It is over. It is finally over. Last night ushered in a new era in the NBA. That era is the post Carmelo Anthony trade speculation era. Hopefully, this era will be the league’s Pax Romana. However, it may just serve to fuel more rumors about player power and movement for years to come.
After what seemed like a lifetime of rumors and trade deals not completed, Anthony became a member of the New York Knicks last night. It was widely believed that this is the team he wanted to join from the start when he decided that he would not sign an extension with the Denver Nuggets this season.
That widely held notion did not hamper the efforts of the New Jersey Nets and their new owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, however. The Nets had gone full-bore after Anthony for much of the season offering a myriad of different proposals, draft picks, and teams. At one point, when the Detroit Pistons were roped into the drama (which was created by a thirsty media culture) the proposed deal tallied a player swap in the teens. If Prokhorov really was a Russian Mark Cuban he would have seen results for his efforts. Instead, the Nets need to come to terms with the fact that almost the whole team has spent time on the trading block this year. Their chemistry must be through the roof right now.
So the Knicks won out. Yet, can you call the deal that they made a win? Anthony wanted to play there and was set to become a free agent this summer. He was likely full aware that the new CBA could hamper his potential earnings which is why he wanted a deal this season. However, if it was so widely believed that Anthony wanted to go to New York why would the Knicks even consider making a deal in which they lose a lot of talent off of their roster and lose financially in the long run because of the contract extension that Anthony will request now that he is a member of their team?
Donnie Walsh is a smart man. He is responsible for getting the Knicks below the salary cap. That is a concept that is still hard to grasp given the team’s bloated roster for the better part of the last decade. This is a completely different team now and last night it became even more different.
New York traded Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, and a 2014 first round draft pick to the Nuggets for Anthony. Along with the man of the hour, the Knicks get Chauncey Billups, Sheldon Williams, Anthony Carter, and former Knick Renaldo Balkman. Somehow the Minnesota Timberwolves were roped into the deal and they will be acquiring the last of the bloated Isiah Thomas contracts in Eddy Curry as well as Anthony Randolph while they send Corey Brewer to New York. If you take Anthony out of the equation, this trade is a completely lopsided affair. Even with him in it the same can be said. Why would New York give up so much young talent for a player they could have gotten for free as a free agent?
Amidst all the rumors swirling around Anthony over the past week, one name, an infamous name in Knicks lore, reappeared. Isiah Thomas was reported to be the mastermind behind the Knick’s push for Anthony. He was similarly reported to be the one behind Amar’e Stoudemire‘s arrival on the team last summer. Yes, this is still the same Isiah Thomas that pushed the team into financial ruin and made it the laughingstock of the league. Clearly, if this is the case, the Knicks are nothing but mere soap opera fodder. Dysfunction is thy name. The Knicks, of course, have vehemently denied such rumors. If Walsh resigns in the near future consider it a confirmation that Thomas is pulling the strings once more.
Drama aside, if that is even possible, where does this trade put the Knicks? Are the Knicks better than they were? Yes, slightly. However, they do not have the complementary pieces necessary to grow as a power in the Eastern Conference. Those pieces are now in Denver. That leads to this question: Can the Knicks, with Anthony, compete for a title this year or in the next several years? No. Not a chance. This is a team that just became epically worse on the defensive end. Mike D’Antoni has never been one to preach defense. As presently constructed, New York will still be lucky to reach the second round. If every thing remains the same standing wise, it is doubtful that it will, the Knicks would face the Chicago Bulls in the first round. An aging Billups against Derrick Rose and a top ranked defense. The Knicks would not stand a chance.
The Knicks will be better than they were before the trade…maybe. If they finish the regular season ten games over .500 it will be an accomplishment. Yet, it is not foreseeable that they could muster more wins than that. New York essentially traded 53.4 points per game, 17.4 rebounds, and 12.8 assists for 50.9 points per game, 17.1 rebounds, and 10.9 assists. Felton averages nine assists per game. Do not forget the draft pick also. The Knicks may think themselves to be winners but they are far from it. They gave up their core for one player. Just one. There are no long-term prospects for Billups, Williams, Carter, and Balkman.
The Knicks bought the cow when they could have received the milk for free. There should be no celebration in Manhattan, even Wall Street knows that this was an expensive investment with little future gain. Even paired with Stoudemire, Anthony does not make this team a contender. They need more pieces. If Isiah is really back in control they will stop at nothing to add those pieces while inflating the salary and shipping off more talent which is necessary to make a team a contender. New York is far from finished making moves.
Bring on the Chis Paul to the Knicks rumors.