Feb. 27, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) on the court against the Golden State Warriors during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Carmelo Anthony returns to Denver: Who won the blockbuster trade?

New York Knicks superstar’ Carmelo Anthony is set to make his first trip back to Denver on Wednesday night since being dealt in the blockbuster trade that sent him to the Knicks prior to the trade deadline in 2011.

Anthony is sure to get a less than favorable reception from the Nuggets crowd, after turning into a diva and a distraction for the first half of that season, ultimately getting his way by being dealt to the Knicks.

Mar. 3, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) looks to pass the ball against the Miami Heat during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Miami won 99-93. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

But enough time has passed since then and Anthony has become the centerpiece of what Knicks’ fans hopes is a lengthy playoff run that eventually ends with their first championship since 1973.

There are still draft picks to be used in the massive 13-player trade, but enough time has elapsed that we can finally judge who got the better end of the deal.

First let’s take a look at the entire trade.

The Knicks sent Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, a 2014 first-round pick, two second-round picks and the conditional right to swap the 2016 first round pick to Denver; they also sent Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry and cash to Minnesota.

The Knicks received Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Anthony Carter, Renaldo Balkman and Shelden Williams from Denver and Corey Brewer from Minnesota.

Since that deal, the Knicks have managed to go only 8-67 in the regular season and 1-8 in the postseason. In addition, Anthony is the only remaining player on the Knicks roster from that trade.

New York brought back Felton and added Tyson Chandler, but when you look back and consider how much the Knicks gave up to get him,  you would hope to see better results.

This is his third year in the Big Apple, to make this trade worthwhile for the Knicks, the pressure is on Anthony to lead the Knicks on a  lengthy playoff run.

The Nuggets have had a little bit better  results.

Denver has gone 98-57 in the regular season and 4-8 in the playoffs since shipping ‘Melo away, even more impressive considering the fact that they play in a much tougher Western Conference.

They have gotten good results from both  Chandler and Gallinari and used the 2014 pick the Knicks sent them to acquire Andre Iguodala.

Brewer, who the Knicks acquired from the Timberwolves and released is productive for the Nuggets, as is  Kosta Koufos  who the Nuggets acquired from Minnesota in that deal. Throw in the fact that Mozgov has been productive at times and the Nuggets got a huge haul for a player that didn’t want to be there.

Who won the Carmelo Anthony trade?

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My take on the trade now is that the Nuggets got the better end of the deal in the short-term but the Knicks could come out on top in the long-term.

Neither team has made it out of the first round since the trade, but the Nuggets, with all of those pieces acquired from the Knicks have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA over the past couple of months. Right now they appear to be the team more equipped to win a playoff series or two.

However even though the chemistry on the Knicks hasn’t been as good as prior to when he arrived, ‘Melo is one of the best scorers in the NBA today and has the ability to carry the Knicks a lot further in the playoffs than the group of players that the Nuggets received.

But now Anthony has to lead and it is something he hasn’t shown the ability to do in the postseason throughout his career.

The bottom line is that three years later, this trade still has a lot of “what ifs” attached to it.

One thing is for sure and that’s if they had the chance to do it over, many people probably wouldn’t.

It may have made more sense to chase ‘Melo as a free agent after that season, as there was no way he was going to accept a deal to another team.

Had they signed Anthony as a free agent or instead thrown the  money at Chris Paul and were able to hold on to some of their other young pieces, the Knicks would likely be in much better shape today.

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