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?