The talk for much of the All-Star Weekend centered around Carmelo Anthony. Reporters surrounded him at media day asking about what he wanted from the trade (Anthony had to tip his cap off to himself for how well he has handled the whole thing). Even Craig Sager interrupted the All-Star Game to ask Anthony about his impending future to which Kobe Bryant politley (shall we say) interrupted.
It is all finally over with the Nuggets officially sending Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Renaldo Balkman and Anthony Carter to New York in exchange for Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Timofey Mozgov. The Knicks also sent Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry to the Timberwolves for Corey Brewer.
Whenever a star gets moved to a team in the playoff hunt, it obviously has far-reaching impacts throughout the conference. Orlando, itself, made its big deals in December and after that hot start are finding the transition still to be difficult.
The Knicks will surely be feeling these transition pains in the next few weeks as Anthony and Billups especially fit into Mike D'Antoni's offense around Amar'e Stoudemire.
New York is currently 6.5 games back of Orlando for the fourth seed in the Playoffs. Even with all the improvements the team made in the offseason to get comfortably into the postseason hunt, New York is still far away from what is generally considered the four best teams in the East.
Anthony may or may not push the Knicks further up the standings in the remaining 27 games this year. It is a little hard to tell.
Anthony undoubtedly gives New York more of a scoring punch. Anthony is one of the best scorers in the league. The offense is not the Knicks' issue though. It has always been defense and so giving up so many offensive weapons amounts to a change in offensive identity midseason -- I know I do not believe Chauncey Billups can run an up-tempo offense at his advanced age.
New York might have a rough transition period because the entire offense is going to have to change and revolve around Stoudemire and Anthony more than the pick and roll centered around Felton and Stoudemire.
Defense is still going to continue to be an issue without Mozgov to back up Stoudemire and Anthony is not known for his lock down defense. In the immediate, while getting Anthony is an opportunity not to pass up, you have to wonder if the Knicks gave up too much. I certainly think they did because I liked the young core and the upward trend of this team.
Not to mention that in all likelihood, New York might have been able to keep some of the players the team gave up and sign Anthony as a free agent this summer. The rumors that Knicks president Donnie Walsh was not happy with the deal and that owner James Dolan and former general manager Isaiah Thomas pushed for the deal and won out have already begun to spread.
The part of this deal that does concern me as a Magic fan is the return of Billups to the Eastern Conference. Jameer Nelson -- and really all Magic point guards since 2000 -- have had problems defending Billups. When he got traded to Denver, it seemed like a huge road block in the Eastern Conference was lifted off the team.
Now Billups is back, and in the slower-paced playoffs, that could actually help the Knicks even if they are struggling heading into the postseason. Billups becomes so valuable in that part of the trade come Playoff time and there is no doubt about that.
This is a likely matchup for Orlando either as the 3/6 or 4/5 matchup assuming New York gets better or Orlando gets better.
The Magic will get to know the new-look Knicks pretty well. They still have three meetings on the season -- March 1 in Orlando, March 23 in New York and March 28 in New York. We will know a lot more about this matchup once those games occur.
Of course, I have been dancing around the real effect of this trade (even though I still think we cannot talk about it until the CBA is decided this summer). New York now has no contractual obligations outside of Stoudemire, Anthony and Renaldo Balkman beyond the summer of 2012.
In effect, New York has just three players under contract for that summer.
Considering the initial reports that Howard was seriously favoring a larger market came out of a New York newspaper, you can read into that what you will.
Again, I stress that we have no clue what the rules are going to be when Howard becomes a free agent. Speculation is all we can do now simply because the rules of the game are completely unknown. I would say that with the East grabbing another all star and another three-star team forming -- New York could easily turn around and spend that extra cap room on Chris Paul or Deron Williams. If Howard were to leave Orlando, I get the feeling he would elect a Western Conference team and a potentially easier path to the Finals.
But again, we don't know the rules ot the game. And this is all speculation.
To be sure though, the Knicks' acquisition of Carmelo Anthony will affect Orlando this year and in the future.