The Fast Break: The Battle For MELO!

Can Knicks replace their Melo loses through the draft?

The tug of war between New York and Denver over Carmelo Anthony continues. The Nuggets want 3 starters, cap relief, plus at least 1 first round pick. The Knicks hope to maintain some of their depth while still adding a much needed superstar. While everyone keeps asking the questions “Is Denver asking for too much?”, or “Why won’t New York pull the trigger?”, I ask myself how (& how soon) can the Knicks replace the key role players they’d ship out in the deal?

Let’s say New York relents and trades Danilo Gallinari (SF), Wilson Chandler (SG,SF,PF), &/or Landry Fields (SG), Raymond Felton (PG), or Timofey Mozgov (C). They’re looking at a line-up of Melo at Small Forward, Amar’e Stoudemire at Power Forward and often injured Ronny Turiaf at Center as the only sure things in a completely revamped rotation.

Are the Knicks really better off with this trade? Regardless of the answer to that question, the simple fact is the Knicks cannot allow the opportunity to acquire Carmelo to slip by because a) The odds of signing him in the off-season are slim to none, and b) Without Melo there’s little chance of going after Chris Paul, Derron Williams or Dwight Howard.

So for practicality’s sake, lets agree that the deal must be done. Let’s also look at the worst case scenario of the Knicks losing 3 starters. How can they quickly rebuild the team around Melo and STAT?

For starters, the Knicks must trade Anthony Randolph for (what I believe) is a 2011 1st round pick from Memphis or Utah, which Minni acquired in the Al Jefferson trade. Secondly New York must refuse to trade that pick to Denver if it’s going to give up 3 starters. Now while both picks have protection, if it’s merely top 10 protection, that’ll still give New York a pretty decent pick. There’s a real chance either, or both, Utah and Memphis will miss the playoffs so New York’s chances of being able to draft a quality player just outside the top 10 is decent.

So assuming that Melo and Amar’e are holding down SF & PF, with Chandler, Gallo & Fields/or Felton gone, who should the Knicks draft?

Let’s start with Norris Cole from Cleveland State.

At 6’2″, 170 bounds, this senior Point Guard is averaging 20.9 points per game, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per, on 45% shooting. His stellar play has led CSU to a 23-5 record, tops in the Horizon Conference.

Cole recently made some noise by scoring 41 points, grabbing 20 rebounds and dishing 9 assists in a game. That makes Cole only the second player in the last 15 years to have 40 points and 20 rebounds in a game. The other guy to do it? Rookie of the Year favorite, and Slam Dunk frontrunner, Blake Griffin.

I expect a lot from this kid come tournament time and I don’t think he would be a bad player to look at if New York is stuck with Chauncy Billups after Feb 24th. Odds are favorable that Norris Cole will drop to the 2nd round of the draft, so this may be NYK’s next Landry Fields type of 2nd round steal.

Next up is Demetri McCamey. The 6’3″, 205 bound senior Point Guard from Illinois, reminds me a lot of Derron Williams at first glance, due to his excellent height and strength for his position.

Demetri is averaging 14.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists per contest, while shooting 44% from the field.

The senior guard is known for having a high Basketball IQ and good court vision. Draft Express has Demetri listed in the top 11 in assist-to-turnover ratio, top 7 in pure point rating, and top 3 in assists per-40.

As of right now, Demetri McCamey is expected to go in the 1st round, 29th overall. That draft position makes him a clear possibility for the Knicks. After all, with Billups potentially on the roster, the Knicks will need to look toward the future with a young player straight out of the draft.

Kawhi Leonard comes in as our replacement for Chandler, our versatile 6th man. At 6’7″, 225 pounds, and only 19 years of age, Leonard is a versatile player that reminds me a lot of our (soon to depart) Wilson Chandler, capable of defending 2 or 3 different positions. The sophomore SF/PF is averaging 15.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He’s currently projected to go 19th overall, which is good news seeing as the Knicks are currently projected to land the 17th pick in the draft.

Some long shots in the draft, depending on which draft pick the Knicks get in their dealings with the Timberwolves, includes Donatas Motiejunas.

Hailing from Lithuania, the 7’0″, 215 pound C/PF is an athletic front court player that can run up and down the floor on the fast break, spread the floor with his 3-point shooting and can hit the mid range jumper. He’s not a good rebounder or defender so his contributions are strictly on the offensive end.

Basically this is Mike D’Antoni’s dream draft pick. Coach must be drooling right now just thinking about the chance of drafting him. Donatas is projected to go 10th overall.

Tar Heel Harrison Barnes is another long shot, but his falling draft stock has now made him a possibility, however slight. Coming in at 6’8″, 210 pounds, the 18 year old North Carolina freshman is averaging 13.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists per game on 40% shooting. Barnes came in with mammoth expectations and has clearly wilted under the pressure.

Still he is only 18 and has a versatile game, is coachable, and wouldn’t have much pressure placed upon him playing alongside two superstars in Melo & STAT. The Small Forward is projected to land at the 11th pick, which makes him a risky selection, but given his youth and well rounded game he’s still one to keep an eye on.

The third and final long shot for the Knicks is another import, Jan Vesely. The 20 year old is 6’11” and 240 pounds, playing a highly athletic, high flying game, that has garnered him the nickname the European Blake Griffin.

Jan loves to gallop up and down the floor, slamming home alley-oop passes off the fast break, and dunking on people with regularity, hence the nickname. His game is still very raw but players like Griffin and Amar’e have shown us that athletic bigs like Jan are rare and loads of fun to watch.

Vesely can also shoot the 3 at a 43% clip, which I’m sure makes Mike D’Antoni happy, since not much else seems to. Projections have the PF/SF going 12th in the upcoming draft.

Last of our highlighted prospects is Kyle Kuric. The 6’4″, 195 pound Louisville junior is a very athletic, high flying, shooting guard.

Kuric is only averaging 9.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.3 assists but he has been playing sporadic minutes for coach Rick Pitino and has been shooting 52% from the field. I’m a fan of his energy and athletic hops, plus he’s not a bad 3-point shooter. Besides who doesn’t want to see dunks like this (Kyle Kuric posterizes Notre Dame) at MSG?

All this is fluid of course, since we’re not entirely sure of which underclassmen will enter the draft, but hey it’s something worth thinking about.

I fully expect Utah to be a lottery team after the dubious breakup with Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan, and with Memphis losing Rudy Gay to injury, it’s doubtful that either team will make the playoffs this year. If New York is ever going to trade with the Timberwolves for one of those 1st round picks it better be now before Kahn comes to his senses about those draft picks’ potential value.

A proper draft haul by New York, no wasted picks like last time (I’m looking at you Andy Rautins) and smart free agent signings this off season and the Knicks could conceivably replace every single piece that they would lose in a Melo deal. There will be no shortage of free agent options this off-season either. The list of unrestricted free agents includes Kendrick Perkins, Carl Landry, Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith (if NYK doesn’t get him in the Melo deal), Shannon Brown, David West, Jason Richardson, Joel Przybilla, and Samuel Dalembert. There’s also restricted free agent DeAndre Jordan to consider as well.

Let’s not forget the aforementioned Dwight Howard, who the Knicks have been rumored to be in the hunt for since reports hit that it’s title or bust in Orlando. With the NBA landscape being what it is, the shear number of available (or soon to be available) talents out there, it’s clear that the world will not end if New York trades for Melo. By that same token the acquisition of Melo will not make the Knicks a title contender. It will take a lot more then one trade to make or break this team.

Other NBA News

When asked about the alleged meeting between himself and Nets owner ‘Kremlin’ Prokhorov, set for All-Star weekend, Carmelo Anthony said that was news to him.

Question: If a meeting is setup with a player, without his knowledge, is it even real?

Memphis Grizzlies Shooting Guard O.J. Mayo is still floating around the trade wire, though the rumor is a team will have to take on recent draft bust Hasheem Thabeet’s contract, which pays him $4 million per year.

Often criticized Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni is more reluctant to make the Melo trade then Donnie Walsh? Why the hell does anyone listen to this guy? Besides, I thought making personnel decisions was Isiah Thomas’ job …

The most recent trade agreed upon by both the Nets & Nuggets looks to assemble the worst collection of players Carmelo Anthony has ever had the displeasure to play alongside. Despite an agreement being reached by the two teams, Carmelo still needs to agree to the move too Jersey, and for that to happen I think the Nets will have to pull out the old chloroform on a handkerchief trick.

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Tags: Carmelo Anthony And Dwight Howard Demetri McCamey Jan Vesley John Henson Kawhi Leonard Mason Plumlee

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