Who doesn’t love a good game of monopoly? Well, like all games of monopoly, it ain’t worth it unless it goes for far too long. I thought I would break down this real life game of Monopoly that is unfolding before us with the Carmelo Anthony trade speculation. Most important part of a game of Monopoly is choosing your piece. Before you select, it’s best you know the background info. Here are your pieces (links and vids aplenty), choose wisely! Shotgun the Battleship!

1. Carmelo Anthony as Casper The Ghost

I just heard David Alridge ask Melo, “why don’t you just come out with a definitive statement, either I want to be traded, or I want to play for the Nuggets,” to which Melo replied, “I don’t really know how to answer that question right now.” All signs point to him ending up in New Jersey, but all signs also indicate his strong preference (mine too!) is that he land in New York with his pal Amar’e. Most important piece in this game, will take New York into 2nd Round and beyond territory, but still confused where he would take the lowly NJ Nets, especially with the additional salary dump being attempted by Denver. Talk about pairing him up with CP3 may be premature, if Al Harrington and others join Melo in the trade, and if Sook Lopez is re-signed, who knows what cash the Nets will have stashed in their back pocket. It’s clear he’s all but gone from Denver, but it seems he is attempting to stay committed to Denver until the 11th hour, unlike Mr. Carter managed to do in Toronto. Denver fans, I’m sorry to say but Melo will just be a Ghost haunting your NBA memories for the next decade, and an opponent you will face twice a year.

2. Leon Rose & Worldwide Wes as The Sharks

These names ring a bell? Well in case you forgot, they were the orchestrators of the entire LeBron-athon drama last year. At the moment they represent LeBron, Bosh, Wade, Melo and many more (including Aussie David Anderson). They are attempting to turn their agency CAA into an NBA Power House, and after broking the deal for LeBron to Miami, their next plan is dropping off Melo in New Jersey. Although Melo is their client, they signed him up after his last contract, so they are yet to earn a dime off of him. If Melo inks that $65M extension, they walk away with $2.6M. Some nice pocket money. But more so the Melo-to-Nets deal would give William Wesley (also buddies with Eddy Curry for those playing at home!) extra access into Prokhorov’s empire and give him what many consider “unlimited power” in the New Jersey Nets. It seems the clear path these guys are following is a deal to New Jersey, no questions asked. It would also greatly please CAA client LeBron if Melo ends up with Kris Humphries and not Amar’e Stoudemire.

3. Masai Ujiri & Josh Kroenke as Assistants to the Regional Manager

So Josh Kroenke was hired by Daddy to be the Nuggets Executive, and Masai Ujiri (first African born General Manager of an American sports team, representing Nigeria) is the newly named Nugget GM, who was an unpaid scout for Orlando back in the day, then a paid scout for Denver, then Assistant GM in Toronto in 2008, until coming back to Denver as GM. Basically, these guys are in a lose-lose situation, much like our good friend Dwight Schrute of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. There’s no way they get more than 50 cents on the dollar for Melo, and talk of letting him play out the year in Denver and trying their luck on that contract extension later are outrageous. Why? Ujiri was GM in Toronto last year, as mentioned, the same Toronto team that let Chris Bosh walk… for nothing. No way he lets that happen two seasons in a row for teams he is running. They seem to want to deal him to New Jersey because of the 50000 draft picks NJ are offering, but no deal is going to return them an All-Star of Melo’s calibre. Basically they have picked up a Go Directly To Jail Card – Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200. Nothing good will come from this. I mean at least they aren’t taxi drivers, these guys have a cool job I’ll give them that, but they don’t really have enough power in this situation to get what they want, and may have to soon start chatting with Donnie Walsh much to their disdain.

4. Donnie Walsh as The Friendly Neighbour

All the media are talking about, and have been talking about since August, is Denver to New Jersey, and that New York are a long shot. Knicks GM Donnie Walsh has reportedly had no real opportunities to work on a deal with the Nuggets, but remains patiently waiting to the side. You know how every time Homer bumps into Flanders he shudders, wishing he could have avoided that conversation, wishing to be anywhere but there? That’s got to be the exact same feeling the Denver boys have when they get a call or message from Donnie now. Walsh is in a good situation here though. If Melo comes to NY, great. If Melo elects to play out the year in Denver so he can sign wherever he wants in the off season, great. If Melo is traded to the Nets, the Knicks retain their rejuvenated roster and enter free agency with enough cash to get what they need, great. I’m sure Donnie has been stepping up his efforts of late, but I think at this stage it’s safe to say, he’s letting everyone else make their mistakes first. At the end of the day is when he will slip over and ask, “can I borrow some brown sugar?”

5. Rip Hamilton as El Desperado

Rip is caught up in this mess for one reason, his agent is Leon Rose. Rose has had a very long relationship with Hamilton and so now the CAA boys are attempting to bring Hamilton across to New Jersey, to A) Build up the roster Carmelo would be joining and B) Release Rip from the clutches of possibly the most unattractive franchise in basketball right now, Detroit. Hamilton can barely get on the court these days, so if Melo is being told he will help lead him to a ring I hope he sees through the lies. Might I add Hamilton still has a lot of money owed to him (a lazy $25M) over the next two years, which would directly impact any potential Chris Paul signing. Detroit would love to lose this contract, so they won’t get hit with the Rent associated with his declining game (hands up if you roll the dice really quickly to avoid rent, yes!).

6. Chauncey Billups as the Hometown Hero

One of the worst parts of this game of Monopoly being played out in front of us, is that Colorado native Chauncey BIllups has been caught up in the talks, even though he does not want to leave. Part of the reason is to satisfy Carmelo upon his arrival, “you will be joined by good friend and current team mate Chauncey Billups”. Too bad his agent has already requested a buy out from New Jersey. If you’re wondering if he still got game, just last year he put up 30pts while Melo put up 50pts, becoming only the 3rd duo in NBA history to score 30 and 50 respectively. The opponent that night? You can’t make this up… The Knicks.

7. Wilson Chandler as Poker Face

Followers of NBAmate will be familiar with my New, New York Knicks segments, where I have detailed before how hilarious Wilson Chandler actually is. 6th foul in the fourth quarter? No problem. 360 dunk on Dikembe Mutumbo? No problem. You’ve just been robbed? No problem. You just won the lottery? No problem. Honestly you can’t read this man, and before the season, neither could Kroenke or Ujiri. As we approach All-Star weekend, Wilson has maintained his strong play, and perhaps changed the “we don’t want your junk” stance the Nuggets have reportedly maintained with Donnie Walsh. Putting up just under 18pts, 6.3rebs, 1.7asts and 1.5blks per outing, Chandler has been a solid rock for the emerging Knicks this season. He’s no Melo, but he may be a nice piece for Denver to add to their team. Walsh has made it clear he hopes to retain Ill Will, but we will have to believe if he has to move him for Melo he will.

8. OJ Mayo as The Better Looking Twin

As a happy newly married man, this has never been a problem for me, but you know those movies where the guy gets the girl. Then he realises she has a better looking twin? Well in this situation, Mayo could be viewed as that second, better looking girl. Better hair, better teeth, better figure, better sense of humour, did I mention the figure? Well as far as Denver are concerned a deal with the Knicks would land them the plain and boring twin. So as of today it became known Donnie Walsh is working with Memphis to get Denver a player they may value. It’s just that this twin sister will beat the crap out of you on a plane if you get too frisky on the first date!

9. Derrick Favors as The Namesake

This part of the trade is what I like to call the Community Chest element, just a little something extra to help the game get going, but nothing to do with the real game. I don’t think anyone has been blown away by Derrick Favors game thus far. Denver fans will be pretty let down if this is the key component of a Melo deal, as has been rumoured all season (I remember logging on to some dodgy internet café in Bali on my honeymoon to see the headline “Carmelo trade approved”, luckily upon my return that all fell through). He is 6’10” and gives you 6pts and 5rebs in 18 minutes of play, but it has to be said his mental health must be taking a hit for these constant trade rumours. Besides draft picks, Denver see value in getting at least one “name” back that they will build with, they have to have something to shown immediately that will benefit them in the long run. He is an innocent bystander, with Kroenke, Ujiri, Worldwide Wes and Rose all pulling the strings. Overall though, not so much better than the “junk” the Knicks have to move.

10. Avery Johnson as Mini-Me

If you’ve been around the NBA for a while like I have, you laughed at Johnson as a player, as he ran the San Antonio Spurs as their little General, you could not hold your laughter when he spoke at press conferences, you cringed when he “mis-handled” Josh Howard, but you could also smell the passion through the TV screen. His involvement in all of this is not as influential or important as others in this list, but make no mistake he is still a player. He has been quite open in saying he is just going to coach what he has, and has continually said he doesn’t think much is happening at the moment. When asked by a reporter if he dreamed of coaching someone like Melo, he said, “No. I dream of our center getting 10 rebounds.” If part of the selling point (and it has been a major selling point being pushed by pro-NJers out there) is playing alongside a great up and coming C in Lopez, he better get his act together, and Johnson better work for peace. But that’s unlikely as we know there is a tad of Small Man Syndrome at play here, and Avery don’t back down.

11. Landry Fields as The Salt Shaker

Landry is far from the centre of this deal, but should New York become heavily involved, it is to my disgust to inform readers Landry will probably be included due to his cheap contract and successful start. In the off season if Walsh called up Denver they would have referred to Fields as an unknown second rounder not worth squat. Now he is the back to back Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month and starting for a playoff team. Two things Derrick Favors can’t say. No one even had Fields on their draft boards top 100 players, yet D’Antoni has put Fields in a great position to contribute. He is not great, but solid and very smart on the court. He leads NBA guards in rebounding and will now be viewed as a useful trade chip if things come to that. If he is traded, Spike Lee will have to consider a jersey change mid-season, not sure how he will feel about this. He won’t make the deal, but he will add a little extra flavour to help Denver, Memphis or whoever swallow their pride and pull the trigger.

12. Devin Harris as Speedy Gonzales

Another Net being thrown around in trade talks. As a 2009 All Star he has a bit of value in both a marketing and on court sense, but most of the talk relating to Harris has him being flipped for Batum from Portland or someone else. It is he and Favors who were the two original players named involved in Melo trades in the off season. It seems likely he is gone if a trade goes through, but where he ends up no one knows yet for sure. At 16ppg and 7apg, he still has the speed and skill to be a valuable pick up for someone, and he travels at any length (pun intended) to get it done. By the way, did I mention Harris is represented by CAA?

13. Daryl Morey as C3PO

The Houston Rockets have a nice young team, with some pieces in place, as well as the lingering Yao issue to deal with. If you followed LeBron-athon last year, they were also the team that cashed in on the Knicks determination to be players in that game. Daryl Morey is the GM, and comes from a more educated background than most NBA GM’s. He has a degree in Computer Science, was a Professor of Analytical Sports Management, and has an MBA from the Sloan School of Management. Basically he’s a big nerd with a cool job. I’m pretty sure he is a Star Wars fan, and probably refers to himself as C3PO. In fact I’m positive. Morey shipped off old-McGrady, as opposed to good-McGrady last year for our 1st round selection Jordan Hill, as well as Jared Jeffries and his humungous contract, the right to swap draft picks in 2011 and a protected 1st in 2012 (when the Knicks planned to be meeting with Obama with LeBron), so by proxy I dislike the man. If he offered to fly me out to Houston we could talk this through, nothing is impossible Daryl. Anyways, the Rockets are annoyingly regular fixtures in Melo articles and tweets, and this worries me. As a statistical and analytic genius, if anyone is able to work out a suitable Melo package, it’s this man. Luckily, everyone claims the Rockets would be willing to do this without Melo’s signature on the contract extension, sitting on Free Parking (hands up if you play the rule where you put all tax money into free parking them romp in the cash later, yes!) for the rest of the season, still leaving life for a change of heart in the off-season. Don’t be surprised to hear more from the Rockets leading up to the dead-line if this thing plays on.

14. Danillo Gallinari as The Cock

He’s an NBAMate Wall of Fame member, no introduction required. Gallo is another one of the young, cheap, coachable talents the Knicks have on their roster who would be required to fulfil a trade with Denver. Gallo probably has the most upside of the Knicks young players, showing much flash and pizazz in his young career, but sadly he is still fairly inconsistent with his interest to fire up in all games. With a deadly outside shot and a very Manu-like Flop evolving, he will be a big competitor in the future for New York (fingers crossed), Denver, Memphis or someone else. He is my favourite player, so I’m hoping Donnie does the right thing here. I’m sure Mike D’Antoni agrees as it would hurt for his offense to lose the best shooter he’s ever seen.

15. David Stern as C.R.E.A.M

With the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement talks this off season, NBA teams and players are all anticipating some changes to the financial side of life. There are rumours of a lockout, which would ruin my life for 6 months, but more likely ruin the lives of many NBA players and staff, ala ‘Gin’ Baker. The owners want the players to be getting paid less money, which means that if Melo ignores the contract extension Denver have offered of $65M/3yrs, he may lose a lot of money signing a deal under the new CBA. Apparently, Melo will only ink that deal if the trade is to New York, and NJ won’t go through with the deal unless there’s some ink, although ownership have their own ideas on that one. As The Bank players are never supposed to have extra flex, but they always do. David Stern’s fingerprint will not be found, and his name won’t be mentioned in the future when you reflect upon this Melo deal, but his influence as well as the unknown CBA, have added a lot of new angles to Melo’s decision making process. “Cash Rules Everything Around Me, Cream! Get the Money, Dollar Dollar Bill Y’all!” is the song New Jersey hope Melo sing more frequently than RZA and Meth. If he takes the money with NJ, he looks like a money hungry sucker. If he leaves the extension and signs with the Knicks, he looks like a guy chasing his dream. I know what I’d prefer he do, and I hope he agrees.

16. Al Harrington & Johan Petro as Muffin Tops

These guys are pure dead weight that Denver and New Jersey are trying to rid themselves of. This is a ‘Lose 10 kilos in 2 weeks’ offer that is being offered once and once only. Get rid of that extra flab around the waist, although the Muffin Top is the best part of a Muffin. Management for the respective clubs are jumping up and down for the chance of this, as are Detroit with Rip Hamilton. Harrington has been a bone head his whole life, losing two games to the Clippers last season by hanging onto the rim after game winning dunks so I get what Denver are thinking here, believe me I do. Petro will supposedly be shipped with Troy Murphy to Detroit, with Murphy expiring this year and Jersey freeing themselves of Petro. Although Jersey take back the more expensive Hamilton, they have to do that according to Leon Rose if they want Melo. It’s all so intertwined isn’t it?! If Denver convince New Jersey to take on Albert, and Rip is on the way, Chris Paul is out the window, as are the championship rings for Melo. These moves serve no benefit to Melo and his desire to have a change of environment, it’s just the big boys want to avoid landing on those horrible Luxury Tax places that so often ruin a perfect game of Monopoly.

17. Mike D’Antoni as Mr Happy

The Knicks head coach says he does not want to break up the good thing they have going, but you gotta know he’d love the chance to run a fast break with Melo & Amar’e running the lanes. Again, Mike is not a major player in this game, but he does have a good relationship with Melo due to winning Olympic gold with him a few summers back. It is a well-known fact players enjoy the free flowing offense that D’Antoni ran in Phoenix and now in New York, and Melo’s would surely increase (due to increased minutes and possessions) in the process. This is not necessarily a big factor, but as all of these talks continue I’m sure he is one happy man which he hasn’t always been in his coaching career.

18. Mikhail Prokhorov as The Interrogator

This is the Russian Mark Cuban as he has been dubbed by many, the new majority owner of the Nets (let’s not call Hova an NBA team owner when he has 1%) who has money to burn. Word has come out he will ship off Favors, Harris and draft picks for Melo WITHOUT the contract extension. We are yet to see if Nets GM Billy King will agree with this, but Prokhorov wants to take the Chance, as he is of the belief he can convince Melo to stay long term if they trade for him. I can see him locking Melo away in a cell, Jack Bauer style, and beating him relentlessly until he agrees. Either that or taking Melo out in Moscow for a crazy night out, for Melo to wake up and realise he signed a 3 year contract extension and got a kebab at 5 in the morning. It would be truly heart breaking for their franchise if Melo signed off on this 3-team trade being proposed, played out the year and then jumped ship to NY. Worldwide Wes loses his juice. Prokhorov loses his juice. The Brooklyn Nets begin their new era with no juice. And so on. What would be even more heartbreaking for me, is if the man downs a few vodkas, and gets it done for New Jersey. The failed off season by New Jersey (Travis Outlaw and Anthony Morrow FTW) has prompted Mikhail to push for Melo harder than anyone else involved. This is definitely a “mine’s bigger than yours” competition between the Knicks and Nets, and Prokhorov was the first to pull his pants down.

So there you have it. If you read all of this I am extremely impressed by your love of the game, or lack of a life. Either way, respect.

As it stands, NJ seem to be the hot favourite, just as I was when I owned both Mayfair and Park Lane WITH hotels against my wife, bro and his wife. Well, life ain’t perfect, and I was cheated out of a win. Jersey have have the pieces, but it won’t matter if the other players aren’t all on their page, which is now blatantly obvious they aren’t. They may just get cheated out of a win they believe is on their way.

Sit back, watch and enjoy.

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