Was the Melo trade really that lopsided?

New York is doing terribly. Of course last season after they traded for Melo they didn’t do too hot but most people didn’t notice as the Knicks managed to make the playoffs and Amare was able to score lots of points. Melo is getting a decent share of the blame for this season, though. And as a Denver Nuggets fan I’ll be the first to admit I’m more than happy with Melo hate.

All that being said, when we examine the trade that resulted in New York getting Melo it’s hard to say it was bad for New York.  At least, it wasn’t bad for the reason people think.

Point Guard gains and losses for New York
Gained/Loss Player MP WP48 Wins Produced
 Gained Chauncey Billups  2310 0.158 7.6
 Gained Anthony Carter 463 0.045 0.4
 Lost Raymond Felton  2737  0.121  6.9 
Shooting Guard gains and losses for New York
Gained/Loss Player MP WP48 Wins Produced
 Gained Corey Brewer 1510 0.37 1.2
Small Forward gains and losses for New York
Gained/Loss Player MP WP48 Wins Produced
 Gained Carmelo Anthony 2751 0.088 5.1
 Gained* Renaldo Balkman* 780 0.301 4.9
 Lost Danilo Gallinari 2104 0.096 4.2
 Lost Wilson Chandler 2401 0.081 4.0
Power Forward gains and losses for New York
Gained/Loss Player MP WP48 Wins Produced
 Gained Shelden Williams 911 0.100 1.9
 Lost Anthony Randolph 590 0.017 0.2
Center gains and losses for New York
Gained/Loss Player MP WP48 Wins Produced
 Lost Timofey Mozgov 524 -0.021 -0.2
 Lost** Eddy Curry** 1530 -0.039 -1.2

Balkman and Curry have been getting limited minutes. Numbers taken from last season with over 500 minutes played
* Balkman’s numbers for 2008-2009 season
** Curry’s numbers for 2007-2008 season

So from a numbers stand point this worked out well, or at least decently for the Knicks. Let’s break down why they “lost” the trade.

The Knicks picked players on the wrong side of 30

Chauncey Billups was actually a better point guard than Felton last season. The issue of course is that Billups was 34 last season compared to Felton’s 26. Sticking with Felton would have meant a young affordable option at point guard. Sticking with Billups meant gambling with age. Of course that’s not the worst part of it.

The Knicks let the good players go or are sitting them

Chauncey Billups was playing well to end last season and had a reasonable opt out (or a short term deal for this season). The Knicks chose to let him go (oddly they needed to save money after giving almost $40 million a season to Amare and Melo). His play has been iffy but given the lack of help at the point, letting go the only viable option seems foolish. (I personally applaud making cap space for Tyson Chandler. I just debate letting go the short term deal of your only decent point guard as the way to do it.)

Williams was an average power forward last season. The Knicks could definitely use more help in the front court as it turns out Amare has ceased being a good player. Of course the Knicks let him walk.

Renaldo Balkman was once a very good player for both Denver and New York. Both teams had a pesky habit of not playing him. Sadly their attitudes have not changed. So despite getting a potential gem out of the Melo trade, the Knicks are instead letting Melo just shoot as much as he wants. Speaking of Melo…

The Knicks gave up picks and money

The real way the Knicks lost this trade was as follows. By picking up Melo the Knicks decided to pay $18 million a year for Melo as opposed to less than $5 million a year this season for Gallo (and less for an extension given the fact that contracts are cheaper for younger players). The Knicks also gave both the Nuggets and the Timberwolves cash as part of the trade. Finally the Knicks gave up two second round picks and a first round pick. From a financial standpoint this trade was quite bad.

Summing up

The Knicks are doing bad in large part due to bad management. The truth is that the trade was bad, primarily because of age and expense. In terms of production the Knicks didn’t do too poorly. Of course that would require the Knicks front office to both keep the right players from the trade and play the right players from the trade (when Dave analyzed the trade last season he thought the Knicks could be a 50 win team). Given that the Knicks gave Amare a long term contract — and also gave him lots of minutes — it didn’t seem likely this would happen.

Now that the Knicks franchise is in a familiar situation it seems the best move is to point at Melo and blame him for not being a superstar. Of course, he’s never been a superstar. The truth is you can’t just will bad or average players to play great. The Knicks front office seems to think that by paying lots of money for some players they should be getting more production. The fact, though, it’s hard to blame the players for taking the money New York was offering.

It is fairly easy to blame the Knicks front office for making bad moves. After all it’s nothing new.


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