Category Archives: Denver Nuggets

Does Carmelo’s arrival make the Knicks a championship contender?

It’s finally happened, and about time! Carmelo Anthony has finally been granted his wish and been traded to the New York Knicks in a blockbuster three-team trade this week. But how could can it make the Knicks – are they know championship contenders?

Melo got his wish and was traded to the Knicks, along with team-mates Chauncey Billups, Renaldo Balkman, Anthony Carter and Shelden Williams. The Denver Nuggets get Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov in return, as well as a few draft picks and cash. Corey Brewer also moves to the Knicks from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Eddy Curry’s expiring contract and Anthony Randolph.

I like this deal for both sides. Denver get something back for Melo in the form of Chandler (a good sixth man), three-point shooting in Gallinari, a good point guard and valuable trade chip in Felton and frontcourt depth in Mozgov.

The Knicks get their wish of a superstar next to Amar’e Stoudemire. Carmelo is one of the best offensive players in the NBA and Chauncey Billups is a veteran point guard that knows how to win and even though not as good as he once was, Billups is at least a good trade asset that the Knicks can use to bait the New Orleans Hornets for if they want to entice Chris Paul to the Big Apple in the summer.

Melo’s arrival is NYC gives the Knicks a buzz and a genuine hope in the city that they haven’t had since the Patrick Ewing days. But can the Knicks contend for a championship in the near future?

The answer is no. At least until they get a few more pieces. Carmelo and Stoudemire are nice, but they are not exactly the most defensive-minded players. And as you know, defence wins championships. A starting lineup of Billups, rookie Landry Fields, Carmelo, Amar’e and Ronny Turiaf is not good enough to get out of what is a stacked Eastern Conference, with the likes of Boston, Miami, Orlando, Chicago and Atlanta.

If the Knicks can add some decent pieces in free agency in the summer, a bit more frontcourt depth and a Tyson Chandler-type center to play next to Stoudemire, as well as a few decent role players, then they can challenge the East’s elite. For this season though, I see the Knicks’ ceiling as around fifth place in the East, at a Chicago Bulls/Atlanta Hawks level, in the second tier of the East.

But this trade has definitely got New York going in the right direction, and gives Knicks fans a sense of optimism after years of suffering.

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Where do Melo and the Nuggets go from here?

The press coverage surrounding the Denver Nuggets and their superstar forward Carmelo Anthony has been going on for weeks now: the will he/won’t he saga about Melo’s future continues to go on, but despite the constant rumours: are the Nuggets better holding on to or getting rid of their franchise player?

The rumours of a four team trade involving the Nuggets, Nets, Jazz and Bobcats are set to be “dead”, according to sources. While Denver are understandably cautious to offload their best player, they do not want to see him leave for nothing in the summer, just like the situation in Cleveland with Lebron. Melo, on the other hand, has watched the likes of Lebron, D-Wade and Chris Bosh form the super-trio in Miami this offseason and wants to win a championship, and feels that is not a possibility in Denver. While Carmelo has performed a U-turn and said he never demanded a trade and wants to stay with the Nuggets, if he is unwilling to sign that 3 year, $65 million extension, they need to look at trading him, particularly before the trade deadline.

If the Nuggets are looking to trade Anthony this season, they will never be able to get the exact value back, as Carmelo is a top 5 player in the league and there is no chance of getting a Lebron, Kobe, Wade or Durant back. What they can hope for though is a solid building block for the future or a player that is just on the cusp of being an All-Star, that they can pair with the likes of Chauncey Billups, Nene and Kenyon Martin.

Melo has refuted speculation that he is unhappy in Denver and insisted he wants to keep his options open. But the Nuggets will need to do something or risk losing him for nothing. Here are some trades I would look at that haven’t been in the news, as New York and New Jersey have little to offer Denver:

Sixers get: Carmelo Anthony

Nuggets get: Andre Igoudala, picks +cash (or someone like Thaddeus Young)

The Sixers get a go-to-guy in Anthony who could team with promising youngsters Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner in Philly. The Nuggets get a good replacement in Iggy, who doesn’t have to be the number 1 option in Denver and can sit behind Chauncey Billups. The only thing is would Melo be happy in Philly, or would this be just a one-year rental?

Blazers get: Carmelo Anthony

Nuggets get: Greg Oden, Nic Batum +picks

The Blazers get another superstar to pair with Brandon Roy and would be an instant title contender with a lineup of Camby, LaMarcus Aldridge, Melo, Roy and Andre Miller. The Nuggets need size and get former number 1 pick Oden, who still has amazing potential and when healthy, is productive, as well as Nic Batum, who also has tons of potential.

Wizards get: Carmelo Anthony

Nuggets get: Gilbert Arenas

Gilbert Arenas is no longer “the man” in Washington with the arrival of John Wall, who is the future of the franchise. Arenas notoriously had the gun suspension last season and really needs a change of scenery. His contract is huge, but Denver may be able to help him be an All-Star again, which is possible if Gilbert can stay healthy. The Wizards get Melo to pair with Wall, which could be a devastating two-punch combo. But Melo wouldn’t really find himself in a better situation than he already has?

Where will Amazing happen? The playoffs are-a-coming – Western Conference previews

We are now approaching the end of the regular season, with each team having about 5 games left to play at the time of writing. In the West, the playoff spots are all sewn up: with the Lakers, Nuggets, Mavs, Jazz, Suns, Thunder, Spurs and Blazers all set for a trip to the postseason. Obviously, the seedings are all set to change, mainly because four teams (Dallas, Denver, Phoenix and Utah) are all tied for the second spot in the West.

I am going to provide my predictions in the Western Conference playoffs, how far each team can go and their key players. The previews for the Eastern Conference will follow later this week.

1) Los Angeles Lakers (55-22)

The Lakers have sewn up the first seed out West but the defending champs are struggling, losing to the Spurs and the Thunder this week. Their are queries about the quality of their bench, Derek Fisher has been a major problem both on offense and defence this season and you cannot predict which Ron Artest will show up for the playoffs. The Lakers will need Kobe and Gasol at their best to repeat, as well as the likes of Odom and Bynum to step up.

Key man: Kobe Bryant – was it really going to be anyone else?

Prediction: I’m still going to back the Lakers to get out of the West, but not easily.

2) Dallas Mavericks (50-27)

The Mavs have got a great chance of challenging the Lakers for supremacy out West. Dirk is great, they added an underrated piece in Brendan Haywood at the trade deadline and Caron Butler can provide some scoring if Dirk is having an off-night. But can they beat the Lakers?

Key Man: Dirk Nowitzki – no other seven-footer in the NBA can shoot like Dirk, and his clutch shooting is the key for the Mavs.

Prediction: Second round.

3) Denver Nuggets (50-27)

The Nuggets reached the conference finals last year and Carmelo Anthony has continued his fine form this season. Denver have Melo, the clutch shooting of Chauncey Billups and JR Smith can shoot the lights out off the bench. They desperately need the defensive presence Kenyon Martin back though.

Key man: Carmelo Anthony – the Nuggets need Melo at his very best if they want to get out of the West.

Prediction: Conference finals

4) Utah Jazz (50-27)

At times this season, the Jazz have been exceptional, going on a something like a 12 game win streak this year and playing some excellent basketball. Carlos Boozer has been in fine form for the Jazz this year and Utah need him and Deron Williams to perform at their best to get out of the first round. Andrei Kirilenko is a key man for the Jazz, if he does well, the team does well.

Key man: Deron Williams – the point guard is one of the best in the league and his scoring and assists are vital to what the Jazz do.

Prediction: Second round

5) Phoenix Suns (50-27)

The Suns have surprised everyone this season, as many expected them to be lottery-bound. Steve Nash has been at his mercurial best and Amar’e Stoudemire has been a beast recently. The main problem for Phoenix though, is defence. Nash and Amar’e in particular don’t shine on the defensive end and against the better teams, they will get found out.

Key man: Steve Nash – the point guard’s ability to set up his teammates and make the killer pass is key for the Suns hopes in the playoffs.

Prediction: It all depends on matchups, but I think a first round exit is on the cards.

6) Oklahoma City Thunder (48-28)

The Thunder have been a revelation this season, led by their third-year superstar Kevin Durant. Durant has been in excellent form this season, ranking second in the league in scoring at 27.9 ppg, just behind Lebron James. Russell Westbrook has continued to develop into a promising point guard and rookies like Serge Ibaka have impressed. The only problem for the Thunder is that this is the first trip to the playoffs for this team, so they lack the experience that other team’s possess.

Key Player: Kevin Durant – KD is now one of the best player’s in the NBA but will find it  difficult in the playoffs as defences step up and double team him.

Prediction: First round exit.

7) San Antonio Spurs (47-29)

The Spurs are unbelievably unpredictable and you don’t know which team will show up. They have the playoff experience and Tim Duncan will continue to perform at a high level. It’s his teammates that are the worry – Manu Ginobli’s ankles are a concern, Tony Parker is injured and doubtful for the playoffs and the Richard Jefferson trade has been a disaster. If they get a favourable first round matchup, then they could progress, but with the Spurs this season, you never know..

Key Player: Manu Ginobli – Duncan is guaranteed to try hard but Manu is the key. If he can stay healthy, his clutch scoring is a massive asset to the Spurs.

Prediction: I’m going to say a first round exit like last year, but I’m not sure. If they perform to their best, the Spurs could reach the conference finals.

8) Portland Trailblazers (47-30)

And finally we come to Portland. Injuries have hit them hard – with Greg Oden and Joel Pryzbilla ruled out for the season early on. Marcus Camby has partially filled that gap in terms of rebounding but their frontcourt is definitely a worry. Brandon Roy is dangerous and will put up big numbers, but it looks like Portland will be facing the Lakers in the first round.

Key man: Brandon Roy – Portland’s best player will need to be at his best if the Blazers want to progress, and his pick and pop with LaMarcus Aldridge is the best in the league.

Prediction: First round exit

Stay tuned for the Eastern Conference previews, they will be following soon.