Iggy For 'Melo? Is It Truly Worth It?

NEW YORK CITY NY - AUGUST 13: Carmelo Anthony of USAB during the World Basketball Festival at Rucker Park on August 13 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images for Nike)

If the trade goes through, then the Sixers should be in a better position to win now and in the future.

For those of you unaware to the goings-on regarding the Carmelo Anthony/Denver situation, here are the basics: Melo is entering the last year of his contract and all signs point to him not re-signing with the team and instead bolting à la LeBron and Bosh. The Nuggets are aware of this and thus, are looking for trade partners so they can get something in return other than cap space which would likely go unused (Exhibit A: Cleveland, Exhibit B: Toronto). The apparent frontrunner to land Carmelo is the New Jersey Nets but the 76ers are also believed to be interested in acquiring him after originally saying that they were not interested (insert Andy Reid QB analogy here). There are various reports as to who the trade pieces would be and whether or not it would be a three way trade involving Philly, Denver, and New Jersey or just Carmelo to Philly for a number of players. But each scenario involves the Sixers giving up Andre Iguodala and that statement is the basis for this column.

I'll just get to my main point: Andre Iguodala will NEVER be the best player on a championship team. NEVER. It's simply not in his DNA just as it wasn't in Kevin Garnett's, David Robinson's, or Clyde Drexler's. I've said it before but there is a certain "killer" mentality that a player needs to have and neither of those three players nor Iggy have that mentality. Does Carmelo Anthony have that mentality? We don't know that but in my opinion, here is an unquestionable fact: Carmelo Anthony CAN be the best player on a championship team. How do I know that? Well because he's practically a younger, bigger version of the 2008 Finals MVP, Paul Pierce. Just take a look at the comparison chart below and notice how similar their careers were through seven seasons.

Name

Games

PPG

RPG

APG

BPG

SPG

Pierce (98-05)

444

23.2

6.5

3.6

0.9

1.8

Anthony (03-10

445

24.2

6.1

3.1

0.4

1.1

 

How people describe Anthony now is how they talked about Pierce six to seven years ago. They said he is a gifted player but wondered if he truly got "it." Their off-the-court incidents of being in the wrong place at the wrong time certainly didn't put a positive image in people's minds (Pierce was stabbed 11 times while trying to break up a fight and Anthony made a cameo in the infamous Stop Snitchin' video). On the court, neither player was ever truly thought of as being among the elite at his position due to the lack of an overall game. Pierce had to take a backseat to Kobe, Vince Carter, and Tracy McGrady while Anthony takes a backseat to LeBron, D-Wade, and Kevin Durant. But what Pierce became (and what whoever lands Carmelo hopes he becomes) is someone who can carry you to the finish line. When the lights were on brightest, Pierce stepped his game up and carried the Celtics to the championship. Anthony's biggest stage to this moment was at the 2008 Summer Olympics and that team chose him, not Kobe and not LeBron, to be the "designated scorer" for the team. Ironically, Kobe's role was the defensive stopper which is the same role that Coach K bestowed upon Andre Iguodala at this year's FIBA Games.

Getting back to the Iggy trade possibility, you have to assess what the ceiling of your team will be with him on it as opposed to another player and that is how I evaluate if a trade would be a good move or not. Philly would likely have to part with Thaddeus Young as well as a couple of expiring contracts (unfortunately Elton Brand is not one of those). So we would be looking at a nucleus of Carmelo, Evan Turner, and Jrue Holiday. Doesn't that sound better than Iggy, Thaddeus Young, Turner and Holiday? I think so and this move would allow Turner to be the new Iggy. He wouldn't be restricted to playing off-ball and could serve in the Scottie Pippen-point forward role to Carmelo's Jordan-role. That is a much more complimentary pairing than Turner and Iggy who are essentially the same types of players.

Can you think of a coach who gets more out of a player other than Doug Collins? He would be absolutely perfect for Carmelo because he would preach the importance of defense and being an all-around player which are really the only knocks in Carmelo's game. George Karl is the most laid-back coach in the NBA and Melo is exactly that ... mellow. He needs someone who can light a fire under him and get him to perform to his absolute best and Collins knows what that is because he's seen it in person. During the 2009 Western Conference Finals the Nuggets played the Lakers and Collins commentated for TNT for some of the games and I vividly remember both him and Kenny Smith saying that at times, Carmelo Anthony was the best player on the court (and to the cynics, yes, Kobe was on the court when they said that). He's already one of the top three pure scorers in the game but Collins would be able to extract every ounce of ability from Carmelo and help him become a complete player.

With all of that being said, not one bit of it matters if: A. a three-way deal sends us Derrick Favors instead of Carmelo who ends up in New Jersey. B. Carmelo is reluctant to sign an extension with Philly; thus giving us a single year with him. C. no trade goes through. Point A would have to be covered at another time and Point C would make this moot but point B is a serious cause for concern. The only way I would endorse trading for Carmelo Anthony is if he agrees to a contract extension with us before the deal is even consummated. Philly doesn't need to  be treated like Cleveland or Toronto and be left high and dry as our best player says all the things that make you believe he's staying but is really plotting a move to somewhere else (like New York). Carmelo would have to agree to an extension BEFORE accepting the trade. If Ed Stefanski doesn't make that a prerequisite then I have lost the little faith I had remaining in him and it would be clear that he cares more about making headlines rather than winning. This cannot be a short-term, one-season fix. If we are giving up our best player who's signed to a long-term deal, then we must be getting back a player who is here for the long haul.

Of course, if no trade actually happens then this whole column is rendered useless but hey, at least it created some water cooler talk.

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