One way the Knicks can view the busy weekend of trades made by the Orlando Magic is that they essentially remove the Magic as viable competition for Carmelo Anthony. They certainly don't put any pressure on the Knicks to do anything just to get into the upper-echelon in the East.
"I think when you think that way," Donnie Walsh replied, "you make bad mistakes."
Mike D'Antoni said of the Magic roster shake-up: "You always hope for the worst, that it doesn't work out."
Coincidentally, that's the debate regarding the Knicks pursuit of Carmelo. They've played so well over the last month (13-4 since Nov. 17) that there is some trepidation that removing two or possibly three key pieces to D'Antoni's rotation might screw things up.
But the opinion here is when you're talking about adding a superstar talent, it's a risk worth taking.
Still, as we've told you repeatedly, trading for Carmelo isn't something the Knicks control. Getting the Nuggets to engage in a real conversation is still the challenge. At this point, while Denver GM Masai Ujiri has talked with Walsh and just about everyone else in the Knicks front office, there has been zero traction. The feeling remains, as we wrote in August, that the Kroenke's have little interest in sending Carmelo to the Knicks, which, to them, would be viewed as a surrender. Especially when the Nets keep coming to the door with Derrick Favors and a bouquet of first round picks.
[BLOGHOST NOTE: I originally had what I thought were a few clever ideas on how to save the Nuggets money, but the great Larry Coon corrected a few of my CBA mistakes. So...forget what I said. *Dunce cap*]
Still, the Knicks can't panic and with Walsh at the helm, you likely won't see panic. Patience doesn't sell newspapers, nor does it excite fans hungry for trade rumors. But it's how Walsh has handled this rebuild and expect it to be how Walsh handles things between now and the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
I asked him if he felt any motivation to accelerate the plan -- perhaps be a little more aggressive on the trade market -- with his team's positive start, which elevated them into the top six in the East.
"We're trying to make the playoffs," he said. "If there's something out there that will help us make the playoffs, we'll do it."
But it would be a good idea to avoid sneaking into the playoffs, and avoid facing the Celtics or Heat in the first round, if you could. The Knicks hot streak over the last four weeks put them in position to do that. But, as Walsh said, you don't just make trades for the sake of making trades.
"The players [offered] have to be better than what we have right here," he said.
With that in mind, don't expect anything to come out of Orlando's offer of Chris Duhon for Ronny Turiaf, as the Magic frantically search for a backup center after giving up one of the best in the league in Marcin Gortat. Though the salary matchup saves about $800K in cap space for 2011 and Duhon ran the pick-and-roll well, but there was little else he did that would inspire giving up Turiaf's size without getting size back. The Magic are more likely to bring back Tony Battie, who is riding the bench in Philadelphia right now.
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* - Think D'Antoni needs to open up his rotation? Raymond Felton is averaging 41.9 minutes per game in the month of December (nine games) and Amar'e Stoudemire is averaging 40.4 minutes per game.
Stoudemire, who has been a little banged up over the last week, said he had no problem with the minutes he's had to log lately. "I kept myself in great shape all summer and I'm in great shape now," he said. "So whatever amount of minutes coach Mike D'Antoni has for me to win, then I'm down for it."
Stoudemire also wouldn't get into the debate about whether the Knicks should do something to improve the roster as the schedule heads toward the dreaded dog days of the NBA season.
"Obviously we're playing well right now and we've got great camaraderie going," Stoudemire said, "but I'm not the GM, so I can't make any comments from that standpoint."
* - I still don't understand why Andy Rautins hasn't been dispatched to the D-League, even just for this homestand, when D'Antoni knew the rookie likely wouldn't play. Rautins could have gone down to Springfield -- or wherever -- and played and then be recalled at any time. It's understandable to want to keep the extra guard with the team on the West Coast, when it might be difficult to get him out for a game in case of an injury, but right now it's not serving Rautins any good to be nothing more than a practice player. Of course there really shouldn't be any surprise here because the Knicks have never used the D-League as a place to send players.