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A Year On – Should the Knicks be regretting trading for Carmelo Anthony?

Almost a year ago the New York Knicks traded for superstar forward Carmelo Anthony, in a move that was heralded as bringing the Knicks back to relevancy.

Almost a year on, the Knicks haven’t really made any progress – they made the playoffs last year but were swept by the Celtics, and currently sit at 6-10 this season.

While Melo’s individual stats are healthy (he’s averaging 25.7 ppg so far this season), what New York had to give up to get Anthony is affecting them this season. In the trade with Denver, the Knicks sent solid role players like Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton and Timofey Mozgov to the Nuggets – when they could have got Melo last summer in free agency.

While Denver have flourished since the ‘Melo trade with their team-first mentality (12-5 this season and second place in the West), the Knicks have struggled, primarily because of their lack of squad depth and complete allergy towards defence.

Tyson Chandler was signed in free agency to combat this, but one player can’t solve the problems of an entire team and change the whole team mentality – especially when you have Melo and Amar’e Stoudemire at the forward spots who offer you no defence at all.

Everyone knows that to win a championship in the NBA you have to be great defensively, particularly to prevail in the playoffs. And let’s face it, the Knicks can’t defend. And when you’ve got the Bulls, Heat and the Celtics to get past in the East, you need to be able to defend.

So what can the Knicks do? They haven’t got the cap room to spend big on a free agent this summer, seeing as they overpaid to bring Tyson Chandler to the Big Apple, what with Melo and Stoudemire on max-deals. They need defence…

One solution is Dwight Howard. Orlando look like they are going to play the waiting game and take their chances in the Howard sweepstakes this summer, so a sign-in-trade with the Magic this summer would be brilliant for the Knicks. Trading Stoudemire for Howard would be a significant upgrade for the Knicks and give Orlando something back in return. Howard brings defensive and offensive prowess, which would allow Chandler to play power forward, and offset Melo’s lack of defence at the 3.

I know the Knicks were grateful that Amar’e chose them in the summer of 2010, when every other prized free agent rejected them. But the likelihood is that a frontcourt with Melo and Amar’e isn’t going to deliver you a championship, and either a new coach needs to come in that preaches defence, or you need to trade away one of those pieces.

Throw in a veteran desperate for a ring (I’m thinking Steve Nash), when his contract in Phoenix expires this summer, and a Howard-Chandler-Anthony-Fields-Nash could equal success for the Knicks.

What do you think – how can the Knicks take the next step and find success in the East?

 

How will Donnie Walsh’s departure affect the Knicks?

The New York Knicks, awful for so long, have just begun on the path back to responsibility, and what do they do – get rid of Donnie Walsh. The man behind getting rid of all the bad contracts and dealing with the aftermath of the Isiah reign is gone. But what does this mean for the Knicks?

Donnie Walsh has gone because he reportedly couldn’t come to agreements over his future with the team. The president of basketball operations faced off with owner James Dolan and lost the battle. Walsh wanted total control over trades and team affairs, Dolan said no. Walsh wanted a shorter deal, Dolan wanted him to stay on for longer. The list goes on.

Donnie Walsh was the man responsible for reversing all the bad deals of the Isiah Thomas reign as Knicks president, and had to cut the bloated payroll of the team, with several players on “franchise-crippling” contracts – the likes of Jerome James, Jared Jeffries, Stephon Marbury and Zach Randolph were all traded. In two years, Walsh was able to clear cap space to sign free agent Amar’e Stoudemire to a max-$100m deal, add Carmelo Anthony this year and the Knicks have a future.

Part of the reason Walsh wanted more control was because he was upset over the Melo trade in February. Walsh wanted to wait until the summer when Carmelo was a free agent, Dolan didn’t – and sent basically the whole team over to Denver for Melo and Chauncey Billups.

After Walsh’s departure, what does the future hold for the Knicks? I’m not going to speculate on their next GM, but look at the Knicks’ potential over the next few years.

The Knicks have two superstars in Melo and Amar’e, Billups is a solid contributor and has one year left on his deal. The ultimate dream for the Knicks: get a top free agent in 2012 and pair either Dwight Howard or Chris Paul to create a New York Big Three.

The problem with the Knicks though, and one which will definitely hinder them in the playoffs against the likes of the Heat, Celtics, Magic, Bulls and even the Hawks, is their lack of defence. Mike D’Antoni is not a defensive coach, and it’s well known defence wins championships.

A Dwight Howard next to Stoudemire would work, to combat Amar’e’s complete lack of defense and allergy to rebounding, but sign a max-level free agent and the Knicks have no money to do anything else. What they need is a team, a center who can protect the paint and rebound, a PG to replace Billups in a year’s time, a few defensive wings would be a good addition. Basically, a whole team apart from Anthony and Stoudemire.

Tyson Chandler would be nice at center, but he’s going to cost quite a bit and would require a multi-year deal, which would upset the Knicks’ chances to get a premier free agent in 2012.

As long as the new GM of New York can follow in Walsh’s footsteps and continue to build a team around their two superstars, then the Knicks can challenge the Heat and Bulls for supremacy in the East. If Isiah comes back and signs the likes of Adam Morrison, Yi Jianlian and Mike Bibby to huge multi-year deals, then that’s three years completely wasted.

What do you think of Donnie Walsh’s departure from the Knicks? Let me know and comment below…

How good will the Nets be with Deron Williams’ arrival?

The New Jersey Nets, fresh from seeing their rivals steal Carmelo Anthony from under their noses this week, pulled something out the bag this week when they traded for All-Star Deron Williams this week, which gives them the franchise centrepiece they have coveted ever since Mikhail Prokhorov took over as owner of the Nets last year.

How good does Deron Williams’ arrival make the Nets though? Are they set for a huge playoff push this season, or should they prepare for the lottery and build for next year?

Deron Williams was traded to the New Jersey Nets yesterday from the Utah Jazz, with rookie Derrick Favors and Devin Harris going in the opposite direction. Williams’ rumoured fall-out with Jerry Sloan, which saw the veteran coach resign last week, is cited as Williams’ main reason why he left the Jazz.

The Nets are currently at 17-40, 12th in the Eastern Conference and about nine games behind the Indiana Pacers, who occupy the eighth spot in the East, with a record of 26-30.

The Nets have the sixth worst record in the NBA, which means they could potentially get a top-5 pick in the NBA Draft in June, and land a good prospect (only Cleveland, Minnesota, Sacramento, Washington and Toronto have worse records), and then acquire a few free agents and a good lottery pick in the summer.

The Nets have definitely got better with the arrival of Deron Williams, who is a top 5 point guard in the league (alongside Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo and Steve Nash, in my opinion). Deron is an upgrade over Devin Harris, there is no doubt about that, and gives New Jersey a franchise superstar that they can use to attract prized free agents.

But the problem is, with the current roster, the Nets are not going anywhere. Brook Lopez is in at center and you have Williams at the point. After that, you have a collection of role players and backups in Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar and Travis Outlaw, as well as the likes of Kris Humphries and Sasha Vujacic, which will not win you a championship, or get you past the first round of the playoffs (or even get you into the playoffs.)

What the Nets do have though is cap space and the lure of a big city, when they move to Brooklyn. New Jersey need a rebounding power forward to make up for Brook Lopez’s new-found allergy to rebounding, as well as a good two-guard, and then hopefully get a high pick in the draft (seeing as they just traded away last year’s #3 pick in Favors).

The problem is though, the lack of free agents this summer, and the impending lockout and CBA. Melo is gone to the Knicks, the likes of Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Tony Parker signed extensions with their clubs, and no superstar-calibre players are available.

Zach Randolph would be a nice addition to the Nets. He’s a career 20-10 power forward who would fit in well next to Lopez. Z-Bo will want to get paid in the summer, but the Nets have the cap space to afford him.

Failing that the Nets could trade Lopez away for a good two-guard or small forward and take a risk on oft-injured centers like Portland’s Greg Oden or Houston’s Yao Ming. Now I know Oden and Yao are always injured, but if they can somehow stay healthy and you can get them on the cheap, then they could be valuable pieces for the Nets.

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.

Why Amar’e Stoudemire is the clear choice for MVP

The New York Knicks have struggled for the years, we all know that. But now they are heading in the right direction thanks to the arrival of one man: Amar’e Stoudemire. One who should be rewarded with MVP honours when the season draws to a close.

At the time of writing, the Knicks are sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 22-15 record. At this time of the season, they would usually have a losing record and be heading straight for the Lottery. But with the arrival of Amar’e the Knicks have been transformed and are looking like a good bet for the playoffs.

Don’t get me wrong: just because Amar’e is on their team, the Knicks are not going to win a championship this season, or next season for that fact (unless they can somehow get ‘Melo and prise Chris Paul away from the Hornets this summer). The Celtics, Heat, Magic and the Bulls are much stronger than the Knicks at the moment and will ensure that their hopes of a championship are just a dream at the moment.

Lets get back to Stoudemire. The former Phoenix Suns forward has averaged 26.2 points and 9 rebounds this season, which is good enough for second place in scoring behind Kevin Durant. But the MVP race is not about the best player, it’s about the Most Valuable Player. And that’s what Stoudemire is.

If you look at the Knicks supporting cast compared to the Lakers, Celtics, Spurs and Heat, there’s no comparison. Yes, the Knicks upgraded last summer with Ray Felton, Turiaf, Anthony Randolph and Landry Fields (who in my opinion was a steal and has been the surprise performer from this year’s rookie class), but the addition of Stoudemire has taken the Knicks to the next level.

When Amar’e signed for the Knicks last summer on a 5-year, $100m dollar contract, I thought it was a lot for a player that played zero-defence and only looked good in Phoenix because of Steve Nash. I guess I was wrong…

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?