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Add The ‘Melo Fellow

During the few minutes per day that I’m in my car, I turn on local sports radio. Recently, there has been lots of discussion over whether the Knicks should trade for Carmelo Anthony.

I’m sorry, but I don’t even see how this is a close call. As I’ve already said, I’m a big Syracuse fan (here, if you’re interested), and I acknowledge that there’s a chance I’m seeing Carmelo through Orange-colored glasses. But I don’t think so.

To me, this is quite simple: if the Knicks are serious about becoming a contender, they should absolutely trade for him. Give up anyone on the roster not named Amar’e or Raymond. Give up Wilson. Give up Landry. Give up Wilson and Landry. And Danilo, if Denver wants him, too. Give up draft picks. And cash. Hell, throw in the scoreboard above the court or the banners hanging in the rafters if that’s what Denver wants.

I mean no disrespect to Wilson, Landry, or Danilo. Each of those guys could be a “piece” on a championship team.

The thing is, though, that, to build a champion, you have to start at the top of the roster and work down. The main question is whether your top three guys are good enough to be the top three guys on a championship team. If they are, it’s time to surround them with complimentary players. If they aren’t, it’s time to come up with a plan for improving your top three.

Right now, the Knicks’ top three is Amar’e, Felton, and… um… I don’t know. They have a bunch of other good players, but, put any of those those with Amar’e and Felton, compare them to other teams’ “top threes,” and you’ll see that the Knicks come up short. For starters, they aren’t better than:
(1) Rondo, Pierce, KG (or Allen),
(2) Kobe, Gasol, Odom (or Bynum),
(3) Manu, Tony, and Tim,
(4) Wade, James, and Bosh,
(5) Johnson, Horford, and Smith,
(6) Rose, Noah, and Boozer,
(7) Paul, West, and Okafor,
(8) Dirk, Kidd, and Butler, or
(9) Westbrook, Durant, and whoever-the-third-best-guy-on-the-Thunder-is.

So, no championship, no matter how good the complimentary players are. Bring in Carmelo, though, and the whole picture changes.

I recognize that there are arguments as to why the Knicks shouldn’t trade for Carmelo, but none of them withstands scrutiny (a lawyer term, sorry). To address two of the main ones quickly:

Carmelo’s Not a Winner. I’m sorry, but this is absurd. The Nuggets were 17-65 the year before they drafted him, and they’ve been in the playoffs every year since. Sounds like a winner to me. And, he carried Syracuse to a national championship in college. I know lots of people overlook accomplishments in college when talking about how good a particular player is, but it makes no sense to do that. When you say that someone “isn’t a winner,” you’re saying that they don’t have what it takes to step up in moments of adversity towards the end of a game. The fact that the person carried a team to an NCAA championship should dispel that.

Essentially, the people who are against trading for Carmelo because he’s “not a winner” are saying that the only stars whom the Knicks should trade for are the ones on the Lakers, Spurs, and Celtics, and Dwyane Wade. No other star in the league has been a major contributor to a championship team, so none “is a winner.”

That’s crazy talk.

Carmelo Will Disrupt Team Chemistry. I know it’s en vogue to talk about “chemistry” and sound knowledgeable, but, in my opinion, the abstract notion of “team chemistry” that people talk about — as if it comes from a magical formula that can’t be tinkered with once it’s perfected — is vastly overrated. In basketball, “team chemistry” is largely determined by what the guys do on the court. If their skills compliment each other (one guy handles the ball and creates shots for others, one is deadly when left open, one slashes to the rim, and at least one operates mostly down low), then the team almost always has “chemistry.” If their skills don’t compliment each other, you might have a “team with chemistry,” but you almost certainly won’t have “a team with a championship.”

To be sure, in some instances, egos can ruin chemistry even when basketball skills compliment each other. The clearest recent example was the T’Wolves teams with a young Marbury, young Garnett, and Wally World. From a pure basketball perspective, their skills were perfectly complimentary, and it looked like Minnesota could build a real competitor around them. But Marbury and KG couldn’t coexist, and the team fell apart (dragging Wally’s career down with it).

Regarding the Knicks, Amar’e and Raymond are just fine together, and there’s no reason to think that Carmelo would disrupt anything. So, yes, the Knicks would be breaking up a team that seems to be fitting together well, but I say go for it. The ceiling for this team as currently constructed is getting out of the first round of the playoffs. If they’re serious about contending, they should bring in the ‘Melo Fellow.

Thoughts, Knicks fans? I hope you’ll share ’em.

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