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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Thoughts On the Melo Era

Now that the Knicks have finally found a suitor for Anthony, the book is closed on the ‘Melo era in New York. The Knicks acquired Carmelo in the middle of the 2011 season, and the forward spent 6 1/3 seasons with the team.

Initially after Carmelo’s addition, the team had reached a level of success that eluded them in the decade prior. New York made the playoffs in 3 straight seasons, reaching the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2013. However that year would be the high-water mark for Anthony’s Knicks. The team would average only 29 wins over the next 4 seasons, including a franchise low of 17 games in 2015 when an injured Carmelo missed 42 games.

It would seem from these facts that the Knicks were reliant on Carmelo in those years, rising and falling with their leading scorer. However this would be inaccurate. For instance, ‘Melo led the league in minutes per game in 2014, and yet the Knicks still fell 4 games short of .500.

The true story of the Knicks during the Carmelo Anthony era wasn’t defined by Anthony, but by his teammates and the moves made by the organization. New York performed extremely well in 2013 because they paired Anthony with Tyson Chandler, flanked with a young pair of guards in Shumpert and J.R., got career years from Pablo Prigioni, Steve Novak, Chris Copeland, a geriatric Jason Kidd, and filled out the depth of the team with players who could give timely production like Kenyon Martin, Marcus Camby, and Rasheed Wallace.

Unfortunately the year after the Knicks failed to build on their success, because they jettisoned many of these players (either due age, injury, or incompetence) and replaced them with sub-par players. The Knicks only had Chandler for 55 games, while Andrea Bargnani managed to play 1200+ minutes, and the end of the bench was filled with the likes of Beno Udrih, Jeremy Tyler, the animated corpse of Metta World Peace, and Toure’ Murry. The year after Chandler would be gone, Carmelo would get hurt, and the top minute getters for New York were Shane Larkin and Jason Smith. (Good goink Phil!)

The Knicks didn’t fail because of the narratives pushed by media and fans alike such as Carmelo undermined his coaches, his lack of defense, or his selfish play. They failed because the franchise was mismanaged from coach up to owner. The team lacked draft picks to help rebuild, partially because of the ‘Melo deal, but also because of other trades like the Andrea Bargnani disaster. New York had no first round pick in ’12 and ’14 and also had a low first pick in ’13. But their incompetence went beyond the draft as they acquired players (Shane Larkin, Jason Smith, Quincy Acy, Brandon Jennings, Sasha Vujacic, Derrick Rose, etc.) for roles greater than their production should warrant. In other words, they failed at all methods of building a team.

via GIPHY

While the price for Anthony was high (and one I would not have paid), the Knicks didn’t seem to suffer immediately after. It could be argued that had the team been run competently from that point forward, the team would have seen a moderate amount of success. Certainly they would have made the playoffs in more than 3 of their years, and absolutely they should have avoided the catastrophic 65 loss season.

For his time in New York, Carmelo Anthony’s production was nearly identical to his production in Denver. The Knicks got the same player they saw in a Nuggets uniform, so it wasn’t a scenario where the star player let them down (*cough* Amar’e *cough*).

via GIPHY

Ultimately ‘Melo was neither saint nor savior for this team. But he was not the cause of the team’s downfall either. The Knicks went all-in to acquire a scorer like Anthony in order to win now. They successfully followed that script for a short time, and it appeared the move would pay off for them. However like so many other opportunities in life, the devil’s in the details, and New York squandered their investment by behaving foolishly.

While I doubt that a Carmelo Anthony led team could win a championship, the Knicks could have had more exciting seasons like 2013 instead of what the fans were forced to endure over the last 4 seasons. Too bad ownership and the front office prevented that from occurring. Although given what I’ve seen since Dolan took full ownership of the team, I’m not surprised.

67 comments on “Thoughts On the Melo Era

  1. heavencent35

    Melo situation is odd. I hoped and wished him success and I’m really happy when we acquired him as finally we have a legit superstar. I thought he could lead and end end our title drought or at worst we are w regular playoffs team. Just didn’t happen. Still think he’s the best player to be a Knick since Ewing and him constantly wanting to be a Knick is a big plus. Things didn’t workout well and I really wish him success, for the Knicks too. Been decades, hope we can finally be consistently competitive.

  2. heavencent35

    On other news. I’m watching glen rice Jr ball here in the Philippines and he’s quite awesome. Why is he not successful in the nba? We can him flyers and sign him for the camp. He’s good.

  3. lavor postell

    In trades for Bargnani, Felton and Camby after the Melo trade the Knicks gave up a total of 1 first round pick and 6 second rounders. They also used the amnesty on Billups after picking up his option, which meant they were saddled with STAT’s albatross for the next 3 years with no recourse to move on from him.

    The Melo trade was an overpay, but I feel confident that a better front office could have still created a more sustainably competitive team as Mike put forth. The flip is that a better front office probably wouldn’t have gotten worked like Walsh did in the Melo deal, one he stated on the record last year was his call, not Dolan’s.

  4. swiftandabundant

    There are about 10 moves that could have been handled differently that would have made a huge difference in the Melo era.

    1. Donnie walsh lead up to 2010. He was praised for his patience but the fact is he was simply being “patient” for a quick rebuild in 2010 and traded away picks and youth to get rid of bad contracts. If he’d let those contracts expire naturally, he would have held onto those picks and the youth, especially Ariza and Frye, two guys who have been very useful and good pro players (especially Ariza).

    2. STAT – I actually don’t regret the STAT signing cause I think it brought so much excitement to the Garden and made us relevant again. But we could have given him less money or made that 5th year a team option.

    3. Melo trade – it should have been Gallo, Chandler, expiring eddie curry, Anthony Randolph and one draft pick. Throwing in Moz and doing the Felton for Billups swap was super dumb. And of course Melo bears responsibility for this one bc he could have not made the Nets an option and that would have given Donnie WAY more leverage.

    4. Billups option only to amnesty him. This was super dumb. I don’t think its realistic for the Knicks to amnesty STAT after one year but surely they must have known they should have saved that for him later down the road.

    5. Chandler signing – this one was actually a great move. No problem with that one.

    6. Lin – I think not matching was the smart move but could it have been avoided if they’d simply given him an offer right at the beginning of free agency?

    7. Felton/Camby – Camby did not contribute much in the 54 win season. It seems like we could have gotten either/both of those guys without giving up draft picks to Portland.

    8. Bargs trade – nuff said.

    There’s a world where we held onto Ariza, Frye, Lin, Mozgov, some draft picks and still got Melo and Chandler.

  5. DS

    @5 – Pretty sure Frye (for Z-Bo) and Ariza (for Steve Francis) were all Isiah’s doing… I would add trading Chandler for Calderon; Joakim Noah signing? Derrick friggin’ Rose; not waiting until ‘Melo became a free agent.

  6. thenamestsam

    I agree that the story of the Melo era in NY was ultimately more about the general failings of the organization than about Melo. For as much as the media likes to throw around the label superstar, ultimately all but a small handful of guys need a lot of help in order to make a decent basketball team, let alone a great one. Carmelo wasn’t one of the handful, but he was an awfully good player when he got here, and with sufficient help he could easily have been an important and beloved part of some good teams:

    In 2009-2010 after the trade they were 14-14 with a top 8 of Melo, Amare, Billups, Fields, Turiaf, Toney D, Shawne Williams, and Henry Walker (my god look at that roster)
    In 2010-2011 they were 36-30. Top 8 in minutes played: Chandler, Fields, Melo, Shump, Amare, Novak, JR, Lin.
    In 2012-2013 they were 54-28. Top 8 in minutes: JR, Melo, Felton, Chandler, Kidd, Novak, Prigs, Shump.

    Those teams ranged from decent to very good, and those rosters weren’t exactly overburdened with talent. That those years ended up being the best rosters Melo played with in his time here says a lot about the quality of the rest of the organization. Ultimately I think your last paragraph sums it up well. Melo’s prime was really good. Put decent guys around him and you had yourself a pretty good team. The Knicks didn’t always manage that, and as Melo’s play slipped with age the quality of the team around him got worse, not better.

  7. Nick C.

    That’s a pretty even-handed piece. To some extent, some of those moves were made with “Carmelo’s window” in mind.

  8. djphan

    i think there’s a good argument that melo probably played the best ball of his career here… it was only a short period of time but i think it’s obvious that melo was at his most valuable and efficient playing the four and with good pg’s that put him in more catch and shoot opportunities… i don’t think the knicks get enough credit for it but we basically started the trend of moving SF’s to PF / small ball era…

    there was one good season that was probably the best legitimately good ball we’ve played this century… the formula was there… but we didn’t even realize what made us so good in the first place… which is the most frustrating part….

    and the melo era was defined by frustration…. glimmers of brilliance but for the most part frustration…. which is a microcosm of knick fandom….

  9. lavor postell

    there was one good season that was probably the best legitimately good ball we’ve played this century… the formula was there… but we didn’t even realize what made us so good in the first place… which is the most frustrating part….

    Nah, I think they understood it, they just went about addressing it the wrong way. Melo didn’t want to defend the 4 because he didn’t like the constant banging every night. The Knicks decided they should get a 4 that could stretch the floor with a perimeter jumper, which they decided was Bargs, which was stupid. They should have tried to get somebody like Ilyasova or somebody in that same mold as a combo forward who could space out to 3, but defend whichever forward spot was the tougher matchup and could handle banging in the post.

  10. swiftandabundant

    @ 6 – they were? I thought Donnie might have included them in some of the trades that got rid of ZBo, Crawford and Jeffries but you’re probably right. Even so, we had young pieces at the end of the Zeke years, beginning of the Donnie years that ended up being thrown in trades. Plus the picks. My God the picks!

    I didn’t include the Chandler trade or the Noah/Rose signings because for me after the failed follow up to the 54 win season things went in a very different direction. But yes, those moves also hurt us.

  11. Z-man

    phew!!

    Ian Begley
    ESPN Staff Writer

    Kristaps Porzingis has returned to practice. He left practice yesterday with knee soreness.

  12. stratomatic's love hate relationship with The Knicks because of Melo is over

    Melo was and still is a good player. He could not be the #1 player on a championship contender because he simply was not good enough even at his best to be a #1 player. He also refused to adapt his game in a way that would make him more efficient. Once you put that much money into a player like him, it’s much harder to build a very good team around him. That is in the past. Now we have 2 bad contracts (Noah/Kanter), 2 suspect contracts (Hardaway/Baker), an unbalanced logjam among big men that might cause us to do something foolish, and no defense to speak of to deal with. That’s far from ideal. Several of those problems were self inflicted in recent months. But I’ll take this over anything else we’ve had in recent years.

  13. Ben R

    @13

    I would say 1 terrible contract (worst in the NBA by a mile) in Noah, two bad contracts in Baker and Thomas and two overpays in Hardaway and Kanter. Kanter and Hardaway are not bad contracts, they are both paid about 3-5 million more than they’re worth but they are still very productive players.

    Kanter only needs to improve to mediocre on defense to be a very good player. Even if he doesn’t he is still a nice rotation player in the nba and overall a big net positive against all but 4 or 5 NBA teams.

  14. Mike Kurylo Post author

    If Kanter was mediocre on defense he’d be an All Star in the East.

    Why would you think that’s the limiting factor? Honestly you just need a coach that plays him 30-35 mpg. Once “pointz” is achieved, he will unlock “All Star Player”.

    Honestly I would totally do this, because then the summer after you can find some dumb franchise to pay picks for him.

  15. geo

    nice write up Mike…yes, our immediate past has not been pretty…

    worse than that – i’m not even sure you could attribute the outcome of those personnel decisions to bad luck…

    a lot of the moves seemed to have low probabilities for success…

  16. d-mar

    To me , the game against the Heat in Miami in February of 2011 was the real tease as to “what might have been”. (It was 3 games into the Melo era.)

    The Knicks won the game, Melo put up 29, STAT had 16 and a monstrous block on LeBron to seal the win and Billups hit the go ahead 3 pointer with a minute left.

    Really felt like we had a contending squad at that point., with our own “big 3″.

  17. stratomatic's love hate relationship with The Knicks because of Melo is over

    In general I ask myself, If I tried to trade this guy, would there be a market for him that gave me back a decent player on a fair contract. If yes, then I am OK with the contract. If not, then I consider it bad. The extent of “bad” is dependent how large it is and how much sweetener I would have to give away or how much bad stuff I’d have to take back to get rid of him.

  18. DS

    Honestly I would totally do this, because then the summer after you can find some dumb franchise to pay picks for him.

    Agree. Kanter averaged 24 points and 11 rebounds per 36 mins last season. If you just bump his minutes, someone will interpret his bump in productivity as him “developing.”

  19. djphan

    the market for kanter is probably going to be similar to brook lopez…. the market for any big men.. esp one that does not play defense is fairly small.. jefferson, okafor, monroe, vucevic and lopez for example… the market for big men period is small … most big men more or less do the same things…

  20. The Glass Half Rebuilt

    Kanter will probably start this year. He always played power forward next to Adams and if they want KP to play the 5, you need a great rebounder next to him.

  21. ess-dog

    And Lopez now hits threes at a nice clip, although I believe Kanter has a better TS%. It seems like a tough market for bigs that don’t defend, but if Kanter can even sort of guard the pf position too, he could be of value to a contender that has a shorter salary to offer.

  22. Mike Kurylo Post author

    Agree. Kanter averaged 24 points and 11 rebounds per 36 mins last season. If you just bump his minutes, someone will interpret his bump in productivity as him “developing.”

    MOST IMPROVED PLAYER TOO!

  23. Donnie Walsh

    I think Melo made one fundamental mistake, and it ultimately cost him and the Knicks a lot of success: it was the decision to sign his extension with the Nuggets through 2011 instead of through 2010 like the rest of his draft class did.

    That left him looking at both a bearish FA market in 2011, with most teams having spent their $$$ in 2010, as well as the uncertainty of the lockout and new CBA.

    Had he joined the 2010 meat-market, he could have either joined up with super-friends, or gone to NY without them for the cap space they’d cleared but no assets, leaving himself in a great position to win either way.

    But, that’s the story of Carmelo Anthony’s career: while LeBron and Wade looked long term, Anthony always seemed to make his decisions in the moment. And the moment was never his.

  24. Frank O.

    I think there are teams that would love to have Kanter’s skills, off the bench or as a starter.
    You all are overestimating the big men on a lot of these teams.
    If the Knicks had a definite defensive-minded big man to pair with Kanter, KP is more scoring oriented, he’d be a very useful player. As it is, KP hasn’t shown the muscle to be an A level defender so far.
    That means pairing these guys makes for a weak defensive front court.
    But as a scoring duo, it’s interesting.

  25. The Glass Half Rebuilt

    As a scoring duo they are a dynamic inside-outside combo and Kanter is a good enough rebounder that KP could float around 8 per game and we wouldn’t look terrible. Teams were doubling Enes Kanter last year. As it currently stands, Enes Kanter is probably our best offensive player. If the weight loss means he’s playable defensively he should lead the team in minutes played this year.

  26. lavor postell

    KP is good at rim protection and Kanter is good at rebounding. It’s definitely worth a shot to see how they can do together since offensively they should be pretty threatening.

  27. Z-man

    To me , the game against the Heat in Miami in February of 2011 was the real tease as to “what might have been”. (It was 3 games into the Melo era.)

    The Knicks won the game, Melo put up 29, STAT had 16 and a monstrous block on LeBron to seal the win and Billups hit the go ahead 3 pointer with a minute left.

    Really felt like we had a contending squad at that point., with our own “big 3?.

    That game was DOPE!!

    My high point was just before Melo got called for that offensive foul vs. Boston in round 1. Amare was totally beasting and had made that sensational reverse move, we were all over them and then POOF! Garnett sets a dirty, illegal screen, Allen knocks down a dagger 3, Melo misses a game-winner, Amare throws out his back, and the long, disappointing tenure of Melo was on.

  28. Z-man

    The more I learn about Kanter, the more I like the Melo deal. I think he’s going to be really good. He’s in great shape and maybe his D improves just enough to be just mediocre (like Greg Monroe-level) instead of downright wretch-inducing.

  29. Ben R

    Kanter’s problem defensively was never about defending big men. It was his lack of lateral quickness that made him a huge liability defending pick and rolls and chasing 4’s around the perimeter and his lack of rim protection that hurt him inside at the 5. Paired with KP he can guard the bigger player and KP can protect the rim.

    Also maybe his weight loss will help him on the perimeter and he will be better at defending 4’s and pick and rolls.

  30. Bruno Almeida

    The Knicks gave about 2250 minutes last season to Noah and O’Quinn, and the team was ranked in the bottom 5 defensively. I honestly don’t see how this team could be significantly worse by giving Kanter minutes. Melo and Rose leaving should already compensate for Kanter’s defense at the very least.

    He is 4 years younger than Brook Lopez, a more efficient scorer and better rebounder and has a similar contract, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be more valuable than Brook was in a trade scenario, specially if he gets more minutes and more pointzz.

  31. Zanzibar

    KP is good at rim protection and Kanter is good at rebounding.

    Kanter is an elite offensive rebounder but not that great a defensive rebounder. In terms of DRR, he ranked 42nd out of 60 and 33rd out 53 in two of the last 3 seasons. Too lazy to look it up but the time Adams and Kanter were on the court together might have impacted that stat. But there have been bigs who have been exceptional offensive rebounders but meh on the defensive end.

    It’s gonna be hard to move a player making 17m who’s got a player option at the end of this season. There might be a an interested team but our best bet is that he improves on defense. He is a somewhat unique player in many respects. Click HERE to view all players in NBA history at any position who posted WS/48 > .180 and a negative bpm while playing 1000+ minutes.

  32. Ntilakilla

    OKC bigs clearly let Russel take some DRBs, so it’s possible he’s better than his stats reflect.

    This. Kanter, Adams, etc. are all taught to box out so Russ can grab the board and push the ball down in transition. It should help KP that Kanter can do this.

  33. Zanzibar

    Westbrook’s DRR spiked this past season so it had an effect but Kanter’s DRR has been fairly consistent over the past 6 years when Russ DRR wasn’t off the charts like last season.

  34. Brian Cronin

    The flip is that a better front office probably wouldn’t have gotten worked like Walsh did in the Melo deal, one he stated on the record last year was his call, not Dolan’s.

    And then Dolan said otherwise, when he explained that he had never given over full control over decision-making until Phil got there. I’m certainly not saying that Walsh didn’t make a bunch of mistakes during his tenure, but the only thing ever pointing to Walsh being the guy who made the final call on the Melo trade was Walsh saying so once. All the other contemporary accounts, plus Dolan’s recent comments, suggested that Dolan had (and made) the final say in the Melo deal.

  35. ptmilo

    OKC bigs clearly let Russel take some DRBs, so it’s possible he’s better than his stats reflect.

    there’s a lot to be said for this

    last two years kanter drb%
    with RWB on: 20.2%
    with RWB off: 24.1%

  36. english_knick

    @36. The thing is, Lopez didn’t have any trade value. He was the expiring contract in a salary dump for LA. I think people underestimate how fast the league has moved on big men. Traditional low post guys have almost no value – Monroe was one of the most productive players on the Bucks last year and they can’t give him away.

    Don’t get me wrong – you can count me in the group giving Perry at least a solid B for the Melo deal. But I don’t think we should count on Kanter having much trade value at all…

  37. ptmilo

    sorry above post got mangled due to crazy dog episode

    Kanter DRB% last two seasons:
    with RWB: 19.5%
    without RWB 26.6%

  38. Cock Jowles, #1 League-Average Superstar

    Good for Russ. He plays hard and has turned into a real superstar. Last season was incredible — he may not have been the league’s most productive player, but he really hit “MVP” on the head with minutes, usage and overall ridiculousness. That team would have been garbage without him.

    That said, that contract will be real bad once he stops being able to take 30% of his shots at the rim, which probably happens by year 3 of the extension. I understand this was an “all in” move by OKC, but between him, PG and ruruland, it’s a lot of money to spend on a 48-win team.

  39. Brian Cronin

    I don’t mind it, since the only way they can get someone to stay there is through an overpay. I’m impressed that they managed to actually keep Westbrook. He could have gone anywhere.

  40. Zanzibar

    I think acquiring George and Melo were about retaining Westbrook. If George re-signs this looks like a top 5 team for the next 2 years. That probably had a lot of appeal to Westbrook. It’s a gamble by OKC because they’re gonna have a huge luxury tax (and repeater tax) when you add contracts of Westbrook/re-signed George/Melo/Adams. Isn’t this the same owner who dumped Harden because of luxury tax concerns? Maybe he plans to sell the team in the summer of 2018 just like Houston owner after aging CP3 signed.

  41. Cock Jowles, #1 League-Average Superstar

    If George re-signs this looks like a top 5 team for the next 2 years

    I heard a lot about how the Pelicans were going to be a force after the Cousins trade. This is a similar scenario. Carmelo will contribute nothing, George will contribute like an above-average player. Three ISO chuckers, none of whom have a chance at cracking .600 TS% unless the elusive “synergy” finds the team? Yeah, going to be a long season full of thinkpieces about what’s not “gelling” in OKC. It’ll be a lot like Knicks’ fans dashed dreams, except Carmelo is much closer to retirement than he was when he got shipped here.

  42. KnickfaninNJ

    Click HERE to view all players in NBA history at any position who posted WS/48 > .180 and a negative bpm while playing 1000+ minutes.

    If Kanter was better at 23 years old than Hassan Whitesides was at 25, that is a very interesting player.

  43. danvt

    So why’d we trade him, Mike? The lack of success was all about our corollary moves? He did play good defense? He didn’t slow down the offense? He didn’t undermine what coaches were trying to do? He was efficient? He played to his salary number?

    Every criticism I’ve read on this blog was beside the point?

  44. Bruno Almeida

    Its a no brainer for OKC, but it is amusing that they killed their chances 5 years ago trading Harden away to not pay much luxury tax, and now they are going all in with a weaker and much older trio.

    I guess they learned from the lesson, since they have to overpay anyone anyway due to the nature of the market. I dont think they’ll ever win a title or get to the finals but this gives them a better chance than rebuilding soon and pushes back the dreaded and inevitable post-Westbrook rebuild. It also screws the Lakers chances at lucking out and becoming a contender out of nowhere which is always a plus to me.

  45. lavor postell

    @43

    Bigs have plenty of value in the regular season. Sure, there are certain matchups and situations where a player like Kanter is going to get blitzed, but there are enough shitty teams in the league that a guy that can hit the offensive glass and finish around the rim like he can will flip a game in your favor here or there. I know people don’t want to hear it, but that’s basically a big man version of what Carmelo is right now except Kanter is more efficient.

    I don’t think Kanter changes our fortunes or is as good as some of his advanced stats portray, but I also feel he’s become an unfairly maligned player. He absolutely wrecked us at the Garden last year and I’ve seen other games where he’s done the same to similar shitty defensive teams. Hell, he even played fine against the Mavs and the Spurs in the playoffs a couple of years ago before being unplayable against GSW.

    Unless the team is an elite small ball team like GSW or HOU that can spread the floor at all times, Kanter can still be of value. Overpaid, yes, but not a useless scrub (which I don’t think is what you were saying tbf). The market on those bigs has corrected so his and Monroe’s salaries are out of whack, but they can still play and have a role in the modern NBA.

  46. DRed

    Kanter was good in the playoffs 2 years ago, and was terrible in the playoffs last year (especially on offense). We most likely aren’t going to have to worry how he’s going to be in the playoffs next year.

  47. Mike Kurylo Post author

    So why’d we trade him, Mike? The lack of success was all about our corollary moves? He did play good defense? He didn’t slow down the offense? He didn’t undermine what coaches were trying to do? He was efficient? He played to his salary number?

    Every criticism I’ve read on this blog was beside the point?

    IMHO, Carmelo was a good player, not a great one. The Knicks, their fans, and the media said Carmelo was a top 10 player. I would say for most of it Carmelo was somewhere between 20-40 depending on the season. So much of the argument here was between those two ideals.

    I’d say that looking back, it’s crystal clear he wasn’t a top 15 player, so score another one for the pocket protector crowd.

    That said you can be successful with a top 25 player at the helm. Heck you could even win a championship with that kind of team (2008 Celtics, 2004 Pistons, etc.) So the Knicks could have (and did have for a short time) success with ‘Melo at the helm. You just have to be really smart, and make few mistakes. Look what happened to the 2004 Pistons. When Joe Dumars fell down to earth and starting acting like a jock-turned-GM, instead of acquiring stat-friendly players, the team sucked.

    I hope that’s clear.

  48. Bruno Almeida

    @56

    While I do agree with your argument in general Mike, I think you understate just how good Billups and Garnett were in those teams. They were top 10 players in the league, at the very least top 15. Garnett was even 2nd in the league in ws48 that year.

    I think a team could have won a title with Melo as the top player in his best years, but it would have to be a truly insane team with at least two or three more players on the same level.

  49. KnickfaninNJ

    Honestly, I think the Knicks traded Melo because of what Phil said. The team is going in a different direstion. It’s not because they think he’s a terrible payer

  50. vincoug

    While I do agree with your argument in general Mike, I think you understate just how good Billups and Garnett were in those teams. They were top 10 players in the league, at the very least top 15. Garnett was even 2nd in the league in ws48 that year.

    Agreed on Garnett but I think you mistyped Ben Wallace.

  51. Bruno Almeida

    @59

    I did meant Billups and I think he was the best and most impactful player on that Detroit team overall. His best years in terms of production came after 2004 (he was absolutely brilliant from 05 to 08), so yeah, there’s a very compelling case to be made that Ben Wallace was the most impactful in the 03-04 season, but through the run of years that team had Billups was their overall best player.

    My point is that much is said about that Detroit team winning with no superstars, but its more on how the media defined who’s a superstar and who’s not. Iverson was considered a much bigger star than any of those Pistons players when he was less productive than Billups, Wallace or even Hamilton.

  52. GoNyGoNyGo

    Now that we’re all doing the postmortem on Carmelo Anthony, I have to agree with the general sentiments that the front office messed up.

    I appreciate the effort that Melo gave but he takes some blame too. He ran a lot of good coaches and players out of town and as much as we hear how he was a good team mate, there was a jealous streak when it came to Lin. He defied D’antoni and Hornecek. He refused to play defense.

    Melo was the best player since Ewing but he’s not a winner if he’s the #1 option. I think he’ll do great on OKC because Westbrook is the primary option. I wish him luck. Maybe he’ll return when he’s in his late 30’s and the Knicks need just one more scorer off the bench.

    It’s time to move on. For the first time in a long time I feel like we’re building the right way.

  53. JK47

    Melo is so similar to Dominique Wilkins. He really is to this generation what ‘Nique was to his. They both won one scoring title and were perennial All-Stars, they both were guys whose value came mostly from their high-usage offensive game, and they were both good players but not the “superstars” they were perceived to be, and neither was good enough to be the top player on a championship team. ‘Nique had more good seasons than Melo, was more consistently in the .160-.190 WS48 area for a longer period of time.

    I’ve made this comparison here many times before, so forgive me if I’m belaboring this point, but that’s how I’ll always look at the Melo era: it was an attempt to build around a slightly worse Dominique Wilkins.

  54. Z-man

    I disagree on ‘Nique. He was unfortunate to play in the Larry Bird era, just like Ewing was unfortunate to play in the Jordan era. Like Ewing, he never played with another star. Who is the best player he ever played with, Doc Rivers? Kevin Willis?

    Dominique Wilkins was a great, not good player, yes, a superstar, and anyone who played in that era would tell you the same thing. He just wasn’t transcendent, i.e. on the level with Bird, Magic, Michael, etc.He wasn’t cut out to be an alpha dog, but neither was Pippin, or Worthy, or Malone.

    By making this comparison, you are not diminishing Melo, you are elevating him.

    This is similar to the revisionist bullshit that tries to retroactively diminish Isiah Thomas, who actually WAS a transcendent player. But whatever.

  55. Donnie Walsh

    I disagree on ‘Nique. He was unfortunate to play in the Larry Bird era, just like Ewing was unfortunate to play in the Jordan era.

    Objectively, Ewing wasn’t just “unfortunate”. He was never better than the 4th best player at his position in the league at any time during his era (Shaq came into the league the year before Daughtery left it).

    Anthony and Ewing are probably pretty close as comps as far as career hype vs production vs team success.

    Playing in NY is both a blessing and a curse, I guess.

  56. Mike Kurylo Post author

    I would also agree that Ben Wallace was more important to that Pistons team than Billups. Remember that team was #2 in the league on defense and 24th on offense. They were also much better on D after they acquired Rasheed mid-year. Either I or Kevin Pelton wrote an article about it at the time. But I do recall that. Not 100% sure either player was a top 10 player that season tho.

    Garnett, you’re right about. No doubt.

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