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SportsColumnistsAl Iannazzone

Knicks NBA insider: Did Melo cost too much?

Carmelo Anthony during an early 2012 game. (Jan.

Carmelo Anthony during an early 2012 game. (Jan. 2, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Hindsight isn't always 20-20

Carmelo Anthony was trying to defend his acquisition and instead supported the argument that the Knicks gave up too much to get him from Denver.

As if the numbers before the two teams met Saturday night didn't scream the Nuggets got the better of the deal thus far. The Knicks' regular-season record since the trade was 20-23. The Nuggets were 29-12.

"You can't compare our team to Denver's team," Anthony said. "They got five starters from that trade. Denver's a hell of a team. They're one of the deeper teams in the NBA right now."

The trade did that. Denver received Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton and Timofey Mozgov. Only Gallinari and Mozgov remain, but Felton eventually was flipped for starting point guard Andre Miller.

The Knicks ultimately got the best player in the trade, probably the two best in Anthony and Chauncey Billups, who was waived right before camp through the amnesty provision to make room for Tyson Chandler.

But the Knicks lack depth and you can make a case that they only have three legitimate healthy NBA starters on their current roster -- Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Chandler.

And despite Anthony and Stoudemire saying they can coexist, they have not proven they can.

Rookie Iman Shumpert has had some impressive moments, but at this point probably should be more of a rotation player than a starting point guard. Landry Fields has posed little threat to opposing defenses as a starting shooting guard. His confidence also seems to be rattled, although he's looked better the last couple of games.

Guard play is only part of the reason the Knicks have struggled this season. But they miss a playmaking point guard who can score and set up his teammates, too.

They hope Baron Davis can be that player when he returns from a back injury. But there is a risk in putting so much into an injury-prone player in his 30s who said Friday that his back was bothering him so much when he joined the Knicks in December that he didn't think he'd be able to play basketball.

The Dolan family owns controlling interests in the Knicks, MSG and Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.

Declining after the deal

Stoudemire and Fields have been the Knicks most affected statistically since the trade.

Stoudemire averaged 26.1 points, shot 50.7 percent, and took 19.4 shots per game before the trade. Since, he's taken 17.3 shots, made 46.7 percent of them and scored 21.6 points. (Not including Saturday).

Fields produced 10.1 points and 51.9 percent shooting before the trade. Since, he's averaged 8.7 points and 44.9 percent shooting.

Expert opinions

The NBA general managers didn't believe the Knicks were the championship contenders Mike D'Antoni and some of his players said they would be.

In the annual GM survey, only 14.3 percent picked the Knicks to win the Atlantic Division and none chose them to win the Eastern Conference championship.

D'Antoni finished tied for fifth in the coach who runs the best offense -- but it helps when a true point guard is running his offense.

Speaking of point guards, Deron Williams was voted the best by 50 percent of the GMs last year. The Nets point guard didn't receive a vote this time. Derrick Rose got 59.3 percent of the votes, Chris Paul 37 percent and Russell Westbrook 3.7.

Around the NBA

Blowing up the Big Three

Holding on to aging former great players for too long is not something Celtics vice president of basketball operations Danny Ainge wants to do.

Ainge told The Boston Globe he would be willing to trade Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and/or Ray Allen for young, proven players rather than go through a long rebuild the way the Celtics did after Larry Bird and Kevin McHale retired.

Ainge told a story about late Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach having the chance to trade Bird and McHale late in their careers for talented young players and opting against it.

"If I were presented with those kind of deals for our aging veterans, it's a done deal to continue the success," Ainge told the Globe. "After those guys retired, the Celtics had a long drought. But those [trades] aren't presenting themselves. In today's day and age, with 30 teams in the NBA, 15 teams know they have no chance of winning a championship. They are building with young players. It's a different era that we live in."

Not many deals

The deadline for extending players from the 2008 NBA draft is Wednesday; only a handful of players will get deals.

Rose and Westbrook have. Kevin Love should. Maybes include Gallinari, Eric Gordon, Serge Ibaka, Roy Hibbert and Ryan Anderson, but the second and third picks -- Michael Beasley and O.J. Mayo -- likely won't.

No. 10 pick Brook Lopez won't be extended, either. The Nets might have if Lopez hadn't broken a bone in his foot in the preseason that will keep him out at least another month.

But the Nets can match any offers for Lopez when he's a restricted free agent this summer if he's still with them. They're offering him in a package for Dwight Howard, which may be another reason the Nets didn't extend Lopez. The Magic could be less interested if Lopez has a long-term deal at a relatively big number.

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