Knicks certain Anthony worth the price
The price was high, but they’re certain he’s worth it.
“When you go out hunting, would you rather have a bigger gun or a little gun?” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We got a bigger gun.”
The Knicks completed a three-team, 13-player trade with the Denver Nuggets for Anthony on Tuesday night. The Minnesota Timberwolves also were involved in the trade, which was agreed to Monday but couldn’t be finalized until Anthony signed his three-year, $65 million contract extension with the Nuggets.
Anthony will join fellow All-Star Amare Stoudemire in the frontcourt, giving the Knicks the potent duo they hoped they could assemble last summer in free agency. Instead, they had to give up much of their core, but in return they get one of the NBA’s top scorers.
“We liked the way our team played this year and I looked at it and I thought we had one piece that was at the high level of the league. We always wanted two pieces at least,” team president Donnie Walsh said.
Stoudemire has led the Knicks to a 28-26 record this season, but said Tuesday they will be even more dangerous with Anthony bringing his 25.2 points per game to join his 26.1 average.
“Every team needs a 1, 1A punch,” Stoudemire said. “And so with the ways that we both can score .... we’re very versatile, so it’s hard to guard us.”
Stoudemire said he had “no doubt” the All-Star forwards and longtime friends could play together, and said Anthony would handle the move to New York as well as he has.
“It’s what he wants. It’s what I wanted, to come to New York and play on the big stage,” Stoudemire said.
The Knicks also got guards Chauncey Billups and Anthony Carter, and forwards Renaldo Balkman and Shelden Williams from Denver. New York dealt forwards Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, guard Raymond Felton and center Timofey Mozgov to the Nuggets.
New York also shipped centers Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph to Minnesota for forward Corey Brewer. Denver acquired center Kosta Koufos from Minnesota, plus New York’s first-round draft pick in 2014, second-round picks in 2012 and 2013 and cash.
The Knicks haven’t made the playoffs since 2004, but are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference in their first season since acquiring Stoudemire from Phoenix last summer. He thinks the blockbuster deal could make them better equipped to face teams such as Boston or Miami, which already have multiple All-Stars, in the postseason.
“It’s not easy and it’s not going to get any easier for us now because the target is on our back,” Stoudemire said. “Teams are going to be eager to play against us.”
Though Walsh and D’Antoni said it hurt to give up so many players they liked, the Knicks felt they had to make the move after failing last summer to land two superstars through free agency.
“Now we’ve got two guys in our stable,” D’Antoni said.
The Knicks hope Anthony will be able to play tonight when they host Milwaukee. He was expected to arrive in New York late Tuesday.
Though Anthony was the focus, the Knicks are excited about the acquisition of Billups, a former NBA finals MVP and All-Star who remains one of the league’s top point guards and will orchestrate D’Antoni’s pick-and-roll offense.
The Knicks are probably too far back to make a move in the standings over the final portion of the regular season. But they believe they have enough time to fit in the new players and be a threat if they finally get back to the playoffs.
“It’ll be up to the players and I’m sure Carmelo wants to come in and win. He didn’t come here just to go to Broadway, he wants to win,” D’Antoni said. “Amare I know wants to win, I talked to him. I know Chauncey wants to win, so let’s sit down and figure it out. And there’s a lot of talent there to figure it out.”