NEW YORK (WFAN/ WCBS 880 / CBS 2 / AP) — Players like Carmelo Anthony don’t come cheap, and many times they don’t come around at all.
So even though it cost much of their core, the Knicks couldn’t pass up a chance to pair him with Amar’e Stoudemire.
“I think this puts us in a way ahead of everything, because these are the kind of guys that are really hard to get,” Knicks president Donnie Walsh said. “Whether it’s in the free agent market or whether they’re in a trade, they’re very difficult to get. And they’re guys that can go out there and get 30 to 40 points in a playoff game.”
The Knicks will introduce Anthony Wednesday night before the superstar makes his Garden debut against the Milwaukee Bucks.
WFAN will carry Carmelo’s introduction live at 5 p.m.
Yes, the Knicks are talking about the playoffs.
And they think the three-team, 13-player deal they completed Tuesday with Denver and Minnesota will make them better when they get there.
WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports from Madison Square Garden
“When you go out hunting, would you rather have a bigger gun or a little gun?” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We got a bigger gun.”
Anthony, who signed a three-year, $65 million extension before the deal was finalized, will join fellow All-Star Stoudemire in the frontcourt, giving the Knicks the potent duo they hoped they could assemble last summer in free agency.
“We liked the way our team played this year and I looked at it and I thought we had one piece that was at the high level of the league. We always wanted two pieces at least,” Walsh said.
LISTEN: Donnie Walsh breaks down the Carmelo trade
Stoudemire has led the Knicks to a 28-26 record this season, but said they will be even more dangerous with Anthony bringing his 25.2 points per game to join his 26.1 average.
“Every team needs a 1, 1A punch,” Stoudemire said. “And so with the ways that we both can score …. we’re very versatile, so it’s hard to guard us.”
Stoudemire said he had “no doubt” the All-Star forwards and longtime friends could play together, and said Anthony would handle the move to New York as well as he has.
“It’s what he wants. It’s what I wanted, to come to New York and play on the big stage,” Stoudemire said. “He has the same type of swag. This is what he wants and he can handle it. We’re going to do it together.”
LISTEN: Amar’e Stoudemire on Carmelo’s hardcourt swagger
The Knicks also got guards Chauncey Billups and Anthony Carter, and forwards Renaldo Balkman and Shelden Williams from Denver. New York dealt forwards Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, guard Raymond Felton and center Timofey Mozgov to the Nuggets.
New York also shipped centers Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph to Minnesota for forward Corey Brewer. Denver acquired center Kosta Koufos from Minnesota, plus New York’s first-round draft pick in 2014, second-round picks in 2012 and 2013 and cash.
The Knicks haven’t made the playoffs since 2004, but are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference in their first season since acquiring Stoudemire from Phoenix last summer. He thinks the blockbuster deal could make them better equipped to face teams such as Boston or Miami, which already have multiple All-Stars, in the postseason.
“They’re pretty good. That’s a heck of a trade,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “Really, it’s nice to see. It’s a good trade for both teams. I thought Denver got everything it could possibly get in the deal, and I thought the Knicks did everything they could as well. They ended up with Carmelo, Corey Brewer and Chauncey Billups. They have a heck of a basketball team. It just makes the East more interesting.”
Miami’s LeBron James said he was happy his friend’s uncertainty was finally over.
“I think it’s great for the NBA,” James said. “The fact that the Knicks are back, the Celtics have been back for the last few years and all the other teams are trying to compete, I think it’s great.”
It was Anthony’s refusal to take the extension when the Nuggets offered it to him last summer that forced them to explore trading their leading scorer. The Knicks hoped they could sign him next summer in free agency, but felt they couldn’t wait because Anthony wanted the extension this season, before a new collective bargaining agreement next summer could severely restrict salaries, and that could have forced him to lock in long term with whatever team Denver traded him to.
So the Knicks agreed to trade four of their top six players, realizing there were few chances to add a player of Anthony’s caliber.
“Now we’ve got two guys in our stable,” D’Antoni said.
LISTEN: Mike D’Antoni on having two superstars to coach
The Knicks hope Anthony will be able to play Wednesday when they host Milwaukee. All the players in the deal must pass physicals before any of them can play.
Nuggets president Josh Kroenke said in a statement the Nuggets enjoyed watching Anthony grow during his seven seasons with the team.
“However, Carmelo made it very clear early in the season that he wasn’t willing to recommit to the organization and wanted to pursue other opportunities in basketball and life,” Kroenke said. “At that point, we decided it was imperative that we do what was in the best interest of the Denver Nuggets and our fans. We wish Carmelo the best in his career and sincerely thank him for what he’s helped us accomplish.”
New York’s once-passionate fan base was turned off by the team’s poor play on the court and embarrassing press off it for most of the decade under Isiah Thomas’ reign as president and coach. But in the third season under Walsh and D’Antoni, the buzz has come back, and it’s only going to get louder once Anthony takes the court.
“New York City was on fire even before this trade happened with Carmelo, thanks to (the traded players) and I think with the help of Carmelo and Chauncey and the rest of the guys, we have a great shot at it,” Stoudemire said.
Though Anthony was the focus, the Knicks are excited about the acquisition of Billups, a former NBA finals MVP and five-time All-Star who remains one of the league’s top point guards and will orchestrate D’Antoni’s pick-and-roll offense.
The Anthony trade saga lasted all season and often overshadowed the Knicks’ improved play. During a chaotic final week, the Nuggets entertained offers from the Knicks and New Jersey Nets, with both owners meeting with Anthony during the All-Star weekend in Los Angeles.
Walsh repeated the Knicks’ previous denials that Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan — with advice from Thomas — had taken the Anthony pursuit out of his hands and paid more than Walsh would have.
“I’m the one who knows basketball, so my job is to advise him, ‘This is good for your franchise,’ and I did that,” Walsh said.
The Knicks are probably too far back to make a big move in the standings over the final portion of the regular season. But they believe they have enough time to fit in the new players and be a threat if they finally get back to the playoffs.
“It’ll be up to the players and I’m sure Carmelo wants to come in and win. He didn’t come here just to go to Broadway, he wants to win,” D’Antoni said. “Amare I know wants to win, I talked to him. I know Chauncey wants to win, so let’s sit down and figure it out. And there’s a lot of talent there to figure it out.”
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Statement From The Knicks:
New York Knickerbockers President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh announced today that the team has acquired four-time All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, who was signed to a contract extension prior to the trade, and five-time All-Star guard Chauncey Billups in a three-team, 13-player trade with the Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves. The trade also sent guard Anthony Carter and forwards Renaldo Balkman and Shelden Williams from Denver and swingman Corey Brewer from Minnesota to New York. New York has traded forwards Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, guard Raymond Felton, center Timofey Mozgov, a future first-round draft selection and two future second-round draft selections (originally acquired from Golden State on Jul. 9, 2010) and cash and future draft considerations to Denver, and has sent center Eddy Curry, forward Anthony Randolph and cash considerations to Minnesota. Minnesota acquired a future second round draft selection from Denver and Denver acquired Kosta Koufos from Minnesota.
“At 26 years old, Carmelo is in the prime of his NBA career having already established himself as a one of the game’s elite players and the opportunity to add him to our roster was one we could not pass up,” Walsh said. “I feel we now have a great frontcourt tandem in Amar’e and Carmelo and this is an exciting day for the New York Knicks and all our fans. It is extremely difficult to trade away players, but we feel like the team is in better position to win and we have excellent players to build around for years to come.”
Anthony, 6-8, 230-pounds, has career averages of 24.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 564 career games (564 starts) in eight seasons with the Denver Nuggets. The Brooklyn, NY-native was selected by the Nuggets with the third overall selection in the 2003 NBA Draft following his freshman season at Syracuse University, where he led the Orangemen to their first national championship in 2003 and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. A four-time All-NBA selection and four-time NBA All Star, Anthony has averaged at least 20 points in each of his seven NBA seasons and earned an Olympic Gold Medal with Team USA in the 2008 games in Beijing. Anthony has averages of 25.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 50 games with Denver this season.
“Carmelo is one of the top pure scorers in the league and like Amar’e, I believe he will really embrace the opportunity to play back home in New York and help us continue our goal of building towards a championship,” said Knicks Head Coach Mike D’Antoni. “Chauncey is a winner and having a veteran point guard of his caliber will be extremely valuable in helping us win games, especially in the playoffs.”
Billups, 6-3, 202-pounds has career averages of 15.5 points, 5.6 assists and 2.9 rebounds in 961 games (867 starts) in 14 NBA seasons with Toronto, Boston, Denver, Minnesota and Detroit. Originally selected by Boston with the third overall selection of the 1997 NBA Draft following his sophomore season at the University of Colorado, Billups has been named an NBA All-Star five times and is a three-time All-NBA selection. The Denver, CO-native has led his team to the playoffs in each of his last 10 seasons and was named the 2004 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player after leading the Detroit Pistons to the NBA title. In 51 games with Denver during the 2010-11 campaign, Billups has averages of 16.5 points and 5.3 assists per game.
Carter, 6-2, 195-pounds has career averages of 5.0 points and 3.9 assists in 580 games (181 starts) in 12 NBA seasons with Miami, San Antonio, Minnesota and Denver. Undrafted out of the University of Hawaii, the Atlanta, GA-native has six years of playoff experience. Carter has averaged 1.9 points, 1.9 assists and 10.9 minutes in 14 games with Denver this season.
Balkman, 6-8, 208-pounds, returns to New York with career averages of 4.2 points and 3.6 rebounds in 204 career games (12 starts) with the Knicks and Denver. Originally selected by New York with the 20th overall selection in the 2006 NBA Draft out of the University of South Carolina, Balkman was born on Staten Island, NY. He was traded by New York to Denver on July 28, 2008 and has appeared in five games this season with Denver.
Williams, 6-9, 250-pounds, has career averages of 4.5 points and 4.1 rebounds in 286 games (63 starts) in five NBA seasons with Atlanta, Sacramento, Minnesota, Boston and Denver. The Oklahoma City, OK-native was originally selected by the Atlanta Hawks with the fifth overall selection in the 2006 NBA Draft following a standout career at Duke. Williams left Duke as the school’s all-time leader in rebounds and blocked shots and had his number retired by the school in 2007. Williams is averaging 4.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in 42 games with Denver this season.
Brewer, 6-9, 188-pounds, has career averages 9.1 points and 3.3 rebounds in 232 games (147 starts) in four NBA seasons with Minnesota. The Portland, TN-native was drafted by Minnesota with the seventh overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft out of the University of Florida where he helped lead the Gators to back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007. Brewer started all 82 games for Minnesota last season in 2009-10 and averaged a career-high 13.0 points per game. Brewer is averaging 8.6 points and 2.7 rebounds in 56 games this season with the Timberwolves.
Chandler, 6-8, 225-pounds, leaves New York having averaged 14.0 points and 5.2 rebounds in 233 games (180 starts) in four seasons with the Knicks. The Benton Harbor, MI-native was drafted by New York with the 23rd overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft. Chandler averaged 16.4 points and 5.9 rebounds in 51 games (30 starts) with New York this season.
Gallinari, 6-10, 225-pounds, departs with career averages of 13.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in 157 games (124 starts) with New York over three NBA seasons. The Milan, Italy-native was selected by New York with the sixth overall selection in the 2008 NBA Draft. In 48 games with New York in 2010-11, Gallinari averaged a career-high of 15.9 points per game.
Felton, 6-1, 205-pounds, has career averages of 13.8 points and 6.8 assists in 453 games (423 starts) in six NBA seasons with Charlotte and New York. The Latta, SC-native was originally selected by Charlotte with the fifth overall selection in the 2005 NBA Draft out of the University of North Carolina. Felton signed with New York as a free agent prior to the 2010-11 season and averaged 17.1 points and 9.0 assists in 54 games with the Knicks.
Mozgov, 7-1, 250-pounds, signed with New York as a free agent prior to the 2010-11 season. The St. Petersburg, Russia-native averaged 4.0 points and 3.1 rebounds in 34 games with New York in his rookie campaign.
Randolph, 6-11, 225-pounds, has career averages of 8.1 points and 5.5 rebounds in 113 games (50 starts) with Golden State and New York. Originally selected by Golden State with the 14th overall selection in the 2008 NBA Draft, Randolph was acquired by New York in a four-player trade prior to the 2010-11 season. In 17 games with New York in 2010-11, Randolph averaged 2.1 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.
Curry, 7-0, 295-pounds, has career averages of 13.3 points and 5.3 rebounds over 511 games (410 starts) with Chicago and New York. Originally selected by Chicago out of high school with the fourth overall selection in the 2001 NBA Draft, Curry was acquired by New York from Chicago prior to the 2005-06 season. Curry has been limited to 10 games over the last three NBA seasons due to injury and has not appeared in a game this season.
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