Yes, the Knicks gave up a lot to acquire forward Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets, but it’s hard to argue with their decision. The NBA is a superstar-driven league, and you don’t win playoff series without A-plus players.
Compared to last season, the Knicks have a far more formidable roster, thanks to forward/center Amar’e Stoudemire, who signed with them last July, the just acquired Anthony and his buddy, stellar point guard Chauncey Billups, who was thrown into the deal as well.
Having said that, the Knicks are still a long way from being part of the NBA’s elite, as evidenced by the new players’ first two games with the team. Carmelo and Chauncey lived up to billing as the Knicks got by Milwaukee but then lost badly to the dreadful Cleveland Cavaliers. The problem was that the Knicks were outrebounded in both contests as the opposition was able to get second, and frequently third shots, on offense.
It’s clear the Knicks need a modern-day Rick Mahorn or Dennis Rodman who can establish a physical presence on defense and prevent opponents from getting extra opportunities. Even the Knicks’ big win against the Miami Heat last Sunday doesn’t change that.
New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov was supposed to make a big splash but so far has been little more than an absentee landlord. Failing to land either Anthony or LeBron James, Prokhorov was got his first bona fide star, Deron Williams, in a trade with the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz were delighted to get rid of Williams to the sad sack Nets since longtime coach Jerry Sloan quit the team after having his fill of him. The question now is whether Deron will be the next Jason Kidd, or on the flip side of the coin, the next Stephon Marbury, for the Nets.
Goalie Al Montoya was the Rangers’ top draft pick in 2004 but was a bust for them. Seven years later he’s resurrecting his career with the Islanders, and has played well since being acquired in a trade with the Phoenix Coyotes last month.
Montoya was fine in the net against the Flyers last Thursday but couldn’t prevent a heartbreaking 4-3 loss in overtime. The Isles haven’t won in Philly since 2007. After the game he pointed out how their arena, the Wells Fargo Center, which opened in 1996 and still looks brand new, pumps up both Flyers fans and players. Al refused to answer my query as to whether the past-its-time Nassau Coliseum has an adverse effect on Islanders fans and players.
My thanks to Bobby Ramos and John “Bird” Crowe for having me as a guest on their Sunday evening sports show on Connecticut radio station WICC two weeks ago, when we discussed the financial woes of the Mets’ ownership. Since then the news has gotten worse, as it was reported last week that Major League Baseball had to float a $25 million loan to the team last fall.