If you’re a Knicks fan, you’d have to be in a coma to avoid the talk about Carmelo Anthony. Knicker-backers wonder if their team has enough chips to trade for Carmelo and seemingly obsess over every rumor. This talk obscures the point of whether the Knicks should trade for Carmelo this year. And I think this most recent game against the Celtics game answered that question.
Trading for Carmelo Anthony, instead of waiting for him to become a free agent, means the Knicks would trade away some assets to get him. One rumor had New York offering Danilo Gallinari, Landry Fields, and more (a first round pick that New York would have to trade for), in a Carmelo swap. I’m not stubborn enough to think that Gallo or Fields should stand in the way of getting an “elite” or “top 10” player, as Carmelo has been called. But let’s be frank, Anthony is not in that group. There’s no measure that puts him in the top 10, and there’s no rational argument to show that right now he’s better than LeBron, Wade, Dirk, Paul, Durant, Howard, Garnett, Duncan, Kobe, or Nash. With Amar’e on the team, Carmelo Anthony wouldn’t even be the best player on the Knicks. Even Hollinger’s PER, which overrates volume scorers like Carmelo, has him ranked 22nd, between Paul Millsap and David West.
Against Boston, the best defense in the league, New York’s offense was roaring with a robust 58.6% eFG. The Knicks didn’t need scoring, they needed depth and defense. Only three players came off the bench for New York that night, and all three had negative +/- for the game. The Knicks lead seemed to shrink each time Ronny Turiaf (-11), Toney Douglas (-9), and Shawne Williams (-3) entered the game. Additionally they let the Celtics shoot a healthy 56.4% eFG, higher than their yearly average.
Trading multiple players, including two starters, for Carmelo Anthony doesn’t seem to address these weaknesses. In fact you could argue that making such a deal now, instead of waiting for free agency, would exacerbate them. The Knicks have the fourth best offense and the ninth worst defense. Perhaps getting a few bench players that could help solidify their defense, and letting this exciting team run its course this year is the better option.