By Andy Roth
New York, NY (Sports Network) -
Everything's fine and "Melo" in the Mile High City since last season's big trade. The same can't be said in the Big Apple.
The Nuggets should be eternally grateful to Carmelo Anthony, who made it clear he wanted to flee Denver for the bright lights of New York last season. The four-time All-Star got his wish when he was dealt to the Knicks last February along with Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter and Renaldo Balkman, as part of a three-team deal with the Timberwolves. In return, the Nuggets received Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, the Knicks' 2014 1st-round pick, the Warriors' 2012 and 2013 2nd-round picks and $3 million cash.
Since the blockbuster trade the Knicks have played worse and the Nuggets have been better. Make that much better. Before dealing Anthony last season, Denver was 32-25 (.561 winning percentage). Following his departure, the Nuggets closed out the season 18-7 (.720 winning percentage), and were eliminated in five games by the Thunder in the opening round of the playoffs. This year, the Nuggets are 10-5, even though they're missing three key components from last season, as free agents Kenyon Martin, Wilson Chandler, and J.R. Smith all signed to play in China during the lockout. Denver's overall record since dealing Anthony is 28-12 (.700%)
As for the Knicks and Carmelo, this may be a case of the saying, "be careful what you wish for, it might come true," because as anxious as the two parties were to come together, the results haven't been good. The Knicks were two- games above .500 (28-26) at the time of the trade. After the addition of their so-called superstar they went 14-14 and were swept out of the first round by the Celtics. This season has been even more disappointing, considering they added Tyson Chandler to the front line with Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. The Knicks are 6-8, but you can easily make the argument they've played worse than their record indicates.
What's the moral of this story? Well, there are two. The first is that when you trade so many quality chips for one player, you leave yourself with too many gaping holes and too little financial flexibility to fill them. The second, in my estimation, Anthony is not a superstar, and to pair him with another player who dominates the ball like Stoudemire will not produce a winning combination. Carmelo is a super scorer, but he doesn't do anything to elevate his teammates' production such as the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose. I think if Anthony is the best player on your team, it's very unlikely you'll win a championship. It's no surprise that in his seven full seasons with the Nuggets they only made it out of the first round once, despite some years where he had a pretty good supporting cast. And as much as I'm not a fan of Carmelo, I like Stoudemire even less. The more I see him play, the more I'm convinced this was a terrible signing. He's a bad defender, a mediocre rebounder, and because he doesn't like to play in the low post, his game doesn't impact the offense outside of the times he puts the ball in the basket.
TNT basketball analyst Charles Barkley summed up the Anthony-Stoudemire combo best earlier in the season, when he referred to them as "ball-stoppers", because when the ball is in their hands it stops moving.
Dwight Howard should ask for a full refund from the shooting coach he worked with in the off season. Ed Palubinskas, who bills himself as the "Shooting Surgeon General" and the "Free-Throw Master", sent an e-mail to the Orlando Sentinel prior to securing Howard as a client and said, "I will completely change his numbers in less than one week and you won't recognize him." Well he was certainly a man of his word as Howard is shooting a career-low 46% from the line this season after hitting 60% last year.
And while on the subject of really bad foul shooters, I have to mention Blake Griffin. He continues to struggle from the line (.517 %) and with his mid- range game. Until last season's Rookie of the Year winner gets a reliable jump shot, I don't think he'll reach superstar status.
In a poll of NBA General Managers, Derrick Rose was named the best point guard, followed by Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook. I was pretty shocked that there are GM's out there that think Westbrook is better than Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo. I'm not so sure I'd want them running my team with that kind of talent evaluating.
Despite having the league's leading scorer in Kobe Bryant (30.4 ppg), the Lakers continue to struggle offensively. They scored just 73 points in Monday's win over Dallas and followed that up with 87 in last night's loss in Miami. The Lakers have topped the 100-point mark just once this season, and are averaging only 92.9 ppg, down almost nine points from last season (101.5 ppg). It's become quite obvious that they have to add another reliable scorer to this roster and not rely so much on Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum to shoulder so much of the offensive load.
Andy Roth covered the Knicks for NBC Radio and AP Radio for eleven years and
was an NBA Columnist for Celtics Pride Magazine for two years. He's covered
many of the major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA
Finals, U.S. Open Tennis and Golf.