Quantcast 2011 New York Knicks Basketball: Knicks Update

 

Nuggets trade Anthony to Knicks in spectacularly awful deal

 

Well, it’s official. The Nuggets’ front office is now the laughingstock of the NBA.

After months of prolonged haggling and talks that led to dead ends, it was reported late Feb. 21 that the Denver Nuggets had traded Carmelo Anthony, along with Chauncey Billups, Anthony Carter, Renaldo Balkman, and Shelden Williams to the New York Knicks for Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, New York’s 2014 first-round pick, Golden State’s second-round picks in 2012 and 2013, and $3 million.

In other words, the Nuggets chose the most pathetic of all the trade proposals that were floated, and it became increasingly clear as the saga wound down that Nuggets president Josh Kroenke and GM Masai Ujiri were in over their heads.

They first bungled a potential three-way deal with New Jersey and Detroit that would have brought them rookie forward Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, multiple first-round draft picks, and some other spare players for Anthony and Billups by demanding more and more from the Nets until Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov left the bargaining table in January.

 



That left fewer options for the Nuggets. A rumor surfaced that had Anthony going to the Los Angeles Lakers for Andrew Bynum, but that never had much legs. The Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets also were rumored to be interested in Anthony’s services — even without him signing a contract extension with the team — but Denver couldn’t get anything done there either.

In the end, it boiled down to the Knicks and Nets, who did eventually return for one last stab at snagging Anthony. The Nets offered Favors, Harris, Troy Murphy, Ben Uzoh, and four first-round picks for Anthony, Billups, and some throw-in players from Denver. The Knicks added Mozgov to the pot. When the smoke finally cleared, the Nuggets’ front office caved to the demands of its star player and shipped him to his desired destination for a collection of players that don’t add up to an Andre Iguodala, let alone a Carmelo Anthony.

For all intents and purposes, this was a terrible trade, completely lopsided in favor of New York in terms of talent. It may have been the best package the Knicks could offer, but objectively speaking, it pales in comparison to what Anthony is actually worth and now resides near the Pau-Gasol-to-the-Lakers trade as one of the worst in NBA history. Denver received no one to build around and a lone (and distant) first-round pick doesn’t do much to quell fan unrest when New Jersey had four first rounders on the table along with a potential star in Favors.

 

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Yet Denver was so terrified of Anthony leaving through free agency that they were unwilling to call his bluff — as were the Nets, who could have acquired him without an agreement on an extension and seen if he really was willing to pass on $65 million in guaranteed money.

But what’s past is past. Now, the Knicks have Amar’e Stoudemire, Anthony, an unhappy Billups, Landry Fields, and … um … Toney Douglas? The Knicks essentially tore down everything GM Donnie Walsh spent years setting up, undoing the tangled mess of contracts that Isiah Thomas had buried the team under and giving the club some youth and cap space in the process. Now the Knicks will hope that they can lure either Chris Paul or Deron Williams to the Big Apple in 2012 or the team will be stuck with two star scorers and no one to get them the ball.

The Billups issue could get interesting as he is not happy with being dealt away from his home in Denver and made it clear early on in the trade rumors that he had no desire to go anywhere else. Billups could be bought out of his contract, allowing him to return to Denver if he wishes, but that scenario would leave the Knicks without a starting point guard. But if Billups refuses to report, decides to retire, or is going to become a problem regarding chemistry because he is unhappy, then the Knicks may have no other choice. Not to mention that Billups is not exactly a Mike D’Antoni-type point guard.

It also remains to be seen what will happen regarding the new collective bargaining agreement. If a hard cap is put in place or some other restriction that cuts team spending takes affect, then having two players on its roster making $20 million a year could spell disaster for the Knicks’ hopes of signing other free agents to play alongside Stoudemire and Anthony. That would be a worst-case scenario for the Knicks, but it is something to keep an eye on.

As for the Nuggets, they now must decide whether to trade Nene (to Houston?) and J.R. Smith (Chicago?) and start over or try to take these mismatched pieces and turn them into something resembling a team. Looking at Denver’s roster as it stands, it seems unlikely that it can sustain a playoff run in the ultra-competitive Western Conference; the Nuggets begin the second half of the season as the No. 7 seed in the West at 32-25 but just one game ahead of the Jazz and Grizzlies and 3 1/2 ahead of the Suns. With a potential starting five of Ty Lawson, Smith, Gallinari, Kenyon Martin, and Nene if no other trades take place for Denver, a playoff spot simply seems like too much to ask.

The clock finally ran out on all the drama surrounding Anthony and the Nuggets. All that’s left now is the head shaking.

 

By: Eric Lorenz
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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