Miami netted LeBron James and Chris Bosh in a coup that transformed everyone to either Heat fans to Heat haters.
The Knicks, desperate to not strike out, cashed in early on Amar'e Stoudemire.
So when Carmelo Anthony "didn't" ask for a trade, the Nets naturally made a play for him. A four-way deal feel through at the 11th hour, thanks to a classic balking performance by Denver's front office.
With a new collective bargaining agreement approaching (whether by love or lockout remains to be seen), no team has a clue what kind of financial flexibility they'll have in Summer 2011. That being said, my initial thoughts over the collapsed 'Melo-to-Jersey deal went something like this:
"'Melo was their Plan B that slipped away, and there is no Plan C. They're screwed."
But they're not nearly as bad off without 'Melo as the Knicks will be. That was my second impression, dawning on me as word continued to leak that New York was Anthony's ultimate destination of choice.
At first, I couldn't decide who needed him more, what with New York already having snagged Stoudemire, and the Nets facing a move to Brooklyn without a franchise guy (I do think Brook Lopez can get there, though).
The more I thought about it, though, the more I felt the Knicks needed 'Melo. To be sure, and perhaps to give my own naggings better words, I asked my highly qualified associates (a.k.a. my buddies) what they thought.
Devin voiced my feelings perfectly via text message:
"Knicks. They hv too much riding on Amare n da city. It's more emotional for them. No one expects da nets to be good yet."
The Nets have an apathetic fan base that has zero expectations; moving to Brooklyn in two years plays a huge part in that. Even if they weren't relocating, there's no onus from fans to focus on winning now.
New York has no such luxury. Not only did they underwhelm with the signings of Stoudemire and Raymond Felton, they also don't feature near the youthful talent the Nets boast with Derrick Favors, Brook Lopez, and Devin Harris.
That and the Nets hold the rights to their own draft picks. The Knicks don't, having loaned them all out for last summer's Lebronathon.
We saw how well that worked out.
New Yorkers are obviously less than pleased with the returns of putting all their eggs in the free-agent basket, only to yield one many consider flawed. They put up with two years of inexcusable awful basketball while being told, "It'll be worth it in 2010."
They helplessly found out that wasn't the case. Now they potentially face another era with an almost-good-but-not-great big man and an underwhelming supporting cast.
'Melo would be a great rebound after such disappointment. Fans have to feel giddy knowing there's someone who can and wants to salvage the Knicks. Again, there's no certainty concerning free agents or cap space with a probable hard cap looming, however.
That leaves a trade, except the Knicks don't have any draft picks or young talent they're willing to give up.
That leaves the Knicks with just Stoudemire, who makes them better, but not good enough to contend. That's actually a worse situation than before. When the Knicks finally get to keep some of their draft picks, they'll be mid first-rounders rather than cheap, potential franchise guys like Derrick Rose or John Wall.
In other words, they'll be stuck somewhere between mediocre and subpar.
Knicks' fans didn't suffer through a whole decade of that only to endure more. New York's brass is only too aware of this. They've heard and will continue to hear the backlash from fans, fans who are angry their tried faith looks to go mostly unrewarded.
The Knicks' need 'Melo to take off that burden, one Amar'e can't lift alone.
It's 'Melo or bust, and the clock is ticking.