Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Did the Knicks give up too much for 'Melo?

(photo courtesy of ice-dotcom.com)

The last time I wrote about Carmelo Anthony, it was to sarcastically put together a list of 10 NBA players who were better because I believe Anthony is overrated. And while I stand by my stance (although I'll listen to arguments for Anthony being in the top 8-10), that's besides the point; 'Melo is a Knick!

On the surface, the Knicks gave up A LOT to obtain Anthony's services. Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, and Wilson Chandler were three of the Knicks' top five players on a team that lacked depth beyond their starting five. I know Chandler was coming off the bench recently, but he was still seeing more minutes than starting center Ronny Turiaf.

The Knicks also gave up Timofey Mozgov, a 2014 first-round pick, raw but promising young power forward Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry's expiring contract, $3 million and two second-round picks they got from the Warriors in the David Lee sign-and-trade deal. In addition to Anthony, the Knicks also got point guard Chauncey Billups from the Nuggets and swingman Corey Brewer from the Timberwolves.

When you break it down in terms of all the assets the Knicks gave away, I think they traded too much. But when you dissect the trade from a team-building standpoint, both Denver and New York won and it's the definition of a trade that helps both teams. Confused? Let me elaborate.

Wilson Chandler is a very good player and at 23, still has room to grow. But he was gone whether we traded for Anthony or signed him as a free agent, so that's a moot point. Felton was signed as a two-year stopgap until the Knicks could sign Chris Paul or Deron Williams and Felton-for-Billups is essentially an even swap for the next season-and-a-half.

Discluding that, the trade becomes Gallinari, Mozgov, Randolph, Curry, a first-round pick, two second-rounders and some inconsequential money (although I wish I had $3 million!) for Anthony and Brewer.

The Knicks are giving up numerous assets but if I ran the Knicks and Denver came to me with an offer like that, which is essentially Gallinari, Mozgov and Randolph for Anthony and Brewer, I would do it in a heartbeat. Anybody would. It's a NO BRAINER!

If this team does find a way to trade for or sign Paul (or Williams) next season or next off-season, the Knicks are back to being a championship contender. But many of you are probably wondering, does this trade make them better right now?

In a word (or two), kind of. The Knicks gave up a lot of depth and their starting lineup now includes Billups, Landry Fields, Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Turiaf. Toney Douglas will back up the guard spots while Brewer, Shawne Williams and Shelden Williams should also see minutes off the bench in the frontcourt.

That's not a championship lineup, but it's a lineup that can legitimately claim to be on par with Atlanta and Orlando, something the Knicks couldn't before. They still aren't as good as Boston, Miami or Chicago but if they can somehow manage to get up to fifth in the East (currently 5.5 games back of Atlanta) and play Orlando or Atlanta in round one, they could win a first-round series.

Considering the state of the Knicks since the days of Patrick Ewing, the fact that winning a playoff series is even a legitimate discussion is thrilling. But Knicks fan won't truly see the ramifications of this trade until the 2012-13 season, or the end of 2011-12 if they make another big trade next season.

Say they gave up too much all you want but if the Knicks didn't pull the trigger before Thursday, after everything that has gone on in the past few months, they would've looked TERRIBLE. And what superstar point guard like Paul or Williams wants to come to a franchise like that?

The only way this deal blows up in the Knicks' face is if the new collective bargaining agreement sets the cap at a number that would prevent them from signing one of the big-time point guards or Dwight Howard. In that case, we may have to revisit this trade with angst and disgust. A full evaluation of where this move puts the Knicks really isn't possible until the 2012-13 season.

But until then, Anthony's presence alongside Stoudemire makes a Paul/Williams addition much more likely than it was before. And that alone is reason for Knicks fans to celebrate!

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