You. Us. We. Soon.
Carmelo Anthony is finally a Knick. Instead of worrying about where the next free-agent saga will come from (although I'd bet on Utah's Deron Williams milking the spotlight), let's consider what this trade means for the future of New York basketball.
The Knicks gave up three starters whose average age is under 24, including one player, Raymond Felton, who will more than likely become an NBA All-Star at some point in his career.
Furthermore, Isiah Thomas James Dolan and company shipped away a 2014 first-round draft pick, along with Timofey Mozgov, a 24-year-old center who has started 14 games this season, and who put up promising numbers (23 points and 13 rebounds) on Jan. 30 against the Detroit Pistons.
It's also true that the Denver Nuggets should have been content with getting anyone. The team certainly didn't want to lose its star player the same way the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors did this past offseason (each team got nothing in return for LeBron James and Chris Bosh, respectively), but its front office was patient and savvy, refusing to be lowballed.
Worst of all, my hometown team was tricked into giving up more than it should have by a sneaky Russian owner and an irrelevant squad that hails from the armpit of America, the dirty Jersey.
But I'm still smiling, and I'll tell you why.
I'll be the first to admit that this trade, by no means, makes the Knicks championship contenders. Aside from the resurgence of the East (Atlanta, Chicago, Miami etc.), the squad still has zero depth and will still play zero defense – two crucial components necessary for success in the postseason.
There's a quick fix, however, and it rhymes with Beplaceing Bike B'Antoni. Simply put, we need a new head coach.
It pains me to watch Mike D'Antoni consult his family/assistant coaches every time he calls a timeout. Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson never consider what their assistants are thinking; they also don't need to, because they're good coaches.
Example: On Feb. 4, the Knicks played the Philadelphia 76ers. After a stellar third quarter by Raymond Felton (15 points) that put the Knicks in control of the game – they led by nine, 82-73 – D'Antoni began the fourth quarter with his red-hot point guard (Felton) and superstar (Amare Stoudemire) sitting on the bench.
Needless to say, Felton went cold and the Knicks gave up their lead. D'Antoni had a shot at redemption, however, when rookie Landry Fields grabbed a huge rebound with his team trailing by two and just under 10 seconds to play – enough time for a head coach to set up a game-saving/tying/winning play.
But D'Antoni didn't know what to do: instead of calling timeout, he let his team play out the final possession and watched Shawne Williams, the third-lowest paid player on the team, opt out of an open 3-pointer and miss a baseline lefty runner as time expired. In short, we need a defensive-minded coach who actually calls plays; since when was instructing a team to run fast breaks considered coaching?
Although D'Anotoni probably isn't going anywhere fast, the Knicks have improved from the trade, despite gutting much of the raw talent that was supposed to be the future of their team. New York no longer has the cool-headed Wilson Chandler or the confused-looking Danilo Gallinari, but the team does boast two of the top 10 players in the league, a claim that will surely entice free agents to sign in the Big Apple.
The Bockers' fanbase has also livened up since the team's rampant run in late-November/early-December (it went 13-1 in one stretch) and will certainly cheer louder with Melo playing small forward at the Garden.
Say what you will about the players lost, but just remember that the team we had two days ago was never going to make it out of the first round of the playoffs. Stat and Melo (I hope they don't make a N.Y. remix to Wiz Khalifa's "Black and Yellow"), however, will make any series interesting. Any series.
If that doesn't sell you, at least we're not paying Eddy Curry $11 million to take up half the bench anymore.