The Knick's are set to (officially) acquire Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, and three players to fill the 9-11 spots on a roster that are already filled by about 4 other Knicks. (Essentially, this trade makes the Knicks a starting 4 with two superstars, but leaves them with a Timberwolvian 5-12 on the roster). There are mixed reactions to the trade; but, to DBSF—in an optimal scenario—it can make the Knicks perennial runner-ups to the Heat in the Eastern Conference. Consider the following:
As the trade stands now, the Knicks are probably the 4th or 5th best team in the East behind the Celtics, Heat, Bulls, and maybe the Magic. The Celtics are facing a rather daunting temporal constraint that will likely grant the current roster no more than one season as an elite NBA team. Considering Dwight Howard is rumored to go to the Lakers in 2013, the Knicks trail the Heat and Bulls two young teams who—barring injury— are only getting better. (The Bulls because Rose, Noah, and Gibson will improve with experience; the Heat because free agents that desire a title will be willing to make greater financial sacrifices to join the Heat as the team’s impending hegemony becomes more apparent.)
Of course, signing Melo doesn’t represent the final piece of the Knicks rebuilding efforts. Ideally it will attract Chris Paul to the Knicks in 2012 or 2013 (depending upon if he exercises a player option in his contract). Adding Paul makes the Knicks an elite team, but they will still trail the Heat. What Amare gives the Knicks over Bosh, DWade gives the Heat over Paul (grant it, they play different positions). LeBron is superior to Melo on both sides of the ball; the difference will be best illustrated when the Knicks have their backs to the basket, and Melo’s NBA All Star Weekend defense makes LeBron look Chamberlainian (not the British Prime Minister; the guy who will probably be the only basketball player to average 20ppg in a season more in the NBA than he did in high school).
But, acquiring Paul represents a best case scenario. Some people are ignoring that the Knicks adopted considerable risk in offering Amare a 5-year $100M contract considering the history of his knees. So, what about a less optimal scenario, such as Amare missing time to rest his knee? In addition to trading away promising young talent in Gallinari, Chandler, and Felton, the Knicks lost 3 centers (Mozgov, Curry, and Randolph) so the only center left on the team is Ronnie Turiaf. Besides Amare nobody on the Knicks roster above 6'8" is averaging more than 20 mpg. The team also gave up three draft picks, so they’re primarily limited to building through free agency. This trade reflects a long-term gamble for the Knicks. If they fail to land Paul and add size at a Ron Artest-discount this trade could have minimal effect on the Eastern Conference hierarchy.