Thanks to the ongoing work of Donnie Walsh, the additions of Amar’e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton and the development of a number of useful young players who mesh with coach Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system perfectly, the New York Knicks this season have emerged from their decade long funk and established themselves as a solid playoff team. As most NBA fans know by now, this development has caused most observers to declare that the Knicks must complete the long discussed trade for superstar forward Carmelo Anthony no matter the cost (with the exception of Stoudemire, of course), especially now that the Los Angeles Lakers have become involved in the Anthony sweepstakes. For my money though, the Knicks should not make an offer for the free agent to be Anthony for anything less than the bare minimum.
As I mentioned in the opening, the Knicks this season are experiencing a renaissance of sorts this season thanks in large part to the fact that the team finally has a competent man in place running the team in Donnie Walsh. Walsh has established a solid reputation as a man who knows how to build great teams and it appears he is well on his way with the Knicks. Trading away significant pieces of Walsh’s team at this point to pick up Anthony might ultimately be counter-productive- while Anthony is undoubtedly a superstar, one has to wonder if he is truly the kind of elite superstar who can carry a team to a title as “the man” (ala Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan) or is he simply another Grant Hill or Tracy McGrady, the kind of player who can carry a team into the playoffs but always come up short. Either way, it would certainly benefit the Knicks to add Anthony at some point but unless one thinks that Anthony can carry the team to a championship, I’m not sure it would be worth it to acquire him in the middle of this season when he can easily be had as a free agent in the off-season. Even with the addition of Anthony, the Knicks likely aren’t any better than 4th in the East this season and as such, are highly unlikely to beat win two road series to reach the Finals, let alone three road series to win the title. To put it plain, trading for Anthony right now does not improve the Knicks enough right now to make it worthwhile if the team has to actually give up much more than the package that is on the table right now. Even if the Lakers are in the mix, the Knicks shouldn’t consider this a bad thing- it simply means that a team in the other conference who is already better than the Knicks and already considered a more worthwhile title contender improved their odds. Once the New Jersey Nets removed themselves from the running and Anthony made it clear he would likely never sign with the Nets, this situation became one that the Knicks can’t lose- at this point, one of three things will happen if the Knicks don’t trade for Anthony
- He is traded to the Lakersand signs an extension with LA
- He stays in Denver and signs an extension with the Nuggets or
- He stays in Denver and hits the open market in the summer
In the first two scenarios, the Knicks are not helped but they aren’t hurt either as Anthony remains in the West and, while the Knicks don’t get him, the team does have the off-season to focus on other moves to improve their championship chances. In the latter, most likely (imo) scenario, the Knicks are the obvious favorites to sign Anthony and none of the other top contenders in the East appear to be options for Anthony. So at the end of the day, while not exactly a win-win, not trading for Carmelo Anthony is the case where the Knicks cannot lose. In a league where there is a history of teams making trades that were supposed to put them on top which worked the other way around (Grant Hill to Orlando, McGrady to Houston), sometimes the trade that is not made is the best move.
I have what amounts to a love-hate relationship with Barack Obama- while I am generally philosophically opposed to most of his policies, he nevertheless always finds a way to say things that I like to hear. Tonight’s State of the Union address is no exception- despite the fact that I know most of his proposals are either a) things that will never pass both houses of Congress or b) things that I know will never be implemented in the manner that they actually should be (what are the chances that his idea of radically restructuring the way the governments actually amounts to actually restructuring the government in the manner that actually tears down government bureaucracy?). But despite the fact that I should know better, whenever Obama gives these kind of speeches with the kind of forward thinking rhetoric I can’t help but- for just a few fleeting moments at least- want to support the man. Luckily, Paul Ryan followed him up with a masterful rebuttal that shocked me back to my senses.
Where Barack Obama was inspiring in his address and touched all the right notes that everyone wants to hear, Paul Ryan’s rebuttal was the stone cold hard truth that Americans need to hear. Ryan gave an articulate summation of how we have gotten in the hole we are in followed up with an honest answer to how we get out of the mess. It wasn’t bright and cheery and it wasn’t what Americans might want to hear but it was what we need to hear. Americans don’t need a rah-rah speech from Coach Obama, we need a lot of filmroom study and a good gameplan that will actually work to win the big game.
Speaking of the big game, I’d like to make an obvious joke about Michelle Bachmann being the head cheerleader but I have much too much respect for actual cheerleaders to go that route. As always, Bachmann exuded the vapidness that makes her the darling of both the far right and the left. The less said about (and by, what it’s worth), the better.
In case anyone has been living under a rock this or pre-occupied with things that actually matter, “King James” Lebron James is set to announce his free agency destination tonight in a 9:00 live televised event on ESPN. ESPN of course has been devoting approximately 90 percent of their non-World Cup coverage over the last couple of weeks to the NBA’s free agency frenzy and that coverage has been focused primarily on James (did you know the NHL has it’s own high-profile free agent battle going on with super sniper Ilya Kovalchuk with the added caveat that Kovalchuk could easily end up playing in a totally different league altogether? You certainly don’t if you, like most Americans, rely on ESPN for your sports news and information.).
Now, here is where the hypocrisy lies. While ESPN has been devoting inordinate amounts of coverage to the Lebron James free agency saga, Lebron himself has endeavored to control the actual reveal himself by setting the time, a neutral location (Greenwich, Ct) and presumably the way the news is presented. Over the last few days ESPN has allowed its assortment of talking head shows (First Take, Around the Horn, PTI, etc…) to “debate” the merits of Lebron James conducting the final act of his free agency saga in such a manner, calling him arrogant and out of line for creating an hour-long spectacle but my question is this- if Lebron James simply sent out a press release at 9:00 on Thursday night announcing his final destination, does anyone doubt ESPN wouldn’t respond with a quick “Sportscenter Special” with their own crew of talking heads breaking down the news on their terms?
At the end of the day, that’s what most of the criticism of Lebron James here is really about- it’s about the athlete taking control of the situation instead of the network. This is about Michael Wilbon or Tony Kornheiser or whoever else the network wants to roll out for their opinion pieces not getting a chance to do so until Lebron has had his chance to define the news and lay out the groundwork on his terms. This is all about control and after devoting a disproportionate amount of coverage to this story and manipulating this into the story of the century, ESPN can’t stand that they have been forced to forfeit control of the final coup-d-grace to the actual subject of the story. Bravo Lebron, bravo!