Lost amid all of the glee in Gotham, there is another team affected by the Carmelo Anthony trade.
The Denver Nuggets, basically in the position of losing Carmelo Anthony to free agency at the end of the season (or the end of negotiations over the collective bargaining agreement, if you want to look at it that way), are receiving a lot of pieces for their star forward.
Unfortunately, in the short term, those pieces are not nearly as much as they should have received for a player and the draw power of Anthony.
The Nuggets were basically forced to trade Anthony to the only team he would sign an extension with. Had Denver traded Anthony to any team it wanted to, the Nuggets would have received far better compensation.
However, when you consider what players the Nuggets received, in combination with the draft picks they will have, Denver's future isn't exactly bleak.
Currently, the Nuggets will be playing without a go-to-guy. The closest thing would be the uber-talented but undisciplined J.R. Smith. The shooting guard currently averages just 11.2 points per game, but that's mainly because Anthony and Billups were taking most of the shots.
With that tandem gone, Smith takes a bigger role. As does under-rated center Nene.
But Denver needs to consider next season. This season is lost, as the departure of Anthony dims the chances of the Nuggets making the playoffs even though they're currently in the eight spot. They will likely drop out of playoff contention in the next couple of weeks, and never look back.
Expect multiple changes from the Nuggets, and perhaps as soon as later today and tomorrow. This is not the team the Nuggets organization anticipated, so there is no point in pretending to care about players that were part of a deal because their salaries were in line with dealing Anthony.
But if young GM Masai Ujiri knows what he's doing, this could be a great opportunity for the Nuggets.
With Nene, Smith, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov ,Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Aaron Afflalo, and Al Harrington, the cupboard isn't empty. Most importantly, the Nuggets have draft picks, and a lot of them.
Gallinari and Mozgov will likely be traded very soon, and that will add even more draft picks into the fold.
There will be cap space to land a free agent as well, though none that could possibly be as good as Anthony.
Basically, the Nuggets now have an eye on the future, which isn't so bad, because with Anthony the Nuggets weren't in contention for the Finals. George Karl - who has recovered from cancer but probably would have thoughts on retirement regardless - is likely to be done in Denver by the off-season, and new coach may reinvigorate the organization, as well.
Last season, they were knocked out in the first round by Utah, and that really bothered Anthony. He wasn't angry so much at the loss, but rather how the team lost. That was probably the beginning of the end for Anthony in Denver. He felt he could do better and playing for the Knicks was the right kind of improvement.
A close look at the Anthony-era may not seem as rosy as fans in New York who are jumping in the streets right now may want to think. The reality check is Anthony had taken the Nuggets to seven trips to the playoffs, and was bounced out of the first round in six of them.
The lone exception was 2009 when the Nuggets fell to the Lakers in six games in the Western Conference Finals. In the sixth game, Denver lost by 27 points on their home floor.
If Denver fans seriously thought the Nuggets had a chance to unseat the Lakers this season, they are delusional. Another first-round exit would likely have been the case, as San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Dallas, and Portland all have shown more promise, and a better chance of knocking off the Lakers than Denver.
In losing Anthony, the Nuggets have traded their perennial seat in the Western Conference Playoffs for a seat in the NBA Draft lottery. By making smart picks, and utilizing the players they have at the moment, the Nuggets can put themselves in the position to exceed the results that Anthony brought to Denver.
By that time, the aging Lakers and Spurs may not be the dominant powers they have been over the past 12 years.
How the Nuggets build from here will be the answer to how good the Carmelo Anthony trade really is.