The deal, if you’re unclear:
The Knicks give:
Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry and Raymond Felton
The Knicks get:
Carmelo Anthony, Crunch-Time Killer, Fourth Quarter Fireman, Shot-Making Shaman and Isolation Assassin
Chauncey Billups, still carrying around the Mr. Big Shot nickname about five years past its relevance. Has a very friendly $14.2M team option for next season.
Renaldo Balkman, who is on the hook for $1.675M each of the next two seasons.
Shelden Williams and Anthony Carter, whose contracts expire after this season.
Corey Brewer, who is a restricted free agent after this season.
Alan Hahn reports New York has also acquired a first round pick from Minnesota (!!!), but that’s unconfirmed.
It’s also been bandied about that the Knicks have also copped an $11M trade exception, but that’s very much in question. From Alan Hahn’s Twitter: “Just FYI, working this out with @LarryCoon and we’re not finding how Knicks come away with $11M trade exception as reported.”
This is a six-for-six deal, so the Knicks do not have an open roster spot as some had speculated last night as the deal was being announced. If the Knicks are to bring in Earl Barron for frontcourt help, as has been rumored, someone would have to be waived. That would figure to be Carter.
In a market in which they were the only buyer, the Knicks acted like Carmelo could’ve gone anywhere. Where three other superstars had been rumored to covet New York next summer, the Knicks acted like Carmelo would be the last superstar to ever come available. Where they should have used their leverage to strong-arm Denver into accepting 50 cents on the dollar, the Knicks seemed strangely willing to give something approaching equal value.
There is so much to think about here, it’s almost impossible to filter it all. Every angle has its own pros and cons. Yes, a Melo in the hand is worth more than a CP3 in the bush, but at the very, very worst it would have been inconceivable for the Knicks to enter the 2012-13 season with another superstar in addition to all the assets they just traded. Yes, the Knicks now look like a worse version of the Heat, but Donnie Walsh’s reign has been marked with names like Toney Douglas, Anthony Randolph, Timofey Mozgov, Landry Fields – valuable role players and trade assets plucked from out of nowhere. Yes, the Knicks have nothing in the frontcourt to stand up to Atlanta, Orlando, Chicago or Boston, but was while Mozgov was a nice prospect, it didn’t seem like he was going to grow into a solid rim protector by April.
To use a favorite mixed metaphor, there’s another side of the coin any way you slice it. I wouldn’t have made this trade, and I consider it a missed opportunity for the Knicks to leverage their way into title contention this season, or at least sign Anthony while keeping their other assets. The Knicks seem oddly beholden to Carmelo, as if their first priority is to placate him with an extension before even seeing him in uniform, and with so many other options I think that’s the wrong tack.
If the Knicks’ goal this season was to be the team that nobody wants to see in the first round, then mission accomplished. But their long-term plans are to be the team nobody wants to see, ever. That’s why, to me, this deal is less about Carmelo and more about Donnie Walsh, who by caving to the demands of his owner ought to be granted his extension. It’s been reported, however, that this wasn’t the deal Donnie wanted, and one has to wonder, given his age and his health, if he still thinks it’s worth staying on the job with ownership constantly jerking him around.
He’s here now, though, and for that I’m thankful. As long as he stays, it’s now up to Donnie to continue to mine those hidden gems, and keep making the deals that brought the team to this point in the first place. We have the star power, the puncher’s chance and the crunch-time chops, but this roster needs to be filled out – that’s why, more than Amar’e, more than Melo even, this team really needs Donnie more than ever.