The Knicks Are Relevant Again: The Carmelo Anthony Trade

After 3 years of rumors and speculations (that could be a slight exaggeration), Carmelo Anthony was finally traded from the Denver Nuggets to the New York Knicks in one of the biggest trades in recent NBA history. Some are saying the Knicks come out winners in this deal, some are saying they gave up too much, and some are just confused as to what exactly the Nuggets got and why the Timberwolves had to be involved. For those of you who haven’t read the particular of the trade it breaks down like this:

Get Give Up
New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony
Chauncey Billups
Renaldo Balkman
Shelden Williams
Anthony Carter
Corey Brewer 

 

Raymond Felton
Timofey Mozgov
Danillo Gallinari
Wilson Chandler
Eddy Curry
Anthony Randolph
Denver Nuggets Raymond Felton
Timofey Mozgov
Danillo Gallinari
Wilson Chandler
New York’s 2014 1st round pick
Golden State’s 2012 and 2013 2nd round picks
$3 million
Carmelo Anthony
Chauncey Billups
Renaldo Balkman
Shelden Williams
Anthony Carter
Minnesota Timberwolves Eddy Curry
Anthony Randolph
$3 million
Corey Brewer

First off, many people are wondering why the Knicks gave up $3 million, a young athletic forward (Anthony Randolph), and an expiring contract (Eddy Curry) to add an average shooting guard in Corey Brewer. Remember that if you’re over the salary cap, any trades you make must have the salaries within 25% of each other ie if I’m trading out $10 million in salary, I have to receive $10 million +/- 25%. If you’re under the salary cap, you don’t have that restriction (it’s actually a bit more complicated than this, but don’t worry about that for now). The T-Wolves, who are under the cap, can take back as much money in any deal as long as the added salary doesn’t get them over the cap. This allows them to trade for a young player they coveted in Randolph and an expiring contract, so that New York can trade away enough money in salaries to make the trade for Carmelo work. Since the T-Wolves were willing to give up a first round pick for Randolph, this becomes a good deal for them.

New York

The biggest take away from this trade is that the Knicks can now pair Carmelo Anthony with Amare Stoudemire, creating the league’s best offensive front court. Anthony is arguably the best pure scorer in the league, while Amare is a top 3 offensive power forward (I have him at number two after Dirk). Many analysts are arguing, and using advanced statistics, to say these two can’t play together: they both require the ball to be effective and won’t be able to share it with each other. These people will fool you with stats you don’t understand and reasoning which sounds good. These people are idiots.

Good players, players with talent who aren’t complete headcases, will find a way to play with each other. Carmelo has consistently played well in the league, even if he hasn’t had any real playoff success. And any Suns fans will tell you that, despite Amare’s shortcomings, he always brought everything he had to the table, and always played well in the playoffs. After watching Lebron and Wade coexist successfully in Miami over the last five months, people should realize that Carmelo and Amare will find a way, especially since their coach, Mike D’antoni, is considered one of the best offensive minds in the game (a scenario with Melo playing power forward and Amare playing center would be downright scary for opposing defenses).

Taking a quick look at what the Knicks traded away, it’s pretty obvious they gave up a lot of young talent. Gallinari was starting to play very well and Wilson Chandler was a fan favorite. The biggest detractors of the trade claimed that the Knicks should have waited until this summer when they could have signed Anthony as a free agent for significantly less money, without giving up anything. Had this been last year, or the year before, I would have agreed with them. However, nobody has any idea what the salary cap rules will be like after this summer. The Knicks might not have enough money to sign Melo this summer or Denver might force Melo to stay using a franchise tag some believe will be added to the new CBA. Melo will easily makeup for the loss of Gallinari and Chandler, neither of whom would have been a starter next year if Melo had been on the team anyway. In addition, the ability of the Knicks to keep prized rookie shooting guard Landry Fields was a coup for them. Field has started every game for the Knicks this year, and is shaping up to be their best rookie in years. The part of the trade I’m most hesitant about is trading Raymond Felton for an old Chauncey Billups. Billups isn’t the traditional D’antoni point guard and makes twice as much as Felton. I am worried about how he’ll fit in the Knicks system, but I think he’ll be able to adapt.

As for the other players New York has received, I doubt any of them will make an impact. Balkman has some good defensive talent and returns to the team that drafted him, so I expect him to contribute but not excel. Shelden Williams has been a draft bust for years and I can already see an irate D’antoni benching him sometime this year. Anthony Carter is a career backup and probably won’t get much playing time.

In the long term, the Knicks future is a bit murky. Carmelo and Amare are both signed for the next four years as maximum contract players, which would be fine if there wasn’t a new CBA around the corner. Although nobody really knows what the new agreement will call for, you can be sure that it will try to minimize player salaries by either creating a hard cap (meaning teams won’t be allowed to spend more than the limit for any reason ) or minimizing the maximum salary for players (or both). While the Knicks are excited to have these two players now, will they be as happy in two years when Carmelo and Amare are two of the highest paid players in the league and taking up half the salary cap? We’ll see.

Furthermore, the Knicks do not have a first round pick in 2012 or 2014, meaning they’ll have to do a very good job using the picks they do have, as well as signing quality free agents to complement their two stars. The idea that the Knicks could pry Chris Paul or Dwight Howard away from their teams next year seems pretty ridiculous at this point. They won’t have enough room under the salary cap and they have nobody to trade.

Overall: my opinion is that this is a great trade for the Knicks. For the last decade, the Knicks have been plagued by bad management (Scott Layden and Isiah Thomas), bad contracts, bad trades, and bad basketball. The signing of Amare Stoudemire this summer helped bring some excitement back to the Garden, and adding Carmelo Anthony, a legitimate top five talent, makes the Knicks relevant again. They might have given up too much (and reports that owner James Dolan interfered with president Donny Walsh seem consistent with that idea), but they now have two legitimate superstars in New York. I can’t tell you that a core of Stoudemire, Anthony, and Fields will win them a championship, but at least the Knicks matter again.

Denver

Although Denver did get a lot from this deal, the proposed trade with the New Jersey Nets was definitely better. In addition to Derrick Favors and Devin Harris, the Nets were offering four first round picks. Four first round picks! I didn’t even know teams could offer up four first round picks anymore- I thought the NBA made that illegal after the Ted Stepien fiasco in the early 80’s. I preferred both the talent and the picks New Jersey was offering to what the Knicks gave up, so it’s too bad the Nuggets were strong armed by Anthony. However, they do get a lot back in this deal.

For the immediate future, Wilson Chandler and Danillo Gallinari are not bad players. Gallinari is a very talented small forward, and he may shine given the opportunity in Denver. While many players love playing for Mike D’antoni, he is not the coach I would pick to mentor youngsters. He hates playing rookies and does not develop defensive talent well. Gallinari, and especially Chandler will learn a lot under George Carl. Chandler is a good defensive player with some offensive talent and Karl will hone his skills and help him become a more complete player.

Looking past this year, the deal becomes a bit harder to judge. Chandler will become a restricted free agent this summer, meaning the Nuggets can match any offers, but could end up paying a steep price for his services. It’s also unclear what the addition of Raymond Felton adds to the Knicks. Felton is a good young point guard, but he’s also a very interesting piece of trade bait. Many believe the Nuggets are happy with young point guard Ty Lawson and are looking to move Felton. A point guard starved team (say the Lakers or the Heat) could make an offer for him. As for Mozgov, I can’t tell you much about him. It seems crazy to me that the Knicks almost rejected the trade because they were unwilling to give up a developmental center. Teams are always looking for the next young center to become a superstar and they are often wrong, so I’m going to assume Mozgov isn’t much more than a 7-foot body at this point. Finally, the draft compensation for the Nuggets was okay at best. A first round pick from the Knicks, who should be at least a playoff team for the next four years, doesn’t carry the weight it once did.

Note: Reports are surfacing that the New Jersey Nets are willing to make trades for Gallinari, Chandler, and Felton. You can imagine the Knicks would be unhappy if their crosstown rivals traded for their former young stars.

The biggest plus for the Nuggets coming out of this deal was getting their team under the luxury tax threshold. Although teams are allowed to go over the salary cap to resign their own players (in addition to yearly cap exceptions like the mid-level or biannual exception) after a certain point ($70.3 million this year), they have to pay a dollar for dollar tax. The Nuggets, who were $13 million over the tax line before this trade, got under the threshold with this trade. The added bonus of being under this threshold is that all teams under the luxury tax line get to split the tax paid by teams over the line- this amounts to millions of dollars. At the end of the day the Nuggets were able to get four young pieces and two draft picks, while making a healthy profit.

The real question is, what do you think of the draft? Add your thoughts in the comments…

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6 Responses to The Knicks Are Relevant Again: The Carmelo Anthony Trade

  1. pakastallion says:

    Haque,

    I really enjoyed the piece! Two quick questions: 1) I thought the league no-longer allowed cash considerations in trade deals. can you elaborate on what the six million leaving new york is for and if the nba will continue to allow teams to go out of pocket to sweeten up trades. 2) when is david kahn going to be fired?

    To some points you made:
    Melo at the 4 and Amar’e at the 5 might be a defensive nightmare for opposing teams, but it is nocturnal emission for any team looking to score inside and grab rebounds on the other end.

    Melo is the best offensive player in the game BUT he is a top 10 talent, not a top 5

    Even if this team were to get Paul, I still dont see them contending (if they got Howard that would be a whole diff story.) until someone can show me the Amar’e and ‘Melo will play one ounce of defense, i am not that high on the Knicks (though i do agree they are relevant again AND I could see them knocking off my Baby Bulls in the first round).

    Thanks for the insight.

  2. ahmed says:

    I like the piece and appreciate that you took the time to write up the Nuggets side of things — folks who think there isn’t a coastal bias in sports writing need to take a minute to read how much more press is on the NYC side of things… That said, a few things I might ask:

    (1) I’m with the cat who goes by pakastallion: Melo isn’t a top 10 player — I can think of 10 players I’d rather build a franchise around.

    (2) It feels like the Knicks are going to have to average (literally) 105-107 ppg in order to make any noise: Melo and Amare play D about every fourth series. I’m not sure this trade actually makes them serious contenders, though it does give them star power//fill the MSG.

    (3) the NETS, by contrast, just got a great deal for D-Williams. I’d actually rather have D-Williams on a squad (if nothing else, PG is more important that SF/PF) than Melo and they didn’t have to give up known young talent — they gave up prospective young talent… And this leads to:

    (4) the Nets proposed deal was pretty sick. Emphasis on pretty: most of the picks, it turns out, were lottery protected. So the Nuggets might’ve actually made out better than if they spent a lot of time drafting potential busts (DARKO!)…?

    (5) How is nobody talking about Chauncey as a major part of this package?!?!? I can easily see him having a Nash-esque career and playing till he’s like 59 or whatever — and I think he’s actually crucial in end-game situations that make Melo look good: you have to play good D on Mr. Big Shot at the end of the game, which frees up Melo for better looks… That said, Chauncey and Melo are more used to playing with fewer possessions than the Knickerboxers so it isn’t clear the talent that moved to NYC meets the playing style established in the Nasty Apple.

    WS

  3. ahmed says:

    Oh, sorry, an additional comment: you know how if someone offers to sell their car for well below market value you’d be real worried about buying it?

    Why were the Nets getting rid of the Long Mr. Favors if he’s really bursting with that much potential?!? I’m saying: it feels like the Nets were basically doing what they could to get rid of him — strange, to me, in any case…

  4. kidveesh says:

    To Pakastallion- Melo’s not a top 5 talent??? Who are you putting ahead of him? I got Bryant, lebron, and I can see maybe howard and rose….but then Durant? Melo plays durant’s position and is similarly a great scorer but also thicker/more useful in the playoffs.

    Also I think the whole no defense issue will be resolved if and when they get rid of dantoni, perhaps the worst coach in the NBA to ever have teams with such great talent. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce never spent one day in their life playing defense, but when they got on teams that could win a champ and with a coaching staff that preached defense (also teaming up with Garnott was helpful), they became much stronger defensive wings. For guys as talented as Amare and Melo, defense is just an effort thing, it’s not a missing-talent issue.

    • pakastallion says:

      Kid,

      Top Ten: (this is a soft list- haven’t really thought it through, so im happy to move players around/ in-out of the top ten… at first blush, it looks right to me though) (also, for the Kevin love, lovers, I know he is on crack with 20 and 15 a game, but he isn’t a top-ten player)

      1.LeBron
      2.Howard
      3.Rose
      4.Bryant
      5.Durant

      6.Paul
      7.Wade
      8.’Melo
      9.Gasol
      10.Amar’e

      next group: Dirk, Williams, Westbrook, Love, Griffin, Aldridge, Ellis, others?? feel like im leaving a big one off … curious to see your top-ten

      To your second point I totally agree. this is why getting Howard would be a game changer as opposed to getting Chris Paul. that being said, call it what you want, a talent issue or not, they lack a fundamental interest in playing consistent defense. to your point, this is not to say it cannot be corrected … im not going that far. just saying given, their body of work thus far, it is fair to say they are a “nocturnal emission for any team looking to score inside and grab rebounds on the other end.”

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