By Ryan Schneider
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Not long ago a city sat around and waited for a “King.” New Yorkers spent two years fantasizing about this “dream team” centered on LeBron James. They became blinded by the realities of the NBA. New Yorkers arrogantly assumed that New York was the ONLY destination that James would consider. The prospects that maybe he would be interested in one of the other cap accessible teams in the league was never a thought to many. But, when LeBron went to Miami, Knick fans verbally threw up…yelling out to everyone they possibly could for not getting the deal done.
Donnie Walsh and the Knicks brass have finally taken the “what-if” out of the equation. This from Walsh during the press conference yesterday afternoon, “I don’t think it would have happened that we would have had the chance to get Carmelo had we waited until the summer because I think he would have signed the extension.”
Look at this trade from the Nuggets perspective? If you were in a position where you had to trade one of the top ten players in the league would you accept Wilson Chandler and an expiring contract? Come on…look at the actual players involved…
Chauncey Billups is of equal if not greater short-term value than Raymond Felton (so let’s assume that they cancel one another out). Then it boils down to essentially Wilson Chandler (wouldn’t have been re-signed), Gallinari and Mozgov for ‘Melo. Would you have said no to that deal? I wouldn’t and neither would any general manager in the league.
Let’s do a little role reversal…what would you have taken in return to trade Raymond Felton and Amare Stoudemire? (snicker, shock, gasp would the reaction by a Knicks fan). Well it would have to be a whole hell of a lot. It would take a lot, and it should take a lot. Amare is one of the best players in the game, and Felton has been a damn good point guard. In fact, Knick fans wouldn’t possibly imagine ever doing a deal like that…
This article is spurred by the constant debate in the media that the Knicks have given up too much for ‘Melo. Keep in mind that there aren’t ten better scorers on this planet better than Anthony. Carmelo gives you 25 points a game, 9 free throw attempts, 8 boards, an efficient field goal percentage, and the ability to break down any defense in the league.
Earlier in the season I mentioned the fourth quarter as a problem area…there were times down the stretch when teams would double and triple Amare…that is no longer an option. ‘Melo all of a sudden becomes an impossible defensive challenge to match-up with. Couple that with big shot taker and maker Chauncey Billups sitting behind the arc, and the Knicks have three viable fourth quarter options.
Walsh could have played hardball, he could have waited until Thursday…but what if the Nets found a way to get it done? What if Thursday came and went and the Knicks didn’t have ‘Melo? Don’t you think this city would be in an uproar? Wouldn’t you be lashing out at Knicks management for not finding a way to get the job done? Take it a step further and think about this…What if the Knicks waited until the summer? Carmelo takes the $65 million and re-ups with the Nuggets, or is unavailable because of the new collective bargaining agreement…how would you feel then? Would you still be happy with that “young nucleus?”
Through this whole process there is one thing that should not be overlooked and it is the importance that Donnie Walsh has to this organization. Quite frankly, I don’t know what role Isiah Thomas played in this situation, or Dolan for that matter. What I do know is that we don’t have an Amare or Carmelo Anthony without the smart, deft, strategically designed and executed plan by a tremendous general manager.
While watching Walsh speak during his press conference yesterday, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of admiration for this man. Walsh injects heart and soul into his job. Born and bred in New York, he wants nothing more than to return his beloved Knicks to a championship status. In the last couple of years we have seen a massive roster overhaul. Players have come and gone, but if there is one person who should be a fixture in this organization, it is Mr. Walsh.
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The biggest issue facing this team going forward is size, and the ability to defend. The Knicks have had issues defensively all season, but that has more to do with the philosophy of D’Antoni then it does the guys on the floor. However, if Anthony and Amare really want to take this thing to the next level, they will take it upon themselves to place a heavy emphasis on the defensive end.
If the media wants to do a real story on Isiah Thomas, and stop with all the speculative nonsense about his role in the Knicks organization, take a trip down to the campus of Florida International. In five years of Division One college basketball I witnessed the time and hard work spent by my coaches to help create a program. If Thomas continues to “advise” James Dolan, are 12 young men being neglected? As evidence by his 9-17 record, Thomas continues to put together a resume that is synonymous with losing.
Carmelo Anthony who? That’s what the Nuggets told the rest of the league, when they went out and took care of business last night against the Memphis Grizzlies. Ty Lawson put together an impressive stat-line that included 21 points, 7 assists, 6 steals and 5 boards. It will be exciting to watch that influx of young talent grow together in Denver.
Knicks-Bucks tonight at the Garden…it will be nothing short of a scene. It’s only fitting that ‘Melo will be introduced on Knicks Legends Night. The 2011 class of legends include Harry Gallatin, Dick Barnett, Earl the Pearl, Mark Jackson, John Starks and Allan Houston. Hopefully these Knick legends will be witnessing the beginning of a new legacy at the Garden that will yield results last achieved in the 1970’s.