Did the Knicks give up too much to get Carmelo?

ESPN’s John Hollinger answers this question with an emphatic “yes.” In his trade grades column, he gave the Knicks a D+ in this deal.

The worst part, of course, is that this deal proves that no matter how many advantages New York gains from its magnetic appeal to potential free agents, owner James Dolan will screw them up. Leaning on the genius of Isiah Thomas — because it worked out so well for the first time — he fell hook, line and sinker for every bluff thrown his way by the Nuggets and Melo’s people. (Yes, Melo’s people participated — Anthony needed to make sure he got a lucrative contract extension under the current salary rules before being traded.)

New York still gets its Melo-Stoudemire nucleus, but now lacks the supporting pieces to do anything important with that core. And by extending Melo now, they agree to lock him up at such an expensive price that, in concert with Stoudemire’s deal, it likely precludes making a run at Chris Paul, Deron Williams or Dwight Howard in 2012.

The Knicks were bid up by the Nets, who never really had a chance at acquiring Carmelo in the first place. It would have been worth all of this to acquire a Top 5 player like LeBron James or Dwight Howard, but Carmelo is in the second or third tier of NBA stars and by acquiring and extending him now, they’re going to be paying a premium for his services for the next three or four years. His contract could make things especially tough if there’s a hard(er) cap.

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How will the new-look Knicks match up in the East?

New York Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni reacts in the fourth quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Madison Square Garden in New York City on January 14, 2011. The Kings defeated the Knicks 93-83. UPI/John Angelillo

Once the dust settles and the Carmelo trade becomes final, the Knicks are looking at a starting five of Chauncey Billups, Landry Fields, Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and probably Ronny Turiaf at center. The Knicks will be solid at point guard through power forward, but Turiaf is at best an average center who gets by on hustle and hard work. Per 82games, he does tend to outplay his counterpart (15.0 vs. 13.3 PER) which is a good sign because his minutes are going to jump.

Turiaf is going to need to play well for the Knicks to do anything in the postseason because the team is now very thin in the frontcourt. They lost two 6-10 or taller players (Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov) and are likely to lose 6-11 Anthony Randolph as well. In return, 6-9 Shelden Williams is the only bona fide power forward or center they’ll acquire, and he hasn’t done much in his 4+ year career to indicate that he can play significant minutes on a good playoff team.

This lack of frontcourt depth could be a problem because both the Celtics (Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett) and the Magic (Dwight Howard) have big men who are adept at scoring on the block. The Celtics are less of a concern at center because Doc Rivers usually uses Glen Davis to finish games instead of O’Neal (or Kendrick Perkins, for that matter).

Against the Heat or Bulls, the Knicks should fare better. Chris Bosh is not terribly good on the block and the Heat prefer to play Joel Anthony at center. Joakim Noah is a great defensive center, but his post up game is limited, so Turiaf (or Stoudemire, in a pinch) shouldn’t be overmatched on the block.

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Chris Paul responsible for Nuggets’ unwillingness to trade Carmelo to the Knicks?

The Nuggets’ stance towards the Knicks has been puzzling. They claim that New York doesn’t have the assets they want in exchange for Carmelo Anthony, but a quick look at the roster reveals a few good pieces: Danilo Gallinari, Landry Fields, Wilson Chandler, Anthony Randolph and Toney Douglas, just to name a few. Certainly the Knicks could work with a third team to bring another player into the mix if Denver offered up a list of players/assets that it wanted. But when GM Donnie Walsh has asked for this, the Nuggets have been non-responsive.

There was a little nugget (no pun intended) from Ric Bucher in ESPN’s Daily Dime which might explain why the Nuggets don’t want to trade Carmelo to the Knicks:

Stan Kroenke, the Nuggets’ former owner who ceded control to son Josh, is vehemently against dealing with the Knicks after being embarrassed at Anthony’s wedding in Manhattan by talk of his star becoming a Knick…

Bucher is presumably talking about Chris Paul’s wedding toast, where he allegedly said, “We’ll form our own Big 3,” referring to the possibility that Paul, Anthony and Amare Stoudemire could team up in New York.

Apparently, that didn’t sit well with the former Nugget owner and that perceived slight has affected these trade negotiations. Bucher goes on to say that the Knicks “can’t offer the Nuggets anywhere close to the same package of building blocks” as the Nets can. Still, it’s interesting that Kroenke still holds a grudge against the Knicks about comments made at a wedding by a player who isn’t even on the Knick roster.

Not yet, anyway.

Amare dunks on LeBron [video]

Carmelo Anthony speaks out about the extension


“I think my decision is my decision,” Anthony said, according to The Denver Post. “I don’t think it’s based on who is in the front office or anything like that. I’m going to make my decision based on my feelings.”

“I could wake up tomorrow and they could snatch it off the table,” Anthony said, according to the Denver newspaper. “I don’t know. I don’t know what their mind-set is.”

Anthony said his loyalty to the Nuggets’ fanbase and organization has never wavered.

“I’ve shown that over my seven-year stint here,” he said, according to The Denver Post. “I don’t think anybody can question that. But at this point in time, I have to do what’s best for me and my family. I’m just taking my time, figuring out if I want to take that extension or not.”

Lest there be any confusion, this is not a negotiating tactic to coax a better deal out of the Nuggets. Denver’s offer of $65 million over three years would give Anthony financial security in a time when there’s a new, owner-friendly collective bargaining agreement on the horizon. And let’s not gloss over the risk of injury either. If Anthony were to blow out his knee (a la Michael Redd), he could be leaving millions on the table.

If this were about money, Anthony would have already signed. This is about whether or not he wants to continue his career with the Nuggets. If he plays out the season without signing the extension, he’ll become the prize of the 2011 free agent class and could potentially ‘take his talents’ to the Big Apple.

Most pundits feel that this is about the Knicks, and I tend to agree. He’d be a nice fit in Mike D’Antoni’s system with Amare Stoudemire and an outside shot at teaming up with Chris Paul in 2012. But don’t overlook the Nets, who will be moving to Brooklyn in two years and have several attractive young pieces — Brook Lopez, Derrick Favors, Devin Harris — who might appeal to Anthony.

However, if he does indeed become a free agent, the Knicks are the frontrunner — there’s no doubt about it.

If I were a Nuggets fan, I’d be very, very worried. The writing is on the wall, but it’s nothing that a run to the Finals can’t fix.

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