GREENBURGH, N.Y. –- As we near the Feb. 20 NBA trade deadline, discussion about Carmelo Anthony's future will intensify.
The Knicks aren’t getting any better, fans are growing frustrated, and Anthony is the Knicks’ biggest trade chip. But unless Anthony does something I don’t see happening -- namely, informing New York brass he has zero plans of re-signing later this summer -- the Knicks shouldn’t trade him.
And some of the reasons not to deal Anthony are outlined by Michael Wilbon, who writes why the Bulls should make a run at Melo.
Here’s part of Wilbon’s argument for Chicago to make a move for Melo:
So, it's a legitimate, full-fledged dilemma stuffed with risk. Yet if Anthony waves goodbye to the Knicks and wants to come to Chicago, I would depart from the Bulls' traditional conservative approach to free agency and try to get him (easy for me to say). It's a delicate balance to strike. John Paxson and Gar Forman knew as they accumulated those assets there would come a time to actually use them. They can't simply add Anthony to the team as we know it, so a couple of players are going to have to be dealt. But big stars win in the NBA and moving role players to make room for an All-Star of Anthony's impact is the way to go, unless a star of similar magnitude becomes available out of thin air.
There are scouts in the NBA who believe Anthony will be the same player going forward he's been the past 11 years, which is to say a professional scorer who has never been committed to defense or the nuances of being a great teammate, which just happen to be the obsessions of the coach Anthony would be playing for in Chicago. But there are others who believe that while the above assessment is undeniable, the Bulls are in desperate need of what Anthony still does as well as anybody in the NBA not named Kevin Durant: score.
My take? The very reasons Wilbon argues the Bulls should go after Melo are the very reasons the Knicks should hold on tight. As Wilbon says, big stars win in the NBA. You can argue all you want about whether Melo is a "superstar." But any perennial All-Star who can win a scoring title against the likes of Durant, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James is the kind of legitimate star that doesn’t come around often.
Melo might not make others around him better the way Michael Jordan did. That’s fine. There have been only a handful of stars like that over the past couple of decades. The Knicks have to understand what Melo is and find a way to put the right pieces around him. He needs a better point guard, a consistent second scorer and an inside presence.
Sure, acquiring the right pieces while signing Anthony to a maximum contract worth $129 million over five years will be difficult. But trading Anthony and starting over with draft picks is a risky proposition. Drafting prospects today is the furthest thing from a sure thing. And the Knicks don’t exactly have the best track record in that department. Besides, is there a team willing to give up high-round picks in this upcoming, tantalizing draft?
I’ll take my chances with a guy I know can score 62 on any given night and electrify the Garden like no other Knick has since Bernard King.
Can you get a young player on the cusp of superstardom like Kyrie Irving for Melo? That isn't likely to happen. The Knicks would probably need a three- or four-team deal to get a young star like him.
The Knicks can't afford to let Anthony get away for nothing. So does he want to remain a Knick? Considering Anthony can earn more here in New York -- barring a sign-and-trade, other teams can offer Anthony only a maximum of $96 million over four years -- I’ll take La La's word that Melo is staying. It'll be hard for him to resist being the man in New York, while getting paid max dollars.
Perhaps there are other teams out there thinking the same thing Wilbon is thinking for the Bulls. The Knicks should listen, since you never know what kind of offers may come.
But for all the reasons Melo makes sense in a place like Chicago, that’s why he makes sense in New York.
The Knicks should hold on to their star.