By Max Sass, Sports Editor
If New York is a city fit for a king, then why did it settle for Carmelo Anthony? Anthony is unquestionably an incredibly talented basketball player who can score and will thrive in Knicks' head coach Mike D'Antoni's offensive system, but he's not LeBron James or the answer to all the Knicks problems.
In fact, Melo is more hype than anything, a great player that has turned into someone fans think can be what James could have been. It's great that the Knicks are back to being relevant again, and have been every day since A'mare Stoudemire signed, but Anthony does not turn the Knicks into a title contender and could clog up their cap.
With the Collective Bargaining Agreement up this summer, the cap is going to drop even lower than it is now, and the Knicks need to fill out a roster. Anthony and Stoudemire can be very good, but they need three other players on the court with them. In 2012, when Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams are all free agents, all of whom have been rumored to be following Anthony to New York at one point or another, the Knicks may not have the flexibility to sign them.
Stoudemire will be making about $20 million in 2012 and Anthony should be getting about $22 million ($42 million combined). The cap is currently at $58 million, which will drop when the labor negotiations begin. Say the Knicks fill nine of the other 10 spots on their roster with minumum rookie contracts (about $500,000), they will be up to $46.5 million, leaving just $11.5 million for Paul or Williams or Howard, who almost certainly would not accept that little. Of course a sign and trade is an option to get them their money, but that option may not be available in the new CBA and it would further deplete the Knicks of draft picks and role players.
Also, as the Heat has shown, you need more than just three players to play a basketball game. Miami has won a lot of games, but its lack of depth has proven to be a problem, especially against the league's elite teams like the Celtics.
I get the excitement that surrounds this acquisition, but Anthony is not James. LeBron is a transcendant, once in a lifetime player who can carry a team by himself. Anthony cannot do that, witness Denver's five straight first round playoff exits from 2004 to 2008.
The root of the problem may not be Anthony though. I agree that if you have a chance to bring in an All - Star and great scorer, you have to, but then maybe the problem is Stoudemire. He could not win a title in Phoenix with Steve Nash and his knees are shot. Would the Knicks have gotten Anthony without Stoudemire being there? Who knows, but the Anthony trade seems to be more a reminder of why the Stoudemire move was a bit rash.
Anthony will certainly add excitement to Madison Square Garden and draw fans, but he won't bring the Knicks a title and may leave them in a bad situation as a middling, second-round playoff team for the next four years or so.