Next Tuesday, Feb. 21, will mark one year since the Nuggets, Timberwolves and Knicks swung a 13-player, four-pick trade that landed Danilo Gallinari in Denver, Eddy Curry's expiring contract in Minnesota, and of course, Carmelo Anthony in New York.
Since its completion, the deal has been under constant scrutiny. Who was bilked? Who was the bandit?
The prevailing thought has evolved from "the Nuggets gave up a superstar for a supporting cast" to "Denver tricked the Knicks into dealing their core for a an upcoming free agent who, by all accounts, would wind up in Manhattan anyway."
Of course, not much has been made of Anthony Randolph's arrival in Minnesota. Shocker.
So 51 weeks after the mega-deal was made official, let's look back at each team, pick and player, and see what's happened since.
(Note: Net wins includes only the players traded by the team. For example, Raymond Felton's stats with the Nuggets and Blazers will both be counted for the Knicks' net, while Andre Miller's stats with the Nuggets will not be counted for the Knicks' net.)
DENVER NUGGETS AND THEIR HAUL
Record before trade: 32-25
Record since trade (including playoffs): 35-23
Where they fall in the West
The Nuggets are 16-12, seventh place in the West. They have lost 7 of nine since starting the season 14-5. The Nuggets' biggest issue has been on the defensive end; while they are leading the league in points per game (103.9), they are the only team with a winning record allowing over 100 points per game (100.2). Gallinari, the team's leading scorer, is sidelined until early March with a sprained ankle. Upon his return, the Nuggets should reassert themselves as contenders in the West. Denver could win a playoff series, but they would need to pull off several upsets to make it to the Finals.
21 games, 12.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.6 APG, 11.6 PER
Estimated wins added with Denver: 0.35
Signed a contract to play in the CBA with no opt-out clause. Reports suggest he wants to re-sign with Denver on his return.
21 games, 11.5 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 6.5 APG, 14.7 PER
Traded to the Blazers in a package deal that netted Andre Miller.
Andre Miller (via Felton)
28 games, 10.7 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 6.6 APG, 17.1 PER
Starter-quality backup point guard behind Ty Lawson. Provides valuable minutes off the bench. Free agent after this season.
39 games, 16.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.2 APG, 18.6 PER
Suffered ankle injury after quick start to season. Most promising player acquired in the deal by Denver. In his prime, could average between 20 and 25 points per game.
32 games, 4.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 0.4 APG, 12.8 PER
Starts for the Nuggets, but plays limited minutes. Averages close to a double-double per 36 minutes.
32 games, 4.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 0.1 APG, 15.7 PER
Effective in his limited minutes. Has averaged close to 12 rebounds per 36 minutes of action since arriving in Denver.
2012 2nd round pick, 2013 2nd round pick, 2014 1st round pick
Wins added: 10.63, plus the three picks.
Wins traded: 13.45, plus a 2015 2nd round pick.
Net: -2.82 wins, plus one 1st round pick and one 2nd round pick
NEW YORK KNICKS AND THEIR HAUL
Record before trade: 28-26
Record since trade (including playoffs): 27-33
Where they fall in the East
After using the amnesty clause on Chauncey Billups, the Knicks began the season using Iman Shumpert, Mike Bibby and Toney Douglas at point guard. An ineffective 8-15 start forced Mike D'Antoni to ramp up journeyman Jeremy Lin's minutes. The team has responded, winning five straight games, all without Amar'e Stoudemire and Anthony. The two stars return in the next week. Currently the conference's eight-seed, D'Antoni's offensive scheme could really start to click with Lin and the big frontcourt of Stoudemire, Anthony and Chandler. The Knicks aren't quite a contender, but they are solidly a playoff team.
49 games, 24.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.5 APG, 21.7 PER
The reason the Knicks mortgaged their core. Has put up big numbers, but his presence has had an adverse effect on fellow starters Stoudemire and Landry Fields.
16 games, 2.8 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.3 APG, 14.4 PER
Only sees minutes in blowouts. At this point, more of a contract burden than anything for the Knicks.
21 games, 17.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 5.5 APG, 19.1 PER
Knicks used the amnesty clause on Billups in the offseason. While it was used to acquire Tyson Chandler, for this purpose, we will credit the clause itself for the acquisition, not the actual trade.
Did not play.
Waived several days after being acquired. Now playing for the Nuggets.
Picks acquired: None
Wins added: 13.05
Wins traded: 9.08, plus a 2012 2nd round pick, 2013 2nd round pick and 2014 first round pick.
Net: +3.97 wins, minus the three picks.
MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES AND THEIR HAUL
Record before trade: 13-43
Record since trade (including playoffs): 17-38
Where they fall in the West
The Wolves have emerged as a surprising fringe team in the Western Conference, currently just a handful of teams outside of the playoff picture. Of course, this trade had little bearing on them, other then helping out to make the numbers work.
Did not play
Waived shortly after being acquired by the Wolves.
41 games, 9.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 0.7 APG, 17.9 PER
Showed flashes last season, but while his stats look impressive, his low basketball awareness often make him a liability on the court.
Picks acquired: 2015 2nd round pick
Wins added: 2.17, plus the pick
Wins traded: 2.87
Net: -.7 wins, plus the 2nd round pick
I'm by no means a numbers man. Ask anybody that has had a Hall of Fame discussion with me, and they'll tell you as much.
You need to find somewhere to start to assess this trade, though, so I went with Estimated Wins Added. The statistic was developed by the great John Hollinger, and it manipulates Player Efficiency Rating -- another "Hollinger" stat -- into churning out a precise amount of wins a player adds to his team.
Now, since EWA is derived from PER, we're not taking chemistry or defense into account, two of the bigger factors in this trade. But when focusing on individual returns on offense, you get the following ranking:
1. Knicks, +3.97 wins
2. T-Wolves, -0.70 wins
3. Nuggets, -2.82 wins
If you're reading this, I doubt you care much about how Minnesota made out in this deal, so we'll ax them from here forward.
There are a trio of other factors you need to look at. First, is what we'll call the Melo effect.
Our two case studies are Stoudemire and Fields, the two remaining starters from the pre-Melo Knicks. We'll oversimplify here, and compare the two players stats from 2010-11 to 2011-12, giving them 20-ish games of adjustment time:
|PPG: 25.3||PPG: 18.2|
|RPG: 8.2||RPG: 8.1|
|PER: 25.3||PER: 18.2|
|EWA/82 games: 16.93||EWA/82 games: 7.83|
|PPG: 9.7||PPG: 10.1|
|RPG: 6.4||RPG: 3.9|
|PER: 13.5||PER: 13.0|
|EWA/82 games: 3.40||EWA/82 games: 2.93|
Watching Fields this season, it seems apparent that he's adjusting to life with Anthony in the lineup. His best games have come since Anthony's injury, but the shell of himself we saw at the end of last season looks like it's in the past.
For Stoudemire, you can certainly argue the lack of a reliable Knicks point guard has hurt him statistically. But can that account for such a dip in EWA? You have to point to Anthony's addition, and the uncomfortability Stoudemire has had since, as a factor. So we need to discount Stoudemire's slump from the Knicks' haul.
Next, you have to look at what the Nuggets and Knicks were able to do, cap-wise, after the trade. The Knicks are simple: Anthony's and Billups' contracts handcuffed them, preventing them from doing much of anything in the offseason. Management opted to use the coveted amnesty clause on Billups to acquire Chandler. Several years from now, that might look like a bad move considering Billups was in his contract year, and the amount of risky long-term deals the Knicks have on the books.
On the flip side, Denver opened up the necessary money to bring back both Nene and Arron Afflalo, two key cogs in their rotation. Obviously, this money would have opened up had Anthony not re-signed in the offseason, but it is still a product of Melo's exit.
Finally, we've got to address the draft picks each team gave up. The Nuggets netted a future first and second round pick. The Knicks gave up a trio of picks: two second rounders, and one first rounder. Those picks are immeasurable right now for two reasons: we don't know just how good that New York first rounder will be (lottery? No. 27?), and we obviously don't know how those picks will pan out. Still you have to figure at least one of those three picks will wind up being at least a rotation player, which is another positive for Denver.
So who is our winner? Analytically, it looks like the Knicks. Their EWA increased by close to four wins, and Anthony has far-and-away produced the biggest returns of any player in the deal.
The eyeball test, conversely, suggests the Nuggets won big, based on their improved record, the draft picks they acquired, and the friendly contract they picked up (Gallinari is a bargain for what he brings to the table.)
The verdict is a cop out, but it's the only answer: it's still too early to tell. Gallinari has the potential to be a future All-Star, but did Denver get much else out of this deal? Will Chandler ever pan out as a reliable forward? Yeah, the addition of Miller has been great, but he's a short-term solution . . . with the Thunder, Clippers, Spurs and Mavericks in the conference, are the Nuggets really good enough to compete for the West title?
On the flip side, three things will resonate from this trade. The first is obvious: can Melo jell with Amar'e on offense to the point that the Knicks can compete with the Heat? So far: no way. With a point guard, we'll have to see. Next, the amnesty decision. Unfortunately, we only have "What ifs?" to measure this, but what if Stoudemire breaks down physically? What if the Knicks had held on to Billups this year and made a run at Dwight Howard or Deron Williams in the offseason? And of course, finally, the draft picks. The Knicks haven't been players in the draft for a long, long time, and it has kept them from developing into a relevant team in the East. Dealing a trio of picks, including a first rounder, only figures to extend that.
What is for sure is that for the Knicks, the next three weeks will tell a lot. With a D'Antoni point guard running the offense, it will become apparent whether Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler can form a cohesive, intimidating front line, or if Anthony's style isn't a match with Stoudemire, again pushing the Knicks back in their road to return to relevancy in the East.