The Knicks, the Nets, the Knicks again, staying in Denver, joining Kobe in Los Angeles, the Nets again. These are all the places Carmelo Anthony was supposed to go before finally landing a trade to the New York Knicks earlier this week.
The three-team deal involved an entire lineup's worth of players and also sent point guard and proven winner Chauncey Billups to the Knicks. Billups made seven consecutive conference finals appearances just over a year ago with the Pistons and the Nuggets. So with the help of Anthony, we can expect the Knicks to be competing right up there with the Boston Celtics for the Atlantic Division title and the Eastern Conference, right? Wrong.
Well, at least not until the Knicks sign Deron Williams, Chris Paul or Dwight Howard in 2012 – but that's an entirely different discussion.
To obtain Anthony, the Knicks basically had to surrender their entire roster with the exception of Amar'e Stoudemire. They gave up their second, third and fourth leading scorers in Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, all of whom are averaging at least 16 points per game.
Take away Felton's nine assists and almost two steals per game, and remove the down-low presence of Timofey Mozgov, who has been playing well lately: The Knicks have absolutely no depth and will make coach Michael D'Antoni's former teams in Phoenix look good defensively.
Yes, Anthony and Stoudemire are two of the best scorers in the league, but this will not make the Knicks contenders anytime soon. The Stoudemire-Anthony-Billups trio has nothing on counterparts in Miami and Boston in terms of talent or commitment to defense. That's not to say the Knicks won't make the playoffs this year, because they will. They are currently in sixth place in a very weak Eastern Conference. The team may even win a playoff series if it is fortunate enough to face Atlanta in the first round.
But let's face it, neither the Knicks nor the Nuggets were going to be legitimate contenders this year anyway, with or without Anthony. Because Anthony was unlikely to re-sign with Denver regardless, the trade will leave both teams better off going forward.
The Knicks know they will have Anthony for three more years, and they will be able to compete in the East after adding another scorer and good role players. Depending on how the new collective bargaining agreement plays out, they should have the cap space to do so.
The Nuggets end up huge winners, not only because they received a core of good young players but because they were not embarrassed on the national stage like Cleveland was last summer with LeBron James. My guess is most Cavs fans, or even Raptors fans for that matter, would agree with me.
Yes, Gallinari isn't as valuable a scorer as Anthony, and Felton doesn't have the clutch shooting abilities or the leadership of Billups, but each is way better than what Cleveland and Toronto got in return for James and Chris Bosh.