The Trade Deadline’s Impact on the Knicks: Melo-free Edition
It didn’t really sink into my mind that the Carmelo trade was completed until I watched the Nuggets take the court with Gallo wearing sky blue and yellow. It felt incredibly, incredibly weird to watch our players in a different uniform. I could still feel the bonds formed over each player’s time with the Knicks, cheering each time Ill Will hit a shot, and frustrated that Felton wasn’t starting for the Nugs. Nevertheless, watching the game was a good reminder that the Knicks weren’t the only team that made a trade over the past week- other teams significantly changed their roster as well. As teams wheeled and dealed trying to find that last missing piece, an astonishing number of trades occurred just at the 3pm deadline. At one point it seemed like the Daily Dime Live chat at ESPN was going to spontaneously combust. A number of these trades have interesting possible ramifications for the Knicks, which I’ve ranked in order of importance as they could potentially impact the Knicks below.
This trade has been covered pretty extensively in the comments section of the earlier post announcing it, found here. After initially being very frustrated that the Knicks hadn’t dealt for Williams instead of Melo, I discovered the silver lining to this trade. There are a few possible outcomes for Williams tenure with the Nets, most of which are positive for… the Knicks.
A. Williams goes to New Jersey, gets excited about move to Brooklyn in 2012, recruits Dwight Howard that summer after signing his own extension with the Nets. Knicks fail to sign Chris Paul. This is the worst possible scenario for Knicks fans. I don’t even want to dwell on how frustrating this would be.
B. Williams goes to New Jersey and hates it. He is seen partying with Amar’e and Carmelo every weekend, starts calling them his best friends in the league, and continually talks about how annoyed he is that he has to commute to play basketball in Jersey. In 2012, he leaves the Nets and signs with the Knicks, and calls Jim Dolan “smarter” than Mikhail Prokhorov. (Ok, maybe the last part will never happen.) In actuality, the possibility of it now being easier for Amar’e and Melo to recruit Williams is a fantastic plus to him being traded to Jersey.
C. Williams decides to go to random franchise X and we sign Chris Paul or Dwight Howard. In this case, the outcome is neutral to Knicks fans and only hurts the Nets, which I wouldn’t mind one bit.
Considering these three possibilities, the frustration I felt after the trade was announced has washed away. I mean, he can’t possibly grow to like playing in Jersey, can he? Can he?
Why is this trade so important? Because it is yet another competent move by a front office aiming to convince Chris Paul to stay in New Orleans by making the Hornets a contender. CL (I almost used Landry, but it would feel too weird) is an excellent low post player who should instantly improve the Hornets. Thornton, the player they gave up to get him, is a nice piece but wasn’t very useful given all the wing depth the Hornets have. As a Knicks fan, you have to hope this trade (and other moves made by the Hornets) don’t convince CP3 to abandon his wedding-toast-promise.
With Murphy presumably being bought out, there is a now a player available who could fit perfectly into Coach d’Antoni’s scheme as a big who shoots well, rebounds, and doesn’t play defense. You’d have to guess he’s eager to break that “longest-games-played-without-being-in-the-playoffs” streak too, making the ‘Bockers an excellent choice for him to move to, except..
This move gives the Celtics open roster spaces to pick up players exactly like Murphy, and word is they’re interested. One would have to give the edge to the Celtics acquiring him over the Knicks if they really are interested, given their superior record and championship aspirations, but Knicks fans can continue to hope he’d prefer to be in the playoffs AND playing substantial minutes, something much more likely to occur if he chooses to join the Knicks’ depleted frontline.
The rest of the deadline deals were also quite interesting, with the most interesting of all being the Celtics trade of Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic. I can’t understand the move from the Celtics side- even if you couldn’t afford to keep Perkins after this season, I’d still rather have him for this playoff run than Jeff Green- but it appears to give OKC a roster capable of winning a title right now. Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Ibaka, Perkins starting, with Harden, Collison, Maynor, and maybe even Nate off the bench…the Thunder are stacked, and seem to have the perfect balance of star power, defense, and role players that usually is the path to a title.
Finally, the Hawks trade for Kirk Hinrich moves them from horrific to serviceable in regards to the PG position, Gerald Wallace to the Blazers makes the Bobcats even more irrelevant and the Trailblazers a fun 2k11 team, Aaron Brooks to the Suns for Goran Dragic is a swap of once-good-but-not-this-season backup PG’s, Baron Davis for Mo Williams improves the Clips while making the Cavs roster a hilarious hodgepodge of players (Davis! Jamison! Erden!), Marquis Daniels to the Kings gave the Celtics another roster spot as well, Shane Battier to the Grizzlies for Thabeet and a pick gives the Rockets even more “assets”, Nazr Mohammed to the Thunder gives OKC another tall player, and James Johnson to the Raptors gives the Bulls an open roster spot.
From a Knicks perspective, one notable thing which didn’t occur this weekende is a trade for a big man. While I’d have loved to get Thabeet (I know he’s bad, I know, but I can’t help it) the Knicks lacked the assets to make any real move to shore up the frontline, ensuring that we’ll have to rely on bought-out players like Murphy or Jared Jeffries as well as currently-out-of-the-league Earl Barron to give us depth.