Carmelo Anthony Trade Could Reshape Knicks

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In New York, demand for Knicks tickets is on the upswing. Carmelo Anthony was traded to the Knicks from Denver, in a deal that will reshape the New York team.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

The speculation is over. Carmelo Anthony is officially joining the New York Knicks. In a deal that took months to put together, Anthony and his high-scoring, high-flying style are leaving the Denver Nuggets.

As NPR's Mike Pesca reports, New York fans hope he'll make a difference right away.

MIKE PESCA: If the Knicks were a stock, they'd be a battered one. Fine underlying assets, perhaps once the bluest of chips. But as of late, stagnant, sad, with disaffected shareholders.

But then, a sign of hope. The Knicks acquired some valuable capital in the form of free agent power forward Amar'e Stoudemire. They've since recorded what amounts to two consecutive quarters of growth. The Knicks were becoming kind of a hot commodity. The CEO of Carmelo Anthony Inc., Mr. Anthony himself, took note of the progress occurring in New York.

Mr. CARMELO ANTHONY (Professional Basketball Player, New York Knicks): As far as building, which is what the Nuggets are trying to, you know, obviously do, in the near future, they're trying to obviously start all over and build up. New York already has something there, you know, with Amar'e.

PESCA: Anthony, speaking to the media during All-Star Weekend a few days ago, has the fourth highest scoring average of all active players.

Anthony is a three-glance player. At first glance, he seems great - what with all that scoring - but at second glance, you assess how many shots it takes for him to score and wonder if he's selfish.

But the third glance is where a basketball expert like Kevin Pelton comes in. Pelton, a writer for "Basketball Prospectus," notices that Carmelo Anthony offenses are always very good.

Mr. KEVIN PELTON (Writer, "Basketball Prospectus"): His teammates shoot better when Carmelo is on the floor because of the fact that his ability to create shots and draw the defense really opens things up for them. So, you know, that's something that can help the New York offense. And when you put him and Amar'e Stoudemire and an elite point guard together, you're talking of one of the best offenses in the league.

PESCA: With this in mind, the Knicks and their New Jersey counterparts, the Nets, went after Anthony hard. Carmelo Anthony trade talks have vied with "Spiderman" the musical mishaps on the front and back pages of the New York tabloids. Rumors swirled and abounded. Carmelo scored and rebounded.

And then, finally, a deal was reached. The Knicks would part with four of their five starting players, keeping only Amar'e Stoudemire to pair with Anthony.

Speaking to the media today, Stoudemire did a little math and explained why opposing defenses would have trouble with the Knicks.

Mr. AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE (Professional Basketball Player, New York Knicks): We've got two players that demands a double team. You know, there's not enough defensive players in the court to guard us.

PESCA: The Knicks' new point guard, Chauncey Billups, is 34, but he's a winner who doesn't seem to be slowing down like you'd expect from a player almost old enough to be president. And there's another aspect to Anthony's game that sets him apart from just about everyone else. NBA fans will endlessly debate who's the best player when the game is on the line. According to Kevin Pelton, the stats say there's really no debate.

Mr. PELTON: Anthony is about the one guy who has made enough of those game-winning shots and at a high enough percentage that we can say he's definitely very good in those situations and possibly the best in the league.

PESCA: If Anthony has even the chance to make a lot of game-winning shots, the gamble will have been worth it for the Knicks.

Mike Pesca, NPR News, New York.

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