By John Schmeelk
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When all this is said and done, we’ve all learned something about Carmelo Anthony: it’s all about the money. Carmelo Anthony never had any intention of going to free agency and sacrificing part of his three year, 65 million dollar extension. Anthony wants no part of whatever the new CBA is going to look like.  Maximum contracts could be severely reduced in terms of money and years, or worst case scenario, there could be a franchise tag that would force Carmelo to stay in Denver. To a certain extent, it’s understandable.

To another, it’s not. You’ve read in this space for the past six months that Carmelo Anthony has a lot of power in this scenario and for some reason he has chosen not to exercise it. The only reason the Denver Nuggets have been able to use the Nets as leverage against the Knicks, is because Anthony has refused to let people know he does not want to play in Newark. His fear of a CBA is so great that he doesn’t want to use his power and risk Denver keeping him and taking their chances with the new CBA. Instead, Anthony has played it down the middle, insinuating he might sign with the Nets, and forcing the Knicks to improve their offer to a point where the Nuggets will make a trade with them.  Anthony wants his cash and he wants his destination. Every move he has made has been to achieve both those goals.

Unfortunately, those ultimately selfish motives will end up costing him a lot of help to win a championship with the Knicks. Knicks fans have every right to be mad at him for that. However, anyone that says the Knicks are giving up way too much with their current offer aren’t being honest. I was on the fence with this trade when it was first floated but now I’m in favor of it. Break the trade down like this:

Raymond Felton for Chauncey Billups: A wash, with a fair argument Billups is an upgrade.

Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Anthony Randolph and a 2014 1st round pick for Carmelo Anthony: Fair, maybe a little pricey.

Eddy Curry for Shelden Williams and Anthony Carter to balance out contracts: Who cares.

Is the trade a little painful? Yes. But any fair trade, especially one that acquires a superstar, is going to be. Billups and Felton are both free agents in 2012. Wilson Chandler is a free agent this offseason, and Gallinari is up in 2012. Both will be getting pretty nice paydays. I hate giving up Gallinari too, but he will never be the player Carmelo Anthony is, and neither will Wilson Chandler. Knicks fans need to get the idea out of their head that the Knicks can simply hold out and get Carmelo as a free agent in the offseason. It’s never going to happen. Anthony will sign with the Nets before that takes place.

However, now the Nuggets also want Timofey Mozgov, and understandably some Knicks fans have said this: How can a backup center be a breaking point in getting a superstar like Carmelo! It’s crazy. At some point a team has to draw a line in the sand. Throughout this entire process with both the Knicks and the Nets, Denver has always come back asking for more. If the Knicks agree to Mozgov, what’s next? Landry Fields?  I don’t think Mozgov will be a deal breaker for the Nuggets. Denver is asking for Mozgov because they can, and they think the Knicks are desperate enough to include him. If the Knicks don’t blink, the Nuggets will back down.

If I was a General Manager, I’d prefer the Knicks package to the Jersey one. First round picks in the NBA are overrated. Late 1st round picks can be bought pretty much every year. The success rate of 1st round picks is pretty low. There are a lot of busts. Odds are none, or at most one of the picks the Nets are sending to Denver will become players as good as Gallinari and Chandler. Also, remember that all four Nets picks are not ending up with the Nuggets. Reports said two will be moved with Troy Murphy to a third team to get the Nuggets more cash savings.

The Knicks still stand in very good position and are the favorites to land Anthony. The cost is painful, but right now it is worth the hurt. The Knicks will be a better team for the next five years if the trade on the table is completed. It’s not about this season. It’s about the future. Hold the line, and make the deal. If Denver deals him to the Nets and Carmelo agrees to an extension, the Knicks can stand proud and say they made a very good offer and it just didn’t work out. It’s not the end of the world, and the Knicks are still in great position for the future.

Follow this saga with me on twitter and I’ll try to guide you through all the twists, turns, and everything else:!/Schmeelk.

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