As I sit here. Contemplative. Eating a bowl of Cap'n Crunch. I process the trade that's bringing Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks.
I knew it was coming (95 percent sure a deal was struck before Thursday's deadline), which curbed my excitement for the official news; but also, I mourned the loss of three players who brought me a lot of joy this first half of the season.
So RIP (as of now) the NYK careers of Ray-Ray, Gallo and Will the Thrill. And to Timofey Mozgov, we hardly knew ye. Thanks for the dunks and early signs of promise.
Granted, getting a talent like Anthony for a group of players who, collectively, in all likelihood, will not equal his number of All-Star appearances, should make even the most cynical Knicks fan giddy.
Nonetheless, I feel uneasy. I worry that we are now built around two guys that demand the ball and aren't known for their passing. I worry that GM Donnie Walsh, who has done a wonderful job of rebuilding this current Knicks team from the contract abyss he inherited, was not on board for this trade.
Finally, I'm downright puzzled that the Knicks, a team with all the power and leverage as the deadline approached (with the Nuggets in risk of having nothing to show for its inevitably bolting superstar), gave into Denver's demands like the world's worst hostage negotiator.
Still I digress, because the last thing I want to do is eat my words by bad-mouthing this deal, and because all it will take is a string of wins to make me forget the names Felton, Gallinari and Chandler for good.
Still it's important to break down the players and scenarios in a basketball sense, since that is what it all comes down to—the play on the court. First a rundown of who's gone from the Garden...
Some people may lean towards Felton, but this was clearly the toughest loss in my opinion. Aside from being one of the best long-range shooters in the league, Gallo is also a deceptively good athlete, who's made amazing strides at getting to the basket in his first three seasons (avg. six FT attempts this season, at a stellar 89 percent clip).
He's also averaging close to a steal per game, highlighting his aggressiveness on D, and never turns the ball over. Plain and simple, Gallo is not a one-trick-pony (i.e. a three-point specialist) and has a bright future in this league at age 22.
I will spend limited time on Felt for two reasons: 1) we are replacing him with Chauncey Billups, a proven veteran and better shooter (albeit slower than Ray-Ray) and 2) if the master plan is to get Chris Paul or Deron Williams running the point next season, then Felton had to go.
Still, he was playing his heart out in D'Antoni's system, and the team will have to adjust without him pushing the ball up the court with such tenacity.
When you consider that Carmelo is literally his replacement on the wing, this loss is very easy to take, even for Knicks fans that grew quite fond of Chandler, myself included.
Will is a versatile player who can shoot, contest shots (still averaging an impressive 1.4 blocks per game) and do it all in an efficient manner (46.7/35.1/80.7 in FG/3PT/FT, and only 1.3 TO, in a fast-paced offense).
Timofey Mozgov/Anthony Randolph/Eddie Curry's expiring contract
Mozgov was a late add to the deal, and the part that could burn us. He can go down as a soft big man with an offensive touch, or the next coming of Vlade Divac, a finesse center with just enough mean-streak to endure a starting gig for years to come.
Randolph's alleged potential took a big hit in New York, so he was clearly expendable. As for Curry, it feels liberating to finally rid his contract, even though another team will get the gratification of shedding his $11 million from the books after this season.
As for what we are getting...
Probably the most versatile scorer in the league right now, other than Kevin Durant. The "Durantula" is a better shooter, but no player matches Melo's ability to shoot over man-to-man coverage, drive to the basket and post-up forwards.
Still, Melo needs to play his best ball ever in New York. He needs to play inspired defense (like James and Co. are doing in Miami right now), and make the scoring pass if greater opportunities present themselves.
Likely a rental, but possibly more, Billups will have to be our guy from the outside now with Ray, Gallo and Will gone. (Gulp. We really lost a lot of treys.) While he may lack Felton's lightning speed, it's probably a good thing we slow things down a tad, considering how strong Melo and Amare are in the half court (hopefully together).
Corey Brewer/Shelden Williams/Renaldo Balkman/Anthony Carter
Considering all the talk on how the Knicks were giving up "role players" in this trade, their roles clearly included scoring points, something these four don't do a whole lot of.
Still, they are able-bodies, who will provide defense and energy off the bench, with the exception of Anthony Carter, who has no luck in cracking D'Antoni's short rotation behind Billups and Tony Douglas.
What it means for this season
The Knicks are expected to improve from this trade (I would have to imagine so), but how quickly is the question.
A team that had fantastic offensive chemistry has been made over, and while Billups, Melo and Amare are enough to keep the box scores full, an adjustment period is expected.
I can see this team making a push for 50 wins, but it would take a miracle run from our top two to hide this team's weaknesses (i.e. the center position, second unit scoring), and make noise in the playoffs. Still, my convictions are flawed, since I have no idea how the Melo-Amare tandem will really work. Stay tuned.
What it means for the future
It's huge. That's the overriding factor here—this trade makes New York the most desirable place for a guard to play basketball, with small and power forward locked up for years.
Considering that the endgame to this saga is signing either Paul or Williams in the offseason, barring complications from the new CBA, the Knicks are in position to rival Miami's Big 3 and become a serious title contender. And that's all that matters in the end.
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