In a summer filled with disappointment and frustration, Knicks and Nets fans were given one last chance to be hopeful this weekend. Both teams were atop the short list of possible destinations for Denver Nuggets All-Star Carmelo Anthony.
The Nets seemed to be the overwhelming front-runners going into the weekend, but their four-way trade proposal has since begun to lose life. The massive deal would bring Anthony to the Nets and send Nets rookie Derrick Favors, Jazz veteran Andrei Kirilenko and two of the Nets’ future first-round draft picks to the Nuggets. The Nets would send Devin Harris to the Charlotte Bobcats and Utah would receive Boris Diaw from the Bobcats.
The Knicks, meanwhile, could do nothing but watch as the team in their shadow spent most of Friday and Saturday soaking up the spotlight. Without first-round draft picks for the next three seasons to trade, the Knicks were considered to be lacking the necessary assets to even be in the conversation for Anthony. The one twist, however, is that Anthony has made it clear several times that New York is where he wants to be. The idea of playing alongside Amar’e Stoudemire in Madison Square Garden has given Anthony doubts about playing anywhere else. Chicago was considered a close No. 2 by Anthony, but their unwillingness to trade center Joakim Noah has made any possible deal with the Nuggets virtually impossible.
From the Nets’ perspective, bringing Anthony in would be the first step toward turning around a team that went 12-70 last season. They’ve tried selling Anthony on new ownership, a new and experienced coach in Avery Johnson, the fact that they will be moving to Brooklyn in two years and having a New York feel without as much of the pressure. But even with Anthony, the Nets are still probably a 40-win team at best. Brook Lopez, who promises to be one of the best centers in this league for a long time, would be a strong complement to Anthony, but the two of them can’t do it alone. Losing Devin Harris would leave the Nets with an unfavorable situation at the point guard position, with Jordan Farmar most likely to take a majority of the responsibility. Without a great supporting cast, Anthony would be less of an answer to the Nets’ playoff hopes and more of an answer to their ticket sales.
Things would be a little different if Anthony were to wear the orange and blue. At this point, the Knicks’ best offer for Anthony would be one that includes Danilo Gallinari, Anthony Randolph and Toney Douglas. With Anthony and Stoudemire, along with Raymond Felton and Wilson Chandler playing point guard and shooting guard, respectively, the Knicks would be a legitimate threat in the East. Not only that, but the Knicks’ management would win over their fans for the first time in what seems like decades. Even without Anthony, the talk around the Knicks going into the upcoming season is, in a bizarre turn of events, actually about basketball. No more talk about the antics of Stephon Marbury and no more talk about Isiah Thomas, who will forever be cursed by Knicks fans. No more talk about the disaster that is Eddy Curry. Fans have justifiable reason to be optimistic for the Knicks’ playoff chances. And if they were to add perennial All-Star Carmelo Anthony on top of that, Knicks fans wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. Either way, the chatter around New York basketball is finally back to where it ought to be.
Having said that, Anthony going anywhere other than New York would be the ultimate slap to the face to all Knicks fans. Donnie Walsh, president of basketball operations for the Knicks, promised that this past summer would be one that changed the franchise and got it back on track. To be fair, Walsh has made a number of moves this off-season that give Knicks fans reason for hope. The Knicks are back on track. However, Amar’e Stoudemire was not the answer to all their prayers. After two years of waiting for LeBron James’ ‘decision’ that would leave New Yorkers screaming at their TVs, this Carmelo Anthony situation would be the icing on the loathsome cake. Anthony, unlike James, actually wants to be in New York. He has pushed hard for Manhattan but, unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot the Knicks can do with the limited assets they have.
For both the Knicks and Nets, Anthony would be a stepping stone to potentially bigger things. The addition of Anthony could lure other big names, namely a certain New Orleans point guard who is a free agent next summer.
Should all trade talk fall apart over the next couple of days, Anthony would probably be traded sometime before the end of the season for much less value than Denver is receiving now. Because he is a free agent at the end of this upcoming season, Denver is doing everything they can to get as much as possible out of Anthony now because as the season begins and progresses, teams will know that Denver will become increasingly desperate. Anthony has been open about wanting to leave Denver, so if he is still a Nugget by the end of the season, Denver will get nothing in return for him because he can sign wherever he wants. That is, of course, unless he suddenly changes his mind and decides to stay in Denver, which at this point seems highly unlikely. Anthony is also anxious to get a deal done now because of the looming cap restrictions that may come into effect next season, which would likely cause Anthony to receive less money on his contract.
Where Anthony will end up at this point is anyone’s guess. But the time to make a move for the Nets and Knicks is now ‘ they both need him. The ramifications this trade could have on either team are franchise-changing.