Home > Commentary > Commentary: The Knicks Got Carmelo Anthony…Now What?

Commentary: The Knicks Got Carmelo Anthony…Now What?

As you are likely well aware, the New York Knicks now have Carmelo Anthony in their possession.  In bigger and more meaningful news, Isiah Thomas is once again their general manager. What does this all mean? For the Knicks? For the league? For Donnie Walsh’s health insurance?

Let’s start with the obvious: New York received one of the 10 best players in the league.  How much they gave up in order to get him has unflatteringly been compared to Minnesota’s Herschel Walker deal. While that may be a slight exaggeration, the Knicks decision to give up two quality NBA players, a 22-year-old wild card who could someday be an All-Star, three draft picks, Anthony Randolph, three million dollars, and Timofey Mozgov (I guess we’ll throw in Eddy Curry’s expiring contract/dead body for technical reasons) for Carmelo, Corey Brewer, a one-legged Chauncey Billups, and three dead bodies is damn near highway robbery.

What else do we know? That whole thing about no team in recent memory winning a title with their best two players masquerading as defensive underachievers should ring a bell. While I personally don’t believe Carmelo deserves the amount of slack he receives for his lack of defensive ability and effort, Amar’e Stoudemire is a completely different beast. When you factor in his knees being one unlucky landing away from certain death, the Knicks aren’t quite ready to battle for a championship.  And without Chris Paul or Deron Williams, it isn’t likely they could ever get past Miami, Chicago, or Boston in the next five years. See, the CBA’s future is a tricky thing. Right now nobody knows if there will be franchise tags (think angry NFL stars), the mid-level exception (the general manager’s best friend), if the salary cap could turn hard or how low it’ll drop. Isiah might think he has it figured out, but he doesn’t. As Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated’s Point Forward points out, working Carmelo, Amar’e, and a top three point guard into New York could be a financial impossibility:

With about $40 million tied up annually in just two players (Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire), the Knicks have taken themselves out of the Howard/Paul/Williams 2012 free-agent derby.

Perhaps that’s true. We don’t know what the salary cap will be in 2012 (though it figures to be lower), and we don’t know what the sign-and-trade possibilities will be for New York in July 2012 — or whether trade rules will be broadened so that incoming and outgoing salaries won’t have to match quite as closely. The Knicks have certainly made the pursuit of those players more difficult today, but who knows what the CBA will look like in a year or whether any of those players will want to come to New York.

More input on the Knicks getting hosed and their tragic managerial situation, by way of New York Magazine’s Will Leitch:

But the Knicks never needed to trade Gallinari, or Mozgov. If the Knicks would have held their ground, would Chandler/Felton/first-rounder/Curry for Carmelo/Billups worked? (With some salary cap flotsam here or there.) At first blush, you’d say, “Oh, the Nuggets wouldn’t go for that,” but why? What choice did they have? The only reason the Knicks offer looked uncompetitive was because the Nets—knowing Anthony likely would never agree to an extension to make the trade happen—could “offer” to give away Derrick Favors and Devin Harris and four (four!) first-round picks for Carmelo. The Knicks’ side of the trade only looks meager compared to the Nets’ imaginary scenarios. Compared to what teams usually get when their backs are against the wall, when they have to trade a superstar or risk receiving nothing at all, that initial Knicks haul seems low, but not shockingly so. Maybe Walsh blinks and gives up Mozgov then, as a final “Okay, let’s make it happen.” But Gallinari was never supposed to be in this in the first place. It wasn’t Walsh who made Gallinari a part of this: It was Dolan. When you don’t know how to negotiate, you lose ground you never realized you were ceding. When you toss out Gallinari when you absolutely do not have to, it’s just a tiny step to, “Well, you’re not gonna let Mozgov stand in the way of this trade, are you?” At that point, you’ve already lost.

And on the other end of the spectrum, the Denver Nuggets are the ones who find themselves with fixed financial flexibility and optimism: Chris Broussard recently tweeted this about some possible Gallinari movement, and Raymond Felton’s arrival in Denver looks to be a mysterious one, but they got something for nothing; that’s what matters. This from “All Things Nuggets”, The Denver Post’s NBA blog:

In mid-January, Nuggets coach George Karl opened up about Lawson’s growth: “Ty is doing a good job, but Ty’s got to mature too. He has a laid-back mentality that drives me a little crazy at times. My big belief and approach to leadership is that you lead by example, you lead by attitude and you lead by approach. You don’t lead by words. And his laid-back attitude probably stops him from being the leader I’d personally like him to be right now. But I think we can change that.”

And privately, Karl is pretty excited about his point guard situation. Karl is a proud North Carolina alum – he even went back to Chapel Hill during the all-star break – and both Lawson and Felton are Tar Heel point guards. In fact, both won the national title.

“Ray was my tour guide when I visited there,” Lawson said. “He took me around the city, showed me a good time. It will be a little weird being on the same NBA team.”

The ripples of this deal will be known in hindsight, but based on snap judgments, New York remains slightly above average and still won’t get past the first round, and the Nuggets are bunkering down into a smart rebuilding strategy. Time will tell how this one turns out. Maybe, in an ultimate turn of irony, Deron Williams chooses Denver and Chris Paul goes to Phoenix. Wouldn’t that be something.

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