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Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks - Implications for the Clippers

It's been a more or less foregone conclusion since before this season started that Carmelo Anthony would not be a member of the Denver Nuggets next season. That fact more or less dictated that he would be dealt before this coming Friday's NBA trade deadline, since the Nuggets didn't want lose Melo for nothing, and Melo didn't want to miss out on the chance to sign an extension before the current CBA expires this summer. The fact that the New York Knicks were about the only team where Melo wanted to sign that extension meant that not only was the trade a foregone conclusion, but the destination as well.

Apparently, the Melo-drama has reached it's conclusion finally. In a massive deal involving the Knicks, Nuggets and Timbersolves, the Knicks are sending out almost half their roster, including three of their top four scorers, for Anthony and others. Here's how the deal ended up:

  • New York loses - Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry and a 2014 first round pick;
  • New York gets - Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter, Renaldo Balkman and Corey Brewer;
  • Denver loses - Anthony, Billups, Williams, Carter and Balkman;
  • Denver gets - Felton, Chandler, Gallinari, Mozgov, and the Knicks 2014 first round pick (and apparently a couple second round picks and some cash);
  • Minnesota loses - Brewer;
  • Minnesota gets - Randolph and Curry.

I have to admit that I haven't really dug into the deal yet. For instance, I can't say now why (or even if, for that matter) it's one three team deal instead of two separate trades, given that it seems Minny's involvement is strictly with New York, and not with Denver.

The trade boils down to Anthony to the Knicks, with the Nuggets getting as many assets as possible in return, whether they really want those assets or not. Billups is in the deal because the Nuggets wanted to be rid of his contract (which seems a tad strange, given that the final season of his deal is a team option, so they could have been without him pretty soon anyway). Again though, they did acquire more assets with Billups involved. The other players leaving Denver are pretty much there to make salaries match, it seems to me. They don't much figure into either team's plans, although Balkman did have some decent success with the Knicks before.

For Denver's part, they apparently don't intend to hang onto all of the players they acquired, or even most of them. They are reportedly high on Mozgov and will likely keep him, but they don't see Felton in their long term plans, since they like fellow Tar Heel Ty Lawson as their point guard of the future and they'd like to flip Gallinari or Chandler or possibly both for a draft pick or picks.

That's where the Clippers may come in. The Clippers are rumored to be one of several teams who may be willing to offer a first rounder for the young Italian. Lisa Dillman also posted this evening that the team may have interest in Chandler as well.

I happen to like Gallinari a lot. It's dangerous to get enamored of a player based on what he's done against one team, but Gallo has had a couple of nice games against the Clippers, including a 31 point effort earlier this season. His overall numbers may not be too great - in particular, he's a terrible rebounder for his size - but he passes the eye test for me. He has great instincts for the game, and all the tools to be a terrific scorer. He can shoot, he can drive, and he gets to the line a lot, and converts when he gets there. I also like his defense - he actually defended Eric Gordon at times during the Clippers first meeting with the Knicks this season and did a respectable job, so I don't happen to agree with those that say he can't defend NBA small forwards, based on what I've seen. I like him a lot better at 40% three point shooting than at 35%, so his poorer perimeter shooting this season is a bit of a concern, but his stroke certainly looks pure.

I would be willing to give up a protected first round pick for Gallinari. How much protection would undoubtedly be a discussion with the Knicks, but I'd want top 10 protection for now. The problem then becomes that both Gallo and Gordon would reach the end of their rookie deals at the same time in summer 2012, leaving the Clippers needing to write a big check to keep them both. Given this team's history with multiple free agents in the same summer, I wouldn't be very optimistic about that situation. By the way, if Chandler is the target, he's actually an RFA this season, so that would be an issue as well.

Given the Clippers' need at small forward, they could do worse than to add another young talented piece in Gallinari - who is just 22, the same age as Gordon and DeAndre Jordan and Griffin will be next month. It will be interesting to see how this situation develops.