The culture of sports is about winning and losing. Someone wins and someone loses, there is no middle ground.
This has been driven into our heads and it isn’t about the games specifically, it has filtered into the coverage by the media. There is an oversaturation of debate, as there is a right and there is a wrong. I fall into this trap myself on many occasions.
As the Knicks head out on their five game West Coast swing, I am dreading this week of basketball more than any I have in a long time. It isn’t because of the difficulty of the games, but dealing with the Carmelo Anthony trade debate as he returns to Denver for the first time.
Did Denver win the trade or did New York? Over the next couple days I expect to see this question posed at nausea.
The Knicks got the franchise player they could build their team (and marketing plan) around, while the Nuggets put together a squad that was a perfect fit for their head coach George Karl.
Since the deal, the Knicks have gone 88-66. The team New York broke up was 28-26, nothing spectacular.
New York has lost in the first round in both playoff series with Melo on the team, but can this really be held against him? Against the Celtics in 2010-2011 Chauncey Billups and Amar’e Stoudemire both got hurt. In Game Three of that series Anthony played with a banged up STAT, Toney Douglas, Ronny Turiaf, Landry Fields, Bill Walker, Jared Jeffries, Shawne Williams, Roger Mason and Anthony Carter. That is not a team worth anything more than a 1st round exit. The Knicks accomplished what they were supposed to.
The next season against the Heat once again the Knicks got their butts handed to them. Was this completely unexpected (I fully admit to thinking Knicks could have success in the series, I was wrong)? With the right match-up they could have potentially won a series last year, but New York’s poor start to the season came back to haunt them.
This season the Knicks are 38-22. Can we take a second to reflect how far New York has come? 30, 37, 39, 33, 23, 33, 23, 32, and 29. That is the win totals from 2001-2002 to 2009-2010. The Knicks have already surpassed the win total for everyone one of those seasons except one.
The Knicks winning percentage before the Melo deal was 51.4%, since the deal it is 57.1%. If you separate this year, when the Knicks had the proper amount of time to put together a supporting cast, New York’s winning percentage is 63.3%. The improvement of the first number is by slightly under 6% and the second one is a 12% increase.
The Nuggets are an impressive 42-22 (65%) and are the hottest team in the league not named Miami. Since trading away Anthony, Denver is 98-57, good for a 63.2% winning percentage. Before the Nuggets dealt Melo, they were 32-25, a winning of 56%. The increase from the last Melo team to this year is 9% and overall 7%.
From 2007-2008 to 2009-2010, Denver’s winning percentages were .610, .659 and .646.
The point of this isn’t to say the Knicks are a better team than the Nuggets. I think Denver is a better team, but there needs to be some context.
The Nuggets were already a good team before the trade, while the Knicks were average to putrid. In the immediate, the improvement of both teams has been essentially the same, but you go bigger picture it’s New York who has seen the higher jump.
It also doesn’t mean there aren’t fair arguments against the trade being made. Should of New York hoarded its assets and waited for Chris Paul or Dwight Howard? It’s a legitimate debate, even though I’m not sure the complications Chandler (he was an RFA that upcoming offseason) and Gallo’s contracts would have brought by waiting.
The he should have waited and came as UFA is also a complaint that can has some legs. There was the unknown of the CBA, if a guy wants his money that’s his prerogative, which can’t be ignored.
The Knicks still ended up where they are today. It has not been a smooth path, but New York is better than they’ve been (even if they aren’t as good as I would like them to be) in a while.
To say the Nuggets “won” the trade is completely unfair.
To say the Knicks “won” the trade is completely unfair.
Both teams had a plan in place for the type of team they wanted to build and both are thriving. Despite the want to appoint someone on top, in this instance it is not needed. Denver deserves credit and so do the Knicks. Each team chose its own direction and up to this point there hasn’t been any significant differences.
Every once in a while it’s ok not to argue, as it is possible for both to be right.