The two biggest losers, without a doubt, during NBA “Tradefest” were the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics.
The Knicks got their man in Carmelo Anthony, but they practically gutted their team to get him. On the outside, the deal was a no-brainer and seemingly well worth a three-month headache. Melo is the most celebrated NBA superstar the Knicks have had since Patrick Ewing. Sorry, Amare. You are Robin to Carmelo’s Batman.
However, on the inside, the Knicks could have signed Anthony during the summer and kept all their pieces together. Anthony never intended to sign Denver’s offer sheet from the get-go. It was all posturing on his end, and to the Nuggets’ credit they never budged. It was a game of “who blinks first” and fortunately for Denver Knicks CEO James Dolan couldn’t stay patient and went all in too soon. He sent three quality players – Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton and Wilson Chandler – to Denver, making the Knicks’ roster extremely thin.
The move falls totally on Dolan’s lap (with Isiah Thomas in his left ear) because if it were up to GM Donnie Walsh, the Knicks probably would have folded their cards last week and simply waited for Melo to walk through the front door of Madison Square Garden sometime in July with pen in hand itching to sign a contract with the team he so dearly wanted to play for. That would have given the Knicks are very potent lineup of Amare Stoudemire, Gallinari, Chandler, Felton and Anthony.
Dolan better hope Chris Paul lands in New York in 2012.
The other team that took a hit at the trade deadline was Boston. GM Danny Ainge may have caused a minor earthquake in Massachusetts by sending two very popular players in starting center Kendrick Perkins and backup point guard Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City in exchange for forward Jeff Green and center Nenad Krstic.
After losing in Denver on Thursday, just hours after the deal was done, an emotional Kevin Garnett – without question the heart and soul of the Celtics – had a difficult time coping with the loss of his teammates, telling reporters that it was an extremely “tough day” and he feels like he just “lost a family member.”
Perkins was not only the anchor of the Celtics interior defense but he was also a huge part of a Boston starting five, along with KG, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo, that has never lost a playoff series when they are all healthy. That record will remain intact because Big Perk will no longer man the middle for Gang Green, grabbing loose balls, setting picks, battling Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol in the paint, intimidating refs and protecting the basket. All the intangibles that Perkins brings to the court will be missed.
Ainge was the toast of Beantown in 2007 when he acquired KG and Ray Allen and surrounded head coach Doc Rivers with a very capable roster. With this recent transaction, Ainge’s standing in the Celtics community is on thin ice. If the Celtics falter in the playoffs, Ainge could be roasted in Beantown.