When the New York Knicks got snubbed in the summer by LeBron James, they signed A'mare Stoudemire to a maximum contract with hopes of getting Carmelo Anthony either during this season or as a free agent in the summer of 2011.
That was when they thought Stoudemire was a second-tier type player who needed an Anthony to make the team a contender.
Not much was expected out of this season—perhaps little improvement if anything—and the Knicks were headed for another season of irrelevancy.
All of a sudden, after starting the season 3-8, something unexpected happened. The Knicks can't lose anymore. That's right, can't lose. Since their dismal 11-game start, they've gone 13-1 and are in the midst of an eight-game winning streak as we speak.
In virtually every Knicks-related article or news story, two things are mentioned. Either they won because they beat a bad team or when is Carmelo coming to town? Neither of those topics should be discussed anymore.
Let's take a look at what's happened over this stretch. The Knicks were beating weak teams having been handed the second-easiest schedule in the league next to the Lakers, but if they aren't any good, how have they virtually gone undefeated?
Even the weak teams can win games against an equally weak team, so how is this not an impressive Knicks run? They can't be too terrible if they're on a 13-of-14 tear.
Right now, heading into the Wednesday's game against the Celtics, the Knicks average the most points per game in the league at 108.5. They jumped the Suns for the top spot, ironically leading into the Stoudemire discussion.
Do the Knicks really need Carmelo right now? There are many comparisons between him and Stoudemire, and the team literally can't score anymore than they are already scoring without him.
They average the most points, and if they're looking to improve their defense, Carmelo isn't the guy to help. Just like Stoudemire, Carmelo doesn't play any interior defense, always backing away from guys in the paint.
They both have a good mid-range jump shot, although Stoudemire's just recently developed and is still improving. Stoudemire has started to perfect the pick and roll with Raymond Felton, and the way Carmelo plays, he could adapt to it nicely as well.
One thing Carmelo does maybe better than anyone in the league is creating his own shots and shooting off the dribble. He's pretty good at stopping and getting off a decent shot, which makes him so effective.
But wouldn't the two on the same team cancel one another out? If the offense is already one of the most effective in the league, topping Carmelo's Nuggets' 125 points on Sunday, why do they need him this season?
It would be nice to have him alongside Stoudemire, as it would make the Knicks instant contenders in the East to challenge the Celtics and Heat, but can't they wait until next season when they only need to spend money to get him?
If this unit can at least get the Knicks into the playoffs for the first time in seven years, that should be a goal accomplished for this season. They don't need to win it all this season as they've already done better than anyone's expectations.
A season with 45 to 48 wins and a playoff appearance would bring meaningful basketball back to the Garden come playoff time and make the Knicks a dangerous team next year. They'd be able to bring Carmelo in and keep Gallinari, Chandler and Fields.
This way, their roster would be maybe the second-best in the East or at least top-three along with the Celtics and Heat. The Knicks would be in position to win the Finals in 2012.
The way they've shown they can play, beating good teams like the Hornets and Nuggets, tells you they don't need to mortgage all of their young players to trade for him.
If Carmelo is serious about only wanting to sign an extension with the Knicks, let the Nuggets desperately trade him to the Knicks for Gallinari and Eddy Curry's expiring contract. Otherwise, let this season play out, and they'll be an elite team in 2011.