The saga that began months ago, well into the 2010 offseason, finally came to an end Monday evening, as Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony was traded to his preferred destination- the New York Knicks. Anthony, along with a former-NBA champion point guard Chauncey Billups and some bench depth (Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter and former-Knick Renaldo Balkman). In exchange, New York gives up four starters- Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov and a 2014 first-round draft pick. The deal also included a third team, the Minnesota Timberwolves in which the Knicks sent Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry for Corey Brewer.
To fill out the rest of the lineup next to Billups, Anthony and Stoudemire, Coach D'Antoni will likely bring rookie Landry Fields off the bench and turn to another big man with championship experience in Ronny Turiaf. Turiaf, the five-year vet, will still play limited minutes and a couple of shooters will spot off of the bench. Toney Douglas, the Knicks' 2009 1st Round pick, will see the most action as the team's sixth man. He has a quick trigger from the perimeter, where he shoots only 35-percent. He won't need to shoot the lights out to fill the combo guard role off the bench, if he can defend and create shots for others, he'll continue to get his minutes. Roger Mason, a career 38 percent 3-point shooter, has only 10 games with the Knicks this season under his belt, but he'll likely be dusted off for some minutes and 3-point shooting left behind by Chandler, Gallinari and Felton. Azubuike hasn't logged a minute since mid-November, but he is closer to a return and was productive in his short-stint at the beginning of the season under D'Antoni's watch; he is a career 41-percent shooter from behind the arc. Toss in Corey Brewer from the T-Wolves and New York has some solid guard depth, but are very thin up front.
Now, that may not have the look of a playoff roster just yet, and we're not saying the Knicks will be representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA championship, but a core of Anthony and Stoudemire with a solid, veteran point guard in Billups with some role players around them like Fields, Douglas and Turiaf should keep the Knicks in the 6-spot in the East.
Did the Knicks give up too much for Anthony/Billups? If Chandler, Gallanari and Felton were better, the Knicks would be better than 28-26 and 5.5 games behind fifth place in the East with 28 games to play. They were key factors on the offensive end in the Knicks' high-octane offense (second in the league at 106.2 points per game), but New York upgraded at the point guard spot and added one of the best scorers in the league in Anthony. They've got pieces. Maybe not to win this year but, certainly build around for the next season. By filling in holes in the 2011 and 2013 drafts, along with some inexpensive free agents, the Knicks could move on up in the conference standings.
And we're discounting the fact that Chris Paul and Deron Williams have publically stated their interest in playing in New York, next to Anthony and Stoudemire. Adding one of those players would give New York, three of the top 15 players in the league, and maybe even the top ten. Knicks fans are certainly willing to forget the last seven or so seasons.