According to various reports, the Denver Nuggets have finally traded All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks in a blockbuster deal that also brings Chauncey Billups to Manhattan and sends Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov and some draft picks back to Denver.
It’s a huge deal for the Knicks and their fans, but let’s get to the root of the issue: How does the trade affect the reigning Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics?
The Celtics are 2-0 so far in 2010-11 against their rivals from the Big Apple—earning a 105-101 victory in Boston on Oct. 29 and nipping the Knicks 118-116 at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 15—and are an impressive 10-1 against the Atlantic Division as a whole.
Seems like we shouldn’t be worried about the Knicks, even with Carmelo thrown into the mix.
But look closely at those two games.
In those Celtics victories over the Knicks, the youthful trio of Felton (21.5 points, 10.0 assists), Chandler (18.5 points, 9.0 rebounds) and Gallinari (11.0 points, 3.0 boards, 2.0 assists) played pretty darned well against the more seasoned Boston core. We Green fans won’t be too sorry to see them go.
But Amar'e Stoudemire averaged 33 points, nine rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in those two contests. And Amar'e isn’t going anywhere.
Furthermore, Carmelo Anthony himself has fared well against the men in green, averaging 24.1 points, 6.7 boards and 4.0 assists (his highest average against any team other than the Knicks) in 13 career matchups against the C’s. Pencil him onto the Boston schedule twice more in 2010-11 and a minimum of four times each season moving forward.
It's also a bit concerning to ponder how the Celtics would attempt to guard Carmelo.
The C’s have struggled enough this season in trying to keep the lightning-quick and super-long, 6'10" Stoudemire under wraps. Who on their roster—much less in the NBA as a whole—is suited to guard a 26-year-old, 6'8" forward like Melo who can beat you off the dribble, pound you inside or pull up for a 20-foot jumper?
Kevin Garnett? No, he’d probably be tasked with marking up Stoudemire. Oh, and he’s 34 years old and has knee problems.
Glen “Big Baby” Davis? He has the beef to stick with him inside, but there’s no way he’s quick enough to match up with an open-court player of Carmelo’s stature on the outside.
The answer? The Truth.
Yes, Paul Pierce is likely the Celtic who would draw Anthony in a one-on-one matchup. And though Pierce is an experienced defender who has shut down Kobe Bryant and other top scorers on occasion, I’m not sure I like his chances at the age of 33 while playing nearly 35 minutes a night.
Another point of concern for Celtics fans following this huge trade? The Knicks also get rid of some dead-weight contract bulk (and just some bulk…period) in the form of Eddy Curry, who they’re shipping off to Minnesota with Anthony Randolph as part of the deal. How long have Knicks fans been waiting to clear that spot on their injured list?
In all fairness, this trade may not make waves off the New England coast nearly as large as the ones pounding the island of Manhattan right now.
But Carmelo Anthony coming to New York does make the Eastern Conference that much more competitive. And it immediately makes a matchup with the Knicks that much more difficult.
It will be a while before we know exactly how much the addition of Carmelo will heat up an already spicy Celtics-Knicks rivalry. The teams don’t play again until March 21 at MSG. But with another meeting scheduled for the TD Garden on April 13 and, who knows, perhaps a playoff meeting on the horizon, we could be in for some fascinating matchups over the coming months.
Welcome to the rivalry, Carmelo Anthony. Thanks for kicking it up yet another notch.