Ever since LeBron James awkwardly let Jim Gray in on "The Decision," the Knicks and their fans have been looking for that second superstar to propel them into a perennial contender in the Eastern Conference. James left Knicks president Donnie Walsh pondering to himself the question he recently made infamous -- "What should I do?" To compete with the Celtics, Heat and even the Magic, there is no doubt that the Knicks will, at some point, need to add another top flight play-maker to their roster, and Brooklyn-born Carmelo Anthony seems like the perfect fit.
Anthony spent one year at Syracuse University where he left his stamp on Madison Square Garden by playing excellent basketball in the 2003 Big East Tournament (Syracuse lost to Connecticut in the Semifinals). He followed that up by leading the Orangemen to their only title in program history and brought home the NCAA Tournament's Most Outstanding Player Award. So far his NBA career has been just as stellar; minus the post-season success. Anthony has been a 25 point-per-game scorer throughout his seven plus seasons in The Association, and pours in more clutch shots than my bartender. In his career, Anthony has over 10,000 points and 2,700 rebounds; that is more points and rebounds than Dwyane Wade. Not to mention, he was a key member of the "Redeem Team" which brought the gold medal back to the United States at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Yes, Anthony has as decorated a résumé as there is in this league, but Walsh would be making an Isiah Thomas-like mistake by pulling the trigger on a trade for him this season.
After watching the Knicks manhandle the Bulls on Christmas Day thanks to a complete team effort on both ends of the floor, it became evident that trading for 'Melo wasn't the right answer. To pry Anthony away from Denver, New York would have to most likely part ways with two of these three players; Landry Fields, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, and that is being optimistic.
Knicks fans showed their displeasure when Fields was selected 39th overall in the draft this past June, but his high basketball IQ and hustle has him quickly becoming one of the most appreciated athletes in Manhattan. He even has Spike Lee donning his jersey; the same No. 6 which would have belonged to LeBron James if he chose Gotham over Miami. Fields leads all guards in rebounding and won the NBA Rookie of the Month this past November. If it weren't for Blake Griffin, he would likely be the early favorite to win Rookie of the Year. He plays above average defense, and turns the ball over a mere 1.4 times a game; which is important on a team whose best player (Amar'e Stoudemire) is a turnover machine. Fields doesn't show any signs of slowing down either. He has recorded a double-double in each of the Knicks' last two contests against high-caliber opponents (Oklahoma City and Chicago).
After a slow start, Danilo Gallinari, affectionately known as "The Rooster" to The Garden faithful, has been starting to live up to his Leaning Tower of Pisa high expectations. The young Italian struggled to begin the season, but has shown flashes of brilliance as of late. In spurts, Gallinari has played as if he could potentially morph into the next Dirk Nowitzki. His shot is already one of the purest in the NBA, and he has begun taking to ball to the basket more efficiently in recent weeks. If he can conjure up any sort of low post game, Gallinari could become a top-tier talent in the league.
We all knew Wilson Chandler could score the basketball, but he has become increasingly efficient this season. His shot selection has vastly improved over a year ago, and he has been knocking down a higher percentage of shots from beyond the arc. The additions of Stoudemire and Raymond Felton have helped open up the floor for Chandler's trademark slashes and drives, and he has quickly become the Knicks' No. 3 scoring option averaging upwards of 17 points-per-game.
These three players, all of whom are under 24 years old, have been the driving force behind the Knicks' return to relevancy, and trading two of them in exchange for Anthony could turn out to be a worse move than the Mets giving Oliver Perez $36-million over three years. Head coach Mike D'Antoni has had trouble finding time to rest his starters this season due to lack of depth, and is basically working with a seven man rotation. Bringing Anthony on board would only complicate that issue even further.
If Anthony really wants to play in New York, he can sign with the Knicks following the season. If he can't wait that long, Walsh should let him take his talents to Trenton.
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