With recent reports that superstar Denver Nugget Carmelo Anthony will only sign an extension if traded to the New York Knicks, it'd be interesting to look at what this might mean for the Celtics, who currently lead the surprising Knicks in the Atlantic Division by four games.
First of all, let's get beyond the obvious stuff. Yes, we know Carmelo will eventually be a Knick, but in how many ways will that hurt the Celtics?
Well, first things first, he won't be playing against the Knicks anymore, two games a year in which he typically shines, with a lifetime 10-6 record and 29.9 scoring average. Of course, that's only two games a year, but again this is the team he shines against-which makes it scary to imagine him performing in Madison Square Garden all year long.
Secondly, there will likely not be a team in Denver that can test Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in the playoffs. Now, granted, Carmelo hasn't exactly shined against the Lakers (20.7 ppg lifetime average, his fourth lowest average against any team in the league), but we have seen the Nuggest transform into a team that can drag the Lakers deeper into a series than their fans may be comfortable seeing an aging roster go.
Now instead, we'll see the Knicks turn into that sort of team for the Celtics, which may prove to be a problem. Additionally, all of the sudden a relatively inexperience Knicks roster (only four players have at least five years NBA experience, and only five players on the roster have ever played a playoff game) adds a superstar with seven years experience on top of 45 games played and 24.5 points per game in the playoffs.
If the Knicks acquire Carmelo, which team is the favorite in the Eastern Conference?
Now, on to the more direct stuff, using the eyes to look directly at the Celtics and Knicks and not the stats, that is.
Adding a player of Carmelo's skills to a roster like the Knicks at this point in time would be a serious problem for the Celtics in my opinion. Here is a team not only in the Celtics' conference, but a team that is fairly young and hungry as well. As mentioned above, there's not a lot of playoff experience on the Knicks' roster, and most of what there is exists on Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony's resumes.
Both have played around 50 games in the playoffs—just enough to get a taste of winning without satisfying that appetite for success. They will both be the most talented players on the team as well as the most experienced, which should be a great formula for leadership of the younger players on the team.
This potential trade would also make the Eastern Conference that much more difficult to navigate, particularly in the postseason. With the presence of tough teams like Orlando and Miami already likely there, adding in another team with some legit stars and a real possibility of advancing makes things that much tougher on an aging Celtics roster that would benefit from ease of schedule more than perhaps any team in the league.
Not only are the Knicks in the Celtics' division and therefore a team they must face four times a year, but they also might end up being the team the Celtics have to go through to move past the first or second round of the playoffs.
The last part of this trade that leaves me a bit queasy as a Celtics fan is that New York is where Carmelo wants to play. I know this seems like a very obvious statement, but for me it carries a great deal of weight.
Look, New York is where Carmelo grew up. The state is where he played his college ball, and this is the team he always hoped to get drafted by. The situation compares to the more recent draft, where Jonny Flynn ended up heading to Minnesota.
There's a reason Carmelo averages almost 30 when he plays the Knicks—because at home is where he feels comfortable. It's very much like you and I, if we got a job at a place we disliked, or in a state or city we hated we might not perform as well as work. However, when you go into a place you love to work at, in a city you truly enjoy, surrounded by true friends and family you grew up with—well, then you're at ease, and then you're ready to really play, aren't you?
It seems to me that even without the addition of Chris Paul (a possibility many experts talked about over this past summer), the addition of Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks' roster makes this team a very dangerous team—not only to the Celtics, but to everyone in the NBA.