After seeing what transpired in Miami this summer, of course anything can happen in the NBA. But acquiring superstars isn’t easy and to get one you usually must pay a heavy price.
For example, for the [Orlando] Magic to pull off a blockbuster and acquire Anthony it would also mean they likely would have to assume other undesirable contracts. Losing Melo would mean Denver would be starting over, so the Nuggets might also be looking to unload Chauncey Billups ($27.3 million still owed), Nene ($22.9 million still owed) or Kenyon Martin ($16.5 million still owed).
The Magic could trade Vince Carter ($17.3 million) straight up for Anthony ($17.1 million), but it assuredly wouldn’t be that easy. While Orlando holds the team option on the final year of Carter’s contract, few know that there is a $4 million penalty that Carter will get if a team buys him out. Orlando would likely have to throw $3 million (the most allowed by NBA rules) into any trade to make the transaction work.
And for all of his flash, Anthony does have his flaws. He’s an incredible scorer, but he would be taking more shots away from Dwight Howard. And defense and rebounding are but rumors with Anthony. If the Magic could land him without sacrificing too much it would be a no-brainer. But trades of this magnitude are rarely that easy.
It bears repeating that the odds of the Orlando Magic acquiring Carmelo Anthony are slim to none. Even though Anthony, indeed, has leverage in terms of where he wants to go, the Denver Nuggets are still the team that has the pull the trigger. And with the dismissal of Mark Warkentien, vice president of basketball operations, who knows how long it’ll take for the Nuggets to find a suitable replacement. Time will tell.
Oh, but there’s more.
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However, if there’s something that can be addressed, it’s the perception and reality of Anthony’s skill level. Is Anthony a top five player? No. Is Anthony an efficient player on offense? No. Anthony’s True Shooting Percentage and effective field goal percentage were at or below the league average last season. Granted, Anthony’s Offensive Rating was 110, which was above the league average. Also, if there’s a bright side to Anthony’s obscenely high usage rate (33.4 percent in 2010), it’s that he does an excellent job of taking care of the basketball. That being said, Anthony doesn’t compare favorably to his peers offensively. Yes, Anthony can score and if there’s one thing the Magic desperately need, it’s a dominant perimeter scorer, but he does so with nary an ounce of efficiency.
Another issue is fit.
Anthony’s career usage rate is 31.1 percent, which is high. To put that number in perspective, LeBron James’ career usage rate is 31.9 percent. James is one of the most efficient scorers in the NBA. Anthony is not. If Anthony were to join Orlando, he would have no choice but to cut down on his possessions. Dwight Howard has to be the focal point of the offense if the Magic want to win a championship. If Anthony is willing to accept a lesser role compared to his standards, then perhaps the arrangement could work in theory. But these are all valid concerns.
As for Anthony’s rebounding prowess and defensive acumen, those aren’t major issues. At least, they shouldn’t be. Anthony’s defense isn’t great — it never will be — but he’s improved on that end of the floor in recent years (the numbers suggest he regressed defensively last season, though) and would benefit from playing alongside Howard. Still, even though Anthony has gotten better on defense, there are still questions about his desire, commitment, and appreciation with an aspect of basketball that doesn’t have anything to do with scoring. That’s something that head coach Stan Van Gundy would have to address, or else Anthony’s scoring prowess might be nullified by his lack of impact defensively. Even then, in the grand scheme of things, Orlando’s issues aren’t on defense.
What’s held the Magic back against the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics in the last two years has been the inability to score with consistency.
Anthony could fix that issue, at least.
All this rhetoric is probably all for naught, but it’s worth pointing out.
*all the numbers that are shown were for the 2009-2010 regular season