The current New York state of mind

After last week’s historic battle with the New York Knicks that saw countless Nuggets and Knicks players face their former team for the first time since what we’re now referring to as “the Danillo Gallinari trade,” we caught up with John Kenney to answer some questions. Kenney is a contributor for the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate blog of the New York Knicks, KnickerBlogger.net and has a Twitter handle for you to follow @JohnbKenney.

1. What’s your overall assessment of Carmelo Anthony as a player? Is he better, the same or worse than you had originally thought prior to the trade?
The same/worse. To answer this question properly requires spending some more time watching him on a team with a true point guard, but early results have been disappointing. The flashes of brilliance and incredible plays are certainly there, but the poor efficiency and shot selection are present as well. The way in which his arrival seems to have negatively impacted the performance of other players, however, was unexpected. Although Landry Fields and Amar’e Stoudemire have both played relatively better recently, neither have reached the height of their play before the trade.
2. In hindsight, did the Knicks give up too much in the Anthony trade and which player hurt the most to lose for the Knicks?
A majority of the community at Knickerblogger.net thought the Knicks were giving up too many pieces before the trade, so the poor results since the trade are merely a confirmation of pre-existing doubts. Giving up Gallinari didn’t make much sense at the time, and makes less sense in hindsight. Even if you believed Carmelo was an “A” quality small forward, Gallinari was going to give you a “B+” and he appeared to be improving, a trend which has continued in Denver. That small upgrade could not justify giving up three additional starters (Chandler, Felton, and of course mocked-by-national-pundits-while-on-the-Knicks-but-now-starting-for-the-Nuggets, Mozgov) for an over-the-hill Chauncey Billups. And quite frankly, a number of Knicks followers believe the team would be better off with Gallo’s superior efficiency.
3. In your opinion, what’s the primary reason the Knicks have struggled so much since acquiring Anthony last February?
While there is blame to be placed on Melo for shooting inefficiently, the reality is that the Knicks have not had a competent point guard and a good center at the same time since the trade. Now that Tyson Chandler (very much living up to the value of his contract) is in the fold, the Knicks still need to find a quality point guard or the struggles will continue.
4. How will Anthony’s contract affect the Knicks’ ability to make roster moves and how do you see the team faring moving forward?
At this point, Anthony’s contract is what it is; it puts the Knicks over the cap for the foreseeable future. The damage has already been done — his contract precluded the Knicks from having enough room to sign a max deal in 2012, so Chandler was signed instead. The team will have the annual Mid-Level Exception as a result of being over the cap, which is beneficial. (Steve Nash is the favored target for next year.) However, with both Chicago and Miami so far ahead in the race for Eastern Conference supremacy, one has to wonder if this iteration of the Knicks will ever reach the Conference Finals.
5. Finally, what was your reaction to the loss against Denver on Saturday, specifically in regards to Gallinari’s career high 37 points coming against his old team?
The fact that the loss was a vast improvement over the Knicks’ performance in their previous two games seems like a cruel joke, but it was true. The team played hard, which was nice to see. While “Andre Miller sinking a deep three at the shot-clock buzzer” and “Al Harrington posting good numbers in clutch situations” were quite surprising, Gallo’s production was not. Knicks fans had complaints about Gallinari while he was on the team, but mostly those complaints were that he should be shooting more. It is utter revisionist history to attribute Gallo’s driving ability and scoring efficiency to Denver alone, although multiple national prognosticators have seen fit to do so. Danilo was an incredibly effective slasher and driver while a member of the Knicks, and I remain baffled why it took so long for the “basketball community” to realize this. In hindsight, the greatest move the Nuggets brass may have made was leaking to so many journalists that they didn’t think the Knicks had any assets for a deal. This was utterly ridiculous at the time, but the press repeated it as fact so often that it contributed to public pressure on the Knicks to offer up more in the trade than was necessary. Had Gallinari been properly valued by the national basketball media, I wonder if the Knicks would have had to give up so much. I am, however, glad to see him succeeding, and wish him, and by extension the Nuggets, all the best.
  • wade

    What I got from this, Ujuri=mastermind

    • Daniel

      As it is said on Denver Stiffs: Ujiri=Magnificent Bastard

  • matt g

    I just felt bad for this guy reading the whole thing, props to his honest assessment and class. Being a Nuggets fan is so much easier than being a Knicks fan right now and who would have figured that a year ago??

  • dynamo.joe

    I posted earlier, but seems more appropriate here.

    1 LeBron James, MIA 33.55
    2 Kevin Durant, OKC 26.54
    3 Danilo Gallinari, DEN 21.26
    4 Carmelo Anthony, NY 20.82

    Top 4 small forwards by PER for anyone who maybe thinking “Gallo is playing well, top 10 sure, but I’m not sure he is quite all-star material, yet.

    • Kalen

      That’s crazy. I knew Gallo was playing good, but seeing it like that, in real statistics, is just shocking. Like Matt G said above, I never would have expected to be in this situation a year ago. Weird how karma has a way of doing things…

      • Ernie

        Kalen,

        I don’t see the whole Karma thing. Melo gave 7 good years of playoffs and didn’t leave the team in the lurch by telling the team he wouldn’t sign. This allowed them to make the trade vs just letting him go like Cleveland did with LeBron. Is he a bad person because he grew up on the east coast and wanted to play in NYC?

        • Jeff

          I think he meant good karma coming to the Nuggets. Not bad karma going to Melo. I grew up in Syracuse and moved to Colorado around the same time Melo was drafted by the Nuggets, so you can imagine how big a Melo fan I was, and still am. Most people here kinda feel like I do and are glad things worked out for the Nuggets and glad Melo got to go where he wanted.

        • Kalen

          I could respond to this in so many ways, but its been discussed ad nauseum so I’ll just say this: Melo had a lot of questionable “reasons” behind demanding a trade. I don’t think just going back to the east coast is justifiable for how he and his “team” handled things and quite frankly I don’t think that’s a good enough excuse for bailing on a team as well structured as the Nuggets. This wasn’t LeBron with a hapless Cavs team, this was a stacked squad from top to bottom and he left for the bright lights and reasons that had nothing to do with basketball. I don’t like that, I never will. That’s why I can’t stand Dwight Howard either. The karma is from the crappy year Melo forced the entire city of Denver to endure simply so he could get his way and saddle the next franchise he went to with a ludicrous contract that caters only to his needs and will likely never allow them to get better. That’s my perspective. I could write a 3,000 word post about it, but I’d rather spare everyone and just let bygones be bygones.

          • Shawn

            Well said, Kalen.

          • Ernie

            You are certainly allowed to feel any way you want. I grew up in Baltimore and still blame John Elway for the Colts leaving, and this is 29 years later. Now that was a depressing year (or 12).

            But Melo left this franchise in much better shape than LeBron or Shaq (Orlando move) or many others. We still have a team (Seattle), it’s winning and exciting and part of the reason for that is Melo was upfront with the Nuggets. I prefer to be thankful for what we have.

            • BeefySwats

              Wrong, Melo did not leave this franchise better, Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke did. Melo simply stated where he was willing to go and held his breath till his face turned orange and blue. So Masai and Ujiri masterfully manipulated their way into turning Melo into maximum value.

              Make no mistake about it, Melo “left Denver in a better shape than LeBron or Shaq”, but had we less competent GMs, we may have been in the exact same spot.

              Melo no longer cared about what happened to Denver as long as he got to New York, and so I no longer care what happens to Melo now that he’s there. Good riddance to overrated rubbish.

              • Ernie

                If Melo told Masai he was going to wait to see if he would sign at year end like LeBron and left then Masai and Kroenkie would have waited and gotten nothing for him no matter how “masterful”. Do you think if Masai was in Cleveland that team would be in the playoffs? Melo did the franchise a big favor letting them try to get some value. Who cares what his reasons were.

              • Charlie

                I agree Beefy. He wanted the extension and he needed the Nuggets cooperation to get it. That was clearly his primary motivation and the Knicks would be in much better shape had Melo had been willing to forgo the extension before signing with New York.

                In all honesty, it was just time for Carmelo to go and you have to credit Masai and Josh for the way they handled a situation in which they had a very limited amount of leverage.

        • Brian

          If Melo were interested in winning, he would have played out his contract in Denver and signed with NY as an unrestricted free agent. NY would still have all of their assets, plus Melo. Imagine the Knicks with Melo, Amare, Felton, Gallinari . . . but Melo wanted the sign and trade. THAT is karma. Is money buying him happiness? I don’t think so.

  • Jeff

    It’s especially strange (in a good way) for Nuggets fans because we had that core of Melo, Kenyon, JR for so many years and now our team is completely different. It’s cool how in the last few years we had so few rookies and young players and this year we have 3 rookies and a very young starting lineup. Nene is the old man starter at age 29.

  • aussienuggzfan

    I admit defeat.

    I am a massive nuggets fan and being from Australia I have no regional connection to Denver and chose to support them for their exciting style of play and more importantly Carmelo Anthony.

    Throughout the off-season I called for the trading of Danilo Gallinari, mostly because I thought he couldn’t develop into a go-to guy (still remains to be seen) and also I am a massive Wilson Chandler fan.

    I also would have preferred the Nets package of Derrick Favours, and it would be interesting how the NBA would look if that had of went down

    I think we are only a player or two short now and maybe that guy is Wilson Chandler. I still miss him and JR Smith

    But now this looks like one of the best trades in NBA history.

    GO NUGGETS!

    • evan

      Chandler did shit in the playoffs last year.
      It can be argued that’s because he was guarding durrant, but Gallo put up his 37 while guarding Melo, very well.

      Also we’ll see Durrant in the playoffs again most likely, and perhaps even LeBron. We can’t afford Wilson to do nothing.

  • ny nugs fan

    another article about melo trade (yawn)

    • evan

      I agree… =/
      I’d rather more crap about how good the nuggets are. I’d rather false hope and build up that makes me want to watch the next game, and convinces me we’re going to win the championship, and if we don’t it’s nothing short of bullshit. (no sarcasm intended)

  • RICK

    big nuggs fan glad doin well,still need a big,melo may get
    his dream team williams,melo and howard what a line up

  • SmokinNugs

    Melo and Howard what a lineup? How would Howard ever get the ball? I think I’ve seen Melo pass maybe 7 times in the last 5 years?

    • tron7

      You should have watched some Nuggets games then. His assist rate was about 12% of his possesions with the Nuggets. For comparison’s sake, Gallinari’s was about 10% before this year but has spiked up to 18%. Melo is not a bad or even unwilling passer, he just decides to take contested shots way too often.

  • http://www.herbalremediesworld.com/index.html sgiustra

    One NY Knick fan who watched Knick – Denver game suggested Nugs werent that impressive.

    He’s right, but…

    The Nugs won

    The Nugs were missing key rotation players

    That wasnt the real Nuggets because they played like a fatigued team that could not run. If Nugs had had their legs, they would have won by 30. WE’ll see when the Knicks visit Denver next year.

    PS as to where Gallo belongs in small forward discussion, he is 24 very good, getting better. He is the 4th best small forward.

  • Nuggets Fan

    Good honest assessment of a mis-managed trade from NY’s POV. I give John kudos for coming up with such a class-act response though. Instead of hating, complaining and whinning, he took the high road and wished Gallo and the Nuggets good luck.