Carmelo Anthony. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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The New York Knicks need to close the deal and get Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets. Desperately. And they need to do it now. Not in the offseason. Or next season. Now, as in between right this minute and the Feb. 24 NBA trade deadline.
This puts me in the position of agreeing wholeheartedly with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, something I may never have done before and something that makes me entirely uncomfortable. But, it is what it is. Smith believes the Knicks cannot afford to fail in their pursuit of Anthony. So do I.
Here is part of what Smith wrote:
Aren't these the same Knicks who've now lost 10 of their past 14 games? Who kept surrendering dunks to the Clips as if the game was taking place on All-Star Weekend instead of on a night that actually counts? Who yield nearly 47 percent shooting to the opposition nightly? Who get outrebounded by nearly five per game and actually consider Timofey Mozgov a legitimate big man at this juncture?
It's time to stop playing games. It's time to stop acting as though the Knicks are a solid team just a star away from championship credibility. They are 26-25. A loss removed from .500 status. The epitome of mediocrity. ...
No matter which way you slice it, moments of arrogance, ineptitude and, dare I say, stupidity have infected this entire process. The thing is, it is the Knicks who will suffer the most in the end if they don't get Anthony.
Anthony's presence, or lack thereof, will loom large over Madison Square Garden this evening when the Knicks host the Los Angeles Lakers -- who have also reportedly been trying to find a way to acquire Anthony from the Nuggets.
The fans will chant his name, much to the chagrin of Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni. The media will continue to write about him. Players from both teams will continue to be asked about him.
Thing is, by now Knicks management should realize they have little choice but to do whatever is necessary to acquire Anthony. The Knicks have been completely irrelevant in the NBA for most of the last decade. They are relevant again, but that does not mean they are good. As their record, and Smith, point out they are simply mediocre. That is better than they have been, but will it be good enough to keep the buzz alive at MSG for long? Doubtful.
To do that, the Knicks need to make a splash. They need to get into the conversation when people discuss the NBA's elite teams.
LeBron James dissed the Knicks. Anthony has been open in his affection for the Garden, and his longing to play for the Knicks. If the Knicks can't get Anthony into blue and orange it will be a loooong time before they get another real opportunity to push the Knicks from mediocrity into title contention.
Does Anthony make them an immediate contender? Probably not. Not with James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. Not with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo in Boston. Anthony, though, puts the Knicks in position where they can become one. The master plan, of course, puts Amare Stoudemire, Anthony and eventually Chris Paul in Knick uniforms. Paul does not come to New York, nor does any other top-flight player, unless the Knicks are able to reel in Carmelo.
So, yes, they need to make the deal. Whatever the cost.