In a season where the entire Eastern Conference is struggling, with the obvious exceptions of two, perhaps the biggest disappointment has been the New York Knicks. Just a half season after winning 54 games under head coach Mike Woodson, the Knicks have surpassed their loss total from last season (28) before the All-Star break (32). Even harder to explain than that awful turnaround is the fact that the Knicks are just 2.5 games out of a playoff spot and certainly still have the ability to make the postseason.
However, the point is, aside from 4 games at the turn of the calendar year, there hasn’t been a period all season in which the Knicks have looked like a playoff team. Even if they were to make the playoffs, if they don’t get a seed higher than 7th, they don’t really have a chance to beat Indiana or Miami in a series. Even last year, the Knicks were outmatched by the Indiana Pacers and the teams have certainly gone in different directions since then.
So, maybe this isn’t just a down year for the Knicks. Perhaps, to join that upper tier in the Eastern Conference currently containing the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, the personnel in the Garden must change.
While there have been many names tossed around in rumors, from Metta World Peace to coach Mike Woodson, the outcome on the court is determined by the star. Carmelo Anthony is certainly the star of this team but it may be time to admit the trade with the Denver Nuggets didn’t work out and the Knicks may not be able to win with Anthony as the main option.
Earlier this week, Evan Massey of hoops-nation.com reported that the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks have been in contact trying to work out a way to get Carmelo Anthony to Chicago:
The report states that the Bulls would be giving up Carlos Boozer, Kirk Hinrich, Tony Snell, Jimmy Butler, and likely a first round pick as well. In return, Chicago would receive Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton, and Iman Shumpert.
To date, this is the best proposed deal I’ve seen because I believe both sides would benefit greatly from it.
Carmelo is one of the best pure scorers in the game but at times lacks, albeit effort, not skill, in other areas of the game. Playing for coach Tom Thibodeau in Chicago would certainly encourage Anthony to raise his effort on the defensive end while playing his system of offense, which pushes for ball movement, two areas that if improved upon, could help take Melo to the next level. While allowing Derrick Rose to handle the ball, Anthony would give him another option on either the perimeter, or in the post where, teamed with Joakim Noah, he could really flourish.
At this point, Raymond Felton is essentially worthless so I’d have no problem trading him and although I think Iman Shumpert is a solid player, it’d be worth trading him for this package since we’d get to keep Tim Hardaway Jr, who I believe has a higher potential anyway.
Looking at what we’d receive in return, that first round draft pick is perhaps the most influential. In a draft class that is looking absolutely stacked, the Knicks currently don’t have a first round pick and if we’re going to part ways with Carmelo, the future of the team could be in this year’s draft. Rookie Tony Snell has decent size for a 2 guard and is a tough defender with potential to be a “3 and D” guy off the bench. Kirk Hinrich is a backup but has shown he is more than capable of starting in the absence of Derrick Rose and if nothing else, he’s an upgrade over Raymond Felton and Beno Udrih. Jimmy Butler has developed into a solid player under coach Thibodeau who can do a little bit of everything. He can handle the ball, shoot, rebound and usually defends the other team’s best player; he is essentially what the Knicks hope Iman Shumpert becomes. The last piece, Carlos Boozer, could potentially have the most impact on the court. Although a bit small and towards the end of his career, he can still provide valuable minutes for a team that has been beat up all season in the paint. He may not be the defender that Tyson Chandler or Kenyon Martin is but he is very tough on the block and more of an offensive threat than either.
As a fan, it’s extremely difficult to admit your best player isn’t good enough to win a Championship so I can only imagine the pressure on the coaches and front office, not to mention Carmelo himself. Winning in sports is all about finding what works and running with it. After sacrificing so much time and so many assets for Carmelo Anthony to essentially make up no ground in the Conference, it may be time to cut our losses and start looking for something else. If there are no intentions of resigning Carmelo, sending him to Chicago should be the first step in doing just that.