A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Why New York should think twice about getting Melo

with one comment

Y’all are probably tired of just hearing from me, so please enjoy a post from Julien Rodger.  Julien has been a commenter on ASFW from the beginning, and is also part of the rogue’s gallery over at RealGM.  I’m looking forward to hearing more of his thoughts on this forum. ~MJ

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I’m not just a contrarian by opposing this. On the surface it’s hard to deny getting a star like Carmelo Anthony for next to nothing

But look, just because someone offers you free candy doesn’t mean you should take it. I see a number of hazards coming with the Knicks acquiring Carmelo Anthony

Amare, Melo and Felton will cost 43 and 47 million the next two years, if Felton is extended that number will go even higher the years after. With a 57 mil or so salary cap, bringing in supporting depth and badly needed interior defense after this will be difficult and take years. Unlike the Heat, I don’t see the Knicks being more than a 2nd round team without this. Spending on Melo also means no chance at Paul, Deron, or Dwight’s free agencies. Melo, Amare and minimum player cap holds will take them to 48 million payroll alone in 2012 free agency, giving them no chance at a 3rd maximum player even if the new CBA doesn’t prevent such star groupings.

Carmelo and Amare are worth max money as high volume, 25ppg scorers. But on the same team this contribution will overlap. The marginal utility of a 2nd high volume scorer is nowhere near as high as the 1st. Amare and Carmelo don’t contribute much else to the game but scoring, fortunately Felton fits well as their playmaker, but again I question whether paying Melo maximum money for a dominant scorer you already have is worth giving up any interior defense or bench. They will be great offensively, but the Knicks already are with Felton and Amare alone. Melo’s production is not a direct need.

Perhaps most importantly is the question of winning foundation and culture. Can you go to war with Carmelo and Amare like you can players like Kevin Garnett? I don’t think so. Carmelo looked like he was making a leap as a winning player after the Billups trade, but his quitting on Denver and pandering to New York is reminding me increasingly of Vince Carter. He wants to go to New York not to win more games, but because it’s New York. The best place for him to win a title would be Orlando or Dallas (or my ‘no chance in hell’ choice, the Milwaukee Bucks. Seriously Melo and Bogut would be perfect), but it’s the lights of New York and not the Finals that attracts him, which worries me.

Speaking of Vince. I can’t help but think of December 2004 when after making the finals in 2002 and 2003 and an underrated 2004 war with the champion Pistons, the Nets were offered Carter in a similar free candy situation and took it. Pre Vince they were a dominant defensive team with depth and toughness. Post Vince, they had no frontcourt or depth after the Kidd, Carter, and Jefferson salaries and were a soft 2nd round knockout. In retrospect perhaps the right move was going forward with Kidd, Jefferson and a troupe of good role players instead of biting on Carter. The Bulls did this by saying no to Melo for Noah and it looks brilliant right now. The Knicks could regret a Melo acquisition for the same reasons.

I am also reminded of Iverson and Melo’s pairing in Denver. Like Melo and Amare, both players contributed as scorers only and the marginal utility of adding Iverson was not high because of what Melo already gave them. Defense and culture wise that Nuggets team was also nowhere close to what you want to go far in the playoffs. Iverson and Melo prove you can’t just match 2 offensive stars together and expect a contender, let alone more than a 1st round knockout as a guarantee.

The Knicks have been waiting a long time to win games again. With Felton, Melo and Amare they will be a shoo in for 45 win+ seasons and 2nd round appearances for the immediate future. It’s better than the Isiah era. It’s not a strikeout. But everyone knows the real drought for Knicks fans isn’t the 10 years since they’ve have been pretty good, but the 37 years since their last title. If the Knicks are serious about winning a title anytime soon they should do a double take on trading for or signing Melo, because I have a hard time seeing a Melo and Amare led team seriously competing for the NBA championship.

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Written by jr.

December 15, 2010 at 7:20 pm

One Response

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  1. I agree with you Julien, and I’d really hope that people would be more understanding of the difficulty of combining volume scorers on one team at this.

    We’ve seen Miami’s struggles to start this season, and even thought they look good now, that has a lot to do with great defense which LeBron and Wade are both capable of, and Melo and Amare have shown no inclination toward.

    I also like your mention of Garnett. I think about what he did in Boston, and he seems like he might be the ideal type of superstar to bring in with other stars because he’s so ridiculously versatile.

    Matt Johnson

    December 19, 2010 at 11:36 am


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