Trade Retrospective: Carmelo Anthony To Knicks

August 16 at 9:16am CST By Eddie Scarito

There are only eight more days until Andrew Wiggins can officially be traded, and Kevin Love can put on a Cavaliers jersey, which would complete the biggest trade of the summer. But the trade doesn’t guarantee that Cleveland will hoist a Championship banner next year, or that the Timberwolves will break their string of missing the playoffs.

I’ve been taking a look back at past blockbuster deals, and how they worked out for both sides involved. So far I’ve recapped the deals that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers; Deron Williams to the Nets; and Kevin Garnett to the Celtics. Next on the docket is the February of 2011 trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks.

Anthony pushed for the trade during the 2010/11 season primarily because of the new CBA in the works that would reduce the maximum contract amount he would be able to re-sign for. With the labor agreement ending June 30th, 2011, and uncertainty surrounding what the next pact would look like, it was in Anthony’s best financial interests to sign an extension as part of an extend-and-trade transaction with the Knicks rather than wait for free agency.

The cuts didn’t end up being quite as harsh as the players had feared. As part of the trade, Anthony signed a three-year, $65MM extension with the Knicks. The maximum amount he could have signed for under the new CBA as a free agent would have been approximately $58MM. The first-year salary would have still allowed for a maximum of 105% of his prior salary. It was after that first year, where the annual increases dropped under the new agreement, going from the previous CBA’s 8% maximum increase, down to 4.5%. It’s worth noting that since Anthony opted out of his contract’s final year, he only gained roughly $3MM over the course of that deal than if he would have simply signed with New York as a free agent.

The trade involved New York, the Nuggets, and the Timberwolves. Let’s begin by recapping the pieces involved.

  1. The Knicks received Anthony; Renaldo Balkman; Chauncey Billups; Anthony Carter; and Shelden Williams from Denver. They also received Corey Brewer from Minnesota.
  2. The Timberwolves received Eddy Curry; Anthony Randolph; and $3MM from New York. They also received a 2015 second-rounder from Denver.
  3. The Nuggets received Danilo Gallinari; Wilson Chandler; Raymond Felton; Timofey Mozgov; the right to swap first-round picks in 2016; a 2014 first-rounder (No. 12 overall); a 2012 second-round pick (Quincy Miller); a 2013 second-round pick (via Golden State); and $3MM cash from the Knicks. Denver also received Kosta Koufos from Minnesota.

For the Knicks the big prize was obviously Anthony. Team owner James Dolan had been seeking a big name player, but had struck out in trying to lure LeBron James to New York the prior year, and the team had to settle for Amar’e Stoudemire instead. Dolan’s biggest fear was that Anthony could end up with the rival Nets, which would have been a blow to his ego, as well as threaten the Knicks’ position as the No. 1 team in New York.

The knock on ‘Melo has always been the same: he’s a ball-stopper who doesn’t make the players around him better. He had also led the Nuggets out of the first round of the playoffs just once (2008/09) during his tenure in Denver. Anthony may have broken the first-round curse of the Knicks back in 2012/13, but the criticisms still remain.

Anthony has been a stat-sheet filler for the Knicks during his time in New York. Here are his numbers by season since the trade:

  1. 2010/11: In the final 27 games after the trade, he averaged 26.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 3.0 APG.
  2. 2011/12: 22.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 3.6 APG. His slash line was .430/.335/.804.
  3. 2012/13: 28.7 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 2.6 APG. His slash line was .449/.379/.830.
  4. 2013/14: 27.4 PPG, 8.1 RPG, and 3.1 APG. His slash line was .452/.402/.848.

If you look at the trade based on Anthony’s statistical production, then it’s hard to argue that the deal was a failure. The Knicks hadn’t made the playoffs since the 2003/04 campaign, and their record since that year leading up to the Anthony acquisition was 173-319. Since the deal, the Knicks have made the playoffs three of the four seasons ‘Melo has been with the franchise. Their record during this stretch is 169-143.

As the team’s star player, Anthony gets a lot of heat for the Knicks’ failure to advance past the second round. I personally feel that while Anthony isn’t necessarily the problem, he hasn’t been the solution either. The front office hasn’t been able to pair him with the right group of players who maximize his talents and hide his deficiencies. The team has also suffered from poor point guard play throughout Anthony’s tenure, which is a major reason for the team’s disappointments.

But Anthony hasn’t been able to elevate those around him either. LeBron had less talent around him during his first stint in Cleveland, yet he was able to make it to the NBA Finals, losing to the Spurs in 2007. The Knicks and their fans had better hope that the triangle offense and arrival of Jose Calderon will help Anthony take his play to the next level, seeing as he isn’t leaving anytime soon. Anthony recently re-signed with the team for five years and $124MM.

Renaldo Balkman was originally drafted by the Knicks back in 2006. He was traded to the Nuggets in 2008, in what was essentially a salary dump. His second stint in New York lasted all of 17 games, where he averaged 2.0 PPG, in parts of two seasons. Balkman was released on February 17, 2012, to make room on the roster for J.R. Smith, who was signed as a free agent after playing in China. Balkman hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since. His only claim to fame since leaving the NBA was an incident where he choked a teammate during a game in the Philippines.

Chauncey Billups was a good pickup for the Knicks. At the time of the trade, he was averaging 16.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, and 5.3 APG. He finished out the season strong for New York, putting up 17.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 5.5 APG. But in December of that year the Knicks used the Amnesty Provision to waive Billups in order to clear enough cap space to sign free agent Tyson Chandler. Some would argue, myself included, that New York would have been better served in the long run to have amnestied Stoudemire instead.

The Clippers claimed Billups off of waivers for the bargain price of $2MM, leaving the Knicks on the hook for the remaining $12.2MM the player was owed for that season. Billups provided Los Angeles with 15.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG, and 4.0 APG that year.

Anthony Carter was essentially a throw-in, and finished the season with the Knicks, averaging 4.4 PPG, 2.1 RPG, and 2.3 APG. Carter became a free agent at the end of the season and signed with the Raptors. He appeared in 24 contests, averaging 2.0 PPG, 1.4 RPG, and 1.4 APG. He was waived by Toronto on March 15, 2012. He hasn’t played in an NBA game since, and is now an assistant coach in the NBA D-League.

Shelden Williams appeared in 17 games for New York, averaging 3.9 PPG and 2.9 RPG. The Knicks didn’t re-sign him at the end of the 2010/11 season. Williams then signed a one-year deal with the Nets, and appeared in 58 games for New Jersey, averaging 4.6 PPG and 6.0 RPG. That was Williams’ last season in the NBA, and he last saw action over in China.

Corey Brewer was waived by the Knicks without ever appearing in a game for them.  Two days later, once Brewer cleared waivers, he signed a three-year, $8MM deal with the Mavericks. Brewer was part of Dallas’ championship team that season, averaging 5.3 PPG and 1.8 RPG. He was then traded that December to the Nuggets along with Rudy Fernandez in exchange for a 2016 second-round pick.

Brewer played well for Denver, averaging 8.9 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 2011/12, and 12.1 PPG and 2.9 RPG in 2012/13. He then left Denver as a free agent, signing a three-year, $15MM contract to return to the Wolves. Brewer averaged 12.3 PPG and 2.6 RPG last year for Minnesota.

Minnesota was involved to help the Knicks make the salaries work for matching purposes. They took on Eddy Curry‘s expiring deal, and they bought out his contract without him ever playing a game for them.  Curry signed with the Heat in December of 2011, appearing in 14 games, averaging 2.1 PPG that year.

Anthony Randolph was supposed to be a big part of New York’s future when he was acquired as part of the sign-and-trade deal that sent David Lee to the Warriors. But he remained buried on the Knicks’ bench, averaging 2.1 PPG and 2.4 RPG, in just 7.1 minutes a night. He fared slightly better after the trade, averaging 7.4 PPG and 3.6 PPG to finish out the year.

After the season, Randolph left Minnesota and signed a three-year, $6MM deal with the Nuggets. He didn’t log many minutes in Denver either, averaging 4.3 PPG and 2.6 RPG in his two seasons with the Nuggets. He was then traded during the 2014 NBA Draft in the deal that sent the rights to Doug McDermott to the Bulls, and netted Denver the rights to Gary Harris.

This brings us to the Nuggets, and how they have fared since the trade. In Anthony’s eight seasons in Denver, the team’s cumulative record was 388-268. Since the trade, they have gone 131-99, with two playoff appearances, losing both series in the first round. Injuries have certainly taken their toll, and they’re the main reason the team missed the playoffs last year.

The centerpiece of the trade from Denver’s side, was Danilo Gallinari. The Nuggets were hoping that he could replace Anthony as the team’s primary scorer, and they were banking on his potential to make the trade work in their favor.  It hasn’t quite worked out that way as injuries have mounted. He missed half of the 2011/12 season and the entire 2013/14 season.

Gallinari’s numbers in Denver are:

  1. 2010/11: 14.7 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 1.6 APG. His slash line was .412/.370/.772.
  2. 2011/12: 14.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 2.7 APG. His slash line was .414/.328/.871.
  3. 2012/13: 16.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 2.5 APG. His slash line was .418/.373/.822.
  4. 2013/14: Missed entire season.

It remains to be seen how Gallinari will fare this coming season, but it’s hard to count on him as a cornerstone thanks to his injury history. He originally came into the league with a history of back problems, which slowed him his first season in New York. Denver better hope he can return to form, seeing as they signed him to a four-year, $42MM extension in January of 2012.

Wilson Chandler was the other significant piece the Nuggets acquired, and he has also been bitten by the injury bug during his time in Denver. He missed half of the 2011/12 season when he signed with a team in China during the NBA lockout. Since Chandler didn’t have an out-clause in his contract, he couldn’t return to the NBA until after the Chinese playoffs ended. Once he was permitted to return to the NBA, he signed a five-year, $37MM deal with the Nuggets, but Chandler only appeared in eight games that season before suffering a labral tear in his left hip.

Chandler’s numbers since arriving in Denver are:

  1. 2010/11: 12.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 1.6 APG. His slash line was .419/.347/.810.
  2. 2011/12: 9.4 PPG, 5.1 RPG, and 2.1 APG. His slash line was .392/.250/.833.
  3. 2012/13: 13.0 PPG, 5.1 RPG, and 1.3 APG. His slash line was .462/.413/.793.
  4. 2013/14: 13.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 1.8 APG. His slash line was .416/.348/.724.

Prior to the trade, Raymond Felton was enjoying a strong first season in New York, thriving under then-coach Mike D’Antoni‘s system. In 54 games, Felton averaged 17.1 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 9.0 APG.

Once he arrived in Denver, Felton was relegated to backing up Ty Lawson, which didn’t sit well with Felton. After the season he requested a trade, and was dealt as part of a three team trade with Dallas and Portland during the 2011 NBA Draft. In return the Nuggets received Andre Miller and the rights to the No. 26 pick Jordan Hamilton.

Miller played well during his 2+ seasons in Denver, averaging 8.4 PPG and 5.3 APG. He was dealt to the Wizards last season after a falling out with coach Brian Shaw over his playing time.

Hamilton was also dealt last season, being sent to the Rockets in exchange for Aaron Brooks. During his time in Denver, Hamilton averaged 5.5 PPG and 2.7 RPG. Brooks played well after he trade, appearing in 29 games, and putting up 11.9 PPG and 5.2 APG. Brooks signed a one-year, minimum-salary deal with the Bulls this summer.

Felton hasn’t enjoyed the same success that he did under D’Antoni. His one season in Portland was marred by Felton arriving out-of-shape after the lockout ended, and he averaged 11.4 PPG and 6.5 APG during the 2011/12 season.

That was Felton’s only season in Rip City. He was sent back to the Knicks in a sign-and-trade deal along with Kurt Thomas in exchange for Jared Jeffries; Dan GadzuricKostas PapanikolaouGeorgios Printezis; and a 2016 second round pick. Felton’s new deal with New York was for four years and $14.86MM with a fourth-year player option.

Felton’s second stint in New York came to an end when he was dealt along with Tyson Chandler to the Mavericks in exchange for Jose Calderon; Samuel Dalembert; Wayne Ellington; Shane Larkin; and the No. 34 (Cleanthony Early) and No. 51 (Thanasis Antetikounmpo) picks in the 2014 NBA Draft.

The Nuggets used the 2012 second-rounder they obtained in the Anthony trade to select Quincy Miller at No. 38. Miller hasn’t done much to impress in his short career, averaging 3.1 PPG and 1.5 RPG in two seasons.

The 2013 second-round pick they obtained was sent to the Magic as part of the Dwight Howard to the Lakers trade, which was then used to select Romero Osby. The 2014 first rounder Denver received from the Knicks was also packaged in this deal, which the Magic later used as part of the 2014 draft-night swap that netted Orlando the rights to Elfrid Payton.

As a part of the Howard deal, the Nuggets received Andre Iguodala, who averaged 13.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 5.4 APG in his one season in Denver. Iguodala was shipped to the Warriors in a sign-and-trade after the 2012/13 season for Randy Foye. Foye had a decent season last year, averaging 13.2 PPG, 2.9 RPG, and 3.5 APG for the Nuggets.

The final player that Denver received from the Knicks was the one who almost scuttled the deal, Timofey Mozgov. The talks almost broke down when New York was adamant at first about not including the 7’1″ center. Mozgov has always been viewed as a player with upside, but he has never quite realized that potential. Mozgov did have his best season as a pro last year, averaging 9.4 PPG and 6.4 RPG. He is 28 years old though, and he may have already reached his peak as a player.

The Nuggets also received Kosta Koufos from the Wolves in the deal. In his two seasons in Denver, Koufos averaged 6.8 PPG and 6.1 RPG. He signed a three-year, $9MM extension on January 25, 2012, but was traded last June to the Grizzlies for Darrell Arthur and the rights to the No. 55 Joffrey Lauvergne. During the 2013/14 season with Denver, Arthur averaged 5.9 PPG and 3.1 RPG.

The Anthony trade hasn’t quite worked out for either side like they had hoped. ‘Melo has put up fantastic individual numbers in New York, but the sheer amount of assets the franchise gave up to acquire him surely set them back. It could set New York back even further depending on how the draft picks work out in 2016 since Denver has the right to switch places with the Knicks.

For the Nuggets, the team played better after Anthony departed, making up for the loss of their star by having exceptional depth and athleticism on their roster. But injuries have certainly taken their toll, with both Gallinari and Chandler missing significant time.

Looking back at this trade, I’d have to call it a draw. New York got the best player in the deal, but Anthony hasn’t been able to improve the franchise’s fortunes yet. He just turned 30, and the near-max contract he just signed will limit the Knicks’ future options in constructing a winning roster around him before he hits his decline phase.

The Nuggets’ depth has translated into wins when everyone was healthy, but it’s rare in this league to win a championship without at least one star player on the roster, an asset the Nuggets do not currently possess. If they can remain injury-free, they should be a playoff team next season, but it’s doubtful that they can overtake the upper-echelon teams in the brutal Western Conference.

Kevin Love certainly shares some comparisons with Anthony, seeing as he also takes heat for not making those around him better, as well as being a poor defender. The big difference though is Anthony didn’t join a team with players of LeBron or Kyrie Irving‘s talent level. Time will tell if Love can silence his critics, which ‘Melo is still trying to do.

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