I went back and forth at the time of the deal and even while writing all of this out, I’ve flip-flopped a couple times as to who came out on top. But it all really comes down to how much you believe in Carmelo’s ability to lead a championship run. The Knicks will live and die with Carmelo during his tenure in the Bronx, just like the pre-James Heat did with Wade (remember the horrid 2007 club?) and the Mavs have done with Dirk. Miami gave their superstar a solid running mate in O’Neal, while the Mavericks did a nice job of supplying Nowitzki with a collection of championship-craving veterans, but neither team would have had anything resembling a chance if Wade and Dirk didn’t step their games up in the clutch.
Is Melo capable of making a run like Wade did in ’06?
If you believe he is, then the deal heavily favors New York’s side, but I personally don’t think he has it in him and right now it doesn’t even look like Amare has the physical ability to support Melo’s effort. Even though it’s a superstar’s league and the Miami Heat have a very good chance of winning a championship with some extremely weak rotation players like Mike Miller and Joel Anthony, I’m taking Denver’s side of the trade because I think building a solid base will eventually lead to some deep playoff runs.
The trade raises some really interesting questions:
Would you rather have a team of role players seeking a superstar or a team with a superstar searching for the right role players?
Is it more likely for the Nuggets to land someone like a Howard or the Knicks to find the types of players that can properly support Anthony?
Given a Paul Millsap-caliber player, I think Denver would instantly become part of the top tier of teams in the West, and given a more dominant player even, Millsap’s teammate Jefferson or if there’s any chance Howard’s interested, then Denver could have their vision set on something even bigger.
Meanwhile, I think the Knicks are on a tougher search. Anthony and Stoudemire are due to make a combined $40 million a year through at least 2014, and while Anthony has been at the top of his game at different moments throughout the season, Amare has had the worst season since his rookie year (not including his 3-game 2006 campaign). So the job for New York is either to use the rest of their cap space to support this twosome, or possibly consider shopping Amare.
We saw Denver struggle in trying to find the right running mates for Anthony, and we all witnessed LeBron refuse to sit around and let the front office find him a match so he took matters into his own hands. As rare as it is for superstars to come along, that’s still only one step towards that championship. Although it may be the most important step, that doesn’t mean the other steps are any easier to come about.
While the effects of the trade will continue to constitute both franchises for at least the next 5 to 10 years, I think Denver fans have more to be optimistic about heading into the offseason.