The Miami Heat’s LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh host the New York Knicks on Feb. 27 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, and with the Knicks recently acquired star Carmelo Anthony, the game is expected to be one of the biggest games of the season.
The Knicks managed to beat the trade deadline to set up this ESPN-televised matchup, but some would argue that New York shouldn’t have made the trade.
Did the Knicks spend too much to get Carmelo to come to the “Big Apple?” The AFRO Sports Desk’s Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley debate:
Riley: Did New York spend too much? Well, it depends. If the Knicks can land stars Deron Williams or Chris Paul in 2012 then no, but that’s a very big if.
Carmelo had already gone on record saying he would only sign his three-year, $65 million extension with the Knicks, so I’m not sure why New York felt so pressured to gut their roster in an effort to land him. `Melo’ is a superstar, no doubt, so trading role-players to acquire him is a no-brainer to some. But after he made clear his intentions to head to the “Mecca” of basketball, all the chips fell in the Knicks’ corner. New York is basically planning to make a move in 2012 to complete their roster, but if they had held firm and welcomed Anthony over the summer they would’ve been ready to roll immediately.
Green: Waiting until the summer offseason isn’t exactly what I’d call being ready to roll immediately. Immediate action is what Knicks’ president of basketball operations Donnie Walsh did when he beat the trade deadline and pulled the trigger on the biggest trade in the NBA since Pau Gasol’s arrival in Los Angeles.
Walsh and the Knicks believe they are now ready to compete with the big boys of the league, and as the saying goes, “you’ve got to pay the cost to be the boss.” Giving up four starters and a draft pick doesn’t hurt much if you’re receiving one of the best players in the world in Carmelo Anthony right now, not hoping to sign him months from now. And let’s not act like Carmelo came alone. He came with Chauncey “Big Shot” Billups, a top-10 point guard who started in seven straight conference finals series with two different teams.
Never mind Deron Williams’ or Chris Paul’s potential arrival in 2012. You deal with the future when it gets here. New York now has three All-Star caliber players in their starting lineup with solid contributors surrounding them. With this roster, they can compete for a title this season. Sounds like a worthy deal to me.
Riley: You can’t get by on stars alone in the NBA. You need depth and that’s what New York sacrificed in a desperation deal. They let Denver walk them down into a corner and they panicked. Anthony, Billups and Amar’e Stoudemire are definitely an elite trio, but with Billups already 35 years old and Stoudemire having dealt with various injuries in the past, keeping those four starters would’ve come in handy. We’re not talking about four players; we’re talking about four starters in Felton, Chandler, Gallinari and Mosgov, none of whom are above the age of 26. The real question is, do you think New York can win a title this year? I certainly don’t and if they don’t win this year then they could’ve very well waited until the offseason to pick up `Melo.
Green: New York gave up starters, but they received potential starters in return. They managed to deal away some dead wood in the trade by dumping Eddie Curry and his massive expiring contract and acquiring defensive-minded swingman Corey Brewer. They also held on to starting rookie Landry Fields, who has played better than any rookie this season besides Blake Griffin. Fields will probably turn out better than any of the starters that was sent to Denver via trade, and saw a game-high 43 minutes of play during Carmelo’s debut on Feb. 24. Don’t be mistaken, the Knicks still have a solid supporting cast; Toney Douglass also proved that Feb. 24 when he scored 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting in his first extended action all season.
The Knicks want to compete for a championship, but we cannot forget that this is a business first. Bringing in this star-packed roster just in time for the playoffs race not only puts you in better position to win, but also guarantees a sold-out Madison Square Garden. High profile players equal major ticket sales.
One trade and all of a sudden New York is the hot team to watch. Genius move by the Knicks if you ask me.
Riley: Potential starters in who? Billups, who probably has another year or two left in his career? Brewer, who couldn’t crack the lineup in Minnesota? Make no mistake, I’m all in favor of the Knicks landing Anthony, but four starters and draft picks for a guy who already said he wanted to play there is just a little too rich for my blood.
That’s the part that keeps getting left out of your argument: the man said he “wanted” to go there. He was born in Brooklyn, his wife has ties to the area, and he has ties to the area after attending Syracuse University. It was clear that New York would’ve been his preferred destination of choice once he became a free agent this summer. He wasn’t going to New Jersey. Chicago doesn’t have the cap space to sign him, and neither do the Lakers. His bags were basically already packed for a return trip home.
And maybe I’m just higher on Chandler, a big man with size, and Gallinari, a point guard who is in the middle of a career season, more than I am on Fields, Brewer and Douglass. But four starters for a man who said he wanted to be there and a point guard who’s on his last legs are just crazy.
It wasn’t a matter of whether Anthony wanted to play for the Knicks, but how soon was he going to get there. You have to be proactive as an NBA exec but you also have to be patient and smart—two things that clearly weren’t evident in the Knicks’ brass this past week.
Green: “It wasn’t a matter of whether Anthony wanted to play for the Knicks but how soon he was going to get there.”
This quote sums it all up. Sure, the Knicks could have waited for ‘`Melo to sign as a free agent, but they wanted to make a splash now, not in July. They wanted to boost their talent heading into playoff contention while at the same time stealing the spotlight for the rest of the season.
I told myself I was going to catch a Miami Heat game live before the season ends, but now I’d much rather spend that $250 for a ticket to see Carmelo, Amar’e and “Big Shot” Billups (who by the way is still better than Felton even on his “last legs”) run-and-gun. Ask Spike Lee if the deal was worth it—I bet he’ll tell you there’s going to be a lot more New Yorkers filling the stands behind him for the final quarter of the season.
Winning is everything, and bringing `Melo in right now will not only win more games immediately, but more fans immediately as well. Walsh has been planning these types of moves for three years now. He didn’t rush when he arrived in 2008. He swallowed a couple of losing seasons while smartly clearing up cap space by decreasing New York’s league-worst payroll, then waited until last year’s mega free-agent class to rebuild the team with star power. Now he has one of the most alluring teams to watch in the league. Congrats, Donnie. Mission: Impossible completed.