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Hello Melo: Anthony to Make Knicks Debut at MSG Tonight

Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups
Denver Nuggets players Carmelo Anthony (15) and Chauncey Billups visit during a teammate’s free throw attempt during the second half of an NBA basketball game at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009. The Nuggets beat the Spurs, 106-99(AP Photo/ Bahram Mark Sobhani)

Nuggets Life After Me Mian
Denver Nuggets players Carmelo Anthony (15) and Chauncey Billups visit during a teammate's free throw attempt during the second half of an NBA basketball game at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009. The Nuggets beat the Spurs, 106-99(AP Photo/ Bahram Mark Sobhani)
Unless you’ve been living under the Denver Rocky Mountains for the past seven months, the Melo-drama that has surrounded All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony came to an end Monday night.

As a part of a three-team, 13-player deal, the Knicks receive guards Chauncey Billups and Anthony Carter along with forwards Renaldo Balkman and Shelden Williams. And some guy named Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks shipped the expiring contract of Eddy Curry along with prospect Anthony Randolph in exchange for forward, Corey Brewer.

In return the Nuggets netted four of the Knicks starting five in Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov. Denver also acquired center Kosta Koufos from Minnesota, plus New York’s first-round pick in 2014, second-round picks in 2012 and 2013 and cash considerations.

Logistics aside, it’s clear that both sides are going to be content with the pieces that were exchanged in this mega-deal. For the Knicks, this is easily the greatest acquisition in franchise history and fans worrying the Knicks surrendered too much in this deal are delusional.

Consider, in a 30-team league, the Knicks were able to secure a player that gives them two of the 10 starting players in last weekend’s All-Star game. That’s something that Knicks fans couldn’t say when Patrick Ewing was manning the middle in the Garden. This deal brings the Knicks closer to the days when they were actually winning championships in the 1970’s.

With the acquisition of Anthony, the Knicks are in a better place presently and set themselves up for a brighter future after the ink on Anthony’s three-year, $65 million extension dried. If James Dolan and Donnie Walsh can fill out the rotation around Landry Fields, Stoudemire and Anthony with cost-effective, complementary veteran players along with solidifying depth and placing an emphasis on defense, the Knicks could be staring the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls down in the future in the battle for the East.

To be completely fair, the starting rotation surrounding Amar’e Stoudemire were nice complementary pieces but they weren’t going to bring a championship to New York. With the former cast on Broadway, the Knicks were barely a .500 team at 28-26, good enough for the sixth seed in the East. If the starting rotation of Felton-Landry Fields-Chandler-Stoudemire-Mozgov were that good, wouldn’t they be better than the 28-26 record they posted in the first half?

Melo is widely considered as one of the most versatile scorers in the game with his ability to use his size and strength to post defenders up with enough handle to dominate with his dribble-drive penetration. In a superstar dominated league, the Knicks now have two of the 15 best players in the league and I couldn’t care if they had to dismantle their starting lineup to do so. With only 28 games left to play in the season, it will take some time for this new band of Knicks to grow accustomed to playing with one another. Even LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh still haven’t reached their full potential as they’re still figuring out how to play with one another. It’s scary to think that their growing pains have resulted in the second best record in the East.

The more I look at the Knicks roster, the more I see how many of the questions about depth become transparent. Roger Mason, who was good enough to be a role player in 161 of 164 games under Gregg Popovich, is a reserve the Knicks need to blow the dust off of to strengthen the bench. To fill out the rotation, the Knicks will turn to center Ronny Turiaf whose championship experience and defensive presence will be much needed in the middle. In this league, having two superstars on your roster is a pretty damn good way to build a franchise, no matter the cost.

A lot of the pressure following the Carmelo trade will fall squarely on the shoulders of Mike D’Antoni. During the memorable playoff runs orchestrated by D’Antoni in Phoneix, no one team cared less about defense than the Suns. Expect more of the same in New York now that the Knicks have two of the most prolific scorers in Anthony and Amar’e. Until the proper personnel are assembled to lock down teams defensively, the Knicks are going to put the ball in the hands of Melo and Amar’e over and over again and will try to outscore you on a nightly basis.

In Carmelo Anthony, Donnie Walsh or James Dolan or Isiash Thomas or whoever is responsible for the Brooklyn native donning the blue and orange, provided the Knicks with a foundation that will make them a legitimate contender in the East this season and for years to come. For the first time in a long time the Knicks are a relevant basketball franchise. For Knicks fans, they’ll be witness to a high-octane, high-scoring, superstar latent lineup led by a grizzled, veteran point guard in the greatest arena in the world, Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks trade for Carmelo Anthony marks a historic moment for a franchise that has been in the shadows of basketball obscurity for far too long where basketball is woven into the culture of New York City. Dolan and Walsh managed to prevent Melo from opening up the Nets new arena in Brooklyn (those honors now belong to Deron Williams after the Nets shipped Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and picks to Utah for the star point guard). Could the fan base ever forgive the Knicks management if they saw Carmelo Anthony playing for New York’s new team in Brooklyn?

After suffering for much of the new century through uninteresting basketball and befuddling executive decisions, the Knicks have finally got it right this time. It remains to be seen but rest assured, the 28 games left on the 2010-2011 NBA schedule will provide more excitement than a decade’s worth of futility. It’s just a start but the deal has New York City buzzing over a franchise that hasn’t been relevant since the days of Allan Houston and John Starks. Coincidentally, Carmelo Anthony makes his debut in the Garden on Legends Night where both Starks and Houston will be honored. With this trade, the Knicks now have players with potential to make an appearance during their own Legends Night.

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