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?
Dirk and co. Obliterated the Lakers, winning the game by a staggering 40 points yesterday, with a record-breaking 20 3-pointers (including 9 from Jason Terry). All the Lakers could do was look on in amazement, unable to put up a fight and counter. All they could do is take their frustrations out on poor JJ Barea.
The Lakers, with their formidable front line of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, had no answer for the Dallas Mavericks. The main reason: the form of Dirk Nowitzki. None of the Lakers big men could guard Dirk and it showed, as the Mavs dominated the series. Throw in Tyson Chandler’s presence in the paint and you have an excellent frontcourt for the Mavs.
And that’s the thing with the Mavs – it’s their incredible strength in depth. As well as Dirk, you’ve got the age-defying Jason Kidd setting everyone up, the firepower of JJ Barea and Jason Terry off the bench, the defence of Shawn Marion and the shooting of Peja.
That’s why I think the Mavs can finally win a title, which they deserve after a decade of 50-win seasons with Dirk. Think about it, the Lakers and the Spurs are out, and the Mavs will have to face the Thunder or the Grizzlies in the final, which I think they can win. Yes, the Grizzlies have surprised everyone with the amazing play of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, but I don’t think they have an answer for Dirk.
And that’s the X Factor: Dirk. His detractors moan that he’s soft and isn’t clutch, but Dirk is one of the most clutch players in the league and if he and his supporting cast show up, they can beat anyone on their day.
I’m predicting a rematch of the 2006 Finals and can see Miami coming out of the East. Lebron and Wade will get their points, but if Dirk, Chandler and Brendan Haywood can boss and bully Chris Bosh and render him ineffective, then Dallas have a chance to avenge the loss five years ago.
Obviously this is speculating a bit, as the Mavs have to progress in the next round, but they have shown their true colours and that they have what it takes to beat the best.
What do you think? What are the Mavs chances of winning an NBA title?