by Justin Cherot
Just a splattering of thoughts on the blockbuster trade that, if you’re like the guy on that Geico commercial living under a rock, sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knickerbockers late last night:
- Years from now when I tell the story to my grandchildren (what story, I don’t know: it’ll either be the story of how the Knicks became relevant again or how Anthony completely handi-capped their cap situation for a decade), inevitably I’ll re-collect about where I was when I heard the news. I’ll lie and say I was sitting next to Spike Lee in a bar watching SportsCenter. Realistically, I was asleep in my bed when I received a text alert at 10:23 PM. What’s sadder, me making up a convoluted story involving Spike Lee or the fact that I was asleep at 10:23 PM? You be the judge.
- I’ve been going back and forth on this on all day: while Anthony is easily one of the top three offensive players in the game–if not the best period–did the Knicks give up too much to get, for the most part, a glorified one-trick pony who may not mesh with Mike D’Antoni’s style? Isn’t D’Antoni notorious for the “live by the three, die by the three” approach? Offensively, ‘Melo is a lot of things, but a great shooter is not one of them. It’ll be interesting to see if D’Antoni can set him up for success on offense. But, back to what they gave up. Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton AND Timofey Mozgov!? Granted, they’re not exactly world-beaters at 28-26… but those are FOUR NBA starters. Felton essentially resurrected his career playing alongside Amar’e Stoudemire. Pre-knee injury Gallinari was starting to show why he was a lottery pick. Before the trade talks started affecting his game, Chandler was probably on the short-list of most improved players. Mozgov…um… is best known for getting dunked on repeatedly by Blake “Kia Optima” Griffin, but was slowly becoming a good big man. Again, four starters for a top 15 player. I don’t know. Are any one of those four players likely to blow up to the level that Knicks’ management will say, “I’d rather have him instead of ‘Melo”, but giving up that much talent two thirds of the way through the season instead of waiting until the off-season is questionable.
- We know ‘Melo is the prize catch and Billups is the most underrated facet of the trade, but other ramifications of the trade that are interesting: Chandler completely making J.R. Smith expendable (and FREE!!!); Corey Brewer officially becoming the only player on the Knicks willing to defend; George Karl declaring that Ty Lawson will remain the starter once Felton arrives (cough, mistake, cough) and hopping into his red SUV, and finally the Knicks completely giving up waaaaaaaaaay too early on Anthony Randolph.
- Could you imagine if, after all this hoopla, Anthony decides that the New York lifestyle is overrated and he decides NOT to sign an extension? How many reports of mass suicide would we see in the New York area THAT morning?
Overall, as nice as the ‘Melo trade is for the Knicks and their morale… there’s still five teams in the East that are better. New York needs a point guard to reign in all that offensive firepower, and I think Billups, despite his pedigree, is a glorified stop-gap solution. The problem, as Chad Ford explains, is that it’s going to be difficult financially to create a second Big 3 in the East over the course of the next couple years.
But credit the Denver Nuggets for learning from “The Decision“: they didn’t just let Anthony walk. They walked away with great value in the short-term and more flexibility long-term. Give them a year and a half and they’ll be back in the playoffs… if they don’t find a way to sneak in this season.