It didn’t take long for Carmelo Anthony to leave an impression on the many intelligent Knickerbocker fans out there. He was brutal Wednesday night, folks, forcing up shots and not sprinting back on defense on a regular basis. But thanks to Toney Douglas‘ sparkling play, the Knicks hung on to defeat the Bucks at the Garden. Now let me get this straight – every pseudo basketball fan East of the Hudson was head over heels for this team through December, despite a schedule that made the Harlem Globetrotters jealous, but were then ready to jump ship following a mediocre six-week stretch? People were completely over-the-top with this team pre-trade and are now so quick to abandon ship because Captain Chucker is in town.
Last night was the most important Knick game at the Garden in more than 15 years. Or was it that game against the Celtics in December? Or didn’t I hear that the Heat game at the Garden was the best event at MSG since Ali-Frazier I? Just because they couldn’t get a good game of checkers going in the Garden the past 10 years doesn’t make every important game “the most important” in MSG history.
I didn’t think Knicks fans were blind to the type of player Danilo Gallinari was becoming. How about the great role Wilson Chandler played? How about that tough mothereffer, Ray Felton? How about that chemistry they had going? Hell, I was even impressed with Amar’e Stoudemire‘s effort at times.
Donnie Walsh and James Dolan caved to a bonehead mass audience by breaking up an up-and-coming team with long-term aspirations to bring in their “second superstar”, ’cause, you know, you can’t win a championship without two superstars (hmm, Detroit 2003-04, Miami 2005-06 anyone?). When was the last time a team was thrown together through trades and free agent signings and won a title?
Everyone is a superstar these days. Superstars, in my book, are hard-nosed leaders who make their teammates better and don’t need to score to have a big effect on a game. Carmelo is an exciting player, and one of the most talented offensive forces of this generation. He will also lull his teammates to sleep by pounding the dribble and going one-on-one, and defends as if his opponent was signed out of a leper colony moments before the game.
The Knicks went from an exciting 45-win team that would have a hard time getting out of the first round to an exciting 50-win team that will have a hard time getting out of the first round. They’re also back to having little leverage to acquire the big man they need to put them over the top and may have to upgrade Chauncey Billups in two years if his 36-year old body is incapable of handling a large workload. As Jeff noted the other day, Denver made the coup of the century, especially considering Carmelo was an impending free agent.
All right. My wife just slapped me upside the head, reminding me that this is a fantasy basketball blog. Let’s take a look at the fallout from some of the other moves made around the league.
The LA Clippers send Baron Davis and a #1 pick to Cleveland for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon: In the span of a few months, Davis went from pretty much being done, to being revitalized, to once again being done. He is currently out with a sore knee and a badly bruised ego. I can see him shooting about 12 percent from the field if and when he returns. His days as even an average fantasy point guard in this league could be over. Hang on to Ramon Sessions. As for Williams, his ankle injury should heal in record time as I’m sure he is giddy at the idea of throwing lobs into the third deck of Staples Center that Blake Griffin will catch and punch through the cylinder. He could have a solid final month-and-a-half.
Atlanta sends Mike Bibby, Maurice Evans, Jordan Crawford and a #1 pick to Washington for Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong: Solid trade by both teams. Captain Kirk is just the gritty floor leader the Hawks need if they want to get out of the first round. As for the Wizards, Hinrich’s services and hefty salary were no longer needed with John Wall in tow. They picked up a young talent in Crawford, a mid-first round pick, and will only have to deal with Bibby’s albatross of a contract for the remainder of this year and next.
New Jersey sends Troy Murphy and a #2 pick to Golden State for Brandan Wright and Dan Gadzuric: This has been a lost year for the high-priced Murphy, and unless Golden State sends him to a better situation or buys him out, his career could be in jeopardy. Wright will finally have a legitimate shot at earning productive minutes and I would suggest keeping him on the radar. Kris Humphries has been solid, but is not the Nets’ long-term answer at power forward. As for Gadzuric, he’ll be waiting in the wings in case of a Brook Lopez injury and will also be ready to swoop in if things don’t go as planned between Humph and his bodacious eye candy.
Chicago sends James Johnson to Toronto for Miami’s 2001 #1 pick: The Raptors must think very highly of Johnson to make this move. Jay Triano even started him against his former team tonight over Sonny Weems and he produced a credible nine points, five rebounds and three blocked shots in 26 minutes of work. Keep an eye on Johnson over the next few games.
New York trades Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph to Minnesota for Corey Brewer: Minnesota was the third team in the NY / Denver blockbuster and comes away with the 6’10” grasshopper and Curry’s massive waistline and expiring contract. David Kahn has done it again. He now has Curry and Darko Milicic, two of the biggest disasters this side of LaRue Martin.
Since the Nets quietly landed the fabulous Deron Williams, Greg Fox has been in the state of shock. He actually wrote this piece with the help of his five-year old niece and six-month old German Shepherd, a noted Detlef Schrempf fan. Typically, unless he is stricken with the same ingrown toenail that affected him in the second grade, Fox Unbalanced will 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.