What If Wednesday is a weekly topic made by members of the society in which the writers give their opinions on hypothetical storylines.
Last week on What If Wednesday I discussed the Deron Williams trade to the Nets that happened in 2011. This week we look at another trade that happened during the 2010-2011 season, the Carmelo Anthony blockbuster deal that sent the superstar to the Knicks.
Carmelo Anthony was a successful college player in his one year with the Syracuse Orange, winning the national championship. After he won, he decided to enter the 2003 NBA Draft forgoing his final three eligible years. He was selected 3rd overall by the Denver Nuggets in a stacked draft that also had the talented players like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh to name a few. During his time in Denver, he made the All-Star game four times, made the All-NBA Second Team once and made the All-NBA Third Team three times. His playoff success was never really there, never making it out of the first round until 2009, when the team made it to the Western Conference Finals losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games. It was obvious that towards the end of Carmelo’s Nuggets career that he became frustrated and wanted a change of scenery, to more of a big market franchise.
He requested to be traded to the Knicks and on February 21st, 2011 after the All-Star Game, his wish was granted. However it did not come at an easy price for New York as they sent the majority of their starting lineup, role players, and even some draft picks to get Anthony from Denver. The Minnesota Timberwolves were involved in the mix in order to help both teams clear salary cap issues for the new players. Let’s go over each player traded and how well it has worked out five years later:
Minnesota Timberwolves received:
Anthony Randolph: Randolph was originally acquired by the Knicks in 2010 in a deal to send David Lee to the Warriors to clear cap space. He only played 17 games for the orange and blue, averaging 2 points and 2 rebounds per game. He was viewed as only an add on to the deal but took advantage of his time with Minnesota, having a career-high season in points (11.7). After a year and a half spent with the Timberwolves, he bounced around the league and is now playing overseas.
Eddy Curry: Knicks fans like myself cringe every time we see or hear someone talk about Eddy Curry. After one successful season with the team, he showed up to training camp slow and out of shape for two straight years. From 2008-2010, he only played 10 games and not evening suiting up during the 2011 season. He was more of a salary dump because of the hefty contract he had when he joined the team. Since the Nuggets did not want Curry and his massive contract, it’s the reason why the T-Wolves got involved. He never actually appeared in a game with the team and was bought out of his contract. After that he joined the Miami Heat and won a ring in 2012.
Minnesota also received Denver’s 2015 2nd-round draft pick, so we’ll see what happens with that. Now let’s look at the other two teams involved in the deal.
Denver Nuggets received:
Wilson Chandler: Chandler was actually one of my favorite Knick players and I was sad to see him go. He was in the midst of having a career year averaging 16.4 points per game and was an on and off starter for them at the 2 or 3. Once he was traded to Denver he became a middle of the rotation scorer. After spending a year in China during the 2011 NBA lockout and a couple of injury plagued seasons, he seems to have found his niche on the team. He is set to be a free agent this season, so it’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here.
Danilo Gallinari: This was another young starting player with a bright future the Knicks got rid of. Before being traded, Gallinari started 48 games averaging 15.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists. It seems like he will be the cornerstone player in a new era for the Nuggets. Much like Chandler, he had struggled with injury including an ACL tear that caused him to miss the 2013-2014 NBA season. He seems to be back on track this season, scoring a career-high 40 points this past March and later eclipsing that mark in April with 47 points.
Raymond Felton: Felton signed a two-year deal with New York before the 2010-2011 season and at the time was playing at an All-Star type of level, averaging career-highs in points (17.1), assists (9.0) and steals (1.8). The combination of him and Amar’e Stoudemire was deadly especially in the pick-and-roll. When he was on the Nuggets, he was regarded as a backup to Ty Lawson. After the season, he discussed his frustration with the team saying he should be a starter and was dealt to Portland. After a dreadful year there he was traded back to New York. If you were like me at the time and expected him to return back to his old form during his first stint with the Knicks, you were wrong. He hasn’t been the same player since and now he is currently in a crowded backcourt in Dallas.
Timofey Mozgov: Mozgov was a raw prospect for New York at the time and only played 14 games before being dealt. During his time in Denver, he carved a nice role for himself for a couple of years. This season, he was traded to the Cavaliers and is currently starting for them.
Kosta Koufos: Koufos was acquired from the Timberwolves and like Mozgov, was viewed as a raw prospect. He showed some promise in his years in Denver before being traded to the Grizzlies.
Draft Picks: Now here is where it gets a little confusing. New York traded away 3 picks (1 first rounder and 2 second rounders). The two second-round picks (2012 & 2013) were previously acquired from Golden State in a sign and trade for David Lee. In 2012, they used that pick to select Quincy Miller (38th overall). Miller never really found a spot on the team with the Nuggets and is now in a bench role in Detroit. The 2013 2nd-round and 2014 first-round pick were actually traded to the Magic in the Dwight Howard trade (a whole other story that would take hours to explain). In 2013, the Magic used that selection to pick Romero Osby, who never ended up playing in the NBA. In 2014, the Nuggets had two first-round picks but traded one to the Magic as stated earlier, however the Nuggets only kept the higher pick and gave the lower pick to Orlando. Denver and Orlando ended up picking 11th and 12th, respectively. Orlando used that selection to get the 21-year-old Croatian Dario Saric. They eventually traded him the 76ers on draft night for Eilfrid Payton who has been doing a great job for them running the point.
Still with me so far? Good. Now let’s break down each player the Knicks got in the deal.
Corey Brewer: Brewer, a former first-round pick, spent the first couple of years in the league with the Timberwolves and was traded to the Knicks. He looked like a potential good wing defender for New York but was waived one week later without playing a game for them. The next day he signed with the Mavericks and eventually won an NBA title with the them, becoming one of only a few players to win both an NBA championship and an NCAA championship. Since he won the title, he has bounced around the league becoming a nice role player for each team he’s been on, which is currently the Houston Rockets.
Anthony Carter: The journeyman veteran was more of an add on to the deal. He only played 19 games for the Knicks, after that he played for the Raptors and is now an assistant coach for the Austin Spurs D-League team.
Shelden Williams: Like Carter, Williams was viewed as more of an add-on to the deal. The former no. 5 pick in the 2006 NBA draft has never averaged more than 6 points per game and was out of the league by 2012, last playing for the Nets.
Renaldo Balkman: This was Balkman’s second stint with the team after not having a successful first go around. He only played in 17 games in a span of 2 years before being waived. Since then he has been bouncing around teams overseas.
Chauncey Billups: He made an immediate impact with the Knicks, starting 21 games having decent averages in points (17.5). However, he was injured in the first game of the 2011 playoffs which resulted in the Knicks getting swept in the first round by Boston. He was then waived via the amnesty clause and signed with the Clippers and finished off his career playing for the Pistons, which were his best years in the NBA in the mid-2000’s.
Carmelo Anthony: Now let’s talk about the main guy in the deal, Carmelo Anthony. Once he joined the team, he signed a three-year extension and made an immediate impact with the team, leading them to the playoffs, which was the first time the Knicks made the playoffs since 2004. He has been named to the All-Star team all four years he has been in New York, also winning the scoring title in 2013. However, he has never made it past the second round of the playoffs in New York, and was in talks that he might leave the team to sign with a championship-caliber team. In the 2014 offseason, Anthony re-signed to a five year deal with New York. After a terrible start to the season, the Knicks decided to shut him down after having constant knee pain.
I know that was a lot to handle. A 13-player deal with 4 future draft picks in different years is never easy to break down. Now the question some sports writers and Knicks fans like myself have asked, what if Carmelo Anthony was never traded?
For starters, Carmelo would have finished out the season, but would not have re-signed with Denver when the 2010-2011 season ended. Since New York was his top destination, he would sign with them but not at a large price since it would be a new team. Anthony would be on a team that had the talents of Amar’e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Landry Fields, Ronny Turiaf, Toney Douglas and Shawne Williams. Now obviously I don’t think they all would of played together due to salary problems. So when he signed they would have had to let some people go. The first person that comes to mind is Wilson Chandler, since he plays the same position as Carmelo, maybe even trade away Gallinari or possibly keep him and put him at the 4 with Amar’e at the 5.
Now for the Knicks, if they never traded away all those players, I actually believe that they would have done pretty well with the young core they had as stated above. Before the trade, Amar’e Stoudemire was having a great first year with the Knicks, averaging 25.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.9 BPG and even had a career-best .435 shooting percentage behind the three-point line. He was voted as a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Star team and made the All-NBA Second Team, also receiving some MVP consideration at the time.
Now for Denver, since Anthony had planned on leaving it was a good call to trade him away for picks and young talent. But if the trade never happened, Carmelo would have left the Nuggets to sign with the another team and Denver would have been without anything. They would have been in a lot worse of a re-building mode than they are now.
This will be sort of a debate for a while on which team won this blockbuster deal. If you had to ask me, I’d say it was pretty even for both sides. For New York, they got a firm cornerstone piece that they were looking for. Don’t get me wrong, I really loved the Stoudemire deal and him playing alongside Felton was a great one-two punch, but they needed that one player that could possibly take them over the top. As far as the other players involved, like Billups, it was more of add-ons so there wasn’t expectations for them to be the future, just Carmelo.
As for Denver, they were able to get rid of the headaches that Anthony eventually brought with him and in return they were able to get some nice pieces to help out with their future. Despite them getting rid of majority of the players and the possibility of losing Chandler, they may have a good young player in Gallinari that could stick around, but it will be tough since he has had his fair share of injuries. But I do think he will have a bright future with the Nuggets.
What do you think? Who won the Carmelo Anthony deal? What could have happened? Tweet at us at @BBallSociety_