Fox Unbalanced: Courting Carmelo

Two guys who won't be able to go back to Denver.

I’ve never been known to have any real faith. I go to church once a year, been to temple twice in the last 30, and the last time I was in the vicinity of a mosque the alarms went off. Here is the short list of the things I do have faith in: that the earth will continue to rotate around its axis and not hurtle towards the sun; that my hiatal hernia will continue to contribute to my heinous acid reflux; that my four-month old German Shepherd will continue to make pee-pees on my 130-year old wood floors; and that Donnie Walsh is smart enough not to part ways with any combination of Landry Fields, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari in a deal with Denver that lands him Carmelo Anthony.

The Knicks have a good thing going right now and for their current chemistry to be messed with, they’d be taking a big gamble. Even though my eyes are bleeding from watching my own fantasy team, I still have enough vision to know that Anthony is not the piece to put them over the top. He is a great offensive talent, arguably the top inside-outside threat in the game. I also know that he is clearly better than either of the three guys linked in the trade… whatever.

Talent alone doesn’t put a team in the upper echelon… defense, toughness, smarts and chemistry do. The Knicks can score with anyone and are playing some pretty underrated defense right now and Fields, Chandler and Gallinari are a big part of that. New York needs an Anderson Varejao, or a DeAndre Jordan, or a Nene, some modern day version of Charles Oakley, sans the long-range marksmanship, to co-exist with Amare Stoudemire up front. They are being linked right now to Jordan and Marc Gasol, two solid fits.

Whomever Carmelo goes to will likely see him immediately ink a long-term extension as labor negotiations this summer could change the league’s financial landscape.  An Anthony deal is going to happen before the end of the month as he has become a dead man walking in the Rocky Mountains. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov will do what he has to do to get him to board a plane to Newark, despite Melo’s claim that he only wants to run with Mike D’Antoni’s club. Let’s see how this would shake out for each player involved from a fantasy perspective.

Carmelo Anthony – The Brooklyn native would remain a 25+-point scorer, regardless if he’s a Knick, Net or Albany Patroon. Despite slowly morphing into The Bride of Chucky (Starring LeBron James as Chucky), he is rebounding the ball much better this year (8.3 rpg) and that should continue in either borough.

Chauncey Billups – Mr. Big Shot has at times this season looked to be on his last legs. A move to New Jersey would not resurrect anything, just annoy him to no end as he had every intention of finishing his distinguished career in his hometown. The last I checked, neither Newark or Brooklyn are anything like Denver. His numbers should remain unaffected and he will still provide some value because of his ability to shoot the three and knock down 90 percent of his free throws.

Al Harrington – This is one brutal professional basketball player. Going to his native New Jersey and playing for one of the saddest teams in the league may encourage him to shoot more than he already does… an alarming thought. Barring injury and unforeseen stupidity by a future coach, Harrington’s days as a productive NBA player are over. I’d say 13.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 threes are still within reason.

Landry Fields – It would pain me to see Fields leave as he is that rare swingman who provides great defense, toughness and unselfishness as a rookie. He is too valuable to not play 30-35 minutes a night and would do so in Denver, playing alongside Arron Afflalo, a shorter version of Fields. As his shooting improves he’ll be a hot commodity, providing 6+ rebounds to go with 12-13 points and more than a three and a steal per game.

Wilson Chandler – Chandler is playing with extreme confidence and would continue to thrive in George Karl’s system. He has been the steal of fantasy drafts this year (17.7 ppg, 1.5 bpg) and the move could have him near the 20-point mark to go with nearly two threes and surprisingly good shot-blocking.

Danilo Gallinari – Gallo has a chance to be a real solid NBA player, but he could also go the way of Harrington. He has way more ability than Big Al and has developed a nice penchant for putting the ball on the floor and finishing strong at the rim. His inconsistency has scared me a bit this year, but in Denver, his numbers will only rise… unless of course he has to share the small forward spot with Chandler.

Troy Murphy – Murphy would be the big winner as a trade to DEE-TROIT BASKETBALL would help him to again see the light of day. Avery Johnson has made it his mission to ruin the season of Murph’s owners as he is averaging a mind-numbing 3.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in 16.0 minutes when he is not DNP-Cee Dee’d. Not many big men can average double-digit rebounds and shoot the three and he’d be a pretty good speculative add right about now.

Devin Harris – If Harris is moved to Denver, things could get murky for him very quickly as the Nuggets are expected to hand the offense to second-year dynamo Ty Lawson. Harris has looked as quick as ever this season, and, for him, has remained pretty healthy. He is way too talented to not carve out a role for himself, but expect his overall numbers to suffer.

Derrick Favors – Favors is a prized piece as far as the Nuggets are concerned. The 19-year-old has shown glimpses of being a solid low-post option as well as a shot-changer. With Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen both as gimpy as ever, Favors could be in the mix for close to 25 minutes a night. Keep him on your radar, but he is a year or two away from any real value.

Richard Hamilton – Hamilton is mired in a fantasy wasteland, playing for the rebuilding Pistons with the bumbling John Kuester as his coach. A jump to New Jersey would make him relevant again as he would start at shooting guard. He is not completely past his prime (age 32) and 15-17 points with a three and a steal would make him startable again in fantasy leagues.

Anthony Morrow – Until his injury, Morrow underwhelmed as the Nets’ starting shooting guard. All a move to Denver would do is bury him behind Afflalo and J.R. Smith, both strong 3-point shooters, while Afflalo is also a much better defender.

Unless he is stricken with Beriberi, Fox Unbalanced will typically appear in these pages every Thursday. If you or someone you know views a Grizzlies/Raptors game as a religious experience, this could be the perfect destination for you. Feel free to chime in with some feedback.

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