First Cup: Carmelo Anthony

  • Dave Krieger of The Denver Post: "Everybody will declare victory because that's what everybody does after a trade, but all we know for sure is the end of the interminable Carmelo Anthony drama was a victory for Anthony, who got everything he wanted. Anthony not only forced the Nuggets to trade him where he wanted to go, he also got the three-year, $65 million contract extension he wanted before a looming labor dispute changes the rules. As excited as NBA officials may be about the resurrection of the Knicks in the league's biggest market, they cannot ignore the dire straits in which smaller-market teams find themselves as the old labor agreement expires. Denver joins an unfortunate club that already included Cleveland and Toronto. Three of the game's biggest stars -- Anthony, LeBron James and Chris Bosh -- abandoned these markets for brighter lights in the last eight months."

  • Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post: "There is relief in Denver, but no joy. In a thankless task that has consumed every waking minute of every day since being hired, new Nuggets vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri made the best of a lousy situation, getting a haul of young talent and a No. 1 draft choice from the Knicks. Like every one who loves basketball in Denver, his emotions were rubbed raw by the deal. 'Carmelo Anthony is one of the NBA's fantastic scorers and the player who brought life back to Nuggets basketball,' Ujiri said Monday, moments after putting finishing details on a trade more than six months in the making. 'I'm sad to be the guy who traded Melo. But that's life.' Know what's sad about life in the NBA? The heart and soul of a basketball city was ripped out, because Anthony bullied the Nuggets, forcing the team to take pennies on the dollar for its franchise player. After giving more than seven years of his life, buzzer-beating thrills and one gloriously deep run in the playoffs, maybe Melo doesn't owe us anything. But taking along Billups, who grew up in the city's Park Hill neighborhood, in the deal? That's crummy. That's personal. 'The whole Chauncey thing, that's very tough. Trading him is something that makes you not sleep well at night,' Ujiri said. 'But we had to do what's best for the franchise.' In the deal, Anthony will walk away from Colorado with his $65 million contract extension and a new luxury address in New York City. Melo got everything he wanted. Who's left to pick up the pieces of Denver's broken basketball heart?"

  • Woody Paige of The Denver Post: "The deal and the ordeal are done. The Melodrama that seems to have taken longer than the siege of Ilium by the Greeks finally was finished Monday night. Carmelo Anthony is going from Our Dusty Old Cowtown to New York City. Melo Leaves Hicks in Sticks for Knicks. Good for Anthony. Good for Denver. Good deal, goodbye, good luck, good riddance. What now for the Nuggets? Who knows? They received quantity of unknown quality. They didn't get as much as most of us would have wished -- four first-round draft picks -- but they got more than the worst most of us feared: nothing."

  • William C. Rhoden of The New York Times: "The Knicks made the right decision. Like it or not, New York, here comes Carmelo Anthony. After weeks of exhausting wrangling, the Knicks got their man, though it is more proper at this moment to say Anthony got his team. The trade ended a bizarre N.B.A. love triangle.The Nets wanted Anthony, Anthony wanted the Knicks and at least some of the Knicks’ hierarchy wanted no part of Anthony if it meant giving up what they eventually gave up: Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton and Timofey Mozgov. But this deal is an exchange that had to be. Whether it was Donnie Walsh, Mike D’Antoni, James L. Dolan -- or Lou Carnesecca -- the Knicks made the bold determination to acquire Anthony, a second bona fide star, to play alongside Amar’e Stoudemire and worry about the supporting players later. Supporting players are supporting players, and there are plenty of them. If the Knicks have to rebuild the supporting cast, so be it. They now have a potentially dynamic one-two punch to go forward. Now the internal healing can begin. Nearly all of the burden of proof rests on Anthony’s shoulders. He asked for this situation and now he has it."

  • Neil Best of Newsday: "Did the Nuggets get the Knicks to pay a stiff price to acquire Carmelo Anthony? Yes, absolutely, thanks to the mischief-making Nets, who drove up the price by staying involved to the finish, much to the amusement of owner Mikhail Prokhorov. Is it a shame that Anthony felt he couldn't risk waiting four months for free agency? Yup. It would have been wonderful to add him to the existing Knicks in July. But that would have meant asking him to risk leaving millions of dollars on the table, which hardly seems fair. Are there any guarantees Amar'e Stoudemire and Anthony will make sense as a star duo? Nope. But there are only so many elite basketball scorers on Earth, and the Knicks now have doubled their total. The rest eventually will take care of itself.

  • Peter Vecsey of the New York Post: "While there's a chance Anthony and Stoudemire can work things out offensively, there's not a chance that happens defensively. If they're stationed at center and power forward and Stoudemire goes to block a shot, Anthony will be abused on the switch to the five. 'Worse yet,' explained a GM, 'when 'Melo plays three, he's not a willing chaser. All his man has to do is run him through picks and he immediately yells 'switch.' ' This all leads me to wonder, if things go bad, how is Isiah going to blame it on Larry Brown? Meaning Walsh and D'Antoni are in deep trouble. If the Knicks succeed, Isiah will tell Dolan, 'I told you this will work.' If it fails, he'll tell him it's time to change management. 'And I'm your reset button.' "

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: "The Carmelo Anthony blockbuster -- spearheaded by Knicks owner James Dolan with Isiah Thomas in his ear -- does not bode well for team president Donnie Walsh. Two sources told The Post that, as negotiations for Anthony heated up in Los Angeles with Dolan, Walsh bolted for Indiana to see his family during All-Star Weekend. One source said Walsh packed up and left because he was irritated and felt it was a waste of time being in New York since trade negotiations were taking place in Los Angeles without him, and with Thomas advising Dolan. Another league source said Thomas wanted to make the deal more than Walsh did. Why didn't Walsh fly with Dolan to L.A. to meet with Anthony? Is he being phased out, with the option on his contract needing to be exercised by April 30? The Knicks can't use the excuse that Walsh did not join MSG sports president Scott O'Neil and Garden CEO Hank Ratner to meet with Anthony because he still wasn't ready for air travel after his hip-replacement surgery. Walsh, who still uses a walker, has yet to travel with the team on road trips or college scouting trips, and his future for next season has never appeared more in doubt."

  • Tara Sullivan of The Record: "Backed by the history of one of the league’s flagship franchises and bolstered by Anthony’s not-so-secret desire to move his talents only to New York, Dolan had no problem crushing the plans of Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire who has found himself repeatedly thwarted in his attempts to convince a star to play for his team. Prokhorov did accomplish one of his stated goals, driving up the price for his cross-river rivals, but there’s little moral victory in hurting the opposition if you don’t at least help yourself in the process. And so far, the Prokhorov era has done little to improve the state of a Nets franchise that hasn’t had a star since Jason Kidd left town. ... No matter how Prokhorov spins this as something positive, we’re not buying. He blew into New Jersey and promised nothing short of world basketball domination. He talked of building a global brand, a team that will take its New Jersey fan base, move it to Brooklyn, and build a team to rival the much-more-popular Knicks. He declared his intention to sign big-time free agent stars, to ultimately overshadow his big-time neighbors across the Hudson. He planted his egotistical 'blueprint for greatness' billboard in the Knicks’ backyard, and then answered their taunts that he’ll never be like them with a dismissive retort that he’d rather be like the Lakers anyway. He ends up being neither."

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: "That three-way Carmelo Anthony trade involving the Timberwolves isn't official yet as I write this late Monday night, but it soon will be. Expect the necessary trade calls with the league to come Tuesday morning, after which the Wolves will announce they have traded Corey Brewer to the Knicks for forward Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry's expiring contract and $3 million cash. There's no -- I repeat NO -- first-round pick included by the Wolves in this deal, which David Kahn made clear when he called that ESPN from a couple weeks ago (Brewer and a No. 1 for Randolph) 'overstated.' And Curry's presence is meaningless. In fact, you can bet he'll never arrive in Minnesota. The Wolves will waive him asap and use that $3 million -- plus the swap on Brewer's contract for Randolph's -- and come out even after paying off the rest Curry's contract. So the deal here is Brewer for Randolph. Why? Size and length, once again."

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "Anthony's arrival in New York, and union with all-star forward Amar'e Stoudemire, doesn't make the Knicks a threat to compete with Boston, Miami or even Chicago, but it has made them decidedly better -- at least at the box office. With Anthony switching conferences to form another potential power team in the conference, the rebuilding process for the Wizards gets more challenging. They could keep taking lumps for a few years. ... I've always been leery of how Anthony and Stoudemire would work, since both are high volume shooters who need a lot of touches to score. In many ways, this pairing could wind up being similar to the Anthony-Allen Iverson duo in Denver a few seasons ago. "

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "The Knicks might not be much better today than they were yesterday. They'll score like crazy, but they already did that. In close games, they should be better with Anthony one of the league's best late-game scorers, and with Chauncey Billups likely to work well in pick-and-roll with Stoudemire. But the Knicks were unlikely to win a playoff series this season and that has not changed. This was a move they made for the long-term, when they can fill that roster around two legitimate stars. As much as they gave up, they got the best player in the deal by far. If they keep Donnie Walsh long enough to make the right moves, they can be a contender, something they were not with a team just two games better than .500 with an Eastern Conference schedule. The Nuggets did well, considering that they were giving up their franchise player and it is never good to lose the best player in a deal. As much as the Nuggets new management might have allowed their season to be hijacked by the Melo-Drama, it was not going anywhere without Anthony anyway."

  • Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News: "Everyone from Isiah Thomas to a Russian billionaire became involved, and among the intriguing leaks is that some in the Knicks organization weren’t as enamored with the trade proposals. Such as Mike D’Antoni. Some in the Spurs were as unimpressed. They saw Anthony’s talent as clearly as everyone else did, but they also saw him as someone whose mentality didn’t match his jump shot. The last time the Spurs played him in Denver showed that. Then, Manu Ginobili moved over on the final play, drawing Anthony’s charge. 'Obviously what I think and what they called are two different things,' Anthony said that night. Would he look at the replay? No. 'I thought I made a great play.' The Spurs never saw him as a bad person, even though he’s been guilty of everything from punches to gang signs. They just never saw him as they do Bryant or Dwyane Wade. They saw him as someone who needs a strong presence next to him. Who would give in to excuses. Who they could beat. None of that matters anymore. Anthony got what he wanted, both a new contract and a trade to the city in which he was born. He should take his hat off to himself again. He will change the Knicks, and he will change the attitude in Madison Square Garden. Melo and Amare on Broadway will be something to sell. But did Anthony change the West by leaving? Ask those who beat him."