It finally happened. So we think. On the eve of a pending blockbuster trade that will send Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks, we sit down with some of the NBAMate crew to make sense of it all. Q&A stylez.

1. What was your first reaction to hearing the trade?

Ant: Thank Jebus it’s over.

Tizzle: My wife messaged me, and I didn’t believe her. The whole process has been ridiculous.

Jobba: I first heard it on Sportscenter followed by a small segment that was called ‘The Story of Carmello Anthony’. My reaction to that was, ‘Wow, Really?’ but in terms of the news,  we all new it was 75% probable that Melo would be to the Knicks so that in itself wasn’t the main surprise. It was that Billups was involved, and the Knicks also pick up Corey Brewer.

JT: About time but you knew it was coming. And to those clowns who were stubbornly saying over the last few weeks that he may stay in Denver and sign the extension (you know who you are), you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Chucko: My first reaction was “Wow, i can’t believe New York gave up so much”

Hans: I can’t believe the Knicks finally did it – they finally landed Corey Brewer!

J.O: Relieved that it wasn’t “The Decision” all over again. As a long suffering Knicks fan, couldn’t be happier.

Robd: I actually heard the news via this SMS from Ash, and understandably, my first reaction was a disturbed one: “Carmelo is officially a Knick member now. In other news, Tizzle’s orgasm is heard from space”

2. Does this make the Knicks a true powerhouse? What can we expect from them over the second half of this season? And beyond?

Ant: No, but it should put them on par with the Atlanta Hawks. Both are now teams with 3 very good (but flawed) players who aren’t a great fit together and horrific depth. Hawks have the 6th man advantage in Crawford, Knicks have the coaching advantage in D’Antoni. Therefore, on par. Speaking of D’Antoni, he’s going to absolutely hate Billups, who’s a player that hates running, likes holding on to the ball and will call his own plays – not to mention he’s expressed that he’ll be extremely pissed off if traded. Plus I hear those other two chaps Knicks fans are excited about aren’t too keen on passing either. Fun times ahead.

Tizzle: Knicks are now much better, and we don’t need to pretend here because hating on the Knicks is the in thing to do. Let’s break it down.

Line up pre trade = Felton/Fields/Gallo/Amare/Mozgov
Line up post trade = Billups/Fields/Melo/Amare/Turiaf or Earl Barron.

Billups and Felton is pretty close, Felton is younger, but Billups has big game experience and is an NBA Finals winner and MVP. Fields gets better due to more relaxed coming into second half of rookie year, and weight lifted by adding Melo on opposite wing. Melo is better than Gallo, no doubt. We lose insane 3pt shooting threat, as well as big game competitor, but bring back a guy who has been ripping up the league every year since he entered it. Amare will no doubt be able to work inside with less double/triple teams, so should see an improvement from him also. Mozgov averaged 4pts and 3rebs, so let’s not pretend he’s Mutumbo. Sad to lose a 24 year old big man, who I really liked for the future, but not like it changes our season. Walsh has been looking at Earl Barron since he was released from Phoenix, and when Barron joined us last year he averaged 11pts and 10rebs over 7 games. The Knicks should be able to lock up around 43-47 wins this season if all things remain as they are. This puts us in as a very tough 1st round opponent for Atlanta, Orlando or Chicago. If the chemistry is there, the Knicks could surprise and get to the 2nd round, THIS year. Beyond? We obviously have some holes to patch up, but most teams would love to have Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire on their team, as opposed to a balanced team of average players. It’s up to management to prove their worth and find the best glue (ala Landry Fields) around these guys. Orlando seem in trouble, and Boston are getting old. Knicks should be in the East’s top 5 until 2015.

Jobba: It makes them certainly a massive threat for the East, arguably the weaker conference. Amare-Billups-Melo based team coached by Mike D’Antoni is a 110 ppg + team. Add Corey Brewer and the fact they keep Landry Fields the Knicks have a better team on both sides of the ball. Question for them is depth. I like Anthony Carter as a back-up point guard for this team, but trading away Mozgov, Gallinari and Randolph create a massive lack of depth in the front court. That is where they will struggle.

Second half of the season will be interesting. they are 28-26 now, so are in a position to finish well above .500. However the question will be how quickly can they come together, and can they challenge the Heat, the Celtics, the Magic and the Bulls? They should make the playoffs, but not in the top 4. In terms of beyond, well they may loose Billups in free agency, but have a shot at picking up Deron Williams or Chris Paul if cap allows. They’ll be able to attract some higher role players, and they do have some players who will have some trade value as well. I think this will be the point where the Celtics as a unit start to seep out of the top 4 teams of the East.

JT: Not yet. Just like Miami, it will take time to work this thing out, so depending on who they meet in the postseason, probably a first round (or second round at best) ouster. For the future, they’ll be up there for sure, but for mine not championship quality. Not when they are going to be competing against Miami and Chicago year in year out (both excellent defensively), and with Amar’e and Melo M.I.A. in the defensive department, that’s a huge concern for postseason play.

Chucko: No, they are more like Miami Lite. They only have 2 stars and… not much else.

Hans: The Knicks didn’t have title aspirations this season and that hasn’t changed, but they are now in a good position to become a “true powerhouse” in the near future. The rest of the season will be a feeling out process, particularly the on-court partnership of Amare and Carmelo. Both guys have high usage rates but so do the teammate pairings of LeBron/Wade and Durant/Westbrook, and when I last checked both those teams were doing alright for themselves. Big moves are still to come for the Knicks and the right supporting cast still needs to be found – the last time the Knicks were a genuine contender they had the imposing frontline of Ewing, Oakley, Mason and Charles Smith*. The current frontcourt rabble of Ronny Turiaf, Shelden Williams and Renaldo Balkman (he’s back baby!) doesn’t exactly evoke memories of this contending era.

* I’m kidding about Charles Smith obviously, I only brought up his name so that all Knicks fans reading this can relive a classic playoff moment: “Smith stripped…Smith stopped…Smith stopped again by Pippen! What a play by Scottie Pippen!

J.O: A force? Yes. Powerhouse? Not this year, the Knicks are good enough to upset someone like a Chicago or an Atlanta in the first round, but beyond that you can forget about knocking off Miami or Boston, even Orlando. The same concerns will be the frontline, but then again the Knicks were already maximizing small ball before the Melo deal. All eyes now on what happens with CP3 & Deron…

Robd: My first reaction is a resounding “NO”. But then I remembered how wrong I was on the Knicks – especially Amare – with my preseason predictions. But then I remembered that a big part of that surprise resurgence was Raymond Felton and Wilson Chandler, and they’re both gone. So I think we’re kind of back at square one. There’ll be too many big issues for D’Antoni to sort out this season for them to be contenders come playoff time. New point guard with a contrasting style to previous D’Antoni teams. New wing with a huge appetite for offense. These are not easy mid-season adjustments to make.

The interesting question for me is, “Can you win a championship with Amare and Melo as your two best players?” The more I think about it, the more I don’t think you can. That third guy needs to be an absolute rock. A defensive powerhouse or a floor general in his prime (e.g. Billups four years ago). In that sense, you might be tempted to put them in the same boat as Miami, except Miami has two MVP-calibre guys who can destroy any team on any day. Big difference.

3. Which team is the real “winner” from this trade?

Ant: I think it’s pretty even, but considering the relative bargaining positions it’s a solid win to Denver. If they can move Felton (Lawson is a better long-term prospect) and Chandler (no minutes) for a young big, they’ll be in good shape.

Tizzle: More assets landed in Denver, but what do you stockpile assets for? Trading for a star. I wish we hadn’t given up so much, but here’s an interesting fact. Wilson Chandler, Gallinari, Felton, Mozgov have played in a combined 4 playoff games (when Felton has violently swept off the court by Jameer Nelson). Melo has been in the playoffs every season since his rookie year. He is a Gold medallist. He is a regular All-Star. The best player in this deal is Melo hands down. No question about it. Felton was a real treat for NY and the NBA this year, but he was only on a 2 year deal and had shown signs of breaking down over the past month. Gallo hurts the most. Follow him more closely and notice how much he gets to the line, you will be amazed, especially when you consider he is only 22. Loved this guy from day 1. Wilson Chandler is a RFA, whom the Knicks were going to have to renounce in the off season to acquire the cap space to sign Melo. Mozgov, as I said was a nice piece, but no one in the league over valued Mozgov 1 week ago when he was a 4 & 3 big man, so let’s not do that now. Anthony Randolph and the 2 Golden State 2nd Round Picks were bonuses when we traded David Lee to Golden State instead of letting him walk, so that never cost us a thing. Randolph has looked half asleep in the few games he has “participated” in. He helped bring us Melo, so he did his job. Eddy Curry, I hope can find a job somewhere. The 1st Round pick is in 2014, so the pick will most likely be in the 20-30 range, no issue there.

All of these guys have been referred to as junk, and role players, and “parts” all season long, as the media has claimed Amar’e needed real support. So we went out and got it. I believe the Knicks won the deal. When we signed Amar’e people laughed at the money involved. But I knew it would help us land another big name player. Now we have Amar’e and Melo. Surely other talented players are going to want to be apart of this. This trade lost NY assets, but gained NY a star, and is a great endorsement for the future. Denver will now scramble to flip these guys for more picks or begin rebuilding, whereas NY are preparing to go to war for the next few years. We still have Miami to deal with, but atleast we will be fun to watch while those guys collect their rings year to year. To declare a winner obviously only time will tell. All I know is this, most average teams have young guys with potential and draft picks. Most above average teams have a star. Most decent teams have 2 or more stars. Think about that and where Denver, New York, and even those snakes across the river in NJ, are and you will see how I come to my conclusion that New York is in the best position to win this trade when it’s all said and done.

Jobba: Well we are not done dealing yet, with supposed on trades from Denver a solid possibility. But its the Knicks without a doubt. You don’t get a bonifide, top 3-esque scorer without giving up your stud. That in itself means that no one else except the Knicks can win this trade.

JT: You have to say NY but at the same time I think NJ aswell. To give up their considerable future assets for Melo and build around him as their best player, would have been a ticket to mediocrity.

Chucko: Well, New York is always going to be the winner since they are the ones getting a franchise player. However considering that Denver were always going to lose Melo, I think they played their cards the best they could to get as much back as possible.

Hans: No clear winner and no clear loser at this stage. New York finally got their man and I think the Nuggets did well to get some decent players back along with the draft picks (particularly Gallinari who will henceforth be known as the Mile High Cock). If there’s any clear winner, it’s probably the NBA fans who were sick of the endless Melo trade speculation.

J.O:New York hands down, toss in the immediate & distant future as well. The Knicks might even have a title by the time Denver’s retooling schemes come to fruition.This move was about contending for rings. The Knicks planned for this, the years of cap shredding & lopsided losses have now paid off. The next 4-5 years will be about topping up the roster and developing chemistry. Melo & Amar’e are mature superstars hitting their prime and that my friends is something to build around. They got two underrated defensive studs in Sheldon Williams (who’ll get plenty of time since they’re thin in the middle) & Corey Brewer from Minny in that other deal, who have been in system awhile now. And Landry Fields is still a Knick- GOLD!

On the flipside, we don’t know what the end product will be in Denver because those ex-Knicks who came over may not stick around very long. In fact, some of them maybe gone by the time you read this. The Nuggets will quietly go into rebuilding-on-the-fly mode or tear it up completely. The cap figures will look nice, as will those draft picks, but the W’s out west won’t. Let’s be real Denver fans, you just lost your top scorer & best player. You can’t replace that with 3 “serviceable” guys and a flimsy center who probably get dunked on again by Blake Griffin. Forget about any sort of superstar duo or trio coming together in the Mile High. The Nuggets now drop into the same bracket as the Suns, Grizzlies and Rockets, the T-Wolves look a fraction more formidable. Even an injury-depleted Portland is better.

Robd: Commonsense tells me Denver, but the reality is there is only a handful of players in the league like Melo, so you have the pull the trigger on this. When KG went to Boston they traded away a small village, including a few uber-talented youngsters. But that turned out ok, didn’t it? Knicks win because of star power, and you don’t win championships without stars. Simple as that.

4. What does this trade do for the Knicks franchise and their fans?

Ant: Short term, it’ll probably get the city buzzing. Long term, they’ve shot themselves in the foot, and here’s why: when Melo gets his extension, him and Stoudemire will be on the books for 40+ million going into the 2012/2013. That’s the season that CP3, Dwight and Deron Williams all come onto the market. Only now, there’s no way the Knicks will be able to afford them because the cap will only drop in the new CBA, so at best they’ll have 10 million in cap space to play with, and that’s assuming they don’t sign anyone between now and then. So just to recap, the BEST position the NY Knicks can hope for in 2012/2013 is Melo, Stoudemire, 12 empty roster spaces, 10 million in cap space and no tradeable picks until 2016. Or in other words, Isiah’s fucked them again, this time from the grave (the word is that Donnie Walsh wanted nothing to do with this deal, and was overruled by Dolan who still takes advice from Isiah).

Tizzle: It gives us a big impending headache, because I believe Gallo will blow up to be a star, but it also gives us a chance to stick it up all our mates who said all year “Melo ain’t going to the Knicks” purely out of media-driven Knick hatred. Amar’e has turned the city upside down, and we are only 2 games above .500, imagine what having ANOTHER as talented star on the team will do. I am sure Chris Paul is trying to hide the smile on his face, and I’m even more certain the Knicks capologists and financial guru’s are already beginning to figure out ways to carve out capspace to sign a 3rd member to our own dream team. The old school vets the old teams always sign up for cheap (see Jerry Stackhouse, Kurt Thomas etc.) will also get onboard. This deal is as much for the future as it is for now, but not in a draft/rebuilding sense, but in a ready to compete sense.

Jobba: It gives Tizzle way to much bragging rights and talking points than he should ever have.

JT: NY is back baby – in terms of relevance – and assuming they can add another quality piece over the next few years (which I think they will), back in contention.

Chucko: It brings them one piece closer, but they are still about 2 trades and at least a season off really contending.

Hans: I’m not quite ready to shout out “The Knicks are back!” but the trade definitely gives New York fans hope of a future amongst the league’s elite, and giving a Knicks fan hope is like giving a Mogwai food after midnight: they become aggressive and go crazy. There haven’t been many meaningful Knicks games in the past decade and Madison Square Garden has been sorely missed as a playoff venue – I’m looking forward to the rowdy atmosphere of playoff nights at the Garden.

J.O: Raises a hell of lot of expectations, lifts the city, generates more money and generates more New Jersey Net jokes. LeBron pipedreams are now officially a distant footnote. With a renovated MSG in the works, the Big Apple will be the place to be. Heck I’m even booking my flights to NYC.

Robd: Gives them their best team in over a decade. They were already “relevant” again, thanks to Amare. Now they have the potential to be elite.  Having them and the Bulls back in that category brings a smile to my face.

5. Any other impressions / thoughts?

Ant: When the 2015 ESPN headline reads “Former Phoenix and New York coach Mike D’Antoni has been taken to Bellevue Hospital after he was found lying in a gutter, repeatedly muttering ‘pass the ball!’”…don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Tizzle: Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalkman is back! The rest will follow in “The New, New York Knicks” piece at the end of the month.

Jobba: The real question will be the following: ‘Are the Knicks the most exciting team to watch?’ We shall see.

JT: Thank god the bold faced lying can stop!

Chucko: New York actually has a reason to get excited about Basketball again, Stern must be jumping for joy.

Hans: First it was LeBron’s ill-advised yet fascinating “Decision”. Then came the tiresome and drawn out “Melodrama”. Let’s hope that this ends the trend of public free agent prostitution – I don’t know if I’ll be able to survive Chris’ “Conundrum”, Superman’s “FA-Vision” or Deron’s “Deliberation”.

J.O: I hate the fact people are saying and going to continue to argue over & over that New York gave up too much pieces, that Melo doesn’t share the ball much and that he doesn’t play defense. Fuck all of that! Let’s be frank, superstars don’t grow on trees, if you can get a player of his immense talents at his age, and lose just (I repeat) 3 “serviceable” guys- you take that deal and you do it any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Melo won’t ever be a lock-down defender, we know that. See that’s the thing with growing up with the Michael Jordan model, we expect ALL superstars to be defensive molesters. That’s not Melo. A committed team defender though? Now that’s achievable. Hey, no one ever talked about LeBron’s or Chris Bosh’s lack of defensive nastiness, or their penchant for massaging the ball pre-Miami, yet those two together with D-Wade and now they’re running rings around opponents.  Lastly, can’t forget Mr. Big Shot…..proven floor leaders are hard to find. Felton was good, but I’ll confidently take Chauncey’s proven track record into any playoff series, even if he might be playing on borrowed time.

Robd: Can’t wait to see how the Alpha Dog role naturally evolves between Amare and Melo, if at all. I for one would love to see Melo step up and become the leader of this team. It’s the only way they become contenders in my opinion. He has to be hungry. He has to get a little angry. He has to look over at Wade and Lebron and think we can be better than those guys. How he embraces this challenge is going to be fascinating.

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