I should probably go to bed at some point, but before I do so, I'm compelled to pass along the wagon full of links I've gathered in the time between the Carmelo Anthony trade (which should probably be known henceforth as "The Renaldo Balkman Trade") and your waking. No mammals or sassy commentary for now. Just links and a few block quotes from around the regions of the internet I tend to frequent. Eat up, babies:
- First of all, we call Renaldo Balkman "Humpty" here at Posting and Toasting. All other nicknames are up for discussion. I became somewhat enamored with the nickname "Biscuit" for Chauncey Billups after a Twitter conversation I had, but that's just me. Anyway, on to big kid things...
I don't think there's any doubt that the Knicks have improved here. At 28-26, they're in the middle of the East. With Anthony and Billups joining Stoudemire, this team is going to battle the Magic for the four-seed the rest of the way. With 28 games remaining, it's not hard to see New York going something like 18-10 and finishing with something like 46 wins, while at the same time being a scary team to play in the postseason.
But a contender? Not yet. That was the issue at hand all along for Walsh. Giving up too much for Melo just didn't make a lot of sense when you were essentially bidding against yourself. The cost might be some tension in the front office, plus a hefty price tag of young talent shipped out to the Rockies.
New York is paying a heavy price, but it’s not as heavy as the James Dolan haters — and they are justified in their hate, for sure — might have you believe. Chandler was likely leaving after this season for a large payday the Knicks wouldn’t provide. Mozgov is a project. Billups is at least Felton’s equal now, and Billups’ deal expires after next season. Only $3.7 million of his deal for next season is guaranteed, meaning whichever team has him can buy him out for that amount during a brief window after this season ends, according to ShamSports.
Championship teams now need three stars, and the Knicks are now one of a select handful of teams to have two. They're also well-positioned to recruit a third, pending major changes to the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement of course. They have a steady, tested point guard in place, one who knows how to get the most out of Anthony, and they acquired a solid player in Brewer, who, although nothing special, helps make up for the wave of role players that departed. Importantly, they also retained rookie forward Landry Fields, a prototypical glue player who will become even more important now that the team has two stars. In other words, they improved their top-end talent, built one of the most dynamic scoring one-two punches in the league and managed to do it while gutting things a lot less than you might think at first glance.
An interesting aside from Alan Hahn which, at the moment, is still unconfirmed. (Important parts emboldened by yours truly. The text, that is, not the author. Alan needs no help being bold.):
The Knicks get Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, along with former Knick Renaldo Balkman, forward Shelden Williams and guard Anthony Carter from Denver and Corey Brewer and, though I can't entirely confirm it, it sounds like a first round pick from Minnesota, as well.
That would be very nice.
Meanwhile, here's Larry Coon with the word on New York's outgoing pick:
Here's the story on the draft pick. It'll be the "first available" after NY sends a pick to Houston.
Still not sure exactly what that means.
Ultimately, the price you pay isn't as important as the quality of the asset you get. That's why I tend to think it's a good thing that the Knicks did not let Timofey Mozgov stand between them and Anthony. If Anthony is as good as New York believes, all the picks and bit players in the world aren't going to make a difference.
So is Anthony worth that kind of faith? Seven months after the process began that led to this trade, I'm still not sure. I'm confident that Anthony is not one of the 10 best players in the league because of his defensive deficiencies. I'm also certain that the value of his ability to create shots for himself (as reflected, in part, in his teammates' scoring efficiency) means that he is an elite offensive player and an above-average player overall. There's an important gulf between those two extreme positions, and where Anthony really belongs will determine the ultimate success or failure of the Knicks.
The hardest part of assembling a championship team is getting one of the few elite players in the league. The Knicks now have two of them. That is a core they can put the right pieces around to contend. And that is a reason for hope.
They are not contenders now because they gave up a lot to get ‘Melo. Not necessarily too much, they got more talent back certainly, but they gave up players that are not just a dime a dozen. Yes, they got a quality point guard in Chauncey Billups, a veteran savvy one who knows how to win. But Billups is a poor fit for Mike D’Antoni’s running system. Billups is 34 and not so fleet of foot anymore. He has one year left on his deal after this and can be bought out after next season for $3.7 million (according to Sham Sport’s figures).
The Knicks are going to miss Danilo Gallinari. They will miss Wilson Chandler but they were going to have to renounce him this summer anyway to make room to sign Anthony as a free agent. Timofey Mozgov is a project that may develop into a rotation player but you don’t let him get in the way of a deal for a superstar.
Adam Figman, wise as always, gets the final word:
10 years of overreacting (in both directions) and we still haven't learned? Just let things play out. Jeez.
Starbury was welcomed with open arms and Gallo was booed. We're dumb. Let smarter heads do the thinking and just watch and enjoy. It's fun.
Much more to come, including some welcomes for the new guys and farewells for the old guys. For now, I need at least a few minutes of sleep.