Why Carmelo Anthony Is Not the Right Fit for the New York Knicks...Right Now

Michael PerchickCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2010

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 07:  Carmelo Anthony #15 of the Denver Nuggets watches on against the Charlotte Bobcats during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on December 7, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

As I sat in my living room last night and jumped up after Amar'e Stoudemire seemingly drained a three to win the game (which I realized was late even before the replay), the utter excitement of the game vanished.  My frustration with the team I've loved and rooted for through the good—well I guess there wasn't much good—and the mostly bad, reappeared. 

Here's the problem with last night's loss: Basketball is not a five-on-five game.  It's a 12-on-12 game.  And the Knicks play every night with six or seven guys, the shortest rotation in the league.  Four starters played over 42 minutes last night—they keep this pace up, and they're going to be falling apart during the second half of the year.  You even saw it last night; they couldn't close out.  Their legs got tired, they got killed on the boards, and they settled for jumpers.  

In the first three quarters, the Knicks had 24 free throws.  In the fourth quarter, they had one.  That shows a team is lazy or a team is tired, and knowing how hard D'antoni has these guys playing (a testament to him), it's definitely not the first one.

It was a very tough game to lose.  With all that said, a Knicks loss hasn't hurt this badly in a while, which means my expectations for the team have gone up, so I have to give D'antoni credit there.  I just think you look at the bench, and there are guys there who have the talent and ability to play eight to 12 minutes off the bench.  Outside of Toney Douglas (15 minutes), only two other guys came off the bench: Ronny Turiaf and Shawne Williams. Turiaf played a little under nine minutes; Williams a little over six minutes.  Why did we get Anthony Randolph, again?  Or sign Roger Mason, Jr. in the offseason?  Or re-sign Bill Walker?  Are these guys All-Stars?  No.  But you could just see that Boston had a lot more energy in the fourth quarter.

Also, this was not a healthy Boston team. No Jermaine O'Neil, no Shaquille O'Neal, and Rondo was banged up.  I know injuries are part of the game, but Amar'e got beat up defensively by an aging Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis.  As great as he is as a help defender, his one-on-one defensive game shows that he isn't a true center.  The Knicks need to go out and make a move to get a legitimate center if they want to be competitive in the East.

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This is why I'm one of the people against trading for Carmelo Anthony right now.  If you get Melo, best-case scenario is you have to trade two guys in your rotation—on top of Curry's expiring contract, a future pick and probably Anthony Randolph.  The two guys in the rotation will be some sort of combination of Landry Fields, Wilson Chandler and Danillo Gallinari.  The Knicks would be hurt on the rebounding edge with the trade, and they still WON'T HAVE A CENTER!  And now they'll have even less depth than they currently have, as D'antoni doesn't appear to be comfortable playing the guys on the bench.  These guys are going to break down. Look at what happened to Phoenix in the playoffs every year under D'antoni: They trailed off.  That style of basketball doesn't work with such a short bench.  If you are going to run the ball for 48 minutes, you have to be playing at least a solid eight-man rotation, and you should have a ninth and 10th guy splitting about 12 minutes a game.  

Carmelo Anthony is a great player.  He's also an injury-risk who's never been to the finals, isn't a great shooter from the field or from downtown, and unlike a guy like LeBron, isn't a true playmaker.  Carmelo Anthony is a scorer—a very good scorer, who is one of the better rebounding SFs in the league, but he's not a guy who's really going to create for the guys around him.

I know some analysts argue that you acquire the stars and then the depth.  But if you look at the Knicks right now, this team is very close to contending without a guy like Carmelo. What they should do is go after a solid backup point guard, a guy like a Luke Ridnour or a T.J. Ford, and maybe go after a defensive-minded center like Marcus Camby or Sam Dalembert.  Those guys won't cost a lot in terms of value in a trade, so you won't gut your depth, and you'll address your most glaring weakness.

Finally, Melo is a free agent after the season.  If he really wants to come to New York that badly, then he'll sign with the Knicks.  The other two teams he's considering both have their issues.  The Bulls don't really have any trading pieces, especially with Joakim Noah having surgery.  And the Nets?  Does Carmelo Anthony really want to play for the Nets?  Outside of Brook Lopez, what guy on that team is attractive?  Devin Harris and Derrick Favors would both be gone in a trade for Carmelo.  And even Lopez has struggled this year.  When push comes to shove, do you think Melo is going to want to play for a team in transition with a disciplinarian for their head coach in defense-first Avery Johnson, or a more open offense with an established All-Star and a fast-paced, offensive-minded guy like Mike D'antoni?  

There will be a time for the Knicks to make a run at Carmelo.  That time will be during free agency after the season.  But for now they should look to acquire depth, try to see what Anthony Randolph has or try to dangle Eddy Curry's expiring contract for a backup point guard or established big man.

Michael Perchick is the writer/editor of TheJockosphere, a sports/Twitter site, reporting the top tweets and news directly from athletes. Follow him on Twitter @TheREALPerchick and at http://thejockosphere.com/.


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