Posted on: March 15, 2011 4:53 pm
Edited on: March 16, 2011 3:14 am
The new-look Knicks have had supreme highs and desperate lows. So what's the story with the Knicks' inconsistency?
Posted by Matt Moore
There is no more valued word among NBA coaches than "consistency." Consistency is the mark of greatness, the key to success, the building block of progress, and the thing that is most elusive for teams during a season. Getting players to exert the same level of effort, focus, understanding, and execution across any stretch during 82 games is nearly impossible, made all the more difficult by injury, youth, chemistry, suspension, and ego. So how do you work to get consistency from a team? You practice, endeavor, train, bond, and most of all, try and bring in players that will provide that kind of effort and production night in and night out. The easiest way to do that is to have star players. Veterans who know how to execute, and can duplicate that performance at a high level on a Thursday night, nationally televised game against a Western Conference title contender and on a Tuesday night League-Pass-er against a lottery squad. Star players in the NBA are more than just players capable of incredible highlight reels and singular stats-stuffed box scores. They bring it each and every night. Superstars are how you make your team more consistent.
So why are the new-look Knicks so inconsistent?
Since trading for Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks are 6-6. The Nuggets are 8-2, but that's a whole other story. It would be one thing if the Knicks were beating middle-of-the-road teams and losing to elite squads, essentially playing to their potential and role this season. But that's not what's occurring. The Knicks have wins over playoff teams in New Orleans, Memphis, Atlanta, and a huge win over Miami. They have losses to Dallas and Orlando, understandable, since those teams are better overall than the Knicks. But they also have two mortifying losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers and one to the currently bottoming-out Pacers, who they face in a back-to-back rematch Tuesday night. (Update: The Knicks fell to the Pacers again, on a Danny Granger dagger to lose the back-to-back set.) In short, the Knicks are all over the place.
The Knicks traded in a lot of assets that had been playing well together to get Carmelo, banking on the long-term and short-term payoff to outweigh the cost of sending four starters to Denver in return for one starter and a superstar. What's interesting is how the team has shifted since the trade. The Knicks had been averaging a 107.7 offensive efficiency and a 107.2 defensive efficiency before the trade. Offensively, they've improved as you would think they would, jumping to a 110.7 offensive efficiency. Defensively, however, they've also taken a hit, jumping to 108.7. Sounds about right. But the bigger issue is not the overall results, which are favorable, still. This team was never going to be a defensive ironmonger under D'Antoni. His system is geared to send potential rebounders springing for the break. That, plus the kind of light-footed bigs needed to make the system function results in a high number of offensive rebounds allowed, which provide more opportunities to score, and with most of the personnel geared for offense, that means they're often not defensively brilliant and the result is the team giving up a ton of points. But the team is still outscoring the other side on average. So what's the issue?
The issue is that they manage to pour it on against teams like the Heat who are defensively brilliant while holding the Triad to an 88.7 offensive efficiency. That's stunningly good. Then three games later they give up a 126 defensive efficiency to the Cavaliers, who couldn't hit water if LeBron James walked back in the door and personally towed them to water. They drop 107 points (118 offensive efficiency) on the Hornets, then turn around and produce just 93 (98.9 efficiency) against the Pacers. The Knicks are going up and down and there's no rhyme or reason to it. You can attribute part of the random nature of the results to Chauncey Billups' absence, but not enough. The Knicks are simply all over the place. Furthermore, the results aren't really tied to Melo's performance, either.
Anthony scored just 14 on 6-18 shooting against the Hawks and they won easily. He pours in 29 on 10-16 shooting against the Cavaliers and they lose. There is one interesting corollary. In the 12 games Melo has been with the Knicks, they have never won when Anthony has posted a negative +/- mark, and never lost with a positive +/-. It seems obvious, but it does show that Anthony is in some way relevant to the Knicks' nightly performance.
So how does D'Antoni solve this rollercoaster puzzle? In short, he can't. James Dolan (and Isiah Thomas) cut the roster he put together with Donnie Walsh off at the knees in order to screw on the robotic Melo cyborg suit he's got now. Chemistry doesn't just come together, it takes time. And consistency is an even further extension of that. D'Antoni's not going to all of a sudden be able to fix the problems the Knicks are having because the problems aren't obvious. They're complicated and intertwined in effort, hot and cold shooting nights, opponent matchups, and the ever elusive idea of chemistry and how players play and live together. That takes time, and work, in a situation where the Knicks have no time to work on such issues. Either these things will fix themselves naturally over the final month of the season, or you're just going to have to flip a coin as to which side of the Knicks we see in the first round.
(Efficiency stats courtesy of HoopData .)
Posted on: March 14, 2011 8:10 am
Edited on: March 14, 2011 8:30 am
Dwyane Wade wins in court, David Lee holds Kevin Love in check, Tracy McGrady takes a swing at being a labor leader, Chauncey Billups preaches patience and a whole lot more. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Posted on: March 13, 2011 11:26 pm
The New York Knicks are reportedly considering a contract extension for point guard Chauncey Billups. Posted by Ben Golliver.
The future course has been set for the New York Knicks: Forwards Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony are on the books for big-dollar extensions that run through the 2014-2015 NBA season. Given the gigantic extensions paid to those players, the Knicks will need to be creative and intelligent in how they manage their remaning cap space, especially if the league's rules change meaningfully with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The good news is that New York has very few long-term salary commitments on its books, and no other big-dollar players except for one: point guard Chauncey Billups. Billups came to New York as part of the blockbuster trade that landed Anthony, and accepting the $14.2 millions that remain on his deal for next season were one of the taxes the Knicks had to pay to land Anthony.
While Billups' contract for next season is not fully guaranteed, and there had been some light chatter recently that the Knicks might consider buying him out, Newsday reports (via HoopsHype) that the Knicks could be considering a contract extension for Billups as well.
As everyone knows, the Knicks have a decision to make about their point guard position at the end of this season. By contractual rule, the team can save $10.5 million of the $14.2 million Chauncey Billups is scheduled to make in 2011-12 if they opt to waive the veteran point guard within five days of their last game. But a person with knowledge of the team's thinking said the Knicks aren't looking at that as an option and instead are considering committing to the 34-year-old Billups beyond 2012. The thinking is that Billups could be exactly what they need as a leader to direct the offense with star players Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. And if they can sign him to a reasonable contract extension, it would allow the team to have a decent amount of money left over to make upgrades in other areas of the roster via free agency.At 34 years old, Billups remains a productive player, putting up 17.0 points and 5.4 assists per game this season. His efficiency rating is quite high, currently ranking him No. 35 in the league. He's an NBA champion, a pro's pro, and the NBA player who knows Anthony better than everyone else.
Taken together, that makes for a solid building piece entering next season. He's valuable on the court and his expiring contract makes him potentially valuable as a trade asset. The Knicks could easily find themselves as buyer's at next year's trade deadline -- just as they were this season -- looking to pick off assets from teams that are trying to cut payroll. Billups' contract would potentially allow them to take back a solid piece (or two) and is particularly important because the Knicks have already traded away so many of their future draft picks.
That's why an extension here really doesn't make a ton of sense. Billups has plenty of miles on him already, he'll be 35 when his current deal expires and he's significantly older than both Stoudemire and Anthony. When those two are both fully cresting, Billups will be sliding. That's just a fact of life in the NBA.
If things go as planned next year, the Knicks are a premier team in the East, selling out the Garden, playing on national television constantly and attracting veterans who want to win. Billups will have every reason to give the Knicks a hometown discount to stay for the fun ride. If things don't go as planned, Billups as a massive expiring contract is significantly better from a flexibility standpoint than Billups as a multi-year veteran point guard slipping in production by the day.
Either way, there's just no reason to rush to get Billups signed to an extension.
Posted on: February 25, 2011 5:22 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
In today's Friday 5 with KB: A favorite story from Jerry Sloan, the future of Utah, the choppy waters of this year's trade deadline, and when exactly are the Spurs going to hit double-digit losses?
1. Well... that trade deadline was beyond all reason. What was the most stunning moment for you in the midst of all the chaos of the past 72-96 hours?
Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: Deron Williams to the Nets, hands down. Though there was some hint of trouble with our report during All-Star weekend that D-Will had begun hatching his escape-to-New York plan last summer, no one expected the Jazz to take the bold step of trading him in the next 72 hours. Stunning, and a small victory for teams and owners against the superstar power-play movement.
2. You talked a lot about the business side of the Celtics' decision to move Perkins. What does it say that a big market team with deep pockets was put into a position to be concerned about finances?
KB: It's not so much finances with the Celtics. In a no-cap system like baseball has, they never would have done this trade. They just would've kept Perk and paid him. But with all signs pointing to a hard cap, or at least a harder cap on the way, Boston couldn't afford to leave itself vulnerable to losing a 26-year-old, 6-10 center and getting nothing in return. And if you think about it, one of the players the Celtics got back, Jeff Green, was someone they drafted in 2007 and traded for Ray Allen. Getting Troy Murphy on a minimum deal after he's bought out also will help ease the pain. An underrated benefit of this deal for the Thunder is that Perk's Bird rights go with him in the trade. That is, if Bird rights survive in the new CBA.
3. Buyouts are going to be all the rage for the next two weeks. What are you hearing in terms of players who might be available for the contenders to sign?
KB: Besides Murphy, Jared Jeffries is going to the Knicks, while Darius Songaila and Jason Kapono could help a contender if they're bought out. Rip Hamilton was on the verge of getting bought out as part of a trade to the Cavs, but we know that didn't work out too well for him. I doubt Hamilton, with two years left on his deal, gets bought out now. Same for Marcus Camby for the same reason.
4. Is Mikhail Prokhorov in the top five of most entertaining owners, after this week?
KB: Top two. Prokhorov is on Cuban's level now. Between his stunning squashing of the Melo trade talks in January and his bold move to extract D-Will from Utah, Prokhorov served noticed that he's in this to go toe-to-toe with the Knicks. In a related story, spokesperson Ellen Pinchuk will not go down in the annals of disingenuous spokespeople, right there with Baghdad Bob.
5. How hard is the personal side of these trades for players? We're reading on Twitter players saying goodbye to each other, packing up their houses, their families. Is the cost of these moves high on a personal level?
KB: Harder than most people think. The common reaction is that no one should feel sorry for the players because they make so much money. But their kids don't care how much money their father makes, only that they won't see him for the rest of the season because he's been traded. Chauncey Billups is a prime example. He thought he was going home to finish his career in Colorado, only to have to tell his children he'll see them in May or June. Money is good, but nothing compares to family.
Posted on: February 23, 2011 11:38 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2011 11:57 pm
Posted by Royce Young
THE BIG ONE: MELO NEEDS SOME TIME TO GEL-O(OK, I admit, that was terrible.)
Madison Square Garden buzzed like it hasn't, well, since the last time we all said it hasn't buzzed since the last insert time period.
But New York was definitely excited. Carmelo Anthony was making his first appearance and with a heavily produced pre-game introduction that had a long welcome video and the players entering through the tunnel instead of off the bench, there certainly was another level of excitement at MSG.
The Melo trade has been almost five months in the making, but these past 24 hours feel sort of rushed. Melo was in Los Angeles yesterday finishing up All-Star Weekend duties before getting word he was dealt. He, along with teammates Chauncey Billups, Renaldo Balkman, Anthony Carter and Shelden Williams, had to rush to New York to get their physicals done as well as their introductory press conference.
And with all that hurrying, the play on the court was certainly affected. The Knicks scored their usual tilt of points beating the Bucks 114-108, but they weren't near as good offensively as their output would suggest.
Melo needed 25 shots to score 27, Amar'e Stoudemire had 19 and Billups added 21. But late in the game, with the Bucks pushing, we saw a small glimpse of how the Knicks have changed. Instead of the usual pick-and-roll butter that they usually go with, they went to Melo isolated on the block.
The first play, it's the Denver Nugget offense. Melo is posting, Billups is feeding him. Stoudemire is floating as a weapon to potentially cut, but Melo gets an isolation and uses his skill to beat Carlos Delfino for a dunk. This is an option the Knicks didn't have before the trade. If this game were last week, the Knicks would've been running pick-and-roll here with Raymond Felton and Stoudemire, with the option to kick to Danilo Gallinari. Now, they could run that pick-and-roll, or go iso on the block to Melo.
The second play, what's interesting is that Stoudemire fouled out on the previous defensive possession. so New York's prior go-to player wasn't there. Again, if this game is in January, the Knicks are kind of screwed. Now, there's really no worries. Billups and Anthony just go right back to the same post up play they used the previous possession and Carmelo beats his man for a crucial bucket.
Of course what makes any isolation play like this work is the spacing. And the Knicks spaced well. They're missing a few shooters, but with Toney Douglas on the floor who had hit a bunch of shots and had 23, the Milwaukee defense had to be aware and couldn't completely sell out to double Melo. Same thing with the option to kick to Billups, a good 3-point shooter.
Throughout the game, I wouldn't say Melo and Amar'e worked all that well together because it was a bit of the your-turn-my-turn thing. Melo wasn't shy hoisting 25 shots to Stoudemire's 13, but it seemed like Amar'e was comfortable in what Melo was doing. Stoudemire is a terrific pick-and-roll play, but Billups isn't really a pick-and-roll point guard -- at least not like Felton was.
So there will be some subtle changes to the Knick offense. Maybe Billups settles in to a bit more pick-and-roll with Stoudemire. Melo, who loves to post, only went to the block a handful of times. He mostly cut, drove and waited for kickouts.
There will certainly be a feeling out period with this team, but with talented players like Stoudemire, Melo and Billups, the Knicks can win in spite of those issues.
Opening night at MSG for Melo was definitely electric and while his 27 points are nice and the team winning is good, I wouldn't say anyone felt electrified by the Knicks performance. But it's just game one for a new team and the thing about talented basketball players is, they tend to adjust and improve. So look out.
OKLAHOMA CITY GETS SPURRED
Looking at the numbers, the Thunder did just about everything right. They killed the glass (54-37 edge), had 13 offensive rebounds to the Spurs four, held San Antonio to under 45 percent from the field, didn’t turn the ball over (10), made free throws (24-27) and played their butts off.
But the Spurs tend to beat people in spite of statistics. It's kind of their thing.
Where OKC lost this game was in one specific area. The same area that took the Thunder down the last San Antonio game, hurt OKC again. The Spurs went 13-21 from 3, hitting 8 of 11 in the first half. Without that, the Thunder wins this game, no doubt. The lesson here is, the Spurs can shoot. Don’t leave them open.
Where I really think the Thunder lost this game though was a stretch with about four minutes left. OKC finally got over the hump taking a 98-96 lead behind James Harden’s spark from 3. And the Thunder did what they had to do: They got three straight stops.
The opportunity was there to bridge out to at least a four-point lead with about three minutes left. But OKC never capitalized. If the Thunder gets points somewhere in there, they might have a nice buffer to keep the Spurs away. But remember, the Spurs are good and you can’t ever let them hang around.That's now 19 straight at home for San Antonio and they improve to 47-10 on the season and 26-2 at home. Yowza.
UTAH DEFINITELY MISSED D-WILLIt was almost surreal watching the Jazz play without Deron Williams. They've done it before with him missing some games due to a wrist injury, but this time he was gone. It was weird.
Utah hung tough with the superior Mavericks for a time, but there clearly was a talent gap as the Jazz just lacked any kind of firepower to hang tight. Earl Watson, who started for Williams, had just seven points and five assists in 37 minutes. Al Jefferson played a pretty terrific game scoring 30 points on only 14 shots, but the Jazz just didn't have a chance.
Getting Devin Harris and Derrick Favors will help, but this team isn't going anywhere right now. They were competitive largely due to having arguably the best point guard in the league and now that that's missing, they're simply average.
GO-GO-GADGET LINESDwight Howard: 32 points and 17 rebounds for Orlando, but his Magic dropped a horrible game to the Tyreke Evans-less Kings, 111-105.
Derrick Rose: 32 points and 10 assists in a loss.
Jose Calderon: 17 assists for the Raptors in a win over the Bulls.
Greg Monroe: The Pistons rookie piled up 27 points and 12 rebounds in a close loss to Indiana.
Chase Budinger: Off the bench, he scored 30 on 9-18 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds for the Rockets in a win over the Cavs.
PARTING THOUGHTJoakim Noah made his triumphant return to the Bulls, finally putting them at full strength. So they'd blow past the lowly Raptors, right?
Wrong. Very wrong.
Noah did his part grabbing 16 rebounds, but the Bulls normally stellar defense slipped, the offense failed to execute and in the end, were left on the bad end of a 118-113 loss to Toronto.
Posted on: February 22, 2011 2:18 am
Edited on: February 22, 2011 2:31 am
The Nuggets flirted with danger but wound up trading Melo for a good set of assets. The Melo era is over in Denver.
Posted by Matt Moore
This was not the best run trade negotiation period in history. The Nuggets repeatedly pushed for too much, and then when they somehow miraculously got offered that much, they pushed again. Masai Ujiri played Russian Roullette with this trade but in the end, it wasn't Carmelo Anthony, or Donnie Walsh, or Leon Rose, who hit the Magic chamber. It was Isiah Thomas loading it six chambers full. As usual.
The Denver Nuggets now have a completely different team than the one they entered the All-Star break with. The odds of the roster as it stands currently being the one after the trade deadline are also very low. The Nuggets are currently in-between transitions, able to compete for the playoffs but with no true star, they're likely stumped once the first round hits. They have their point guard of the future (Ty Lawson) and now Raymond Felton complicates that. They have talented combination forwards, and just added more. They have aging veterans and now have young pieces. They're probably going to make the playoffs but probably won't get very far. They're rebuilding but trying to win now. They're in two very different places at the same time.
But really, this was the best circumstance they could have hoped for once their last ditch effort to get Mikhail Prokhorov to convince Anthony to come to the Nets was proven to be what we always knew it would be: a fantasy. Yes, getting Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, Troy Murphy's expiring and four first-rounders would have been ideal, but it simply wasn't to be with Anthony holding all the cards. Somewhere, in the back of Denver's mind was the image of the Cavaliers walking off the floor after losing that 25th game. So it was the Knicks, as we knew all along it would be, really. And for it being the Knicks? They got a whale of a deal. They walked off with four players who have started at some point for the Knicks, including their quality free agent point guard, the young super-long shooter, and the high-upside foreign center prospect. They nab a first rounder down the line, multiple second-round picks, and clear a bunch of cap space, especially if they decide to move some of the other pieces.
We could have had this over months ago, but Masai Ujiri walks out a winner with this. He landed a good set of assets, draft picks, and cap space to move forward while also not crippling his roster out of a playoff spot. This is a win-win-lose for Ujiri. He got a significant amount of assets without being forced to commit to an immediate tanking scheme, but he still lost a superstar.
And that's the big thing to remember here. If Carmelo Anthony were to have a crisis of conscience, call up Ujiri, and say "I want to stay. I'll sign the extension," Melo would still be in uniform tomorrow for the Nuggets like he said he would be. Because four good players an a pick is great, but you'll always take the All-Star. That's why they're All-Stars.
But beyond that, this was their All-Star. Thats what will get lost in all this. Tomorrow thousands of kids with Melo jerseys will wake up in Denver owning throwbacks. Fans have lost their guy. The All-Star. The crown jewel. The sports hero. He was drafted there. When Joe Dumars looked over him, Denver committed to him. They put pieces in place to help him win a championship, and now they have a B- point guard, an Italian shooter, an expiring wing, and a Russian big to try and fill that whole. They can't have the title contention and rebuild. Not how it works in this league.
So the Nuggets will have decisions to make once this season is over. Blow it up completely? Try and land anothers superstar? Commit to Lawson-Afflalo-Gallo? What do they do with Nene? These are all things that will have to be answered between now and Thursday, and then this summer under a new CBA. But for an impossible situation with very little hope, and against a formidable trade partner across the table, the Nuggets have walked away with some dignity, some value, and some hope. It's finally over. Carmelo Anthony has been traded, and the franchise isn't in ruins.
"Thank God for Isiah Thomas" should be on a billboard outside the Pepsi Center.
Posted on: February 21, 2011 11:50 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2011 12:59 am
Carmelo Anthony is a New York Knick, and it's clear that he's been the one running the show from the beginning. But is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Posted by Matt Moore
It's over. It's finally over. Carmelo Anthony has been traded to the New York Knicks along with Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, and Anthony Carter for Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Timofey Mozgov, along with the Knicks' 2014 first round pick according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.
And for Melo? He wins. Beyond everything else, beyond the Nuggets' posturing and threats, beyong New York's cool stance which evaporated into dust, and beyond the desperate attempts by the Nets, including an embarassing crawl back into talks over All-Star Weekend, Carmelo Anthony won. He got what he wanted, to go to a major market and play next to a star in Amar'e Stoudemire. He got it how he wanted it, under an extension to provide him with financial security under a max deal. And he got it when he wanted it, before the new CBA could be put in place, improving chances that he'll get to hold on to as much money as possible.
It's day 236 of the Melodrama, and that's the last time we're going to use that phrase. Anthony has pulled off one of the most stunning coups by a player in recent history, and managed to only need eight months to get it done. So, good work there, Melo. Next time, throw us a bone and pull it off a little faster? Actually, we take that back. Don't ever do this to us again. Ever. Please. We're literally begging you.
This trade represents the extension of what started this summer with "The Decision" and LeBron James and Chris Bosh being wined and dined by executives with proposals, plans, and fan initiatives. We're in a new era, and the players are running the shots. Perhaps that more than anything signifies the key clash involved in this summer's CBA talks. Anthony was able to not only demand a trade from a playoff team, but designate where he wanted to go, and have it done the season he wanted to go.
We'll never know for sure if Anthony was willing to leave the money on the table to go to New York had he not been traded, nor will we know if he would have accepted a trade to the Nets had the Knicks not gave in and essentially offered up everything but their own children in this deal. What we know is that Melo now joins Amar'e Stoudemire, and that in and of itself is exciting, and weird.
Carmelo Anthony has a usage rate of 32.5% of all possessions, while Amar'e has a usage of 31.7%. Those are obscene numbers for taking up possessions. The two are going to have to now work alongside the biggest stars they have ever played with. Melo wanted to be a big star on the big stage, but let's be clear. Amar'e Stoudemire did not go to New York to be a sidekick. We'll have to see how they work alongside together and how Melo adapts to the high pace of Mike D'Antoni's system which also emphasises ball movement. This isn't going to be seamless. Yes, Melo was acquired and yes, he is the star jewel they wanted to add (one of three, it would seem). But there is a degree of concern here and all that's before we look at New York as a team.
But all that's for another day. This is a big day of victory for Melo, for CAA, for Leon Rose, and the ever-expanding power of the William Wesley power base, who have just extricated an All-Star from his team and moved him to the team they wanted to move him to. You have to appreciate how Melo's handled all this, even if he started to crack at the end. He's managed not to get fined through this entire process. Think about that. All these questions, all this pressure, all this nonsense, and he managed not to get fined once for his comments. He also managed not to alienate the Nuggets into trading him somewhere he didn't want to go, and managed to secure meetings with Knicks ownership to make him feel good about the future.
Is this a good thing? We've got Chris Paul in New Orleans, Dwight Howard in Orlando, and Deron Williams in Utah. They're all capable of being free agents in 2012. And a pattern has been set. Sure, it was annoying for Melo for a few months, and hard on his team. But in the end, Anthony got what he wanted, and gets to reap the rewards of playing in a major market and all the endorsements that go along with it. The parties, the glamor, all of it. Of course, he may have set back his ability to win a title because of what was required to get him, but he won't be blamed for that. He'll get to enjoy it, as will his wife La La Vasquez, who has wanted this for a while.
Behind every man with an inflated sense of self worth is an ambitious woman seeking another television deal.
This is the ultimate empowerment of the athlete, to the degree of forcing teams into decisions they didn't necessarily want to make, and doing so on their terms. A dangerous precedent has been set for NBA players, where the way to win? Team up, even if it means forcing your team to walk the plank. That Denver managed to get out of this with a favorable set of assets is their good fortune, especially after the way they bungled this for six months. But it doesn't change the fact that Denver's now rebuilding, because Anthony wanted to leave. That's it. No complicated set of initiatives, no overwrought ideas of clashing philosophies, the Nuggets weren't looking to move in a different direction. Melo got what he wanted, when he wanted it, how he wanted it. Welcome to the new NBA landscape of player power plays.
Now we'll have to see if he's worth even a fraction of the drama (see, we told you we weren't saying it again) he's created for us.
Welcome to New York, Carmelo. Hope you're ready, because the pressure does not end now.
For more on our coverage of the Carmelo Anthony trade to New York, check out:
Ken Berger's report on the breaking deal.
Royce Young discusses the impact the deal has on the Knicks.
Ben Golliver hands out trade grades and winners & losers.
Posted on: February 21, 2011 11:35 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2011 9:11 am
Posted by Royce Young
Carmelo Anthony has been traded to the New York Knicks. Finally.
This trade finally happening is kind of like Chinese Democracy. We knew at some point it was coming but now that it is, it's kind of a letdown. Carmelo was going to be a Knickerbocker, it was just a question of what it would take to get him there.
Despite the New Jersey Nets best efforts, Melo was never going anywhere other than Manhattan. Through all the posturing, all the leveraging, all the nonsense, we finally have the resolution we knew was coming when Ken Berger reported that Melo wanted to be a Knick way back in September.
The cost of getting Melo might be that the Knicks front office has been doused in gasoline and one little spark will blow the whole thing up. The Knicks tried to say they were unified in the plan to acquire the superstar swingman, but by all accounts, James Dolan may have stepped on Donnie Walsh's face in bringing in Isiah Thomas to backdoor the deal. In fact, the deal has Isiah's stamp all over it -- overpaying as a result of knee-jerk reaction.
However, this is a deal the Knicks had to make. Whiffing on Melo simply wasn't an option. Maybe they gave up a bit much, but the Knicks are better today than they were yesterday and that's the whole point.
Whatever the case is, Carmelo will be donning the orange and blue in Madison Square Garden. Here's the framework of the deal, according to Ken Berger:
But remember: Carmelo Anthony isn't LeBron James. He isn't the kind of player that's automatically going to elevate the player of everyone around him. He's no doubt one of the most gifted scorers in the league and maybe the toughest player to defend in the world. In Mike D'Antoni's system, Anthony will fit better than most think, plus playing alongside Stoudemire gives the Knicks one of the absolute finest inside-out, one-two punches in the league. Still, I can't get on the contender bandwagon. Yet, that is.
We all tooted the same horn when the SuperHeat were formed. Yeah they have LeBron, Wade and Bosh. But if you're going to win, you've got to have the role players. You've got to have the depth. And that's what Pat Riley desperately built in grabbing Mike Miller, Eddie House, Erick Dampier and James Jones. It's a good-enough second unit to supplement the Heat's super trio.
The Knicks on the other hand are dropping four players, two of them young, promising talents in Chandler and Gallinari. Now the depth chart has Shelden Williams seeing big minutes with Toney Douglas, Brewer, Andy Rautins, Balkman and Shawne Williams. Not exactly a championship unit there. I guess on the positive side of things, they finally have that backup point guard they've been looking for. Too bad it's Anthony Carter though.
(An aside: I think Brewer could be an underrated steal for the Knicks. He's a good player that was just never in the right role in Minnesota. He was always pressured to be a scorer rather than playing a specific role tailored to his talents. Now in coming off the bench to spell Anthony and Fields, Brewer can try and assert himself as an athletic defensive stopper, while also finding a bunch of open outside looks in D'Antoni's system.)
I don't think there's any doubt that the Knicks have improved here. At 28-26, they're in the middle of the East. With Anthony and Billups joining Stoudemire, this team is going to battle the Magic for the four-seed the rest of the way. With 28 games remaining, it's not hard to see New York going something like 18-10 and finishing with something like 46 wins, while at the same time being a scary team to play in the postseason.
But a contender? Not yet. That was the issue at hand all along for Walsh. Giving up too much for Melo just didn't make a lot of sense when you were essentially bidding against yourself. The cost might be some tension in the front office, plus a hefty price tag of young talent shipped out to the Rockies.
With a lot of the financial flexibility Walsh fought tooth and nail over the past few years now jeopadized because of the imminent $65 million extension for Melo, how do the Knicks fill out this roster? If the plan is to wait until 2012 to add Deron Williams or Chris Paul, did they really do themselves any favors by making this move now, instead of just remaining patient and making the play for Anthony over the summer?
The Knicks didn't want to take any chances and let their opportunity to land Melo slip through the cracks the way LeBron did. They wanted to pounce now, no matter what the cost was. Yes, they're better. Yes, they're dangerous. I know I'd be nervous if my favorite team were playing them in a seven-game series. Having two top 10 offensive players makes anyone good.
But are they actually a legitimate threat to unseat the Celtics or challenge the Bulls or Heat? Hardly. Just like they were yesterday before this deal was made, they're still a year or two away.
-- For more on our coverage of the Carmelo Anthony trade to New York, check out:
Ken Berger's report on the breaking deal .
Matt Moore examines the danger of giving all that power to one player.
Ben Golliver hands out trade grades and winners & losers .