What Trade Made/Makes More Sense? The Melo Deal or the Rumored Mitchell Trade?

Z-Man asked:

How analogous is this situation to just before the Melo trade? This question continues to bug me.
-at that time Ujiri was kind of unknown, and we had Donnie Walsh, so while Dolan was more directly involved and the deal seemed imminent, it wasn’t clear that it would be such a massive overpay until the deal was made. Right now, it’s Aller vs. Ainge with less direct involvement and we didn’t just miss out on prime LeBron, so hopefully there is less desperation and a better outcome.
-while most here were not happy with the execution of the deal, when we amnestied Billups and acquired Tyson, and there was some hope that Amare would stay healthy, the whole MTA big 3 thing was pretty exciting…but there was still a feeling that we would never get past the Heat, and that that team was a capped out finished product. Expectations for a post-Donovan trade would be much lower with presumably more deals to come, but now there’s like 8 teams still ahead on paper just in the East of us instead of one or two. And there’s no clear path to leapfrogging any of those teams, other than massive improvements from both RJ and Julius.
-Melo was a bigger star with bigger expectations than Mitchell is right now. I don’t think there would be the same pressure on Mitchell to be who everyone wanted Melo to be, but given the impending overpay to Ainge, I’m not sure there actually won’t be even more pressure on Mitchell, or how he will handle it. Melo handled it pretty well for the most part.
-If we missed out on Melo, odds are we would have overpaid for Deron, which would have ended just as badly. If we miss out on Donovan, there isn’t anyone left out there to overpay.

So I am hoping beyond hope that this doesn’t happen, but if it does, I won’t have as much of a “hard ceiling beneath the Heat” feel, but I still don’t see a clear path forward.

Here’s my take:

It’s truly a fascinating question as to which team was better suited for a trade like this back then. I think that STAT playing like an MVP was really the tipping point back then. Since he was playing like an MVP, it made more sense to go “all in” on a second star, even if it worked out terribly because of STAT’s later injuries. However, Melo also truly upped his game when he got here in a way that many of us were hoping he would (since we were all saying, “If Melo starts shooting more threes, that should help his game and D’Antoni will presumably tell him to shoot more threes” and then Melo ended up shooting a lot more threes as a Knick, especially when D’Antoni got fired, since Melo clearly hated how much D’Antoni was telling him to shoot threes, but once D’Antoni was gone, Melo seemed to absolutely say, “Shit, now if we suck, it’s all on me” and promptly started to do all of the things D’Antoni had always been begging him to do. Granted, you can easily argue that D’Antoni was a dick about how he asked. Blame all around there).

That said, while the Melo Knicks appeared to be more set up for a star deal, you could easily argue that this year’s Knicks are actually better set up because there isn’t a STAT ready to collapse into injury hell on the team, and there will be enough left over to trade (probably, or should I say, “God please”) that they can go out and get a second star later who will want to play with Mitchell. Not necessarily a high usage guy, but someone at the wing or the power forward spot who would compliment Mitchell.

It’s also fair to note that the NBA dramatically changed how it worked soon after the Melo deal, making Melo and STAT a horrible combination (especially when paired with Tyson Chandler), as guys like STAT just couldn’t be traditional fours anymore and, heck, the traditional four didn’t exist anymore. Look at how David Lee went from All-Star to basically unplayable because he was the epitome of the traditional four (post game player who is not good enough on defense to be a center). We literally saw the modern NBA develop in the Heat’s 2012 postseason run as Lebron was, like, “Ah, yes, so I’m the four now.” Look at the Heat from 2011 to 2013. They went from playing a traditional center for about 35 minutes a game in 2011 to 25 minutes a game in 2012 to, like, 5 minutes a game in 2013. Bosh was a traditional four who could make the move to the five in a way that STAT and Lee couldn’t. Then the Warriors kicked that concept into overdrive with Barnes and then Durant as their fours (and most recently Wiggins and Otto Porter Jr).

All of that being said, like Z-man, I don’t think there’s a clear path forward with this Mitchell trade, either, and I’d prefer they just hold on to the gunpowder, as well, but I think it probably makes probably just a little bit less sense than it did to make the Melo deal. It’s all reasonable enough, though. This isn’t like the insane Noah/Rose/Lee offseason. If this was a non-Knicks team, I’d be looking at it and saying, “Yeah, I get it. I don’t like it that much, but I get it.” But I think the Melo trade, as awful as it was, still made more sense at the time, it was just painful to see Masai get every single last asset he wanted in that deal. Ugh.

And here’s the poll:

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