As SB Nation has been covering today, the New York Knicks have the ability to obtain Carmelo Anthony for Raymond Felton, Danillo Gallinari, another starter (likely Wilson Chandler), Eddy Curry's expiring contract (is that his full name now?), and a first-round pick in return for Anthony and Chauncey Billups.
The initial reaction of many has been that the price is too steep and the Knicks should walk away from the offer. However, the more you watch this team hover around .500 and the more you realize they are only four games away from not even being a playoff team in the East, the more you need to get on board with this deal.
Yes, Raymond Felton got off to a very strong start but there is no arguing his play has declined in the previous month, which has coincided with the Knicks being a 5-10 team in that period. Gallinari is young and has plenty of potential but believe it or not, you have to give up something to get somebody like Carmelo Anthony on your team. Wilson Chandler would likely be the third piece in the deal and that is fine because you have to part with his fragile self before you let Landry Fields go anywhere.
The approach of waiting until free agency is starting to seem like a crap-shoot, with Anthony now entertaining the thought of signing an extension in Denver. There is also a chance another team, Chicago, Dallas, or Houston jumps in at the last hour before the trade deadline and spends the next few months getting Anthony to pen a long term deal.
If you are the Knicks, you take Billups for the rest of the season, put Anthony with Amare Stoudemaire, Landry Fields, and your collection of bench players (Shawne Williams, Bill Walker, Ronny Turiaf, Toney Douglas) and hope to make some noise in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The younger players will gain some worthy experience, while Anthony and Stoudemire can get used to playing together in a big spot. After the season, you buy out Billups for $4 million instead of paying his ridiculous 2011 salary and play the waiting game for Chris Paul or Deron Williams, who should be counting the seconds until they could join Anthony and Stoudemire.
If this team ever wants to win a title in a conference shared with the Celtics, Heat, Magic, and Bulls it is going to take more than what they have now, way more. Felton is a nice player, but long term it is going to take a big three of Stoudemire, Anthony, and Paul or Williams supported by an ideal role player like Fields and a young bench that hopefully develops to knock off any of those powers.