Some stories do not need analogical lead-ins.
Sometimes, I can exclude an anecdote about the time I chose Joe’s Pizza over Hi-Class even though my friends like Hi-Class better and I can get right to the point. Sometimes, I can just write.
Carmelo Anthony is a New York Knick. The basketball landscape in New York City has shifted once again.
Earlier tonight, much to the dismay of ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard, the New York Knicks agreed to send Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Candace Parker, Anthony Carter and Renaldo Balkman. Anthony’s debut with New York will take place Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden against the Milwaukee Bucks.
I will not pretend that this trade was a steal. The Knicks gave up far more than the Kelenna Azubuike, Eddy Curry and Bill Walker package that I was willing to part with on ESPN.com’s Trade Machine.
Gallinari, Chandler and Felton are three talented players. They are exactly the type of players that the Knicks must reacquire before they can infiltrate the league’s elite.
But finding a Gallinari or a Chandler is much easier than finding an Anthony. Fans always overrate homegrown talent. How many Knicks fans even remember if David Lee is in the NBA anymore?
By acquiring a 26-year-old superstar who may be the best pure scorer in the NBA, the Knicks are one step closer to assembling a team that can compete for an NBA Championship. They regained relevance around December; the next goal is winning.
Trades like this are not easy to make. The possibility—probability even—that Anthony would have signed with New York as a free agent after the season only makes it more difficult.
Still, if there is one problem with this trade, it is not the value traded to Denver. It is that James Dolan likely undermined Donnie Walsh’s authority. For all Walsh has done to revamp the Knicks, Dolan should have allowed him to complete a Carmelo trade on his terms. Walsh likely would have won the high-stakes game of poker, while possibly keeping Gallinari and/or Mozgov in the process.
But given the injustice of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, which limits the earning potential of superstars and takes away the “free” in “free agency,” the Knicks would have been taking a serious chance.
It is too much to expect Carmelo to leave more than $20 million on the table, no matter how badly he wanted to play in New York. If trading Gallinari is the insurance premium necessary to ensure Carmelo’s arrival, so be it.
Although the Knicks dealt much of their roster, there is no telling how much of a short-term hit, if any, the Knicks will take.
Right now, the Knicks are 28-26.
They are adding a player whose team, unlike LeBron James, has won 43 or more games every season of his career. The knee-jerk reaction that the Knicks are worse today is unreasonable. Melo’s presence alone has been good enough for 40+ wins in the Western Conference. Matching him with an MVP candidate like Amar'e Stoudemire will only bring out his best.
Last year, while LeBron teased his desire to play for the Knicks, I wrote articles pleading with Walsh to save his money for Anthony. Unlike James, Carmelo is the ideal competitor for this city. He is an assassin. According to ESPN.com, Anthony holds the best field goal percentage in games trailing by one or two points, or tied, in the final 24 seconds of regular season and playoff games since 1996-97.
It is that killer instinct, that desire to be the man that so many of his fellow 2003 draft classmates lack, that personifies what drove him to Madison Square Garden.
Referencing The Big Apple, Frank Sinatra once said, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.”
Melo has made it to New York. Now is Melo’s time to make it in New York.