With today’s three team deal between the Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves and New York Knicks, the “Melo Drama” has finally come to an end. After over five months of constant speculation, Carmelo has finally landed in New York. The real losers in the deal are Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, who now will face non-stop speculation over their future destinations between now and the summer of 2012. However, in the interim, it should be nice to shift the focus back to the actual season. Now that Carmelo has finally found a home in the Big Apple, it seems like a good time to take a look at where each team stands after the trade.
Weeks ago, it seemed as if the Nuggets were in danger of possibly losing Carmelo for nothing over the summer. Nets owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, had grown tired of the public negotiations and instructed his management to pull out of trade discussions. However, the Nuggets insistence on holding out for a strong trade package proved to be a sound strategy. In this deal, the Nuggets acquire Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, a 2014 first round pick from the Knicks and two second round picks from the Knicks (via Golden State) in exchange for Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Renaldo Balkman, Anthony Carter and Shelden Williams.
While the Nuggets regress slightly after the trade, they should remain in contention for a playoff spot in the West. The Nuggets may make an additional deal, however Felton, Chandler and Gallinari should help the team remain competitive throughout the rest of the season. Instead of walking away with nothing, the Nuggets may make the post-season and still come away with a few assets. After seeing Toronto and Cleveland turn into the doormats of the NBA over the summer, the Nuggets should be very pleased with this move.
The Timberwolves acquired Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry’s expiring contract (which will be bought out) and $3 million in exchange for Corey Brewer. Without giving up any important assets, as Brewer no longer appeared to be a part of the team’s future, the Timberwolves pick up a nice asset in Randolph in exchange for helping the Melo deal go through. The Timberwolves are under the salary cap, therefor they do not have to pay any luxury tax on Eddy Curry’s contract. Since the season is more than halfway done, the $3 million in the deal will cover the majority of Curry’s buyout with the team.
Randolph has shown flashes of athleticism, shot blocking, rebounding and a surprising handle for a guy his size. Since D’Antoni insists on going eight players deep and ignoring players for months at a time, Randolph never found his way in New York. While he plays the same position as Minnesota’s current two best players, Kevin Love and Michael Beasley, a young team can never have too many good prospects, especially if they are on rookie contacts (see the Beasley acquisition).
The Knicks are the most difficult team of the three to assess. The Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Renaldo Balkman, Anthony Carter, Shelden Williams and Corey Brewer in exchange for Danillo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Tomofey Mozgov, Eddy Curry, Anthony Randolph and $3 million. On the one hand, the Knicks land their second star in Carmelo Anthony. On the other hand, the Knicks could have possibly acquired Melo at a far cheaper price. While negotiations may not have gone accordingly, what’s done is done.
This trade should help the Knicks in both the short and long term. While losing Gallinari may come back to haunt the Knicks in the future, Carmelo should more than replace his production. Billups may not produce the same numbers that Felton put up in the Knicks system, but he should bring playoff experience and clutch shooting in a way Felton never could. While this trade does hurt the Knicks overall depth, it doesn’t matter much since coach Mike D’Antoni prefers to limit his rotation to seven or eight players. Brewer may see some minutes, but his sub-par outside shooting may not mesh well with the seven seconds or less philosophy. Balkman, Williams and Carter can produce in short spurts if needed, but don’t expect D’Antoni to give them much of a chance to prove it.
The deal will give the Knicks a second All-Star starter, after Amare Stoudemire became the first Knick to start in an All-Star game since Patrick Ewing. The deal will also mark the return of Renaldo Balkman, the man who the Knicks brilliantly drafted ahead of Rajon Rondo. You-know-who made the call on that one.
The Knicks may look to bring in Earl Barron, who had a nice end to the season with the team last season at a minimum deal to help with the loss of Mozgov. Additionally, Jared Jeffries is a prime target to be bought out by the Rockets after the trade deadline, since he has an expiring contract and rarely gets on the floor. Jeffries proved to be a solid defender who can guard multiple positions in D’Antoni’s system the past two seasons. While his contract was a burden on the Knicks in the past, he would be a nice addition at a minimum salary.
While this trade may not effect the Knicks seeding in this year’s playoffs, it solidly positions the Knicks in the same group as Chicago, Orlando and Atlanta. With a core of Stoudemire, Anthony, Billups and rookie sensation Landry Fields, the Knicks should prove formidable to any team in the playoffs. While the Knicks have some decent pieces off the bench in Toney Douglas, Bill Walker, Shawne Williams and Ronny Turiaf, the team will need to significantly improve its supporting cast in order to win a title. But then again, with D’Antoni at the helm, depth may not even be an issue.
The Knicks may have given up more than they needed to, but they come away better than they were before. Tied with the Minnesota Timberwolves for the longest current post-season drought, the Knicks appear to be a lock to make the playoffs for their first time since 2004. While the future is anything but certain, Knicks fans should rejoice in this temporary moment of success. With two superstars in the Big Apple, the Garden should be rockin’ once again.
In other news, former number 2 overall pick and long time AJ Mitnick favorite Stromile Swift was arrested earlier this month for showing up to a woman’s house, whom he reportedly had been harassing, with a gun while the police were in the middle of conducting a search on the woman’s home. It’s a shame that Stro is already out of the league, and getting himself into trouble. That man sure could block the heck out of the ball!