New York’s in a Carmelo state of mind

18 Feb

So Carmelo wants to be a Knick.

The Knicks want high-scoring small forward – preferably one that wears a headband.

And coincidently, the Nuggets wants to ship a dissatisfied star and an ageing point guard for some high quality players.

All of the stars are aligning.

Problem is, Denver’s playing hardball and their price is much too high. The New York Times reports that the Nuggets want Raymond Felton, Landry Fields, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari for Melo and Chauncey Billups. Sheesh. Should the Knicks throw in Jerry Seinfeld, Mr Met and a sandwich from Katz’s deli just to even it up a little more?

Surely, New York is not about gut its team for a single star.

Or is it?

There are so many reasons team president Donnie Walsh and the Knicks should reject such a proposal. Chief among them is that they’ll lose the young nucleus of their team which has provided an energy and scoring punch the club has lacked for years.

Let’s face it, sharp-shooting bigs don’t exactly grow on trees like they once did, and Danilo Gallinari is one of the sharpest marksmen on the NBA court today. His recent 17-point performance against Atlanta, which saw him hit 5 of 12 from the field, 3 of 8 from 3-point range and 4 of 4 from the charity stripe, is testament to that. And in case you’re making notes, he also hauled in 9 boards that night.

Then there’s Fields, who is such a well-rounded player for a rookie that it seems ludicrous to let him go. The lively Fields can do it all, including rebound. Wouldn’t you be reluctant to see this kind of potential walk out the door?

But, this is New York, where nothing is done by inches. It only took a year to build the Empire State Building and at great sacrifice too. Why do even dare question how long it’ll take the Knicks to build a contender again? If they can acquire the missing champion-caliber piece, smart money says they’ll do it.

But perhaps fueling the Knicks’ decision-making process even more than Carmelo’s stats is his star power. Despite playing above .500 ball and sitting in sixth in the Easter Conference, the Blue and Orange still lack pizazz. Sure, they have their $100-million-center-piece, Amar’e Stoudemire, who to his credit has lifted his scoring further of late.

But Stoudemire, even by Coach Mike D’Antoni’s assessment, is a finisher. And while he’s one of the best in the game at that, he isn’t Patrick Ewing. He might not even be Latrell Sprewell.

Madison Square Garden and the historic Knickerbockers need a Ewing-sized superstar to carry the legacy forward. And it seems many in the Big Apple are unsure Stoudemire fulfills that duty. He needs help.

That’s why we’re hearing the “We want Melo” chants and why this saga persists. The management, the fans and the city smell a contender. They thirst for a contender. And they know that even if Melo brings just half the juice he brought to the Pepsi Center over the years, the Empire State will not only be quenched, but actually, really start believing in its basketball team again.

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