Will the Garden faithful ever see Carmelo in a Knick uniform?
It would have been sweet. Amar'e Stoudemire tearing it up from down low, Carmelo drawing double teams all over the court, putting up his 22-25 a night, leaving whomever was left from the combo of Fields, Gallo and Chandler enjoying the luxury of wide-open looks.
But enough is enough. Sometimes in life you've got to dance with the girl you've got, and while this young and reasonably lovely Knick five isn't quite perfect, isn't quite good enough to topple the NBA elite in the coming postseason, they do have a chemistry-laden base to build upon that could very well be the envy of today's NBA.
Under almost any circumstance it appears the Knicks will trade for or sign an able bodied center between now and the summer free agency period. "Stat" will make a majority move to power forward. If 'Melo held out and signed with the Knicks over the summer as well it would mean Gallo and Chandler would head to the bench.
If you're a Knick fan that's a sweet scenario, if you're Danilo Gallinari, or especially impending free agent Wilson Chandler maybe not so much.
Chandler is already the real deal and he's still improving dramatically from season to season. He's got massive hops, all over the court range, and he brings a physical presence all teams love. Donnie Walsh has promised not to let him get away from the Knick kingdom and while Chandler is not the type to make outlandish demands it's certainly within the realm of expectation that he'd continue to get his 30-35 minutes a night.
Gallinari is not going anywhere either (unless the Nuggets considerably lower their demands and send Anthony over one up with an expiring contract and maybe a number one to boot.)
He's still babe-like young, and a potential offensive juggernaut if he'd only press it harder to the hoop. Almost every time he does something positive arises, he scores, gets to the line where he's money, or draws a second defender allowing for an easy put back of a miss.
Of equal importance he plays with passion every night, has an innate basketball savvy, and if you let this hen out of the house for Carmelo or any other reason you can be sure he'll continue to flourish and end up one of the leagues best players for years to come.
And what of Landry Fields? In less than forty games this year the Stanford grad has made it clear he's only a more sure jump shot away from being one of the best two guards in the league. As it is on a team full of shooters he does everything else you could possibly want on the court. Makes every backdoor cut, finishes mightily on the break, has the length to make any pass, and D's up on the opposition two, frequently the most lethal alternative the other side will have to offer.
Perspective is what's called for now, and for long suffering Knick fans that's no easy pill to swallow. This legion has been forced to do without another championship banner floating across the Garden rooftop for many, many, many years.
Forget the last decade, the Ewing era, Spree, Houston & Camby, (how in the world did the Knicks ever let that wide winged eagle fly away), there was a truncated, but fun filled period with hometown hero Bernard King, but when you talk about all the money, (the big cheese, the hottest of tamale's), you've got to go all the way back to the late sixties, early seventies to find a Knick team that made the great basketball mecca all the way proud.
And that team was not built over-night either. Willis Reed, 1964, Bill Bradley,1965, Cazzie Russell, '66,
Walt Frazier, '67, all came by the draft.
Dick "Fall Back Baby" Barnett, he of that little lefty kick J came by trade in 1967. The team improved immeasurably, made it to the Eastern Conference semi's in '67 & '68, but it wasn't until that dream laden '69/'70 season, about a year after the Knicks had made that final move to add two sport star and power forward supreme Dave Debusschere that a near perfect team was born, a team that could beat you on either side of the court, a New York Knick team that won a pair of NBA titles in 1970 and 1973.
Put that decades earlier transition in perspective, allow that growth period to germinate in today's terms, and consider that this years Knicks are something like that earlier version of the team adding pieces at a time waiting for that perfect mix of players to be blended.
It's certainly no coincidence that Donnie Walsh, a New York kid and current Knick G.M., went wild for that championship five of his younger days. He as much as anyone else sees this current Knick team turning the corner in a similar way, finally, through the draft, great signings in Stoudemire & Felton, a shrewd under the radar move bringing in versatile Ronnie Turiaf.
But this team is still at least one critical piece and a year of maturation away.
Is that final cog Carmelo Anthony at the price of stripping away much of the teams young, core talent?
It's unlikely, and as much as city fans would love to embrace his arrival as a free agent this summer it's just too much to be wasting all this thought and emotional energy over the never ending saga at this particular point.
Right now, this New York Knick team as presently configured, the one you brought to the dance and the one you may be dancing with still for months to come needs a beast in the middle to become whole, much as the '69/'70 team needed Dave Debusschere to become whole.
Willis Reed's not out there, big Sam Dalembert is but he's not exactly thrilling the masses. Camby would be nice, there's talk of Tyson Chandler this summer, and don't forget the Knicks do have a No. 1 in the upcoming draft.
A lot of people were wondering if Donnie Walsh had a clue heading into this season or if all of his maneuverings were just going to leave the Knicks in about the same horrifying place they were when he arrived three seasons ago.
Now the Walsh 2011 manifesto is starting to read pretty well, kind of like '69/'70. New Yorkers don't know exactly what that means next, but whatever it is maybe it's time to have faith that this Knick management team will figure out way to get this team to the hill top.
That is, with Carmelo Anthony or without.
Enjoy the day,