Deal Or No Deal: What’s Up With Melo?


New Buckets writer, Joshua Sage, has the following thoughts on the continuing Carmelo Anthony saga:

Ever since Chris Paul made a toast at Carmelo Anthony’s wedding, proclaiming his (alleged) desire to form his own big three with Amar’e Stoudemire and Melo, the New York media has been swarming around Carmelo Anthony like vultures over an injured animal.

Melo has yet to sign his contract extension with Denver. Being born in NYC, Melo has family in the city, as does his wife. Having won a national title at Syracuse, Melo has an idea of what winning a title in NY feels like. The Denver owner is known as being a bit cheap (unlike the Knicks’ owner) and several of Denver’s key players are growing a bit too old to rely upon for future title contention.

All of this, along with Walsh’s desire to wipe the yolk from his face after his failed run at LeBron, has naturally lead Donnie to pursue Carmelo. Despite all those foolish, so-called, NBA experts that tear the Knicks’ roster apart (and overrate everyone else), all NYK really needs to contend for a finals appearance is a dominant scorer in the perimeter, and a coach with a solid defensive system. They also need a quality 2 guard, but they might already have a couple of those in Walker & Azubuike.

So if Carmelo is one of only two upgrades the Knicks need, what should NYK trade in order to acquire him? Some reports say the Knicks need to trade both Danilo Gallinari and Anthony Randolph to Denver, while trading both Timofey Mozgov and Tony Douglas for a draft pick that they would then ship over to Denver. If Landry Fields keeps playing well, I’m sure the Nuggets will demand he be included as well. I don’t care how talented Carmelo is, that deal would leave the Knicks severely weakened and demand more moves to fill those new holes.

However, there is hope that the Knicks may not have to gut their roster in order to add Melo to the fold. Ric Bucher and Marc Stein both reported that Carmelo would prefer to join a new team as a free agent to ensure that said team of choice doesn’t tear itself apart just for him. If that’s true, then it means Melo is more then happy to finish the season with Denver and then leave as a free agent, just like LBJ and CB4. Denver may not like being in the same boat as Toronto and Cleveland, but just like the Cavaliers and Raptors, they may not have a choice.

As with any free agent scenario, there is an element of risk involved. By not forcing the issue through a trade, the Knicks risk Carmelo changing his mind about Denver (doubt it), or that some other team snatches him up in free agency. There’s also the risk that Anthony is traded to a quality team that he can lead to title contention, similar to what happened with New York Yankees’ top free agent target Cliff Lee and the Texas Rangers. Another issue to keep in mind is that If the Knicks wait for the off-season to sign Melo, then they risk missing the playoffs again.  [Editor’s Note: Truth is the biggest risk is for Melo.  With a new Collective Bargaining Agreement to be signed this summer, chances are minimal that Melo will be able to sign for anywhere near as much money as the three-year $65 million extension on the table from Denver right now.  Meaning he can easily lose around $20 million by waiting.  Add in the fact that he could also potentially get some career-ending injury (yes, it’s unlikely), which makes it a true $65 million risk for him.  That’s pretty big.]

When Walsh made a terrible deal with Houston in order to shed Jared Jeffries contract, he gave away New York’s 2011 and 2012 lottery picks. Let’s assume that NY lands Melo this off-season, then that 2012 pick is useless because the team will be in the playoffs. That 2011 pick is the problem. New York only has minimal lottery protection for that pick. it has to be the #1 pick, otherwise Houston is allowed to swap picks with the Knicks. Keeping in mind that the Houston Rockets stink and are going to be in the lottery themselves, if the Knicks miss the playoffs this season, they’ll end up with a lottery pick regardless. Damn I hate that stupid trade by Walsh, and so does Marc Berman, who blames that trade for the Knicks inability to trade for Carmelo Anthony now.

The thing is, the Knicks should really learn from their mistake from the 2009 draft, when they landed the 8th pick but had an opportunity to trade with Washington for the 5th pick. They refused to mess with their cap space (curse that stupid LBJ plan!) and ended up missing out on Stephen Curry by just one pick!  Placement in the lottery can mean the difference between a stud and a dud (no offense Jordan Hill), since all the great players don’t always go #1. To make matters worse this draft is considered to be weak, so positioning will be key.

Will the Knicks make the playoffs? Will they miss out and land the top pick in the draft or be forced to swap lotto picks with Houston? Do they just trade for Melo now and avoid all the media frenzy that will accompany missing the playoffs and the uncertainty surrounding the lottery? Or do they bide their time and just wait? So many questions for this young Knicks regime.  Whoever thought all the drama would end after the LBJ free agency frenzy was over was sorely mistaken.