The Carmelo Anthony-to-the-Knicks took about 3 months to long to complete. But it’s finally done. We are all probably going to remember this trade as one of the most annoying and drawn out processes in NBA history. But that’s all in the past now. Time for the Knicks to look forward and contemplate their next move. Because they are going to have to make a ‘next move’ if they actually want see the full value of this trade and become contenders.
While Carmelo is a very good scorer and a superstar by name, he isn’t the greatest player in the NBA. I’m not so sure he is even in the Top 10. His place is probably more along the lines of a Top 15-ish or 20-ish player. Some might not agree with that statement but I believe it to be absolutely true. And I love ‘Melo’s game. The man can get just about any shot he wants. And while that jab-step, jab-step, jab-step repertoire is borderline annoying for some teammates, he is rather quick for his 6’9″ frame and he can step around most defenders. Or beat them to a stop. Because that’s what Carmelo likes to do, beat guys to spots on the perimiter and crank up some shots.
19.3 shots per game, to be exact. And not a single one is efficient.
But that jumper looks so buttery, even when it doesn’t hit the toast. Despite shooting just 45% from the field & 33.3% from three, every one of those jumpers look like they are going in. And the fans buy into that. A lot of the media buys into that. New York bought into that. But that’s okay, because New York needed to buy into that. We are talking about the media capital of the world. One where image and looks can take you a long way. This years Knicks are 2-games above .500 but the media addresses this team like they are a lock for a three-peat. In the Big Apple, it’s all about perception and Melo’s beautiful stroke has everyone seeing cross-eyed.
His TS% and eFG% say that he is a high volume low results type of guy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t win a ring with a guy like that. The Lakers have done it 5 times with Kobe Bryant, who’s offensive numbers aren’t that far off from Anthony’s. But Kobe had Shaq and Gasol chipping in super-efficient efforts on a nightly basis to help balance out the attack. Melo will have Amar’e Stoudemire, who is an efficient player. But this team still lacks defense and depth as well as many other things.
Lets take a look at the top 15 things the KNicks will have to address for the future:
1. Shots: Carmelo is one of the best “Clutch” performers in the game but Amar’e went to New York to be “the man”. Who will win that battle? Ultimately, it will come down to whoever Billups wants to pass the ball to and if we learned anything from the Denver experiment, Mr. Big Shot doesn’t like to pass to anyone in the ‘clutch’ despite the fact that he isn’t exactly Mr. Big Shot anymore.
2. Defense: New York is currently ranked 21st in defense with a Defensive Efficiency Rating of 109.4 (league avg. is 107.0). Carmelo is a terrible defender — not because he can’t play defense but because he refuses to play defense. See 2009 playoffs vs. 2010 playoffs — and New York just traded one of their best defenders in Wilson Chandler. The Nuggets were ranked 23rd in the NBA. At best, I expect these teams to switch places. At worst, I can see New York dropping to the bottom five in the NBA.
3. Super Star By Name Or By Game: Carmelo’s numbers don’t exactly stack up to the ‘superstar’ persona that the media has labeled him with. He is 59th in Win Shares (4.4), 72nd in DefEffRtg (109.0), 22nd in PER (21.4), 69th in TS% (54.7%), and 6th in Points Per Game (25.2 PPG). Melo also shoots a ton of 16-23 foot jumpers (6.3 FGA/GM) but only connects on 435 of those. In fact, everywhere outside of at-the-rim shots, Anthony is shooting well below 43%. For such a high usage player, he doesn’t score efficiently, pass well or play a lick of defense. Not so sure I want to put him in the same class as LeBron, Kobe, Dwyane, Dwight, Durant, Paul, or even Dirk. If anything, Melo is a 2nd tier superstar, on the same level as Bosh, Boozer, Noah and Horford. An excellent piece that will absolutely help you win a title but won’t be the main reason you won a title.
4. Chauncey Billups: Billups had said that if he leaves Denver, he would look for a buyout and try to sign with the Miami Heat. But that was when he was New Jersey bound. NO ONE wants to play in New Jersey and I understand that. But what is his take now that he is in the real New York? Chances are Billups stays with the Knicks but this whole deal could be toxic if Billups isn’t happy with the move.
5. Raymond Felton: This is one man you have to feel disheartened for. Felton took a much smaller deal (2-years, $14 million) so he can play in a large market with a superstar like Amar’e. But that same deal made him a delicious trade chip and now he’s once again stuck in a small market team who happens to be in rebuild mode. This must be what purgatory feels like.
6. Win Shares: On a Win Shares basis, New York just gave up three of their top-5 players — who totaled 12.8 win shares — and got back a total of 10.9 Win Shares from Denver. Not exactly a great trade off. With Brewer’s net worth being 0.7 WS, New York didn’t really trade up in this deal. If anything, they just moved sideways.
7. Kelenna Azubuike: One guy no one has really talked about is Kelenna Azubuike. He was brilliant for Golden State last season before going down with a horrific knee injury. Many questions still linger around his return. If he can come back and play at least 80% of what he was, he will be a great piece for the Knicks. If not, his deal ends this season and the Knicks will get nothing for him in return if they don’t resign him.
8. What About Brewer: In addition to the massive trade with Denver, New York also traded away Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry to Minnesota for Corey Brewer. There might not be much of a debate here because Landry Fields has been so great this season, but where does Brewer fit in on this team? 6th man? Behind Toney Douglas? Behind Bill Walker? I feel like New York could have gotten so much more for Curry’s expiring deal and Randolph’s mythical never-going-to-happen potential.
9. Franchise Player Tag: This deal will leave it’s mark on more than just the Knicks season. This will become a major topic of discussion at this years CBA negotiations. So many small-market teams lost superstars this season and they aren’t to thrilled with the idea. If the new CBA doesn’t bring about a Franchise Tag, like the NFL’s, look for it to make it much more difficult for players to leave the teams that drafted them.
10. Who’s Next In Denver: Now that Denver has dumped Melo and Billups, who’s next to depart the Rockie Mountains? A fair share of teams would love to get their hands on Nene. And J.R. Smith would look great in Chicago or Dallas — two teams who missed out on ‘Melo and could use the offensive spark.
11. Dolan and Walsh: Dolan got exactly what he wanted out of this season, two superstars to sell to the fans, media and future prospects. If Donnie Walsh doesn’t get a contract extension out of this, something is wrong.
12. Dolan and Isiah: And this is exactly what is wrong. If Dolan decides to drop Walsh and side with Isiah after everything this franchise has been through in the past half decade, New York is doomed. This Carmelo deal is just the second step — first being Amar’e — in a long tedious process of building a championship contender. New York isn’t done yet, hopefully, and Walsh seems to be the man who can finish the job.
13. Not Contenders Yet: While many Knicks fans are overjoyed by this trade, I’m going to have to be the party pooper here. This deal doesn’t make New York a contender this year in any way, shape or form. If anything, the overall team might have gotten worse. But It was the right move for New York to make. They now have two legit stars and All-Star starters on their roster. If nothing else, they can use that image to sell role players on signing smaller deals for a chance to win in the biggest city in the world. Like I said, perception is everything.
14. What’s next for New York: The Knicks cannot stand pat after this deal. This has to be a stepping stone for them. Their next few moves have to be for legit role-players to fill in the gapping holes around Melo and Amar’e. Mainly on defense and rebounding, two things their new superstar tandem does not excel at.
15. What’s in a number: Seems like a minor technicality but twitter is dying to know what number Melo is going to wear. #15 has been retired by the Knicks. In fact, it’s been retired twice — Earl Monre & Dick McGuire. There have been reports that Melo will wear #13 and ESPN is guessing #30. But two months ago I said he would wear #9 and I’m sticking with it. **UPDATE** According to CNBC’s Darren Rovell, Carmelo will wear #7 — what about Azubuike!?!?!? — Billups will wear #4.
This isn’t a bad move by the Knicks. It’s a good move. It can turn out to be a great move.
Melo just became your second option. He was a somewhat deadly first option, but as the second guy? Someone who no longer will get the automatic double team? Melo might become a ridiculous steal when all is said and done.
You traded away a few good-not-great role players for a PG who knows how to win and a player who knows how to score. To top it off, you go yourself a superstar by name (if not by game).
This will attract both fans and free agents and that’s the key. New York needs to attract free agents. They NEED those role players to come in by the dozens and come in cheap. Just like how Miami, LA, and Boston pulled in players. But, this needs to be just a step. New York can’t afford to stand pat and throw a victory parade now. Nothing has been won. In fact, very little has been accomplish. But something has been accomplished and that alone is worth cheering about.
As for the New Jersey Nets? Losers once again.