Melo Out, New York: Five Reasons Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks Don't Match
By now you've heard. Carmelo Anthony has confirmed what we all speculated on for the past six months. Speaking candidly Sunday afternoon after the Denver Nuggets were defeated by the New York Knicks 129-125, Anthony reportedly stated that he would only sign Denver's contract extension offer if the end result saw him land in the Big Apple.
The Nuggets recently offered Melo $65 million to stay with the franchise, but Anthony's ultimatum almost entirely defeats the purpose of the offer in the first place. All of this comes in the midst of the most successful run for the Knicks in the past 15 years. With plenty of space and plenty to offer, the reality of Carmelo wearing blue and orange in Madison Square Garden isn't that far off.
At the same time, a sudden changing of the guard may be the exact opposite of what the Knicks, 16-9, need to stay competitive in the up and down Eastern Conference. There's no doubt that Carmelo Anthony is a top flight talent at the NBA level and could be the centerpiece of any franchise, but fans thinking he'll put the Knicks over the top may want to take heed of these few warnings.
After all, If Carmelo comes to New York now, it could be the cataclysm Knicks fans have been anticipating since the beginning of this hot streak in prominence.
5. Wilson Chandler, and to Some Extent, Danilo Gallinari
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Though no single lineup is ever set in stone, one has to believe that the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony would hamper the progression of current Knicks forward, Wilson Chandler. Chandler's strong play over the past three seasons has made him something of a pet project in New York that is finally paying dividends as the team keeps winning.
The 23-year-old Chandler is only getting better with each game under his belt and each season of experience. He's raised his production from 14.4 points per game two years ago (and 7.3 his rookie year) to 16.9 this season. He's doubled his number of blocks and is becoming a better defensive player on a team that still has numerous defensive holes that come with the coaching style of Mike D'Antoni.
He's even shown a knack for eating up minutes on the court as he gets more playing time gradually throughout the year. Assuming Melo comes to New York, and assuming Chandler somehow avoids a reduction, that leaves the Knicks putting maligned forward Danilo Gallinari on the bench when the starters are announced.
Somewhat surprisingly, Gallinari has turned into a decent little ball player who isn't the miserable train wreck fans and writers predicted him to be when he was drafted. I'm not saying he or Chandler are equals to the talents of Carmelo, but neither should be scoffed at when handling the superstar.
4. Landry Fields
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Yes, Landry Fields. The NBA's top rookie for the month of November has been a breath of fresh air when it comes to Knicks' draft picks playing for something. Despite being a guard, he'll be affected just as much if Carmelo is traded to New York. How? Allow me to explain.
Fields has played exceptionally well for his age and experience in the two-guard system next to Raymond Felton (and with Toney Douglas or Bill Walker off the bench). While he may be the lowest scorer of the starting rotation, he's already one of the best on the team at rebounding, second only to Amare Stoudemire with 7.5 boards a game.
Both he and Felton have played so well and with such chemistry because they're allowed to control the court for the big man up front (Amare) to take it to the house. Adding Carmelo Anthony would do some damage to that formula, particularly to the young Fields, who could be taking a backseat if the Knicks elected to roll four forwards against larger teams.
3. Defense, Or the Lack Thereof
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Despite being seven games over .500, the Knicks are surrendering more points to their opponents (most of which have been regarded lately as sub-par teams) than any other team in the Eastern Conference. Such is the way of a Mike D'Antoni team, as the same criticisms to the "run-and-gun" were felt when D'Antoni led the Phoenix Suns up to prominence just a few years ago.
Adding Melo to the equation won't help matters. For the majority of his career, Melo's Denver Nuggets have been just as absent-minded when it comes to stopping big shots and lots of points. While the Knicks are giving up 106.6 points per game (27th in the NBA), Denver allows 104.9 per game (24th).
In fact, the Nuggets were getting progressively worse at defending the shot during Melo's maturation, and it wasn't until the past few seasons that they picked it up a little bit. That said, they still finished towards the bottom of the league each year under the Anthony tenure. Both the Knicks (before this season) and the Suns (D'Antoni, again) were the only other teams so characterized by their inability to keep opponents off the scoreboard.
It is also pretty well documented that matching up against Anthony in-game could provide you with a big day. Look at the most high profile match-ups Carmelo has had, including his bust against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in the playoffs a year ago. While stopping the Lakers is, in itself, a dubious task to undertake, Melo was nowhere near the level he needed to be to get it done.
When you're in New York trying to combat both the Boston Three Party and Miami's Big Three, you need to shape up, and fast.
2. If It Is Not Broken...
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Don't Fix it. I'm sorry, but this one is pretty self-explanatory. The Knicks are 16-9 and one of the hottest teams in the NBA. Wednesday night against the Celtics, winners of ten straight, will test their merit for the first real time this season.
Even in a loss, if the Knicks were to continue their current trends and play even a smudge under what they're currently producing, they'll finish 49-33.
49! 49 Wins for the Knicks? Without Carmelo? It could happen quite easily thanks to some of the defunct competition within the Eastern Conference and the general chemistry the team has forged this season.
Honestly, I wouldn't waiver on this one even if New York went on to lose their next eight games and managed to drop under .500. Carmelo is a huge risk to team chemistry, especially since he's used to having the world revolve around him under the bright lights. And that idea brings us to No. 1...
1. Amare Is The Star
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I know, I know. It seems petty. But hear me out. When Amare Stoudemire signed his obnoxiously large contract in the off-season, there certainly was hope that New York could add another ace (LeBron James) to the fold and make themselves an Eastern Conference juggernaut.
That didn't happen exactly the way the Knicks planned, yet they stand just a game back of the Miami Heat record-wise and are proving that you don't necessarily have to have a team of all-stars to make it in this league. And almost all of that praise and credit is going straight to the $100 million man, Amare Stoudemire.
Stoudemire's 26.1 points per game average is eclipsing his previous career high. His eight-consecutive 30-point games are a franchise record, and each of those games have resulted in big 'W' for the Knickerbockers. He looks like a new man playing for his old coach or like the big man he was when he had D'Antoni at the helm.
His blocks are up. His rebounds are up. He's even passing better than he has in the past. Suffice it to say, Amare has made himself standout as the Sun (mind the pun) in the Knicks solar system and may well be the earliest NBA MVP candidate we have.
Only Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant are outscoring Stoudemire thus far this season, and only Bryant is more productive in minutes played. Bringing in Carmelo Anthony could make those numbers the best in the NBA.
But also, Anthony could prove to be a detriment to the style and ability of Stoudemire, taking away some of that one-man show mentality from a player who is finally showing he can handle the pressure.
I won't lie. I'd be a happy man if the Knicks acquired Melo tomorrow with few repercussions or damages. At the same time, I'd be a nervous wreck just wondering what could possibly trigger the powder keg to explode if he and Amare are playing on the same team.