Knicks Will Travel Deep Into Playoffs

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[Black Star Sports Commentary]

For the second time this NBA season the basketball gods have blessed New York.

After months of media melodrama, Carmelo Anthony is now a member of the New York Knicks and has formed a devastating two-man tandem with Amar’e Stoudemire. Sometimes, disappointments lead to new opportunities. When LeBron James decided to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and sign with the Miami Heat many Knicks fans dreamed of him joining Stoudemire to bring back glory to the Garden were crushed.

That should now be a distant memory. Last week, in a blockbuster three team trade with the Denver Nuggets and the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Knicks sent Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov and Raymond Felton—along with three draft picks and $ 6 million in cash—to the Denver Nuggets for Anthony Carter, Renaldo Balkman, Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony. Minnesota also got Eddie Curry and Anthony Randolph in the deal, while the Knicks got Shelden Williams and Corey Brewer, who was waived.

“It ain’t really sink in yet that I’m a New York Knicks,” declared the Brooklyn-born Anthony during his press conference last Wednesday. “I feel like I’m still dreaming right now. It was a dream come true for myself and I’m ready to get down to business right now. I know it’s only twenty-six, twenty-something, twenty-seven games, something like that left, and I know we gotta gel, we gottta get our chemistry down but at the same time we gotta roll. We’ve got things we’ve got to accomplish. We’ve got goals to reach. It starts now.”

The first part of those “goals” is to return to the playoffs, after a dubious decade of futility. Currently, the Knicks are the sixth-seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race. If the playoffs started today, they would face third-seed Chicago Bulls and Derrick Rose, who should win this year’s MVP. All things considered, I believe the Knicks will secure a playoff spot—and,
possibly, move up though there’re a few tough teams to play down the stretch.

Like others, I would’ve liked to see the Knicks pick-up Carmelo Anthony after he became a free agent. However, when it became clear the Knicks might lose him, for fear of a more restrictive collective bargaining next year, the Knicks had to pull the trigger on this trade. Also, this makes the Knicks playoff push this year more exciting.

Clearly, Carmelo is not only a great player but he is also a winner having success from his high school days, before leading Syracuse to their first NCAA Tournament title, in 2003, earning the Most Outstanding Player Award. Now in his eighth NBA season, Anthony has been in the playoffs every year and is a four-time All-Star. In my opinion, the Knicks now have the most versatile scorer in the NBA.

At 3-2, since the trade, there are still wrinkles to iron out with team chemistry, getting the new additions acclimated. However, the Carmelo trade has made the Knicks a contender—this year. Crazy talk, you say? Well, I think, the addition of veteran point guard Chauncey Billups will pay off major dividends for the Knicks. Moreover, with Boston’s curious trade, sending center Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma Thunder, the Celtics are more vulnerable to facing an upset.

Because of the superstar status of Carmelo, many, apparently, discounted the magnitude of Billups’ inclusion in this deal. LeBron James commented, before the Knicks’ victory on Sunday, “I don’t see why people say Chauncey Billups is a throw-in.” LeBron is correct. Some seem to have forgotten Billups won a championship, with the Detroit Pistons, in 2004, when he was the Finals MVP. Billups playmaking abilities already lead to a big victory against the Miami Heat, on Sunday.

Near the end, of the Miami game, Billups again lived up to his moniker “Mr. Big Shot,” by making two back-to-back critical plays down the stretch. First, with 1:01 left, he drilled a deep three-pointer giving the Knicks a one-point lead. On the ensuing possession, he followed-up by picking off a pass by Miami’s Chris Bosh, then, feed Shawne Williams, who was trailing the play.

Williams made two free-throws, after being fouled to push the lead to three. Amar’e Stoudemire’s block of LeBron’s driving lay-up attempt, with 7.9 seconds left helped sealed this huge victory.

Billups will also be essential in two areas the Knicks are weak at: defense and leadership. The Knicks rank 2 in the league on offense scoring 106 PPG. But, they also rank 27 in the NBA on defense giving up 105 PPG. Billups, who made the NBA All-Defensive second team twice, played on a Detroit team known for tenacious defense. Adding Billups and Anthony Carter with rookie Landry Fields and Toney Douglas gives the Knicks four good defensive guards. Shawne Williams, Bill Walker and Renaldo Balkman are all capable defenders.

The largest defensive factor the Knicks will have to overcome is rebounds. As an undersized team, several Knicks games have been lost by them beings out-rebounded and giving-up too many second shots. Yesterday’s addition of 6-11 Jared Jeffries, who is a strong re-bounder and one-on-one defender, adds protection for Stoudemire when the Knicks play elite teams with size; like
Boston, Miami and Chicago.

This trade brings New York Knicks basketball back. With Carmelo Anthony—and Chauncey Billups—in the mix the Knicks are poised to bring back the noise to the Garden.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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