By John Schmeelk
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For so long, Carmelo Anthony’s position made sense. He wanted to get out of Denver, and move to a big market. He felt the Nuggets were stuck in “almost land” with little chance to make a run at the finals in a strong Western Conference with superior teams like the Lakers. He wanted to land with the team in the biggest market. He wanted to join forces with another legit superstar like Amar’e Stoudemire, and a very solid supporting cast that would have a legit chance of getting to the NBA finals.
Make no mistake, adding Carmelo Anthony to the current Knicks roster in the offseason would make them a championship contender, especially if Donnie Walsh could figure out a way to keep Wilson Chandler. The only thing missing would be a defensive minded center that would help Amar’e Stoudemire bang down low. Mike D’Antoni would maximize Carmelo’s already impressive arsenal on offense, and he and Stoudemire would run New York. Sounds nice, right?
It was the perfect situation. But now for some reason (if the reports are true), Carmelo is agreeable to joining Newark Nets and playing with Brook Lopez, Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups. The question is why? What made Carmelo change his mind? Why do the Nets make sense?
Is it the money? Perhaps his representatives have gotten in his ear and convinced him that getting his maximum extension from the Nuggets is the most important thing for his future. Maybe an extra ten million over the next three years is more important to Anthony than having a legit chance of winning a championship in the greatest building, in the greatest city and in front of the best fans in the world. If that’s the case, we all know more about Anthony than we did before this all started. LeBron James and Chris Bosh were willing to take less money to win a championship, and they deserve credit for that. Maybe winning isn’t what it’s all about for Anthony.
(And a quick addendum – there’s a good chance all NBA salaries will be rolled back after the CBA is signed – meaning he won’t actually make that much more money if he signs an extension now. It all depends on the new CBA rules, which is probably the one big uncertainty pushing Carmelo and his agents to sign something now. Fear is a powerful motivator. So is greed.)
I hope it isn’t the talent in New Jersey that is getting him excited. Brook Lopez is a good player, but as a seven-footer he’s shooting only 45% from the field and averages less than SIX rebounds per game. SIX! That’s Eddy Curry territory. Rip Hamilton is much closer to washed up than he is an All-Star. The Pistons have been trying to give away his contract (signed through 2012-2013 at 12.65 million a year) and there have been no takers. There was a notion that Anthony was swayed because he would have a chance to play with Hamilton, something that could only be classified as delusional. There’s a reason Rip isn’t even starting for the Pistons anymore.
There’s also ample evidence that Chauncey Billups has no intention of playing for the Nets, and there’s no doubt Anthony knows about it. That means Carmelo would be joining Lopez, Hamilton, Humphries and Farmar in the Nets starting lineup. The team plans to move to Brooklyn to start the 2012 season but no one would be surprised if that was delayed a season. Putting a potential Knicks reunion aside, I can’t even see how the Nets are a better situation than Denver, a good basketball town where cap flexibility is around the corner, and a young point guard like Ty Lawson is already in place.
To summarize, if the stories are to believe, here is what Carmelo Anthony is going to do: For starters he is going to give up his chance to be a free agent and completely control his own destiny, something he saw his buddies LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh do in the offseason. Then he is going to agree to go to Newark, not his preferred destination, and play in front of 5,000 fans a night on a mediocre team with 8th seed aspirations. He might be able to move to Brooklyn in 2012, and maybe the Nets can land a free agent like Chris Paul to join him. Or he could be stuck in Newark another year, showing up in Secaucus during the playoffs to see what pick the Nets get in the lottery.
That seems a lot better than playing out the season in Denver, and joining a championship ready team in Madison Square Garden right? He’d be losing money, but in twenty years if someone asked Carmelo if he’d give back the money to have his prime years back playing for a title, I’d like to think he’d choose the shot at the ring. But maybe he wouldn’t, and that’s the only reason he would decide to go to the Nets. You know what they say, cash is king. And it better be because the only plausible basketball reason is an inconceivable one: insanity.
UP AND UNDER
Up: Shawne Williams is has done an excellent job making the Knicks forget about Danilo Gallinari. It’s no surprise that his he’s matching Gallinari’s perimeter shooting, but his defense and penetration has been pretty good too. If he can stay out of trouble, Williams will carve himself out a very nice niche in this league for a long time. It’s really a great story.
Under: Shooting against the Lakers. It’s a shame the Knicks threw up a such a dud offensively against a team like the Lakers. It didn’t have much to do with the Lakers defense either. Bad shooting nights happen, and Sunday just happened to be one of them.
AROUND THE WORLD
It’s not hard for me to see why the Lakers are struggling a bit (though playing much better recently). Can someone get the ball to Pau Gasol? The Lakers offense really runs its best when he catches the ball in the high post and becomes the team’s focal point and decision maker. Obviously Kobe running the high screen and roll and isolating on the wing is still going to be a big part of the offense, but Gasol is such a good decision maker and mid-range shooter he needs to be involved more.
Clyde’s outfit on Sunday night in LA: A leopard designed suit (not actual leopard skin, for the record) and python shoes that actually still had the snake heads on top of the foot/toes area of the shoe. I’m not even sure what to say about that except: that’s why he’s the one and only Clyde. Another great Clyde line from Sunday night when talking about Bill Bradley: “He’s as straight up as 12 o’clock.” I need to figure out a way to slip that into my arsenal down the road. Great line.
And a little bonus: Charles Oakley as an assistant coach might be the most awesome thing ever. I would pay to watch a channel that consisted solely of a camera on Oakley during every practice and game, and all his postgame interviews and press conferences. Throw in some postgame gambling with Jordan and some of their friends of the 90’s, and perhaps a morning news show starring Oak and Charles Barkley and I’d be set. Pure entertainment.
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