The Future in His Hands: Carmelo Anthony Must Stay in Denver
So much for this summer.
At least, that's what the sports media is saying in regards to the Denver Nuggets. For the past week or so, the hottest topic in basketball seems to be Carmelo Anthony and his contract situation in the Mile High City, along with his date with free agency after the end of this upcoming season.
Lavish thoughts of Melo and Chris Paul joining Amare in New York have writers and fans alike writing off the obvious: Mr. Anthony isn't going anywhere, and why would he?
Obviously the Knicks are always going to be apparent front runners for any big name free agent. With the chance at being the biggest name in the biggest city, shouldn't players be lining up to sign contracts? Two words: Hell. No.
Look at this last decade in New York and the highlights are few and far between. Terrible front office work, atrocious coaching, and lackluster rosters show the sign of the times in NYC.
Are things getting better at least? The team found a no defense coach in Mike D'Antoni, and acquired a no defense big in Amar'e Stoudemire. Toss in an annual chance to win the lottery, and that is about all the cards the Knicks can lay on any marquis players' table. So, no. Things aren't getting better.
Then why so much hype? Basketball wise, this move makes zero sense. Would Carmelo Anthony really leave a top-eight team to join a lottery bound rebuilding project? Sure, the team would be built around him, but Denver has been doing that since the moment they drafted him, and they are ridiculously close to putting Melo in position to win his first NBA title.
Call me crazy, but if Melo decides to "take his talents" to New York, it would be the worst decision he could possible make for his basketball career.
Mark Warkentein has made bold moves to improve this team since Melo was drafted in 2003, highlighted by the Allen Iverson trade, dropping Marcus Camby for nothing, stealing Ty Lawson in the '09 draft, and bringing Chauncey Billups home to Denver. Now he hopes that the signing of Al Harrington is the move that proves to Carmelo that this team is built for his success.
The grass isn't always greener, my friend.
D'Antoni and his famous seven second offense seem like a match made in heaven for Carmelo. Go out, score big, and hope that the other team can't stop your offense. Sounds great, right? Wrong. Anthony obviously has one of the greatest offensive repertoires in the game, and without a doubt could score thirty a night running up and down the court in the Garden.
It was this offensive aptitude that had his name in the MVP discussion last year. It's what made him lead Team USA in scoring in Beijing, and what made him a SportsCenter staple. The only thing preventing Melo's name from being on par with the James' and the Wade's and the Bryant's of the league is obvious—his defense. With Mike D'Antoni running things, you can kiss that facet of Melo's game goodbye.
George Karl has worked at it. Hard. When the coaching couldn't get Melo to focus on D, the front office tried to help. Bringing in the fundamentally sound Chauncey Billups to replace the ridiculously offensive Allen Iverson rang a new message in the Pepsi Center, saying that this team was going to win, and do it the right way.
Lock-down defenders like Dahntay Jones and Arron Afflalo combined with the inside fury of Kenyon Martin has procured a new attitude out of this team, creating a tough, mean, and explosive roster capable of handling any team in the league. This past season you could see Melo stepping up his defensive game and handling scorers like LeBron and Kobe in crunch time. Can he keep that demeanor, that defense matters mindset, in an all offense system?
And forget that noise saying that CP3 and Amar'e can lure Melo to the Big Apple and create a rival trio to the new superpower in South Beach. The Heat have Pat Riley running the show, a genius of basketball. Have you seen any moves work out for the Knicks lately?
They bombed for two straight seasons just to get LeBron and Bosh, and they ended up with an injury prone Amar'e Stoudemire to run the show without a sidekick. Raymond Felton was a weak consolation prize, like a small child receiving a ribbon just for participating. And I only have to mention one name to epitomize the ineptitude of the New York front office—Mr. Eddy Curry Jr.
No, Carmelo Anthony isn't going anywhere.
Surrounded with young talent, solid bigs, and a legitimate co-star in Chauncey Billups, he would be passing up a sure thing, a shot at a title, for a crap shoot on the East Coast.
Could Melo go to Madison Square Garden and become the biggest name in a city full of them? Yes, but does playing ball in the Mecca that is the Garden offer him a better chance at greatness than the homey confines of the Pepsi Center? No way.
The ceiling is so high for this bright young star, that such an interruption in his development could be disastrous for his career. If he stays under the guidance of one of the greatest coaches the game has ever seen, if he stays true to the town that has put him above all other current sports stars, if he stays true to the dream that is a Denver Nuggets Championship... well, the future is in his hands now.
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