Rapid Reaction: The Melo Trade

Add New York to the list of cities, along with Miami and Los Angeles, that have an extra dose of superstar. The Heat have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the Lakers have Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, and now the Knicks have Amare Stoudemire and ... small forward Carmelo Anthony. That's right, it's official -- the All-Star is now a New York Knick via a three-team trade between the Knicks, Nuggets and Timberwolves. Here are the players each team received:

  • Knicks: Anthony, starting point guard Chauncey Billups, backup point Anthony Carter, power forwards Shelden Williams and Renaldo Balkman (returning to the Knicks), and small forward Corey Brewer from the Timberwovles

  • Nuggets: Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, a 2012 and 2013 first-round draft pick (from the Warriors), and a 2014 first-round draft pick

  • Timberwolves: Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph from the Knicks

ESPN New York's Knicks and Nets bloggers Jared Zwerling and Mike Mazzeo discussed the trade right when it broke.

Mike: The Melo Drama is finally over! Carmelo Anthony is a New York Knick! Can you believe it?

Jared: Not only did I just return to New York from All-Star Weekend with a headache because of the traveling and time change, but also because of the constant Melo back and forth. I'm finally glad there’s a decision, first off, because there had been too many months of speculation -- I would say 75% of it not true -- and it reached its boiling point in Los Angeles. At the end of the day, while the Knicks -- or I should say, Donnie Walsh and Mike D'Antoni -- gave up more pieces than they wanted to, they ended up getting a top-five player in the league. Now they have a superstar inside-outside punch in Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony that makes Patrick Ewing and John Starks look like a second-unit duo. I still have some hesitations about the Knicks moves and we can get to those in a second, but what are your initial thoughts?

Mike: Well, from a Knicks' perspective, obviously you just added another All-Star to go alongside Amare. The ‘Bockers have become a very dangerous team that might just be able to make a playoff run in the Eastern Conference. It will be interesting to see how the team gels early on, but I think, like the Heat, they'll eventually develop chemistry with one another. From the Nets' perspective, it has to be a bit heartbreaking. They put all of their chips in the middle of the table, hoping to land their first franchise-changing superstar since Jason Kidd, but in the end, Melo was holding all of the cards. It sounded like Denver preferred New Jersey's package of Derrick Favors and the four first-round picks all along, but in the end, Melo always wanted the Big Apple. One thing we'll always wonder: What would've happened had Mikhail Prokhorov not backed out the first time? For Prokhorov, at least he was able to back the Knicks into paying a steep price for a guy they could've just waited to sign in the offseason. So do you think the Knicks gave up too much?

Jared: Well, first of all, what's key about getting Carmelo is the Knicks finally have a player who can take over the game from the perimeter and alleviate the pressure off Stoudemire to deliver on nearly every possession, especially in the fourth quarter. There was some worry developing that Amare, who has a previously surgically-repaired left knee, was pushing too hard this season to prove his $100 million worth. Now the Knicks have one of the best penetrators in the league in Melo, who will help cure the Knicks' previous struggles in getting to the line consistently. While Danilo Gallinari's newfound aggressiveness was paying off with his more frequent trips to the stripe, Melo brings a more versatile game offensively. But beyond Melo, when you look at the other players in the deal, it clearly favors the Nuggets because they're getting more talent and youth. From the point guard position, Chauncey Billups is 34 years old and Raymond Felton is 26. Therefore Billups, especially because he excels more in a halfcourt offensive system, is going to want to slow down the pace -- and that’s not D’Antoni’s coaching style. He wants to push and Felton was all about it, which is the main reason he signed with the Knicks last summer. Not to mention, Melo also prefers the halfcourt offense. So it’ll be interesting to see how the relationship develops between D’Antoni, Anthony and Billups. From the wing, while Gallinari and Wilson Chandler cancel each other out at the small forward position because of Melo's superstar abilites, I think the Knicks will especially miss Gallo's three-point shooting. Why? Because with Anthony and Billups attacking, they'll need a reliable shooter to kick the ball out to. Now the pressure's on Landry Fields to make those shots, and that's not really his game just yet. He's still more of an intangible playmaker at this point. As far as the frontcourt players in the deal go, I don't think Renaldo Balkman and Shelden Williams compare at all to the potential of Timofey Mozgov, who was really coming on as of late. Now the Knicks only have Ronny Turiaf at the five, and he's really more of an energy guy. If the Knicks can make one more trade before the deadline for a respectable big, that would serve as a major boost. Perhaps it will be Earl Barron, whose name is floating out there in reports? The bottom line is, in order for the Knicks to compete with the Bulls, Magic and especially the Celtics in the East, their five spot will have to be upgraded. Do you think it's a fair deal?

Mike: Just like everyone else, I'm a little skeptical about this deal. And in light of all the reports of Isiah Thomas' involvement -- or lack thereof -- I have to wonder if Walsh and D'Antoni would've signed off on a trade like this. The Knicks gave up a lot of young players in this deal -- ones that they'd hoped would form their core for years to come. In the end, it feels like James Dolan just wasn't willing to wait and watch his team develop. The Knicks may have been on the cusp of something special down the road, but they're clearly in one-now mode, with their sights set on the 2012 free-agent class when both point guards Chris Paul and Deron Williams will be available. Remember that toast made by Paul at Melo and LaLa Vasquez’s wedding last summer? Perhaps that pipe dream wasn't such a pipe dream after all. In the end, Melo got what he wanted, and it was the Knicks who paid a steep price. Now, it will be interesting to see if the Nets are able to acquire some of those young players -- although ESPN NBA Insider Chris Broussard reported that wasn’t going to work out. I thought Prokhorov said he didn't want the Nets to become the Knicks? Perhaps that was all a ploy as well -- just like nixing that meeting with Melo before he had the meeting. What gives? Perhaps the Nets could've borrowed Mariano Rivera from the Yankees because, once again, they weren't able to close. How do you think Nets' fans are feeling right now?

Jared: First off, let me say that this deal will definitely make it more tempting for Paul and Williams to want to come to New York to form a Big Apple Big 3. Ironically, that could only be a season away if there's a lockout this offseason, which looks more and more likely unfortunately. But right now, Billups has the reins. I actually think the bigger question in the short term, even more so than how will Melo gel with Amare, is how Billups will take in New York and adjust to the team. Initially he said he didn't want to come here. Because he'll be the starting point guard, his play will be critical to getting the team going and finding a winning rhythm before the playoffs. But, as I said before, for the Knicks to really make a postseason push, they'll have to acquire a defensive center now that Mozgov is gone. It’s especially important because Amare is a poor one-on-one defender. Together with Turiaf, they will open up a lot of scoring gaps for opposing teams. No matter how many points Melo and Amare score, the team's major lack of interior defense could put them on the losing end. As far as the Nets' fans go, I don't think the Melo trade should come as a surprise, at all. They should not feel devastated. Basically it came down to this: From day one, Melo said he wanted to play in New York and he wasn't going to sign an extension with the Nets. Even though a Nets deal was being worked out earlier this year, when it fell through and Prokhorov consequently said they were no longer negotiating, that confirmed Melo's initial intentions. So there you go. Where do you think the Nets go from here? What moves should they make?

Mike: That's a great question. Obviously, the Nets -- 29th out of the 30 teams in scoring offense at 92.4 points per game -- still lack a superstar wing/guard that can score. But for how long? Who knows. They still have a myriad of assets to offer in potential trades. Multiple reports have said the Nets are shopping Devin Harris and could deal him to number of teams, including Portland and Dallas. The Nets would love to move Travis Outlaw and the remaining four years, $28 million on his albatross contract, but I'm not sure how feasible that is. He's like the polar opposite of Anthony -- not coveted by anyone. I think for the Nets, they need to continue to add to their young core. They obviously were in the mix to get Mozgov, Galinari, Chandler or Felton. And they'll still have some first-round picks left over. I'm not sure they should trade their 2011 lottery pick, but given the lack of future star power in this upcoming draft, it may be prudent to deal it for a young player like a Gallinari or Chandler. If I'm a Nets' fan, I'm trying to be patient. You pretty much have to be. It's not like the Nets -- 29-110 in their last 139 games -- will be a factor in free agency until they move to Brooklyn in 2012-13. But back to the Knicks, how far do you think they get this season?

Jared: Unfortunately, that's the biggest positive about the Nets right now -- their move to Brooklyn, which perhaps gives some fans something to look forward to. As for the Knicks’ outlook, I think they can overtake the Hawks at the fifth spot, but I'm not sure if they can jump ahead of the Magic or Bulls. The Heat and Celtics, who are in first place, are out of the question. Those four teams have had half of a season to gel and they're all clicking right now; in fact, they're all on current winning streaks. But I think the Knicks can jump ahead of the Hawks simply because the Hawks have a tougher schedule. They're facing the Lakers, Heat and Bulls twice, and the Celtics and Spurs once. Whereas the Knicks are only facing the Celtics and Magic twice, and will see the Heat, Bulls and Mavericks once. Overall, the Hawks will be playing against 16 teams over .500 the rest of the season; the Knicks, 11. Obviously adding Melo brings more firepower and I think he and Amare, along with their above-average supporting cast, can be enough to get them past the first round -- that is if they play the Magic. By the way, speaking of the supporting cast, I think acquiring Corey Brewer was a solid move because he'll give the Knicks a bit of what Chandler brought to the table: a midrange game and athleticism. And I still like the defensive-minded Toney Douglas and Shawne Williams off the bench. But back to the Knicks' playoff hopes. I don't see them beating the Celtics, Heat or Bulls because those teams have too much size. To make matters worse, the Bulls, who the Knicks could also see in the first round, are getting Joakim Noah back this week, who has missed 30 games with a right thumb injury. Up until this point, defending size has been a major hurdle for the Knicks, and now they hardly have any reliable bigs to protect the basket. A more pressing question right now, though, is what number Melo will wear. Of course, I'm only half kidding, but it can't be No. 15 because that's retired by Earl “The Pearl” Monroe. Also, a Knicks rep said there's little to no chance they'd unretire it. So, Mike, what number does he wear you think?

Mike: Before I get into Anthony's number, I just wanted to say that your playoff analysis is pretty spot-on. I agree the Knicks don't have the type of depth and defense teams like the Celtics and Spurs possess, but they do have two superstars capable of pouring in at least 25 points a night. And in a superstars' league, that just might be enough in a seven-game series. Remember that slogan the NBA has: The NBA, where amazing happens? Amazing can happen in the Garden during the playoffs. As for the number, I like either No. 6 or No. 51. I know Landry Fields wears No. 6 and Spike Lee would be upset considering he wears Muddy's jersey courtside. Perhaps he could give the rookie playing on a second-round pick's salary some money in exchange. After all, money buys everything right? Even championships. As for No. 51, another player in New York had success with it. His name? Former New York Yankees centerīŦelder Bernie Williams.

Jared: Perhaps he'll be able to wear No. 22, which he wore in high school at Oak Hill Academy. [Editor's note: That number is already retired, which was worn by Dave DeBusschere.] But at this point, the only number Knicks fans are thinking about right now is two because they know their team finally has two superstars to build around.

Mike: Great point. Or maybe No. 30 in honor of one of Carmelo's idols, ‘Bocker legend Bernard King. Let’s just hope all of these players end up passing their physicals, so that Melo is able to make his Garden debut on Wednesday night against the Bucks. You can bet everyone is going to have their eyes on that matchup.

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter and Mike Mazzeo on Twitter.