As anticipated for months, the New York Knicks have finally pried Carmelo Anthony away from the Denver Nuggets.
New York acquired Anthony, Chauncey Billups and insignificant others while essentially giving up every talented piece on their roster minus rookie Landry Fields and Amare Stoudemire. Let’s take a look at how this trade affects the Knicks’ hopes of becoming elite and if there is any spillover effect onto the once rival Miami Heat.
The details of the deal are below…
The Knicks get: Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter, Corey Brewer and Renaldo Balkman
The Nuggets get: Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, a first-round pick, two second-round picks, $3 million cash
The Wolves get: the body of Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph
Pre-Melo Knicks Lineup
- Bench: Wilson Chandler, Toney Douglass, Shawne Williams, Bill Walker, Ronny Turiaf
Post-Melo Knicks Lineup
- Insert disaster here
- Bench: Douglass, Turiaf, Carter, Williams, Balkman, Brewer
The Knicks now have a more dominant one-two punch in Stoudemire and Anthony. They’re going to be exciting for sure, but will they be a better team now and into the future?
In the short term, that answer is marginal at best. The two stars could easily average 30 points a piece and the Knicks would still be no more than a mediocre-to-plus basketball team. Their bench went from bad to atrocious after the departure of Chandler who played big minutes (32) as a reserve.
In the long term, it gives them two offensive cornerstones for years to come. Keyword is “offensive.” Conventionally, true contenders have been filled with several star, two-way players who impact the game on both ends of the court.
There’s no doubting Stoudemire and Anthony are great players, but can they be championship building blocks? Or are they just a bundle of excitement and regular-season wins?
Carmelo and Amare are better suited for All-Star Games where defense is frowned upon. Unless they surround the duo with several monsters on the defensive end, they may be a 50-win team someday but will never do serious damage in the playoffs.
For the Knicks to ever have a prayer of contending in the future, even with the addition of a third star like Deron Williams in the summer of 2012, they would have to change their identity.
Even then, I’m not sold Amare and Carmelo can ever become a championship core. It remains to be seen what types of players will surround them in the future, and with rumors of Isiah Thomas having input with the Knicks again, any form of hope for New Yorkers further diminishes. That man drove the Knicks into the ground, and yet team owner James Dolan still gives him his ear?
Bottom line. To win in the playoffs, a team must defend. End of story. And this Knicks team, led by an extremely offensive-minded coach in Mike D’Antoni, along with offensive juggernauts in Stoudemire and Anthony, throws the word defense out the window.
ESPN’s John Hollinger on the trade:
[ The worst part, of course, is that this deal proves that no matter how many advantages New York gains from its magnetic appeal to potential free agents, owner James Dolan will screw them up. Leaning on the genius of Isiah Thomas -- because it worked out so well for the first time -- he fell hook, line and sinker for every bluff thrown his way by the Nuggets and Melo's people. (Yes, Melo's people participated -- Anthony needed to make sure he got a lucrative contract extension under the current salary rules before being traded.)
New York still gets its Melo-Stoudemire nucleus, but now lacks the supporting pieces to do anything important with that core. And by extending Melo now, they agree to lock him up at such an expensive price that, in concert with Stoudemire's deal, it likely precludes making a run at Chris Paul, Deron Williams or Dwight Howard in 2012. ]
Heat-Knicks rivalry renewed?
Anyone can win a regular season game against a superior opponent during an 82-game marathon. So yes, New York can beat Miami once or twice a regular season. But this Knicks team, the way it’s currently structured, has no chance of taking on the Heat in a playoff series.
If they are matched up in the playoffs this year, a small possibility, it would end in five games or less with an easy Miami victory. In fact, I think the pre-Melo team would have a better chance at squeaking out a win because they had more depth, one of Miami’s more glaring weaknesses.
While the matchup will be a fun one during the regular season, the Knicks pose no immediate threat to the Heat when it matters most. A core of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh against Anthony and Stoudemire is not much of a contest.
And for all those Knicks fans chirping about getting Chris Paul, Deron Williams, or even Dwight Howard in the summer of 2012, pipe down as that’s over a year away. And with the uncertainty of the next CBA they may not have a prayer at having enough cap space to pursue other stars. Anthony’s extension runs three years and $65 million while Amare just signed a maximum $100 million contract last summer.
Carmelo and Amare are second-tier superstars. If they ever want to be a part of a championship team, they would need to completely overhaul their games and place emphasis on becoming good defenders. At this point in their careers it would be tough for a player to drastically change his game.
As Amare said last season, he was never taught defense. Do we really expect D’Antoni to be the one to teach it to him?
Miami is superior to New York on the NBA hardwood, both for now and into the foreseeable future.