NUGGETS

Melo reveals ‘done deal’ that would’ve sent him to Lakers from Denver

Feb 14, 2024, 12:20 PM

On Wednesday, the sports world got an amazing what-if.

Carmelo Anthony revealed on Dwyane Wade’s The Why Podcast that the Denver Nuggets almost sent him to the Los Angeles Lakers and not the New York Knicks. In fact, Melo said the deal was done but reconsidered by Nuggets ownership not wanting to see their star player stay in the West. The podcast will make more headlines for Melo once again saying he never requested a trade away from Denver. Once it became clear he was getting moved, one of the deals on the table would have seen him in Los Angeles in exchange for Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum.

The deal would have placed prime Melo on a team he had just lost to in the conference finals a year and a half earlier. Anthony would have teamed up with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol for Denver’s biggest rival.

“I’m not going to rebuild I just got a taste of the conference finals, I’m not going to rebuild. I have like two years left on a deal and they’re going to make me rebuild. So here’s the play, I’m not rebuilding, I’m hearing rumors they’re going to amnesty Chauncey (Billups), y’all going to send JR (Smith) and Nene to Chicago for somebody, they wanted Joakim. It took me six years to get to that point and now they want me to start over? I don’t know what they’re thing was but I’m not rebuilding and I’m not saying I’m trying to get out of here but they gotta show me the cards and their cards was we want you to stay. And y’all playing with me. I said it in June, I went to a baseball game at Oriole Stadium. We had a good time and we talked like men and we figured it out and we understood where we were at and we were going to make it happen. Here are the teams, Chicago, the deal was done with the Lakers—me and Nene for Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum—I never thought about New York. When they turned that deal down, now it’s like they didn’t want me in the west, send me to the east—get me to New York. The deal was never with New York it was with the New Jersey Nets. The deal was with the Nets and George Karl had a deal with Utah behind the scenes for Derrick Favors, he thought that was a power forward that was a Nene type. So he wanted him to be the next Nene. I ended up in New York and that deal wasn’t supposed to happen.”

YouTube video

If Melo had been traded to the Lakers, NBA history would have changed pretty significantly. While Melo would only end up winning one playoff series the rest of his career after taking the Nuggets to the conference finals, Kobe also only won two more playoff series in his career at the point in which the trade would have occurred. If it had gone through, Melo and Bryant likely would have fared better against Dirk’s Mavs, who swept the Lakers and the upstart Thunder a year later. The trade also would have meant Dwight Howard would not have been traded to LA for Bynum, who was now on the Nuggets. And that also probably means Steve Nash would not have wound up in LA. All in all, the end for Kobe may have not come as soon and Melo likely would have had a better chance coming out of the West than the East where Wade partnered with LeBron James and Chris Bosh in Miami. Melo won a scoring title in New York and was still a perennial All-Star, Bryant could have had his window extended, and Melo’s could be a Lakers icon who got the keys from Kobe and handed them to LeBron.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets would not have gotten the pick that netted them Jamal Murray years later and would have had players way older than early 20-year-olds Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. Odom was in his 30s and Bynum was just 25, but both were out of the league by the end of 2013.

It all worked out for Denver, who finally won a title in 2023-24, thanks in small part to getting the Melo trade right. And Anthony played for the Lakers with his buddy James before retiring, so it all came full circle.

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