(Long Island, N.Y.)It has been quite some time since the New York Knicks have felt comfortable in the standings, especially at this juncture of the season. They have been holding the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and have been able to hold off a recent surge by the Philadelphia 76ers, who are now two games back.
But this shouldn’t give anyone at Madison Square Garden a sense of security. Quite the contrary, it has more to do with the conference itself being one that is far from deep rather than the Knicks being a powerhouse. At 28-26, they would be in 10th place in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.
So even though things are a heck of a lot better now than they have been, the Knicks are far from a position to rest on their laurels. Team president Donnie Walsh has done an admirable job in cleansing the roster of the overpaid and underperforming (except for center Eddy Curry, who cannot even be given away) and adding some punch in forward Amare Stoudemire and guard Raymond Felton, but he has yet to make ‘the’ big move.
Residents of Gotham had expected that to come last July when LeBron James was on the open market, but we all recall how that turned out. Seven months later, Walsh has a second chance.
Carmelo Anthony wants to be a Knick and the Denver Nuggets seem inclined to trade him before he walks, so why aren’t Modell’s windows full of blue and orange number 15 jerseys yet? With the NBA trade deadline coming up on February 24th, the entire league expects the superstar to be moved. The question is if the Knicks will be the one or not.
There have been other teams mentioned, such as the New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets, but Anthony has appeared New York-bound for the most part. In a perfect world, Walsh can simply wait until the summer and hope that ‘Melo will sign on the dotted line when he is a free agent and he wouldn’t have to give up players and future draft picks, but that may be too big of a chance to take.
The Nuggets have reportedly asked for a first round draft pick, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and possibly rookies Landry Fields and Timofey Mozgov. Obviously Walsh will have to bring them back to reality and slim down the package, but parting with a Gallinari or Chandler should not hold this trade up.
The seven-year pro out of Syracuse has a career average of 24.8 points per game and has played in three NBA All-Star games. He is a bona-fide star and can make a huge difference on a team that already has Stoudemire in place.
For years, Patrick Ewing was the only member of the Knicks’ roster who could win a game by himself. Players such as John Starks, Charles Oakley and Allan Houston were excellent in their own way, but were unable to help the Knicks’ captain in bringing a championship back here.
Stoudemire may be headed for the same fate, but adding Anthony to the mix does more in half a season than Ewing had in 15. Two go-to guys to lead this team deep into the playoffs and more.
Right now, the Knicks will be gone after the first round of the postseason, and even the staunchest of fans will have a hard time arguing that. Guys like Chandler and Fields are even less talented than Starks and Houston and are certainly replaceable.
But another 15 years without a title is not.