Trade Musings: Could the Knicks Beat the 2010 Nuggets?

* When I heard the Carmelo Anthony trade news, my first thought was the Knicks just put on a 45-50 win call spread that isn’t set to expire for many years. In other words, the Knicks are now the Atlanta Hawks. But on further review, aren’t the 2011 Knicks a doppelganger for the 2010 Nuggets? The fact of the matter is the 2010 Nuggets, losers in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, had a better roster than the current Knicks, with guys like Aaron Aflalo, JR Smith, Ty Lawson, Chris Anderson and a younger Billups more than offsetting the advantage that Amare has over the underrated Nene.  So the question I have for Knicks fans …. Heading into last Summer, did you aspire to become the “Denver of the East” or “Denver Lite?”

* More than a few critics think the Knicks overpaid for an asset that would have been heavily discounted next Summer. Asked about this, Donnie Walsh has staked his reputation on the following thesis: “we were sure that Carmelo would not have been available this summer.” Explicit in this statement is a charge that Denver completely panicked and didn’t read Anthony’s intentions correctly. Because had the Nuggets merely waited, Walsh believes Anthony would have followed the money back to Denver (or to New Jersey). This is debatable supposition but my guess is you will hear Anthony, sometime in the not so distant future, provide Walsh with some cover by intimating that the Knicks GM was correct. Such a move is called “good form” but it should not be confused with the truth.

* Sure it’s a gamble but I think the odds are pretty good that Deron Williams will be playing in Brooklyn when the 2012-13 season opens. By making this trade, the Nets seem to be banking on a three things. One, the new CBA may include a franchise tag that will allow teams to hold on to their stars. In that event, this trade is a standup triple for New Jersey. Two, Williams does have an $18M option for 2013 which may be anywhere from $0-5M more than he might be able to make under the new CBA. And three, the Nets will be playing in their hot new Brooklyn digs in two years. Isn’t it possible that Williams might want to see that card before he folds his Nets’ hand? Add it all up and I am buying the proposition that Deron’s future is in Brooklyn.

* So how do the Nets improve from here? Well, they have their backcourt in Williams and Anthony Morrow. They have a “B Minus” center in Brook Lopez. And they have ample cap space this summer, plus two number ones in the 2012 draft (both could be lottos). Can you make lemonade out of all that?  Maybe take a run this summer at Nick Young, Thadeus Young or Wilson Chandler to play the three? Instead, perhaps they go big and make an offer to Zach Randolph, a guy who I can see bucking the trend of FA’s who bucked New Jersey. Or do they keep their powder dry so in 2012, with Williams already on board, they have the dough available to bring in Dwight Howard? Whatever course they chart, one thing is certain … the Nets future is a lot more interesting today than it was yesterday.

* Since beating the Nuggets in the opening round of the playoffs last season … the Jazz have been swept out of the playoffs, watched an all-star leave for greener pastures, traded two number ones for a player they would just assume write off, had an iconic coach quit on them, and now witnessed the third best player in franchise history finagle his way out of town. Smoldering in the ashes is a heap of garbage that looks an awful lot like a 34-win team and a team that probably needs to get a whole lot worse before it can get a whole lot better.


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