Finally, after months of speculation, Carmelo Anthony has been traded to his team of choice. The New York Knicks will have a new starting five on Wednesday night against the Bucks and will have 28 games to get used to playing with each other before the playoffs.
The team looks very different though, and although the system is still the same, some guys may not be the perfect fit.
No matter what, this was a still a great trade, as the Knicks get a second star player and are set up to perhaps get a third to compete with the Miami Heat in 2012.
Read on for five questions that will be answered during the remainder of this season and most importantly, moving forward.
It's nice that the Knicks went through with this trade because teams need multiple stars to win championships in the NBA. The Knicks didn't leave the trade on the table because of Timofey Mozgov and decided it was right to secure a player of Carmelo Anthony's caliber.
At the same time, the Knicks are lacking many other needs that could set them back for the time being. One player the Knicks could've used moving forward is Mozgov because of the size he brings. The Knicks are kind of small right now, and don't have a reliable player who can start at the five.
On Wednesday night, that player will be Ronny Turiaf, who will have to be used there by default. Another player the Knicks got in the deal, Shelden Williams, could also start at center, but he'll be the backup and isn't the perfect candidate either.
The Knicks won't be able to make a trade in all likelihood after trading virtually their entire starting lineup, but need a player like Marcus Camby or Tyson Chandler who they'll be targeting this offseason.
The Knicks also need a backup point guard. Chauncey Billups will be the starter, but unlike Raymond Felton, he won't play 40 minutes every night. Even Felton was in need of some help, meaning the 34-year-old Billups will certainly need a backup.
Right now, that player is still Toney Douglas. The Knicks can use the newly-acquired Anthony Carter in that spot as well and move Douglas back to his natural position of shooting guard.
The bottom line is, the Knicks have some important holes to fill before they can be considered a legitimate threat. Plus, they need to upgrade the quality of their bench.
Chauncey Billups isn't really thrilled with the idea of joining the Knicks, and you can understand why. They do two things that Billups doesn't: run a fast-paced offensive system and play no defense. Billups likes to play to a slower offense and plays defense.
Then you add the fact he's 34 years old, and it'll make it even tougher for Billups to adjust to Mike D'Antoni's uptempo offense. The good thing is, he should be just fine.
If you break it down, just about every mediocre player puts up good numbers under D'Antoni. The most recent example is the guy Billups is replacing—Raymond Felton. Although Felton was a high draft pick and the starting point guard of a playoff team with the Charlotte Bobcats, he wasn't as good as he looked in New York for three-and-half months.
Now you take Billups, a player of much better quality, and add him to the same system, it should work just as fine.
The bigger question should be whether or not Billups' heart will be in it. The Knicks have reportedly assured him that they'll pick up his $14 million option for the 2011-2012 season, so that should make him comfortable, knowing he's not a two-month rental.
Back to his production and fitting into the system, keep in mind Billups will have two legitimate scorers on the court with him. He's only averaging 5.3 assists per game so far, but now he can dish to Stoudemire as well as Carmelo, which is almost unstoppable for opponents.
It may take a good 10-15 games and Billups' commitment, but he should fit in nicely as the Knicks' new starting point guard.
The same question was asked this summer once LeBron James and Dwyane Wade joined forces in Miami, and now you can ask it in New York: Which player gets the ball when it counts the most, Carmelo Anthony or Amar'e Stoudemire?
It's a tough question because both players are scorers and finishers. Stoudemire is one of the best fourth-quarter scorers in the NBA this season, while Anthony is known for clutch buckets.
The answer here would have to be Anthony. Although Stoudemire came here first, that shouldn't matter or even come to mind. Everyone knows Stoudemire was a nice piece, but the Knicks' main goal was to bring in a legitimate superstar. They got snubbed by LeBron in the summer, so they were just seven-and-a-half months late in their quest.
Now they have that player, and the ball goes to Anthony in a one-possession game in the final seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime. In fact, there are reasons why Anthony should be "the guy."
While Stoudemire is explosive and can take the ball to the rim or take a jump shot, Anthony has the ability to beat you in every way possible. By being able to take a jump shot, make a fade away, post up, shoot off the dribble or draw a foul, Anthony gives the Knicks more of a shot at coming through in the clutch.
Both players are scoring in the same range this season with Stoudemire averaging about one point per game more than Anthony. Don't look for a decrease in either players' numbers, but instead look for more of the same. Both guys on any given night can put up 25 in the same game.
By the way, don't overlook Billups either when it comes to making the clutch shot. After all, they don't call him "Mr. Big Shot" for nothing.
It's the biggest question out there, and it's brought up every time you hear of these two playing together: How will Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire fare playing together?
It's really a silly question, but it will certainly be answered one way or another. Why is it a silly question? Because it was a silly question when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade decided to play together, and after they've shown it's more than possible, there's no reason to believe this duo won't work out.
Yes, it will take some time. It'll probably take as long as Billups needs to get adjusted to this new uptempo offense. But after about 10-15 games or even if it takes through the summer and into next season, these two will be just fine and will be feared across the league.
You can bet right now that teams, especially the ones that may face the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs, are going to pay close attention to how to stop these two. It may not be possible to stop either one, let alone both.
What will happen now is actually going to benefit both players. Teams won't double team either guy, and if they do, it'll leave the other guy wide open. Amar'e has Carmelo's help and vice versa.
The only way the Knicks won't continue to put up huge scoring numbers is if both players happen to have an off night in the same game. The good thing about having multiple superstars is you don't have to rely on one guy and the situation you're in if he's slumping. When Amar'e had his off shooting nights, the Knicks were hard-pressed to win games. Now, they know they have two guys to lean on.
If there is an issue, it would be the way Anthony handles the ball. He was known to be somewhat of a hog toward the end of his Nuggets career and will have to let go of the selfishness. If he can just pass the ball a little more and adjust to the Knicks' seven seconds or less offense, there shouldn't be a problem with the two playing together.
Stay positive until proven otherwise, and use the Heat's outcome as a way to feel good about what's to come.
For some reason, there are people who are trying to make the case that the Knicks can't do anything until they make additional roster moves. I don't get that sentiment. What's wrong with trying to win games with Anthony and Stoudemire?
Of course there's more moves to be made, and that was documented in the first slide. But having these two is an upgrade over a team that was two games over .500, not 10 games under.
In a weak Eastern Conference besides the Celtics, Heat and Bulls, who can't the Knicks beat? In fact, the Knicks can probably beat the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs (they'd meet if the season ended today). They've already beat them both times this season, and that was without Carmelo.
The Magic don't put up a lot of points, and the Knicks have some matchup advantages against them, although they aren't anywhere near the Magic talent-wise.
Don't get me wrong, the Knicks aren't Finals contenders this season. But this notion that the Knicks are still a mediocre team after getting a top-five scorer to add to another top-five scorer is ridiculous.
The Knicks can certainly win a playoff series and will be very dangerous for any team they face. They still have a long way to go before they can compete for a title. That won't happen until they add a third star, most likely coming from the 2012 free-agent class.
But right now, expect a strong finish to the season and a fun first playoff appearance in seven years.