Carmelo Anthony Trade Rumors: Should Knicks Consider Trading Raymond Felton?

Keith SchlosserAnalyst IFebruary 15, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 09: Raymond Felton #2 of the New York Knicks drives against Randy Foye #4 of the Los Angeles Clippers at Madison Square Garden on February 9, 2011 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Negotiations between Knicks and Nuggets officials have been ongoing, with nearly everyone not named Amar’e Stoudemire having been suggested as potentially Denver-bound.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News is reporting that the Nuggets now have their eyes on Knicks co-captain Raymond Felton.

Donnie Walsh reportedly rejected a deal Monday night that would have finally brought Carmelo Anthony (along with Chauncey Billups) to New York, in return for Felton, Danilo Gallinari, “another starter,” and a first-round draft pick.

With less than two weeks until the trade deadline, Anthony seems to be inching closer and closer to the big city as trade talks continue to intensify.

It’s now known that Anthony wants to be a Knick first and foremost, and Walsh and company obviously have mutual interest.

With the Nuggets’ asking price still quite steep, however, Walsh’s patience is truly being tested.

That being said, how much is too much? How long until the Knicks dismiss the Nuggets’ grave requests, in hopes of a summer union with Anthony instead? Better yet, could Walsh give in and/or meet such requests, should he start to feel the pressures of the Knicks needing a second superstar by the deadline?

In the interest of bringing that second superstar to New York, should the Knicks consider trading Raymond Felton? After all, their eyes could be set on such point guards as Deron Williams and Chris Paul by 2012 anyway.

Furthermore, the Knicks would be getting Billups in return, a former NBA champion.

Though averaging around 16 points and 5 assists (and shooting much better percentages all around than last season), Billups is a defensive minded guard that is perhaps not the best fit for Mike D’Antoni’s rapid offense.

In addition, Billups was also reportedly going to seek a buyout from the Nets if traded to New Jersey, but maybe playing under the bright lights of New York would be enough for Billups to consider playing away from home.

Earlier in the season, the Knicks’ pulling the trigger on a Carmelo Anthony deal seemed premature given their early success. As they have since evened out to a .500-ish team, it’s probably the right time for the Knicks to close in on Anthony and seek that ultimate upgrade for a final push towards the playoffs.

Making a deal, however, shouldn’t include trading away such a crucial team leader in Raymond Felton. While there may be both pros and cons to dealing him (the main pro being that the Knicks stand to acquire Billups as a fitting replacement), the Knicks need to focus on acquiring Anthony as a means of elevating their team, not blowing it up.

As good as they have been this season, players like Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari can have their production certainly matched and even outdone by Anthony’s.

Felton, however, has seen his game improve as a Knick and has proved to be a true pioneer in the team’s renaissance.

Trading him at a time like this (even if the team were to look at other point guards in the future anyway) could be costly.

Felton, who has publicly said the trade talks are affecting the team’s play, is a better leader for this particular Knicks team (especially as the players have looked to him and Stoudemire for guidance throughout) than any incoming player could be.

It's plain and simple: the Knicks need to build around their leaders. That has always been the goal, to bring in “stars” and build a team full of depth around them. While Felton may not have been considered a star upon his arrival to New York, he has certainly been a star attraction for the Knicks.

Given his success thus far, it's likely the Knicks will have an easier time succeeding as a team with Felton than without him, regardless of who else comes along.

Bringing in Anthony along with Billups, while subtracting Felton, would alter the team’s makeup so much so that the team would likely need to focus more on getting the new team in its own groove, rather than a playoff run that so many fans have awaited so patiently for.

For more of Keith's Knicks coverage and much more, visit Knicks Journal.

Follow Knicks Journal on Twitter.