7 Thoughts on the Melo Maneuver
Thank God, it *finally* happened. I say that both with the emotional inflection you think I’m using, and whatever the opposite is. Any big trade brings with it some fantastic new information to analyze which I love. At the same time Carmelo Anthony being traded means I don’t have to hear any more about the rumors and drama in Denver. Good times ahead. My initial thoughts on the trade:
1. Never been a huge Melo fan (as was clear in my Carmelo Conundrum piece). I remain steadfast in my opinion that however many tools are in his arsenal, he never came close to a consistent run at superstar levels. Now possibly that’s George Karl‘s fault. I doubt it, but I never say never. We’ll learn a lot more in the near future.
2. My thought for the Knicks about whether acquiring Melo was a good idea was always a mild yes, depending on the specific terms. I am however more positive about it with inclusion of Chauncey Billups. Seems to me what Mike D’Antoni really needs to make his scheme pop is a great point guard, and despite the fact that we keep seeing hype indicating that’s he’s turned another scrub point guard into a star, he’s actually been discarding point guards left and right in New York. Stephon Marbury, Nate Robinson, Chris Duhon, and now Ray Felton, all gone. Clearly they didn’t have everything he wanted. Now we get to see how Billups does. This will be the closest thing D’Antoni’s had to Nash, so we’ll have to see if that finally does the trick.
3. With a great point guard, and a proper attitude from Carmelo and Amare Stoudemire, I’d fully expect the Knick offense to start getting quite good. As with Melo, I’m not a tremendous Stoudemire fan (as you might have guessed from this article railing against his MVP campaign). I don’t think the Knicks have anywhere near the superstar talent on the team now as the Heat do, but I won’t be at all shocked if this Knick offense proves superior to the Heat’s.
4. Defense is another matter though entirely. Realistically, I still don’t know if I see these Knicks as a top 4 team in the East as long as the Celtics remain pre-sunset. The Heat will be better and the Bulls look dead solid to me. If the Magic self-destruct that’ll open up a slot for the Knicks, but I sure wouldn’t take that as any type of given. Yeah the Magic are extremely inconsistent right now, but still no one has an answer for Dwight Howard.
5. I look forward to seeing the Nuggets without Melo, however I’d have really like to have seen them without so drastic a change. The Nuggets have the best offense in the league this year, which they’ve never done before, and they were achieving even when Melo was playing terrible and missing time to injury. If the rest of the team had stayed intact, I’d have gone out on a limb that the world would be shocked at how well the Nuggets would do without Melo. As it is now, I do expect the Nuggets to trip at least temporarily. Felton could end up by nearly as solid as Billups, or he might not – he’s a question mark. I remain convinced that if Nene is given the greenlight in a well executed system, the man could hit 20 PPG and still be highly efficient, and I’m also a believer in Arron Afflalo. We’ll just have to see here, but I won’t be too shocked if the Nuggets still end up squeaking into the playoffs.
6. Let me take the opportunity to state definitively that if I could choose between the way LeBron handled The Decision, and the way Melo’s Denver exit went down, I’ll take LeBron. All well and good to say you’d rather be given the opportunity to trade the guy ahead of time, but the Nuggets were basically forced to trade to the Knicks and because of the way Melo handled all of this, the Knicks knew it, which resulted in both a worse trade, and a horrendous delay. I’m ridiculously impressed with the job of the rest of the Nuggets to keep their heads up this whole time they’ve spent in the waiting room. I could easily have seen them go into tank mode.
7. With Melo now officially throwing his whole career overboard to go to New York, the fear of several superteams is officially not paranoid. Personally, LeBron’s move to the Heat only bothered me slightly, but a more general trend I greatly dislike. If you truly think your ownership is incompetent, I’ve got no issue with you wanting out. However, if you’re in a place with solid management, a solid supporting cast, and a solid commitment to feature you, what the hell are you doing forcing your way out to go to a team known for ineptitude in recent years? Whatever happened to pride? If I’m the NBA, I’m now officially looking for ways in the new CBA to keep the league’s middle class of solid teams from being cannibalized.