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The first post of 2017 will be one of a different tone. A somewhat annoyed tone. An angrier tone. That’s mostly due to the fact that there is so much nonsense going on in the sports world right now and I’m here to try and expose it. The nonsense coming from “sources” has got to stop. Let’s start with a topic very near and dear to my heart. The Knicks.
Can we PLEASE STOP with the Carmelo Anthony for Kevin Love talk. First of all, it makes absolutely no sense for the Knicks or the Cavs. I have a lot of respect and admiration for Stephen A. Smith of ESPN, who was one of the first to publicly talk about this hooplah trade, but this talk is absolute nonsense and we need to stop it before it even gets started. First, let’s look at it strictly from a basketball perspective. Carmelo and LeBron play the same position and that’s an issue for the Cavs. Melo has been willing but is not in love with playing the other forward position. LeBron is capable but not really willing. Even if Melo did play the power forward full time for the Cavs, if and when the Cavs and Warriors meet in the Finals, Melo is going to struggle mightily matched up against Draymond Green and Kevin Durant. On defense, Draymond has the quick feet to slow down Melo on the perimeter and he has the strength to stop Melo in the post. Don’t get me wrong, Melo is gifted enough offensively to still get 15-20 points against Draymond, but over the course of an NBA Finals series, it’s not going to come easy. Defensively, Carmelo can’t guard Kevin Durant. It’s just that simple. Durant is too long, he’s too quick and just too gifted on the offensive end of the floor. You can sit there and make the argument that LeBron would cover Durant which is fine, but that leaves Melo on Draymond Green who is just too physical inside and Melo has never shown an ability or desire to box out on defense. At least with Kevin Love, he has the size and post moves to post up Draymond or Durant with some success. He also is an excellent rebounder who has absolutely no issues with boxing out on defense. To be quite frank, it’s just about the only thing Love is good for on defense.
Now let’s go to the Knicks side of things. Kevin Love and Kristaps Porzingis would struggle to co-exist. They are both stretch fours who occupy the same space. Love is more of a post presence so you could make the argument that Love would occupy the paint while Porzingis can stretch the floor on the perimeter or vice versa. So fine, maybe they can co-exist on offense. Defense is another story. Even if you are of the belief that eventually Porzingis will be able to shift over and play the center position full time, it’s going to take time and patience. At this point in his career, he has not shown the ability to handle that position full time. He will get eaten alive by guys like Boogie Cousins, Hassan Whiteside, DeAndre Jordan, Karl Anthony-Towns and so on. He could put on weight and get stronger but you still have to know how to play that position defensively and I’m not sure he will be able to do so. This would give the Knicks arguably the worst interior defense in the league and they CLEARLY don’t have the perimeter defenders to help.
Next, let’s talk about where these teams are and where they are trying to go. The Cavaliers are perennial championship contenders who are trying to get back to the Finals and possibly face and beat the Warriors for the 2nd straight year. Make no mistake about it, every move the Cavs make is influenced by the Golden State Warriors. The Knicks are a team in flux right now. They may have an idea of what they want to do but the execution is somewhere between poor and non-existent. Melo has that no trade clause but has spoken openly about possibly waving that clause if the right scenario presents itself. Going to the Cavs would definitely fall under his definition of “the right scenario.” It’s a great move for Melo. He gets to play alongside LeBron James who is one of his best friends in the league and he has the chance to compete for championships for the next couple of years. However, the Knicks aren’t going to trade Melo just because its a good move for him, it has to be a good move for them as well. Now, acquiring an All-Star like Kevin Love is attractive and it’s flashy, but I don’t think it’s a good move for them. If they are going to trade Melo and rebuild this team around KP, trading Melo for Kevin Love is not the first move they should make. They need to acquire assets and players who compliment Porzingis’ talents, not mirror them. Not to mention, Kevin Love is 28 and will be 29 by the time next season starts. He may be younger than Melo, but not by much and one of the biggest issues everyone has with the pairing of Carmelo and Porzingis is that their career timelines just don’t match up. The same could be said for Love and Porzingis. Kevin Love is a big man and big men in the NBA notoriously have shorter careers than the smaller guards, especially big men with a history of injuries like Kevin Love has. Kevin Love probably only has another 4 MAYBE 5 good years left in him. By that time, Porzingis will likely just be entering his prime. Again, it doesn’t seem like their career timelines are in sync either.
Finally, I will leave you with this. Does Carmelo Anthony really make the Cavaliers better? Is he going to push them over the top and be the missing piece that helps them matchup with the, now even more stacked, Golden State Warriors? I don’t think so. He’s only averaging 2 more points per game than Kevin Love in just about the same amount of minutes despite taking 3 more shots per game. His usage rate is also 10 points higher than Kevin Love’s. TEN points higher! And with that big of a gap in usage rate, he’s STILL only averaging 2 more points per game, less than 2 more assists per game and almost 5 less rebounds per game. Kevin Love’s PER is also 3 points HIGHER than Carmelo’s. So again I ask, does Carmelo Anthony really make the Cavaliers that much better, if at all? It seems to be foolish to think so. Not to mention, when you’re talking about players of this caliber, it takes a while for them to get adjusted to playing with one another. Carmelo has never played with a player like LeBron in his NBA career. They’re not going to figure things out over night just because they’re friends and I’m not sure going through a serious adjustment period like that in February is a good idea for a team with championship aspirations. Especially since the team they’re looking toward seems to be figuring out how to use their shiny new toy, Kevin Durant.
The Carmelo trade talk will continue and nobody can stop it. It won’t stop until either the Knicks turn things around or Carmelo actually gets traded, with the latter being more realistic. If and when the Knicks and Carmelo decide to part ways, the Knicks need to be diligent and not settle just to get Melo out of town. He’s still an All-Star caliber player and one of the best closers in the NBA. The smartest thing for the Knicks to do would be to stockpile draft picks and young players. Time will tell what happens with this situation but as a Knicks fan, I personally do not want to see a Kevin Love for Carmelo Anthony swap.
Stats from: http://www.espn.com