Mavs 'Touch Base' With Denver On 'Melo Trade

The Mavs have in recent days "continue to touch base'' with the Nuggets regarding Carmelo Anthony trade ideas, sources tell us. But it seems there are three immovable hurdles blocking ‘Melo-to-the-Mavs from viability.

As detailed to us tonight by two NBA sources, those hurdles are:

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*What Denver believes it can get in exchange from somebody like New Jersey, which features young "lottery-level'' talent like Devin Harris and Derrick Favors. If the Nuggets are preparing to tear down their roster and rebuild – the likely path assuming Anthony departs – they will want to do so with a core of young-but-proven talent.

Our understanding is that while Rodrigue Beaubois might fit that profile, Dallas comes up short in terms of other names. Dominique Jones? He's the 25th pick, a rookie, who is toiling in the D-League. J.J. Barea? Not a building block. Ian Mahinmi and Alexis Ajinca? Obviously not A-level talent.

What Dallas has done, to its credit, is develop some "D-level'' guys into "C-level'' guys; Mahinmi and Ajinca would have supplemental value in trades.

But Denver isn't interested in supplements.

Nor, apparently, are they interested in a package that would also feature the expiring contract of Caron Butler.

Whenever Dallas calls to bring up its grab-bag of assets – let's say, $3 million cash, two first-round draft picks, Roddy Beaubois, Butler's $10.8 mil expiring and DeShawn Stevenson's $4.1 mil expiring -- the Nuggets come away leaving the impression that they can and will do better.

(The Nets, by the way, are in the process of adding more ammunition in the form of picks.

*The shared desire of Anthony and the Nuggets to send him "back East.''

On this issue, we have never wavered – and neither have Mavericks executives. Try as they might, Dallas is still getting every indication that if Denver cannot convince ‘Melo to accept its three-year extension worth $65 million, it wants him out of the Western Conference.

Some teams' front offices deal with a security base that doesn't necessitate that sort of thinking. (For instance, Dallas'; it's not like team owner Mark Cuban fears the ramifications of making a risky deal.) Presently, the Denver front office does not have that luxury.

As it's been explained to us: Denver's youthful rookie management tandem of GM Masai Ujiri and owner's son Josh Kroenke believes this transaction will loom on their resumes … and they have no interest in seeing Anthony come back to haunt them multiple times per season for the next decade.

Dallas happens to think that is short-sighted thinking. But it is Denver's thinking.

And then there is Anthony's desire to go to New York or New Jersey. The Big Apple media continues to joust over which franchise is more attractive, which franchise has today's "inside track'' and the like. Daily seesawing notwithstanding, we are told that both clubs remain "front-runners'' for his services – with teams like the Mavericks barely on the radar.

"The agents want him in (the New York area), his wife (entertainer LaLa) wants him there, and ultimately, he wants to be there,'' a source said.

*The issue of the extension.

We reported in August that Anthony was more willing to sign an extension with the Knicks than with any other club. We are told today that remains the case.

We also said in August that ‘Melo owns a special form of "free agency'' in that any unwillingness on his part to sign an extension with the club he's proposed to be dealt to might preclude that team from pulling the trigger.

Yet we are now told the Mavericks would be interested in a rent-a-player situation – a slight shift from their position last summer. They would give that aforementioned package and move forward confident in the belief that an immersion in "Mavericks culture'' would impress Anthony.

They would argue that Jason Kidd came here and hopes to never leave, and that now Tyson Chandler has come here and hopes for the same. They would even argue that the film-and-television industry in Texas is a blooming one (though we don't think LaLa is going to be convinced that McKinney Ave. is Broadway.)

Dallas (or any other team giving chase) would love to make the extension itself more than a "promise''; it can formally be part of the trade. The NBA has a little-known provision in the rules that allows an Extend-and-Trade that works the very same way a Sign-and-Trade does. ‘Melo would sign an extension with Denver that is conditioned on his trade to some specified team within 48 hours.

But it simply isn't coming to the issue of an extension … because as willing to bend as the Mavs now are, the other two parties involved – the Nuggets and Anthony – are not bending toward Dallas.

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