In the middle of the 2010-11 NBA season, the New York Knicks were faced with a difficult decision. Donnie Walsh had the opportunity to trade for Denver All-Star Carmelo Anthony, but doing so would require the Knicks to give up a significant portion of their young, talented core.
Ultimately, the Knicks pulled the trigger on the trade, sending several promising players, including Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Timofey Mozgov to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Carmelo Anthony. While the move generated excitement among Knicks fans, the team’s performance over the next several seasons left much to be desired.
Looking back, there definitely is an argument to be made that the 2010-11 New York team would have been better off not making the trade for Anthony. Before the trade, the Knicks were a promising young team that were finally starting to see the fruits of D’Antoni’s fast offensive schemes. They had a strong core of players consisting of Amar’e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and the rookie Landry Fields.
The team was starting to gel, with a record of 28-26 before the trade deadline. Felton almost made the All-Star team, and both Gallinari and Chandler seemed to figure out how to play with the new additions to the squad. However, once Anthony arrived, the team struggled to find its footing. Anthony and Stoudemire never developed the chemistry that many had hoped for, and the team’s defense suffered as a result.
In the end, the Knicks finished the 2010-11 season with a record of 42-40, good enough for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. They were quickly dispatched by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
Last year, I wrote a piece on how the Knicks can build a championship team. To summarize, it really pinpointed the importance of homegrown talent. Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler could have been those homegrown pieces for the team. I cannot say that the Knicks would’ve done much better without Carmelo Anthony but what I do know for sure is that the trade for him was very fitting with the history of bad trades and signings by the New York front office.
Anthony had full intentions of coming to the Knicks in the summer at free agency. The New York Knicks jumped the gun and destroyed all the chemistry they had built to bring the superstar to the Garden.
How does the pre-Carmelo Anthony Knicks compare to the 2022-23 roster?
Now fast forward to the 2022-23 season, and the Knicks are once again a promising young team. They have built their roster through the draft and free agency, and have a talented core of players led by Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett, and Julius Randle. They had a chance to break up this team by trading for Donovan Mitchell in the offseason but they kept their core together and added key pieces to the roster, namely Brunson.
They have advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by Donovan Mitchell.
With the success that we’re seeing with the current young Knicks, one can wonder what would’ve happened if that core of young players in 2010-11 were left alone and if Carmelo Anthony would’ve instead signed with New York as a free agent.
Only time will tell if the current Knicks team can replicate the success of the past, but they are certainly on the right track. And unlike the 2010-11 team, they are building towards long-term success, rather than trying to win now at any cost. We are seeing the fruits of that in the playoffs today.