Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Knicks Lose and Lose Big. A Look at the Two NBA Blockbusters

It's been a bad 48 hours for the New York Knickerbockers. Don't believe what you may have read yesterday, the trade for Caremelo Anthony was not a good one for New York. On its merits alone the deal does not make sense. Throw in the fact Melo probably signs with the Knicks as a free agent in the offseason and that the New Jersey Nets acquired Deron Williams in a trade with the Utah Jazz this morning and the Knicks trade is a flat-out disaster.

First, and most importantly, Carmelo Anthony is exactly the type of player the Knicks do not need. He isn't one of the best 20 players in the Association and at 26 doesn't exactly look like a guy who is going to age well. As far as max players go there are better alternatives for $22 million/year starting this offseason. Melo does one thing exceptionally well. He is as good as anyone in the league at creating his own shot in the low post. But that's the rub. The Knicks already have Amare Stoudemire dominating the paint. Having both stationed down low is going to make each much easier to defend. To make matters worse New York traded away their best outside shooter in Danilo Gallinari and another serviceable shooter in Winston Chandler leaving nobody to stretch the floor and keep defenses from sagging on New York's dynamic duo.

The Knicks also swapped point guards in the deal, but Chancey Billups best days are behind him and he won't play the 38 minutes a game Ray Felton was averaging, so even more minutes will go to guys who shouldn't be on the floor. But no matter the troubles offensively, defensively it is going to be worse. The Carmelo-Amare duo is going to get torched and Billups can't guard any of the today's quick point guards. With no depth left on the bench the Knicks won't have anywhere to turn. Keeping opposing teams under 100 points is going to be a rare feat the rest of the season.

The second problem with the deal is that the Knicks gutted their roster to acquire a player who they very likely could have had for almost nothing other than salary this offseason. New York would have had to renounce the rights to Winston Chandler to sign Anthony. That's it. Pay Melo the same dollars they are going to pay now and he's bouncing on Broadway. Denver had virtually no leverage in the trade talks, yet the Knicks kept upping the ante and bidding against themselves just as the Mets did with Jason Bay last offseason. Denver got all they could and while the Knicks didn't give up a ton of talent in the deal, they traded all their available assets and gave themselves zero financial flexibility going forward.

Sound familiar? It should.

Reports are suggesting the Isiah Thomas fingerprints are all over the deal. You'll remember Thomas as the Knicks' cagey President of Basketball Operations who in five seasons from 2004-2008 virtually abolished the Knicks from the NBA landscape with one incredibly bad deal and free agent signing after another. Apparently Knicks owner James Dolan and Thomas, the basketball coach at Florida International, still speak almost daily and it was Isiah driving this trade rather than General Manager Donnie Walsh. If this is true Walsh has to resign today and Dolan, already a three-time winner, gets the award for Dumbest Owner in Sports permanently named in his honor.

Utah's trade of Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets this morning is the third and final nail in the coffin for the Knicks. Williams would have been a perfect compliment to Stoudemire in Coach Mike D'Antoni's system. And the Nets got him relatively cheaply. Williams is one of the ten best players in the league and is under contract through next season although a new CBA could impact his situation. Either way someone in the Knicks front office completely missed the boat on this one in not making a stronger pitch to acquire their franchise point guard.

Many in New York have been signing the praises of the Knicks and their ability to finally put two max-salary superstars on the floor together. The problem is they got the wrong two. They missed on LeBron this summer and then they gave up more than they needed for a player who doesn't fit what they already have. The next day their cross-river rival got the superstar who would have been the perfect fit. For a much cheaper price. Tomorrow's headlines should read The re-emergence of Isiah Thomas Sends the Knicks Wandering in the Wilderness--Again. The Knicks are no closer to success than they were eight years ago. They will probably have a playoff berth to show for this year's efforts, but another monstrously bad deal has turned their fortunes again. Tough times still ahead for the Knicks and their fans.

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