NBA@2: Carmelo Anthony Wants (Another) Trade?
This has been coming.
It’s been coming for quite a while.
Even as we watched the “amazing,” “incredible,” “spectacular,” “Lintastic” show going in when Jeremy Lin took the helm of the New York Knicks, everyone who was paying attention knew there was trouble on the horizon. The Knicks won seven out of Lin’s first eight games with the team, with limited participation from Carmelo Anthony, who got hurt in Lin’s second game, and the question became whether or not the team could continue to win when Carmelo “There is a ME in Carmelo” Anthony came back to the lineup.
It would be easy enough to point out that the Knicks have lost eight of their last ten games since Carmelo’s return and just move on, making it seem like Anthony is the only factor involved. It is much more truthful to point out that during that Linning streak the Knicks only faced one real playoff team – the Los Angeles Lakers – and they spent most of the time feasting on the likes of the Sacramento Kings, Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors and New Orleans Hornets. That’s a winning streak just waiting to happen.
Since Carmelo returned to the lineup the Knicks have had a much tougher row to hoe, with the Miami HEAT, Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers and Chicago Bulls all lined up for them. There aren’t too many teams in the NBA who could come out of that stretch of games without racking up a number of losses.
Still, losses are frustrating, and now that the Knicks find themselves on the outside looking into the playoff picture instead of fighting for home court advantage, tempers are beginning to flair.
Apparently Carmelo didn’t get enough of seeing his name featured prominently in every rumor mill, because reports out of New York this morning say he’s ready to ask the Knicks for a trade. Marc Berman of the New York Post reports that Anthony is unhappy with head coach Mike D’Antoni and feels like GM Glen Grunwald doesn’t trust him to help with personnel decisions.
For his part, Knicks owner Jim Dolan says he’s not trading anyone, least of all last season’s blockbuster acquisition in Anthony, for whom the team gave up so much. And to bring the discussion full circle, Anthony’s agent – Leon Rose – says there is no truth to the idea that his client would ask for a trade.
“That’s total nonsense,” Rose told the New York Daily News on Wednesday. “It’s not true. It’s laughable. All Carmelo is concerned about is how he can help the New York Knicks win games.”
It’s clear that Carmelo is upset; you see it every time he doesn’t get the ball on an offensive possession. The frequent look of disdain he shoots Jeremy Lin tells the whole story. Carmelo wants to be the primary option, and would be just fine if all of the other Knicks stood around and watched the awe-inspiring Carmelo Anthony Show, just like the Nuggets used to do.
We’re going to hear some chatter about Carmelo being traded, but the reality is that it’s highly unlikely. The Knicks gave up too much to get him and his trade value is at an all-time low. What’s more likely is that we see the Knicks bring in a different coach to take a crack at the team next season. The head coach always bears the initial brunt of a team falling short, so Mike D’Antoni will get the blame for perceived shortcomings this season – save a dramatic turnaround – and if the next coach can’t turn it around we’ll likely be talking about Carmelo Anthony in the rumor mills leading up to next season’s trade deadline.
UPDATE: Since this story was posted Mike D’Antoni has stepped down as head coach of the Knicks . Story here!
Rashard Lewis Struggling With Losses
Washington Wizards forward Rashard Lewis admits it’s hard to go from title contender to veteran leader, talks about the promise in his young teammates, compares John Wall to Gary Payton and Jameer Nelson, and admits he wouldn’t mind a trade if it came.
When Ricky Rubio went down for the season with an ACL injury, it changed a lot for the Minnesota Timberwolves. They went from expecting to make the playoffs to understanding that it is probably a long shot, and they went from thinking it might be best to keep Michael Beasley to all but deciding that it’s time to trade him.
Losing Rubio is about more than just losing his stats. He brought a surprising amount of intensity to the team – particularly on the defensive end of the floor – as well as a certain amount of confidence and cockiness, but more importantly he changed the culture around the team. His infectious spirit inspired his teammates to play harder and better, and the fact that everyone loved playing with him gave the Timberwolves an edge that was missing in the chemistry department.
Luke Ridnour is a solid veteran point guard, but there is no way he can be everything that Rubio was to the Timberwolves.
Internally, the Timberwolves now view the playoffs as a long shot, and that fact has them strongly considering moving Beasley. They never had any intention of signing him long-term this summer, but they did see the value of a player with his scoring ability on a team that was playoff-bound. Now that the team is thinking more long-term again, it makes a great deal of sense for the Timberwolves to move Beasley for a first round pick and a chance to continue building for the future. That’s where the thinking is on Beasley as the last few hours leading up to the trade deadline trickle away.
There was also a lot of talk about the team possibly acquiring Pau Gasol from the Los Angeles Lakers, as team president David Kahn had a sort of romantic idea of letting Gasol and Rubio share the NBA hardwoods in the same way that they have shared the FIBA hardwoods, but that was somewhat of a passing fancy, according to sources close to the situation. The interest in Gasol has passed.
The reality is that there is a paradigm shift underway in Minnesota. When Rick Adelman took over as head coach he thought this would be another rebuilding season, with youth being served and wins serving as a kind of secondary concern. Then, when the team started to actually win games, Adelman kind of changed his thinking, deciding they should go ahead and approach games as winnable instead of as learning experiences. Michael Beasley is now squarely in the middle of that paradigm shift. If Adelman believes the team can make the playoffs even without Rubio – which is a possibility, as we saw in Sunday night’s win over the Phoenix Suns, then the team might opt to either keep Beasley or make a deal that nets them the shooting guard they’re after. Orlando’s Jason Richardson is a possibility, as is Houston’s Courtney Lee (or perhaps Kevin Martin).
Sources close to the situation in Minnesota say there are a large number of options being presented with regard to Beasley, and management has not completely decided which way to go. As things stand now the Timberwolves are just one game out of the Western Conference’s eighth seed and three games behind the fourth seed and home court advantage in the first round.
It makes a certain amount of sense to go ahead and push for the playoffs, even without Ricky Rubio, and Michael Beasley could turn out to be a big part of that push – either with his play, or with the player he helps the team acquire.
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