Carmelo Anthony Trade: Breaking Down the "New" New York Knicks by Position
Initially reported by the rapper 50 Cent in the first-ever NBA trade broken by a musician via Twitter ("melo coming new york baby," February 20, 10:47 p.m. EST), Carmelo Anthony has been traded to the New York Knicks in a 12-player, three-pick, three-team deal.
The Denver Post first reported the details: Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter and Renaldo Balkman are going to Manhattan, while Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov and the New York Knicks' 2014 first-round pick will set up shop in Colorado.
Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry have also been sent to Minnesota in exchange for swingman Corey Brewer, while the Knicks have sent the Golden State Warriors' 2012 and 2013 second-round picks as well as $3 million in cash to Denver.
Let's cut to the chase: What do these moves mean for the New York Knicks for the rest of the season?
Chauncey Billups will take Raymond Felton's minutes in the lineup. Billups is a much better three-point shooter than Felton, which is imperative in Mike D'Antoni's offense. However, Felton is a better defender and distributor.
I don't expect Billups to undergo a severe transition period on the court, as he is leaving an offensive system in Denver that also liked to push the tempo and use the three-pointer as a primary weapon. He also has developed a rapport with the Knicks' newest focal point on offense, Carmelo Anthony, having played with him for nearly three full seasons.
Toney Douglas will still be the backup at point guard, and he probably will be receiving more minutes at the position. Billups, at 34 years old, averages 32 minutes per game while the 27-year-old Felton notches 38 minutes on the court. Douglas still has a little bit of trouble controlling the team on offense, but he can go off for 20 points on any given night.
Anthony Carter becomes the team's third option and will see some time here and there.
Ultimately, the Knicks will suffer a slight downgrade at point guard. The Knicks will miss Felton's quickness in the open court and underrated defense, but Billups will fit in nicely on offense and win Madison Square Garden fans over quickly with his clutch outside shooting.
On a side note, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News has reported that sources tell him Billups has been told by Knicks officials that his 2011-12 option will be picked up.
To close, let's compare the two players' 2010-11 stat lines.
Felton: 17.1 PPG, 9.0 APG, 3.6 RPG, 42.3 FG%, 32.8 3FG%
Billups: 16.5 PPG, 5.3 APG, 2.5 RPG, 43.8 FG%, 44.1 3FG%
Billups averaged 8.5 points and seven assists in his two meetings against New York, while Felton went for 19 points and 14.5 assists per game versus Denver.
Contrary to popular belief, the Knicks did not mortgage their entire future by trading for Carmelo Anthony.
Landry Fields is still a Knick and hopefully will be so for the next decade, contributing his advanced basketball IQ, court sense and underrated three-point shooting and rebounding ability (Fields averages 7.1 rebounds per game and shoots threes at a 39.9 percent clip).
Toney Douglas is still the backup at shooting guard, but expect his minutes at point guard to increase, which in turn will increase Fields' minutes on the court. Fields currently averages 32 minutes per game; expect that to rise a bit and for Bill Walker to see some more court time, as well.
The depth at this position is more strained with this trade, but thankfully, Fields can establish a more permanent residence in New York.
You can make a case that two of the 10 best players in the NBA currently play for the New York Knicks. Personally, I think top 15 is more suitable, but that's still impressive, nevertheless.
Carmelo Anthony averages over 25 points per game and will become an immediate offensive magnet on the court. That is both a good and bad thing, since he is a volume shooter who will take shots away from other teammates.
His shooting numbers are down, as he is making 45.2 percent of his shots this season. He is also a bit injury-prone and has missed between 13 and 17 games in three of his last four seasons.
That previous paragraph got the nit-picking out of the way. Anthony is a stud. Some Knicks fans will complain that we gave up too much in this trade, and that's true, but there is a price to pay for getting a player of Anthony's caliber.
Anthony and Stoudemire alone for the next five seasons will guarantee five playoff berths. Whether those playoff berths will lead to Eastern Conference titles is another story.
Anthony will play between 35-38 minutes per game, and backing him up will be Shawne Williams, a three-point marksman who has made 47.5 percent of his three-pointers this season.
Corey Brewer is coming over from Minnesota, and he's primarily known for his stout defense. However, Howard Beck of the New York Times has thrown out the idea via Twitter that the restricted free agent may be swung for another player.
If Donnie Walsh can get some depth down low in exchange for Brewer, it's a move he needs to make. If Brewer stays, expect him to split minutes with Williams, and maybe see some time at shooting guard.
Amar'e Stoudemire brings 26 points and nine rebounds to the table every night. He's as steady as steady can be.
The problem, now that Wilson Chandler has taken his talents to the Rocky Mountains, is Stoudemire's backup situation. Herein lies the most difficult pill to swallow for Knicks fans following the midnight Melo trade: The Knicks only have one player they can count on to play power forward right now.
Shelden Williams has bounced around the NBA like a hackysack amongst hippies. He has been benched for essentially the entire month of February, but he'll get yet another chance to make his mark in the NBA with New York. Williams is a tough-nosed player and rebounder who lacks the athleticism and offensive repertoire to be a scoring force, but he'll get his shot at more playing time here.
Renaldo Balkman, who was picked by the Knicks with the 20th selection of the 2006 NBA Draft but was traded in a salary dump to Denver in 2008, will probably see at least a few minutes down low to bring some energy to the team.
The small forward minutes are taken between Anthony and Williams, and I doubt Balkman will see time at the 3 unless it's in mop-up duty. Like in earlier stint in New York, he will bring boundless energy and hustle to the team. That, however, is essentially his entire game, as he's a 3/4 tweener without a jumper.
Shawne Williams is a highly underrated defender on the wing (see his performance against LeBron James at the Garden in January), but he should never play power forward (see his performance against Elton Brand at the Wells Fargo Center during Super Bowl Weekend).
Ronny Turiaf will make the permanent move to center.
Timofey Mozgov averaged under eight points and six rebounds in February, following his 23-point, 14-rebound resurgence against Detroit to end January. It's not the end of the world that he is gone, but the Knicks need to scramble for a replacement, because the status quo will not work.
What Knicks fan doesn't love Ronny Turiaf's work ethic and toughness down low? The problem is that he's missed 11 games already and is averaging under 19 minutes per contest.
Earl Barron may be getting a call very soon from New York. He was cut by the Suns earlier this season, but he received some short-lived love from Knicks fans with a 17-point, 18-rebound performance in a 104-101 win over the Boston Celtics at the Garden in April. He averaged a double-double with the Knicks in seven games at the end of the 2009-10 season.
The 29-year-old seven-footer would provide much-needed depth in the paint, especially if Turiaf gets hurt.
Here and Now
The Knicks have been given a gift, and no, it's not just Carmelo.
Following a brutal eight-game stretch in late February and early March where the Knicks have to play seven teams currently in playoff positions, New York plays only six of 18 games against teams with winning records. New York will also play Cleveland and Milwaukee three times each and New Jersey twice.
Although Philadelphia is creeping up on the Knicks, the 76ers don't have the gift of a late-season schedule that the Knicks have. I think the Knicks are roughly on the same plane talent-wise they were 24 hours ago, but Carmelo Anthony's scoring will take some burden off Amar'e Stoudemire and may lead to some high-scoring wins where 'Melo simply outscores an opponent.
On the down side, losing Chandler and Mozgov will hurt the Knicks down low, as they will have trouble rebounding and playing defense against stout offensive big men.
I predict the Knicks to finish with around 45 wins (a 17-11 ending) and take the sixth seed, facing the Bulls in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
Focus on that image for a second, and then refresh your memory with this article. One can't help but wonder if everything is leading to New York making a push for Chris Paul in a Knicks uniform come 2012.
Chris Paul is a free agent that offseason. The Knicks will have room to get him, but the CBA may put a damper on those plans if a hard cap, or a slashed "soft" cap, is put into place. As Alan Hahn of Newsday tweeted, the Knicks could send Chauncey Billups to New Orleans to make the cap numbers work, but the Knicks would need to get very, very creative in order to come up with a trade that the Hornets would find agreeable.
If Paul is willing to wait a year-and-a-half and take a small pay cut, he will be part of the new Knicks Big Three that he talked about at Carmelo Anthony's wedding, joining his two good friends on the court and his pal Spike Lee on the sidelines.
If Paul, Anthony, Stoudemire and Fields form a Big Four, does it really matter who the Knicks throw at center? It'll be the 1990s all over again with the Heat, Knicks and Bulls fighting for Eastern Conference supremacy every year.
Maybe the Knicks gave up too much of their future in this trade. Maybe the Knicks have to scramble to fill numerous holes.
But, maybe the Knicks (ahem, James Dolan and perhaps Isiah Thomas) are following the Heat's path and don't care.
Welcome to the new era, Knicks fans. Enjoy the ride.