DENVER — Longtime NBA star Carmelo Anthony, who announced his retirement on Monday, hasn’t played for the Denver Nuggets in over 12 years.
His impact on the franchise lives on, though, as the Nuggets are set to make their Finals debut.
The trade that sent the superstar to New York eventually yielded point guard Jamal Murray.
Back in 2011, Anthony was the centerpiece of a blockbuster trade that sent him and four other players – including five-time All-Star point guard Chauncey Billups – to the New York Knicks for five players and a stockpile of draft assets.
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Among the draft picks sent to Denver was a 2014 first-round pick, which the team would later trade to Philadelphia in a deal for Andre Iguodala, and two second-round picks.
The last piece of the deal was the rights to what’s called a “pick swap,” where the team that receives the rights has the option to choose between the two teams’ draft picks, in the first round of the 2016 draft.
The Knicks won just 32 games in the 2015-16 season, good for the seventh-worst record in the NBA, and earned the No. 7 pick in the draft lottery – two spots higher than the 33-49 Nuggets would have picked.
Denver, of course, elected to swap picks, and used the No. 7 selection on Murray, who scored 20 points per game in his lone season with college basketball powerhouse Kentucky.
Murray has scored 17 points per game in the regular season over his six active seasons with Denver, but has found another gear in the postseason. He’s scored more than 25 points per contest over his Nuggets playoff career, including nearly 28 points per game in the 2023 postseason run.
Murray’s 23 points in the fourth quarter of Game 2 propelled the Nuggets to a come-from-behind victory that sent his team to LA with a two-game lead.
His 40 points between the fourth quarter of Game 2 and the first quarter of Game 3 marked the best two-quarter stretch by any player in the last 25 years, according to ESPN Stats & Info.