Trade specifics: New York Knicks acquire Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Corey Brewer, Renaldo Balkman, Shelden Williams and Anthony Carter; Denver Nuggets acquire Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, 2014 first-round pick from New York, two second-round picks and $3 million cash; Minnesota Timberwolves acquire Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry and $3 million.
New York Knicks: The Knicks are not title contenders yet, but this trade is a significant step in the right direction and the cost was much less prohibitive that it would seem. Many are saying New York gutted its team, but in terms of future assets, that's a flawed premise. Curry's expiring contract was of no use past this year, and Chandler was an impending restricted free agent that would have eaten into the team's flexibility to keep. The loss of Felton, who parlayed one outstanding month into ridiculous talk that he's an All-Star caliber player (he's fine, but nothing special) is more than offset by the addition of Billups. Mozgov is big, but is already 24, poor defensively, turnover-prone and inefficient offensively, so it's no huge loss.
That leaves Gallinari and the first-round pick. The pick is well into the future, and likely will be low anyway, so it's not worth all that much. Gallinari, meanwhile, is a high-upside 22-year old that has developed every year, is an underrated defender and has plenty of years to grow. But he will never be the kind of player Anthony currently is, and he plays Anthony's position. Losing him is a necessary evil, because his role would be severely diminished otherwise. New York decided they would prefer Landry Fields as a complement to Anthony, and I think they were right.
It's true that the Knicks technically could have signed Anthony for nothing this summer once a new collective bargaining agreement was put in place, but that would have required Anthony to take a significant pay cut. With New Jersey and even Denver willing to also pay Anthony the three-year, $65 million extension before the new CBA, the Knicks needed to act or risk Anthony deciding the money was more important than playing in New York.
The Knicks still have work to do to become contenders, and it's questionable how Anthony fits into Mike D'Antoni's system, but they are closer than they were before. Unless they could have known Deron Williams was also available, this is a great move. Grade: A-
Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets were going to lose Anthony for nothing anyway, so it's good that they got something back for him. Gallinari is a very good prospect and player already, and if they decide to keep Chandler, he's a helpful piece. But they also didn't really continue the rebuilding process by also dealing Felton, Nene, J.R. Smith and others, even though they could have acquired several assets for each. They seem to want to gun for the playoffs, which may happen, but is only delaying the rebuilding. Grade: B-
Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves essentially got a prospect for free in Randolph, surrendering only Brewer, who they were unlikely to keep anyway. That's always nice, and Randolph is still very young and full of potential. However, Randolph has failed at two spots (Golden State and New York) where you'd think he'd thrive, which makes you wonder. Taking on Curry's contract is something Minnesota could do due to its cap space and is largely irrelevant. At some point, Minnesota does need to build a foundation of their own, though, instead of acquiring other teams' problems and cast-offs. Grade: C+