Highlightin’ Hoops: Excited About Melo
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By Ryan Schneider
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On February 19, 2008, the 15-37, Isiah Thomas led New York Knicks rolled out this line-up in their first game after the all-star break– Nate Robinson, Jamal Crawford, Quentin Richardson, Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry. The die-hard Knick fans that suffered along with this listless squad were actually treated to a win on this forgetful night. Thrillingly enough, it was a win, in overtime, and it was one of only eight that they would get on the road that year…
Where had that feeling gone? The joy of a Knicks win had fallen helplessly by the wayside. It was a feeling that had become so foreign…an occurrence that happened simply by happenstance. The Knicks weren’t good, they were anything but…in fact, they were awful. Remember that time? Remember that feeling? Remember that frustration…
“N.Y. State of Mind”
That was the headline at 11:14 PM when the “Melodrama” finally came to an end. As a third-party sportswriter I would imagine this to be nothing but a major NBA transaction that spends 12 hours on the front page of a newspaper website, before slipping away into the confines of internet archives…
But, as a fan, as a die-hard Knick fan, this headline changes the course of history. This justifies the time spent wallowing in frustration, cursing at a TV, launching a utensil, or small glass in utter anger. I’ll go so far to say you probably remember where you were when you watched LeBron crush New Yorkers dreams as he declared his desire to join the Heat. At that point, when that announcement was made, remember how you felt?
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Felton, Gallinari, Chandler…they have been terrific this season. All three of them far exceeded the individual expectations that were laid out five and a half months ago. Felton has an admirable heart and soul, and is as fierce a competitor as I’ve seen don the Blue and Orange. The emergence of Chandler this year has been fun to watch. He has thrilled us with high-flying dunks and head-shaking offensive hot streaks. Gallinari continues to develop into a very solid NBA player. He has improved leaps and bounds over the long, lanky, overmatched 19-year old that stepped on the Garden floor three years ago.
Is the upside of all three tremendous? Absolutely. Are they superstars/top fifteen players in the making? Probably not. Could these pieces be more than a .500 team in the future? Maybe…
However, let’s not forget the objective of Felton’s free agent acquisition this off-season. It was a two-year stopgap, a temporary solution. He was the bridge that ultimately would lead to Chris Paul. He was never supposed to be here for longer than two years… and you know who replaces him? Chauncey Billups, a proven NBA veteran, a championship ring-bearer, and a respected veteran in the locker room. Yes, he is 34-years old, but some would go as far to say that he is a temporary upgrade over Felton.
This is hard to say…but Chandler is a dime a dozen in this league. There is a reason why he wasn’t nearly enough in this trade from the get-go. There are more than enough guys scattered across the NBA who can be as effective as Wilson Chandler. He is but a solid player who has some very nice upside. And…lest we all forget is a restricted free agent at seasons end, who would have been to expensive for the Knicks to keep in their quest for ‘Melo.
Danilo Gallinari has shown signs of brilliance. He has also shown signs of mediocrity. It’s what you expect from a kid who has only been in the league three years. He will continue to develop as he ages, he could even become one of the better players in the NBA. But, let’s see how he does in a different system. Can he score twenty when a team is walking the ball up the floor? Can he catch and shoot off screens? Will he still be able to put the ball on the deck in an offense that doesn’t emphasize the unique 8-second or less mentality of the Knicks? I’ve always liked Galo, and have enjoyed watching his development, but maybe he has been the beneficiary of an offensive concept that has proven to inflate statistics…only time will tell.
Three years ago, almost to the day, the New York Knicks were cellar dwellers in the Eastern Conference. Miracle worker Donnie Walsh has turned a once destitute, lackadaisical NBA franchise into a relevant, headline grabbing team that strives to be mentioned in the same sentence as championship.
Hundreds of hours have been spent talking about this trade. ”The Knicks are giving up too much.” “How can you mortgage the future?” “Will the Nets get him?” “Carmelo isn’t worth it, he plays no D.” Read this next line and think about how you feel…
Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire are New York Knicks
The Knicks are better off today then they were yesterday. They now have two of the Top Ten players in the league in their starting line-up. ‘Melo and Stat are locked up long-term…they will now be fixtures in this city for at least 3 years. All that can do is generate league-wide interest from other players who want a legitimate chance at wearing a ring. Does that mean Chris Paul? Deron Williams? I can’t answer that…but don’t you think this team is easier to build around than the previous one?
Think about the 90’s…when you look back on Patrick Ewing’s career what is the one thing you wish he had? Another star…give him a John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Clyde Drexler, or Scottie Pippen…had Ewing been given the opportunity to play alongside one of the top ten or fifteen players in the league he would have won a championship.
The Knicks have two of them…Amare has done nothing but dominate through the first half of the season. He has shouldered more than his fair share of the load. Stat has proudly accepted and thrived in a leadership role that Knick teams have been without for a decade. And now he has a running mate…
A few more thoughts on this deal…something that will be overlooked is the acquiring of Corey Brewer. Initially I thought he was going to the Nuggets as part of a three-way deal, but it turns out it is a separate entity. Brewer indeed will be a Knick and he isn’t a bad role player to add to the mix. He is only 24 years old and has shown signs of promise…in starting 22 games this season he has averaged a shade under 10 points per, while shooting 43 percent from 2 and 37 percent from 3. He isn’t much of a scorer, but is known league-wide as an exceptional leaper and one of the better one-on-one defenders. He winds up being a nice young piece to get back in the deal.
Obviously this trade hurts a bit short term, simply because the Knicks weren’t loaded with depth to begin with. Essentially Felton, Galo, Chandler and Mozgov were all starters more often than not. Remove those four, and add ‘Melo and Billups, ok well there are two of your starters, and then I would imagine you throw Turiaf back in at the center spot.
The bench becomes an interesting situation…Shelden Williams and Renaldo Balkman are going to have to play some minutes, because the Knicks simply don’t have any more size to put on the floor. As for a backcourt, Toney Douglas, Brewer, maybe Anthony Carter…and then Bill Walker and Shawne Williams will continue to get their time as a hybrid 3/4/5. It will be interesting to see how D’Antoni approaches this rotation.
Finally, I’m going to be very interested to see how Billups handles this situation. I’ve always really enjoyed watching Chauncey play. He is a winner, knows how to make big shots, is a respected leader, and is the one guy in the Knicks locker room that will have a ring. If he embraces this opportunity I think he could be the biggest factor going forward this season.
How excited are you to see Melo in a Knicks uniform? Let us know in the comments below!