Knicks News and Rumors: Why Trading Carmelo Anthony May Bring the Knicks An NBA Title
When Amar'e Stoudemire signed on with the New York Knicks in the summer of 2010, he proudly declared to the world, "The Knicks are back."
Three seasons later, it looks like the Knicks have left. Again.
With a dreadful 7-17 record, the defending Atlantic Division champion Knicks are near the bottom of their division, having lost six of their last 10 games and with a miserable 4-9 record at home after a month of NBA action. Even with two blowout wins against Brooklyn and Orlando last week in impressive fashion, where the Knicks briefly started shooting as dangerously last season when they won their first division title in nearly 20 years, the team's woes from the field have since continued, the Knicks ranked 25th out of 30 in terms of team field goal percentage, at 43.2 percent. Scoring wise, New York's offense, which is heavily dependent on their shooting and three-point accuracy, hasn't fared well, ranked No. 24 in the league with 94.5 points per game.
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And through it all, the Knicks' most important player, All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, has been befuddled, and likely frustrated, at why his team can't turn it around.
"I'm very surprised. I'm very surprised, just at the fact that we're not clicking," he told USA Today recently. "We're out of sync. That's where the surprise comes from."
All that surprise and frustration has been leaving many to wonder as to whether Anthony, who can opt out of his contract at the end of the season, has decided to pack his bags and head out of town for good this summer as one of the most sought-after prizes on the NBA free agent market. ESPN's Stephen A. Smith certainly seems to think so, reporting recently that sources informed him that Anthony was definitely on his way out of the Big Apple this summer. Melo, of course, has denied the reports, saying that such rumors did not come from him. However, as most sports fans have come to learn, just because an athlete says they're not going anywhere doesn't mean it's so.
Here are the basic facts: Anthony came down to New York with the promise that Knicks owner James Dolan and management would be able to build a championship team around him. There was a lot of effort behind it at first, especially last season when the Knicks spent on veterans from championship squads of the past like Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace while breaking the bank on All-Star center and defensive specialist Tyson Chandler. But with the Knicks now strapped for cash under the salary cap and most of those veterans gone now, New York looks like they're up the river and paddle-less for at least two seasons until they can free up some cap space when Stoudemire and Chandler come off the books in 2015. That's not a situation that a lot of stars would find ideal, particularly ones like Anthony who are searching for that elusive NBA championship. And even with the Knicks able to offer Anthony the most money next summer, at this point in Anthony's career, he might be looking more for more than just cash.
So, here we come to the crossroads that the struggling Knicks find themselves at with only six months before the end of the season: do they take a risky bet in trying to convince 'Melo to stay in New York with the chance that they could lose him for nothing? Or do they cut their losses and trade him for some quality pieces that could help lay the foundation for the future?
The Knicks brass has made it publicly known that they have no intention of trading Anthony and are reportedly trying to woo him to stay with the idea of luring superstar Kevin Love from Minnesota to New York in 2015. Trying to lock down one almost-free agent with the promise of getting another free agent? It sounds an awful lot like they're chasing rainbows. There is the chance that they could lure Love to New York, but considering the Knicks' additional problems of lacking a quality point guard and their additional needs of adding in better shooters, the mere addition of Love alone combined with Melo makes the Knicks good, but it doesn't exactly make them stand out as a legitimate title contender.
To build a title team, New York doesn't need just one or two stars. They tried that with Stoudemire and Anthony, and so far, that hasn't panned out. Granted, Stoudemire's body breaking down was not what the team was envisioning when they signed him to that monster contract in 2010, but their chances of getting farther in the last three seasons would have been enhanced with an emphasis of building a stronger roster to fill needed roles like defensive specialists, rebounders and good spot shooters. It takes a lot more to build a championship team than a few great stars. Even Jordan, Pippen and Rodman needed the help of Toni Kucoc, sharpshooter Steve Kerr and defensive cog Luc Longley. The Knicks need to completely retool their roster, and with no way to do that thanks to being handcuffed by the salary cap, the Knicks really have only one option: kick over the board, clear out the pieces and start again.
If the Knicks end up not trading Anthony and he ends up saying "See ya later" to New York next summer, the Knicks will end up in the same boat as the Cleveland Cavaliers were with LeBron James in 2010. Remember how sure Cleveland management was that LeBron wouldn't leave, that the Akron, Ohio native would stay in the premiere team of his home state that they refused to trade him before his contract expired? We all remember how that story ended-with James taking his talents to South Beach for two NBA titles with Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat, while the Cavs went from the penthouse to the outhouse of the NBA in record time. And the reason for James leaving was simple: Cleveland just couldn't surround James with the talent necessary for him to take the Cavs to the title.
The Knicks have been known to make some pretty bad moves over the last decade--see the GM tenures of Isaiah Thomas and Scott Layden for that list--but letting Anthony walk without at least getting some decent pieces for him in return would be the most epic blunder in their history. Take Anthony out of the equation for nothing and what do the Knicks have? An often-injured star player in Stoudemire who may or may not ever return to his previous superstar form? A roster of players with mediocre scoring talent? That's the stuff that lottery dreams are made of, but not championship dreams. If the Knicks pull the trigger on a trade in the next few months, they can fetch a solid package of players that could help them build anew, and put them in great position to compete for a title when summer 2015 comes and they have a ton of cap space to sign some premium players like Love, Rajon Rondo or LaMarcus Aldridge. It might not have been the plan that Knicks management had in mind, but in the long run, it might be the smart alternative. It's better that than to end up with what Cleveland ended up with after LeBron left--nothing.