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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…