Carmelo Anthony Trade: Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Dwight Howard to Knicks Next?
So finally, the New York Knicks have acquired Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets, in an elaborate, three-team, 12-player transaction.
Ultimately, New York sent Raymond Felton, Wilson Chander, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, a 2014 first-round draft pick and two second-round picks, in exchange for Melo, Chauncey Billups, Anthony Carter, Shelden Williams and Renaldo Balkman.
In addition to this, the Knicks dealt Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Corey Brewer.
Immediately, it seems as though New York gave up a lot for Anthony, especially given that just over a week ago they were discussing a deal in which they would have only given up Chandler, Curry and Randolph for Melo.
However, one must look closely at the deal in order to understand why the Knicks did what they did.
First and foremost, New York owner James Dolan was desperate to, not only acquire Melo, but to keep him out of the hands of Mikhail Prokhorov, the owner of the New Jersey Nets.
And while including Mozgov, their 2014 first-rounder and the two second-rounders seems like a bit much, Dolan probably felt that these were necessary to avoid a potential embarrassment at the hands of his cross-town rival.
Nevertheless, that inclusion is the one part of the deal which I find to be inexcusable.
The rest of the deal, though, makes some sense.
While trading away three starters does seem drastic, they did receive two in return, one of whom is, by-far, the best player in the transaction.
Furthermore, although it hurts to see them go, it appears wise to have dealt away contributors Chandler and Gallinari, if only for monetary reasons.
Chandler's contract is set to expire after this season and Gallinari's after next season, so if the Knicks had kept these two and sought to re-sign them, then they would likely be unable to pursue any of 2012's headlining free agents, namely Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard.
Consequently, the team may have been forced to let both of them walk in free agency if they were not included in this deal.
Williams, Carter and Balkman, on the other hand, are all players who New York probably will not deem to be worthy of re-signing, thereby helping to give the franchise that cap flexibility.
Now in contrast to these players, the trade of the younger Felton for Billups, seems to have had little to do with money, as both players have contracts expiring within the next two years.
Rather, it is likely that the Nuggets requested this swap while looking to make room for their promising sophomore point guard, Ty Lawson, which would result in the team looking to trade Felton in the near future.
Now, Curry and Randolph were sent to the Timberwolves simply to make salaries match up in the three-team deal, so the players involved here were largely unimportant to the Knicks trade motivations.
So basically, the Knicks did what they did in order to lock down two big-time stars—Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo—while giving themselves the flexibility to pursue a third star in 2012.
Therefore, the only question now being asked in New York is as to whether or not they can acquire Chris Paul, Deron Williams or Dwight Howard.
It all started that fateful weekend in July, at Carmelo Anthony's wedding, when Chris Paul toasted to himself, Melo and Amar'e Stoudemire forming their own big three on the New York Knicks.
At that point, Amar'e had already signed with the Knicks.
Now, Melo has joined him.
But will Paul be next?
By and large, CP3 has been dodging any questions regarding his future free agency, replying with the typical answer of a player in his situation: saying that he is focused on winning right now with his current team, the New Orleans Hornets.
Yet winning is exactly what he has done so far, as the Hornets have been one of the most surprising teams in the NBA in 2010-11, earning a solid 33-25 record—good for sixth in the Western Conference.
However, Paul has also been quoted as saying that he thinks the pairing of Anthony and Stoudemire would make a team an immediate title contender.
So if he wants to win, he would certainly consider joining the Knicks.
Now when that is coupled with Paul's being represented by CAA's Leon Rose, the same agent who represents his close friend Anthony, a move to New York certainly seems plausible.
Yet, no one besides CP3 really knows what is going on inside his head.
Nevertheless, he will undoubtedly think long and hard about it, and at the very least, it seems very possible that he will ultimately look to join Amar'e and Melo with the Knicks, instantly forming one of the best teams in the NBA.
Recently, a source close to Deron Williams revealed that that, ever since Amar'e Stoudemire joined the team in the summer, he had become very interested in signing with the New York Knicks as a free agent in 2012.
Furthermore, this claim seemed especially convincing after Williams' frustrated claims to the media about the difficulty of luring free agents to play for his Utah Jazz.
At one point during All-Star Weekend, he even asked Carmelo Anthony, "Would you consider Utah?" only to hear Melo reply mockingly, "Would you consider Utah?"
And the fact that Anthony even responded with that question raises doubts about Williams' future with the Jazz.
Nevertheless, since that time, Deron has vehemently denied any intentions of heading to New York, calling the rumors crazy—in stark contrast to the I'm-focusing-on-winning-now rhetoric used by Chris Paul.
But Williams has done more than just that, even going as far as to point out that he barely knows the "source close to him" who first started the Deron-to-New-York rumors.
Moreover, in the aftermath of Jerry Sloan's resignation—regardless of whether or not it was due to clashing with his point guard—it appears that the Jazz management has firmly committed to Williams as the cornerstone of their franchise.
Consequently, it does not seem too likely that he would ultimately follow through in pursuing the Knicks.
However, due to the appeals of playing with two of the league's biggest stars in the NBA's largest market, there is always a chance.
Prior to the All-Star break, a few reports broke the news that, should the Orlando Magic fail to win an NBA championship by 2012, Dwight Howard would seek to leave the team as a free agent.
Furthermore, his preferred destinations were named to be the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Lakers or possibly the New Jersey Nets.
For his part, Howard has not directly denied that he is considering these options.
Rather, he has simply stressed that he will still be on the Magic for another year, while making it clear that he never actually said that he wanted to leave Orlando.
Consequently, by not outright denying it, Howard has upheld the fact that he has not ruled the possibility of leaving.
What's more, he has cited his current motivation as being driven by a desire to win an NBA championship—a statement could be problematic for the Magic, because that is the same type of talk which was used by LeBron James last summer, and we all know how that ended.
But then again, Howard's team is currently 36-21, in fourth place in the Eastern Conference and certainly in title contention this season.
So, at this point, it's too early to tell how the Dwight Howard situation will pan out.
However, if the Magic show some signs of weakness in the near future, and the Knicks are able to succeed behind the play of Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, then expect Howard to become more and more enticed by the possibility of joining these two and forming what would absolutely be the NBA's best frontcourt.