With free-agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony visiting the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, December 12, it was certain that the sports media was going to put on a trade-rumor extravaganza.
Shorting following the contest, multiple media outlets, including ESPN, NBA FanHouse, the Denver Post, NBC Sports and CBS Sports, reported that Anthony will only sign his three-year, $65 million extension if he is going to be traded to New York.
This revelation has wide-reaching implications, as it's widely speculated that no teams would consider paying a hefty price in a Melo-trade if they weren't going to get a long-term commitment out of the three-time All-Star.
However, Anthony has still not officially presented Nuggets management with an ultimatum, so these reports may not be entirely accurate.
But regardless of whether or not Melo has made a concrete decision regarding his future, it is definitely looking more and more like he will inevitably end up a Knick in 2011.
Consequently, New York fans should now have more than just the team's eight-game win streak and 16-9 record to be happy about, for with Melo, they will almost-certainly be able to field an even better squad than this year's vastly improved unit.
Yet in order to evaluate the Anthony with the Knicks, one must first consider what they would have to give up to acquire him.
In order to project such a deal, the Nets' proposal—widely accepted to be the best known offer—will be used as a model.
Currently, that deal would include Troy Murphy's $11.97 million expiring contract, 2010's No. 2 overall pick Derrick Favors and two first-round draft picks.
Therefore, should New York make a deal for Anthony, they will certainly be giving up Eddy Curry and his $11.28 million expiring contract.
Obviously, this is not much of a loss.
However, the team would also need to part with an appealing combination of draft picks and young talent.
The Knicks players who most fit this young-talent demographic would likely be Danilo Gallinari, Landry Fields, Wilson Chandler and Anthony Randolph.
However, Denver has already made it clear that they are not very interested in either Randolph or Chandler—although Chandler's play so far this season, particularly in the Knicks-Nuggets, game may have changed that.
Therefore, the Knicks could seek out another destination for either of these players in exchange for a draft pick (earlier in the season the Knicks reported they found a team who wanted Chandler and recently it has been rumored that the Houston Rockets are interested in Randolph).
And this potential pick would be particularly useful since New York doesn't have a 2012 first rounder and the Rockets have the right to swap picks with them in 2011.
Consequently, the Knicks' best scenario would probably be Curry, Gallinari, their 2014 pick and a pick acquired in a deal for Randolph.
However this package may not be enough, as it's not as good as the Nets' offer, so the Nuggets could also request Fields or another pick from a subsequent Chandler deal (if not Chandler, himself).
Nevertheless, the team will most likely be able to hang on to either Fields or Chandler—or if they're lucky, both, should Knicks hold firm with a proposal and the Nuggets fear losing Anthony for nothing.
Therefore, assuming the best case, that two were kept on the roster following a trade for Melo, the Knicks would be able to feature a starting five of Raymond Felton, Fields, Melo, Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire.
This lineup would be rather formidable, especially given the outstanding play of Felton and Stoudemire thus far in 2010-11.
With Felton ball-handling in the pick-and-roll, New York would nearly be able to score at will, since with both Stoudemire and Anthony setting the picks, they have two elite-level scorers, capable of putting the ball in the basket in any number of ways.
Additionally, Melo would see himself become a more efficient offensive player, since he would no longer need to force many shots as absolute the No. 1 option, like he was in Denver, as he would share that spot with Stoudemire.
He would still be given a ton of scoring chances though, playing in the NBA's second-highest scoring offense, while also likely seeing his assist total jump due to the offensive system and the players surrounding him.
One of those complementary players would undoubtedly be Chandler who, while not the same type of scorer as Amar'e or Carmelo, has an offensive game which is rather diverse.
Furthermore, Chandler, Anthony, Fields, Felton and some of the reserves can knock down the three-ball at a reasonable clip, so even with Melo instead of thee-point-specialist Gallinari, any interior double teams would be dangerous for opposing defenses.
Moreover, trading for Melo and losing Gallinari would allow the Knicks to no longer live by or rely upon the three-point shot as much, effectively helping them to become a more consistent team.
And while NY would certainly lose some of their depth in a trade for Anthony, their reserves wouldn't suffer much.
Off the bench, they would still be able to use some combination of Toney Douglas and Roger Mason at the combo guard, Ronny Turiaf and Timofey Mozgov at center, Bill Walker and a healthy Kelenna Azubuike at wing, and Shawne Williams at forward.
Also, the team would find themselves with a few open roster spots, so they would be able to bring in some other players, although their midseason selection would be quite limited.
All in all, it seems like a very successful trade.
However, if they were required to also give up either Fields or Chandler, the Knicks' depth would be much more hindered, as the starters would be shifted around and joined by either Douglas, Mozgov or Turiaf.
Nevertheless, the acquisition of Melo would still improve the New York Knicks.
But as for season projections for an Anthony-led Knicks team, it's far too early to tell.
New York has not had a particularly challenging schedule so far, but seeing as though they will be facing off against the likes of the Boston Celtics, the Miami Heat (twice), the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Orlando Magic as the month of December concludes, we will truly see what this team is made of.
But if they do perform well during that stretch and, subsequently, complete a trade for Carmelo Anthony, then maybe a run at the 2010-11 NBA Championship isn't out of the question.
After all, with two high-scoring perennial All-Stars leading the way, along with the outstanding play of a rejuvenated point guard and a solid supporting cast, who's to say that this squad couldn't bring New York its first NBA title since 1973?
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