Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Melo Exits Denver, Welcomed in New York

My favorite part about this site and the reason that I had in mind when I created it, was to be able to branch out and discuss topics outside of just the Bay Area sports teams, and after a blockbuster deal went down in the NBA last night, tonight is one of those exceptions.

The disgruntled all-start small forward finally got his season long wish Monday, as the Denver Nuggets dealt their franchise player and leading scorer to the New York Knicks, and he wasn't the only Nugget to leave town. Not only are they losing their top attention-drawer and centerpiece, but they also had to give up the component that makes their team go in Chauncey Billups. I think just by reading those few sentences, you already know where I stand on this deal. Now, it's not like the Nuggets just gave up Anthony and Billups, they'll be receiving promising young players in their own right, it's just that these guys don't project out to be the caliber of player that Carmelo Anthony does and Chauncey Billups is. Denver will be bringing in Raymond Felton to take over for Chauncey and Wilson Chandler and Danillo Gallinari to fill in for Carmello, and I actually think that particular part of this trade is a win for them. Felton is about 8 years Billups' Jr., and is in the midst of a career year that has him averaging 17 points, 3.5 boards and 9 assists per night. He's not quite gained the leadership experience that Billups has, but if the Nuggets are looking towards 2011-'12 and beyond, this is a guy who could fit nicely into their plans. Chandler and Gallinari are still very raw, but both have upside. They'll never be Carmelo Anthony, but they can play defense and do some different things for you. Without the microscope in NY, I think they'll fair just fine.

Onto the Knicks now, who have drastically improved their chances at making a run in the East this year, but they still have to figure out a way for everyone to mesh. 3/5 of their starting 5 from the last 2 weeks are no longer with the team and that's not just going to be a seamless transition. That's were Billups is so key, and likely the reason why the Knicks were so adamant on him being in involved in this deal. He's your prototypical on-court general and should gain the respect of the younger, more know-it-all generation of Knicks like Wilson Chandler and Landry Fields. But all in all, I think this is a great move for the New York Knicks and should put them back inthe Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time in years (Spike Lee finally get's to appear trash-talking opponents on national TV again!).

This is the way I'd set up the Knicks starting five if I were coach D'Antoni:

PG: Chauncey Billups
SG: Landry Fields
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Amar'e Stoudemire
C: Ronny Turiaf

The question for them aside from their depth in the front court, is their weakness at center. Turiaf is a nice role player, and on a team like the Lakers, make he'd be hidden, but that's the area of concern for NY now and there isn't much time between now and Friday's deadline to do anything. Billups can do it all, including set people up. Fields is an excellent defender and rebounding guard and can score if he has to, but he really doesn't. Carmello and Stoudemire will be the main source of points and rebounds and I think they could do a fine job so long as they stay healthy. There would be some defensive deficiencies, but the offensive firepower would make up for them. If they aren't content on Turiaf at center, they could go out an nab someone like LA's Chris Kaman, Memphis' Marc Gasol or Sacramento's Samuel Dalembert. They don't need a scorer up there, they need a big bodied rebounder who can clear space for Stoudemire and I don't think Turiaf is that guy.


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