Melo drama ends in New York

It took months of speculation and plot twists but the Carmelo Anthony trade drama is finally over. The New York Knicks brought it to an end this week though time will tell if they are better or worse off as a result.

New York landed Anthony in a three team deal on Monday. The Knicks got the star forward plus guards Chancey Billups, Anthony Carter and Renaldo Balkman along with centre Shelden Williams. In exchange Denver got Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, three draft picks and US$3 million. The Minnesota Timberwolves got the expiring contracts of Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph from New York for Corey Brewer.

On the surface it seems the Knicks are firmly back as a basketball powerhouse in the East. Anthony, 26, is an elite scorer and has guided the Nuggets to the playoffs in each of his seven years in the league. He now teams up with Amare Stoudemire, who came to New York from Phoenix in the offseason, to create a fearsome inside-outside combination. Couple that with a grizzled playmaker in Billups and an up-and-coming supporting cast featuring Landry Fields and the Knicks can make noise as a top four team in May.

However the depth of the Knicks is now a serious question. It’s no secret that the Knicks have struggled to field a big man to help take pressure off of Stoudemire in the post. The deal does not provide any front court support for Stoudemire and if anything only makes the Knicks smaller because they gave up two quality forwards.

The other issue is Anthony’s under a lot of pressure. Granted he is a great player and has the scoring ability to make up for Gallinari and Chandler. But he can only take so many minutes every game in order to stay healthy for the playoffs. Ronny Turiaf, Shawne Williams and Bill Walker are hardly the kind of support he needs off the bench.

Even at the guard position there are questions. Swapping Billups for Felton is debatable as Felton is younger and has more legs for an up-tempo style. But adding Carter and Williams figures to impact the minutes for Toney Douglas, who has emerged as an solid shooter off the bench.

Ultimately New York accomplished one undisputable fact through landing Carmelo: they are clearly the talk of basketball again. Whether or not they are as good as advertised remains to be seen.