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?
What do you do when your franchise player has one year left on his deal and there is uncertainty surrounding whether he will sign a new deal or test the market in free agency. Would you trade him or look for a trade?
That’s the dilemma for the Orlando Magic and their franchise center Dwight Howard. Now I know the rumours are going to be continuing for months about the “will-he, won’t he go” situation, but I thought I might as well put my opinions out there.
The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Howard has not agreed to sign an extension with the Magic, despite what was reported last week and Dwight told reporters:
“There’s no truth to that. The biggest thing right now is everybody understands I have one more year left. I’m keeping my options open, but there’s no other place I’d rather be than Orlando. I want them to understand that.
“But, at the same time, I do want to win, make sure everything is in line — our team, just everything from top to bottom — and everybody is reaching for a championship.”
Howard is the best center in the NBA and would undoubtedly make any team better, and there isn’t any team who wouldn’t want him. What I can see is that this saga will drag out until next year and next summer when Howard becomes a free agent, sees what the situation is like in Orlando and then makes a decision.
The part about winning a championship is something every player wants, but let’s face it, the Magic are not winning a title next year, and unless they can pull off some amazing trades, the next few years. Orlando are committed to huge salaries for the next few years, which severely limits the flexibility to make trades. They traded for Hedo Turkoglu, who’s got about $30m and 3 years left on his contract, and swapped a bad contract in Rashard Lewis for an even worse one in Gilbert Arenas, who still has about $60m owed for the next few years. If Hedo and Arenas rediscover their old form, the Magic could make some noise in the playoffs (I’m not saying win anything), and at least get past the first round, which is of course better than last year.
After that, you’ve got the likes of JJ Redick, Chris Duhon, Brandon Bass and Quentin Richardson, all with money owed and years left on their contracts – hardly the basis for a championship team. And with the Heat and Bulls better in the East (we’ll see what the Knicks do in the summer), Orlando won’t be competing for a title in the near future.
That’s the problem for the Magic though – they are in a Catch 22 situation. Trade Howard now and get worse, or wait for a year and then lose him for nothing, and Cleveland knows how that turned out. What I think will happen is they will wait till the February deadline, if Dwight hasn’t signed an extension by then, trade him and get something back in return, a la the Carmelo Anthony trade from Denver to New York in February.
I’m not blessed with the gift of foresight, but let’s have a look at some possible destinations for Howard if he does want out of Orlando. Obviously cap situations can change (with the new CBA) and a lot can happen in a year. Here’s a few ideas if Howard wants to win a ring (I’m ruling teams like Miami out, as there’s no way they can afford to turn the Big 3 of Lebron, Wade and Bosh into a Big 4, as Howard’s going to get max money):
Now I know Dwight has said he doesn’t want to follow in Shaq’s footsteps and leave Orlando for LA. And the only way the Lakers are going to be able to get Howard is via trade, as they have the huge contracts of Kobe and Gasol on the books. And that requires Andrew Bynum being traded (I know the Lakers have declared him “untouchable”, but for Dwight, you would trade him). A Howard-Gasol-Kobe trio would be deadly.
Again, this would have to be a trade, as Chicago owe big money to Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joachim Noah over the next few years, and will have to pay max-money to Derrick Rose. But a Noah-Howard trade wouldn’t be that bad for Orlando, as Noah is a defensive force and one of the top centers in the league (unless Chicago can somehow persuade Orlando to take on Boozer’s contract).
Theoretically, the Knicks can afford to give Howard max-money next summer, and a trio of Howard-Anthony-Stoudemire would be exciting. But that’s all the Knicks would be able to afford, and with a thin roster, would have no quality at the guard spots. An interesting proposal, and you are bound to hear constant Howard to NY rumours until he makes up his mind, but wouldn’t it be better for New York to have a more well-rounded team with a quality PG and a couple of quality defensive wings in there?
The Nets have the cash and an elite PG in Deron Williams. That’s it though, as they are rebuilding, have traded away their last lottery pick in Derrick Favors, and given this year’s pick (#3) to Utah. They would be able to give Howard max money and if they can convince Williams to stay, New Jersey is appealing, especially with the upcoming move to Brooklyn.
What do you think? Do you think Howard will stay or go?
I think it’s safe to say that the Chicago Bulls have surpassed everyone’s expectations this season. I for one, never thought the Bulls would be leading the Eastern Conference at this point in the season with a 51-19 record and looking favourable to claim that #1 seed.
And that’s all been down to one man – superstar point guard Derrick Rose. The #1 pick in the 2008 draft has shone this year, stepping up his game and leaving opposing guards trailing in his wake, unable to cope with his blistering speed.
Rose has averaged 24.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 7.8 assists this season, ranking 7th in the NBA in scoring and the highest-scoring PG in the league. Rose’s play has been the catalyst for the Bulls’ success this season, and he was worked on some of the weak elements of his game, such as his outside shot, to make him more polished offensively.
Derrick Rose is my choice for MVP. Without him, the Bulls would not be number 1 in the east. Dwight Howard puts a strong case for MVP, particularly considering his monster February. But the Magic are the fourth seed, behind the Celtics, Heat and of course, the Bulls.
Lebron James has had another strong season, but the fact that he plays with two superstars in Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade will count against King James, as well as the fact that Miami’s record isn’t as good as many predicted (49-22, compared to the 70+ games that many were expecting them to win). Whereas Amar’e Stoudemire, despite a strong start with the Knicks, has struggled recently and the Knicks’ record isn’t exactly good at the moment.
MVP debate out the way, how far can the Bulls go in the playoffs? I’m not sure. But I’m thinking Eastern Conference finals. Ultimately I believe the Celtics will prevail and reach the Finals, as they have been there before and have a wealth of veteran experience.
At this point it looks like the Bulls will get a team like the Pacers, Bucks or Bobcats in the first round, which they will progress from. After that I’m not too sure, as defences will try (“try” being the operative word) to shut down Rose and stop his influence on the game. I just think that the Bulls are a piece short of a title (mainly a two-guard, as Keith Bogans isn’t the answer). By that time, the Celtics will be struggling and the Bulls can challenge the Heat for dominance in the East.
What do you think? Can the Bulls and Rose win it all this year? Let me know what you think in the comments below.