Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Updated: February 23, 7:37 AM ET
D'Antoni: Knicks closer to championship
By Ian Begley
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- To Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, the math is simple: two NBA stars are better than one.
D'Antoni said on Tuesday that it was "tough" to part with four of his regulars in the blockbuster trade for Carmelo Anthony on Monday night. But D'Antoni and team president Donnie Walsh said they ultimately felt they had to pull the trigger because it gave them two star players in a league that's often driven by star power.
"There's not many times in this league that you can get a 26-year-old superstar in his prime," D'Antoni said. "Obviously you have to give up something to do that and we did. But I'm really excited about what we have and where we can go."
The Knicks landed Anthony in a three-team, 13-player deal that was made official Tuesday night. The move teams Anthony with Amare Stoudemire to form what on paper is the second-highest scoring tandem in the league.
"Now, we've got two guys in our stable," D'Antoni said. "... We know we have two of the best players in the league."
Walsh hinted that there could be more on the way.
The 69-year-old team president believes the Knicks will have enough cap space in the 2012 offseason to chase top free agents, such as Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. The league is likely to lower its salary cap in the new collective bargaining agreement, but Walsh is confident the Knicks will have money to spend.
"No matter what happens we'll have cap room," he said.
Walsh and D'Antoni spent Tuesday morning informing the six ex-Knicks involved in the deal that they were no longer with the team.
"You just hate to do it," D'Antoni said. "And you're not doing it because they're bad. You're doing it because you're trying to get one of the best players in the league."
The Knicks traded Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov and a 2014 first-round draft pick to the Nuggets, who will get additional picks and cash. Along with Anthony, New York gets Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter and Renaldo Balkman from Denver in the deal. The Knicks also sent Anthony Randolph, the expiring contract of Eddy Curry and cash considerations to Minnesota for Corey Brewer. Minnesota sent Kosta Koufos to Denver for a future second-round draft pick.
D'Antoni said it was most difficult to tell Felton and Gallinari that they were being dealt. Gallinari was D'Antoni's first draft pick in 2008. The coach also played basketball with Gallinari's father in Italy. The Knicks were rejuvenated thanks in part to the play of Felton, the point guard they signed to a two-year contract last summer.
"I gotta say that Denver picked the right guys because they're all good players and they all have good futures. They will be successful," D'Antoni said.
As for his own team, D'Antoni was eager to get Anthony and Billups and the rest of his new players on the practice court.
"We have a chance to be good. Whether it takes one day or 15 days or a year, we'll see. But we're moving ahead in the direction that we've always wanted to go and that's toward a championship," D'Antoni said. "[The trade] got us closer but we've still got a long way to go."
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.