Anthony, who has long been rumored to be moved before Thursday's trade deadline, really had two teams in his sights -- the Knicks and the Nets.
While the Nets reached out to Denver and made an effort to land the All-Star with an offer based around rookie Derrick Favors and three to four first-round draft picks, the holdup for the deal was Anthony not being willing to sign a 3-year extension with the Nets. This ultimately left the Knicks bidding against themselves for their long-desired second superstar.
The trade analysis on this deal will be a long and heavy ordeal, as we head into an uncertain summer. With questions surrounding the collective bargaining agreement looming, the initial trade analysis has to take into consideration this summer's talks.
With that, it's certainly too early to determine the winners and losers of this deal. What we can do, however, is talk about the who and the why. Oh, and it wouldn't be a trade analysis piece if we didn't hand out team grades.
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Here are a few early thoughts on the blockbuster deal which went down late on Monday night.
NEW YORK KNICKS GET: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter and Renaldo Balkman from Denver. Corey Brewer from Minnesota.
The Knicks got their man in Carmelo Anthony. The price was steep, but we do need to take into consideration that this is New York and sometimes winning the headlines is often more important than winning the trade.
Billups will naturally fit into the starting point guard slot for the Knicks, though it's not about how he'll fit into the team's 2010-11 plans, but more about what he'll save the team when the Knicks likely decline his $14.2 million team option this summer. The long-term goal is to bring in the likes of Chris Paul or Deron Williams in the summer of 2012.
Shelden Williams and Anthony Carter and their combined $2.2 million come off the books after this season, which merely makes them extra pieces in this deal. Williams might get some extra run off the bench for the Knicks, now that they're slim up front.
Renaldo Balkman, originally drafted by the Knicks in 2006 and a one-time fan favorite in New York, makes his return. Balkman's impact goes beyond this season, as he's on the books through the 2012-13 season. All told, Balkman, Amar'e Stoudemire and, presumably, Carmelo Anthony are the only three players on the Knicks who are under contract for the 2012-13 season.
Corey Brewer comes over to the Knicks in a somewhat related deal, one which sent Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry's expiring contract to Minnesota. According to Howard Beck of The New York Times, the Knicks are actively persuing trade offers for Brewer, assuming the right deal comes their way. Meaning, we may not actually see Brewer in a Knicks jersey.
As I said earlier, it's tough to grade the Knicks' deal considering the many factors to consider. Was it worth the Knicks folding their hands and factoring in the CBA talks? Where do they go from here? Can they get the coveted third superstar they're after? So many questions, so little time to let the initial trade sink in.
Again, though, winning the morning back pages in New York and making a possible second-round exit in the playoffs means victory for owner James Dolan. Waking up and reading the headline "Say 'Melo To The Newest Knick" is a dream come true for Dolan.
Still, my initial reaction is that the Knicks may have outbid themselves and given up more than they needed to in order to get Carmelo. On paper, the deal looks like a short-term "win" for the Knicks, but it leaves many questions and holes to fill in the long term.
Knicks Grade: B+
DENVER NUGGETS GET: Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, 2014 first-round pick, two second-round picks and $3 million.
It's hard not to look at the Nuggets as big-time winners in this deal. Knowing that Anthony had no intention of re-signing with them this summer and knowing that he would have likely walked to the Knicks anyway, leaving the Nuggets with nothing to show for his services, you have to say that they made out quite well.
Gallinari, from the day coach Mike D'Antoni embraced him as a Knick, was seemingly untouchable. Now, he pretty much turned into the "either/or" player in this deal, meaning you can have either Gallo or Landry Fields, but not both. Of course those who follow the Knicks know that Gallo's inclusion has all the makings of James Dolan being included in the negotiations. It's hard to believe that D'Antoni or team president Donnie Walsh would have wanted this trade as constructed to go down.
Raymond Felton heads to the Nuggets, but his stay may be brief. The Nuggets seem to favor the growth of Ty Lawson at point guard, which means they have little use in having Felton live out the reminder of his contract, which includes $7.5 million for his services next season. The newest trade rumor with legs which is floating around has the Nets acquiring Gallinari and Felton for two first-rounders. That would make more sense for Denver, who now has all the more reason to embrace a complete rebuilding mode.
Wilson Chandler becomes a restricted free agent at the end of this summer, which likely means that his days in Denver will be short-lived.
Believe it or not, Timofey Mozgov may be the last man standing in Denver when all is said and done. The Nuggets really wanted to get Mozgov in this deal, and while the Knicks were reluctant to give up the 7-footer, they had no intention of losing out on Anthony for the sake of holding onto Mozgov.
Considering what the Raptors and Cavaliers received in losing Chris Bosh and LeBron James this past summer, you have to give the Nuggets and general manager Masai Ujiri credit for getting back the amount of talent they did in return for giving up Anthony's services over the next month-plus.
Nuggets Grade: A
MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES GET: Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry
Hard to blame the Timberwolves for making this move. They've long coveted Randolph, who as we know has all the potential in the world to be a very good player in the NBA. It's just a matter of if or when he realizes that talent.
Brewer has been an underwhelming lottery pick for the T-Wolves, having been hobbled by injuries early in his career. The prospect of Randolph and the heft of Curry's expiring contract seems like nice value for giving up Brewer, especially considering that Minnesota does have a number of wings on their roster who they can slot in and play.
Given, however, that we're grading Randolph's potential which hasn't been able to flourish in Golden State or New York, the Timberwolves may have just given up Brewer for nothing in return. It was worth taking a shot for.
Timberwolves Grade: B