Nuggets trade Anthony to Knicks in spectacularly awful deal
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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