good in about three years. The Nets have five first-rounders combined in 2011 and 2012, including their own picks which are likely to be in the top-five each year. If New Jersey can somehow land a difference-maker in the Draft like Oklahoma City did with both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, then add solid role players like Serge Ibaka and James Harden, the future can be bright. If the team can also acquire solid pieces to the playoff puzzle who aren’t named Outlaw, then add them into the mix with Derrick Favors, Lopez and Harris, then maybe, just maybe, I will have something to cheer for. Until then, I will just have to hope Favors turns into a stud, and Prokhorov finally starts backing up all his talk with some bold moves that help him fulfill his promise of a championship within five years.

What do you think?

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  • Abe504

    I think its actually commendable for a owner to pull out of the deal, they were giving too much anyways for Melo.

  • Grant

    I too am a die hard nets fan and honestly, I don’t think I could have been happier with the way this trade ended. The chase and the nonsense and melo refusing to say anything about anything was becoming nothing but a joke and an insult to both teams. Both teams performance was also taking a dive. I used to like melo but I think the way he handled this has shown his true colors and now I’m glad he isn’t on the team since he quite obviously never wanted to be in the first place. Team harmony aside, signing melo ensures nothing but reliving the tail end of the Jason Kidd era where the nets were a first round playoff team…win nothing and get no draft picks worth a damn.

    I salute mutant Russian mark Cuban for standing up and saying no, f you mr anthony.

  • Patrick

    I actually think the nets could pick up melo in the off season still. The team is more attractive if they don’t leverage all of their youth and draft picks for anthony. Teams win with star players and good roll players. Without both of those things a franchise is lost.

  • stillanetsfan

    I have been a die hard nets fan my whole life and I havent had this much optimism about my team since before kidd was traded. Watching that Proky press conference was the best 10 minutes in the last 2 years as a nets fan. It really gave me belief that Prok is a game changer in this league. The Nuggets thought they could take their precious time with this trade and come out of it with the entire nets organization in return for a superstar and they were very very wrong. Keep our 5 first round picks in the next two years, keep our young assets, because one day in the next few years we will be more than a decent team in this league. I cant wait for the trade deadline to come around and have Kroenke and Ujiri beg for half of the previous trade because they have no offers on the table and Prok to tell them to go F themselves. That will be a great feeling. Go Nets

  • dibiaseink

    hahaha nets suck.. will always suck..cry nets fans..nobody wants to play for ur sqad! hahahaa

  • YOUNGFED

    Boooooooooorrrrriiiiinnnnnng……

  • kyballer

    @Grant – How did he handle this poorly? He stated he wished to be traded to NY not the Nets? Denver and NJ were the ones whom wanted to work this trade out. He stayed out of the media and did his job on the court. He doesn’t want to play for your favorite team so now he’s a bad guy? Help me understand what HE did wrong during this process? He will have the option of going ANYWHERE he chooses at the end of the season…most likely NY if he doesn’t stay in Denver. So why would he he lock himself into a long-term contract with a team he doesn’t want to play for anyway? He is looking out for himself as the teams are doing the same…he just can afford to play the wait game. Denver is under the gun…not Melo. What, do you want him to make a “DECISION”?

  • grant

    @kyballer

    I just think the way he has handled the whole situation stinks. Even taking the nets out of the equation i think its a load of crap that he hasnt told the nuggets outright that he isnt signing the extension. He has just left it on the table and strung EVERYONE along.

    As for the nets, if he didnt want to play there then why not just come out and say he wont sign an extension with them? Instead he feeds the media some crap about “i dunno nothing, im not talking to nobody”. Just say, i will not sign extension with the nets. Bam, end of story and he is no worse off.

  • money

    I really wish players would stop their bitchin and just play basketball. Melo is a bitch! I wish more players were like Steve Nash. Be professional dammit. You sign a huge contract extension and then back out whenever you feel like it? It’s a load of crap. You can express dissatisfaction with management, you can try to recruit people ala d-wade, but just outright demanding a trade, and then being super picky about what team to be traded to, is just wrong. All these players are serious brats.

  • Average Jose

    I think it’s within Carmelo’s rights to finish out his contract with Denver and sign with whoever damn well he pleases.

    If Denver wants to try and trade him to whoever, then it’s in their right to try, but this doesn’t mean that Carmelo is obligated to sign with that team!

    Carmelo can agree to a sign and trade if he wants to.

    The only thing that could have been better is if Carmelo were more forthcoming with the fact that he is not interested in signing with the Nets. But a man is allowed to think about it. The Denver / Nets were the ones trying to rush and put Carmelo in a bad spot.