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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Done Deal! Melo is a Knick - NBA Power Rankings - Brackets for the WGC Accenture Match Play - AP Top 25 College Hoops Poll 2-22-11


Done Deal! Melo is a Knick

They got their man — Carmelo Anthony has been acquired to go with Amar’e Stoudemire. But they are still a long way away from the goal. The Knicks are probably still the sixth best team in the East, certainly no better than fourth. They are not putting fear in the hearts of the Celtics, Heat or Bulls.
But they have hope.
Generally, the team that wins the trade is the team that got the best player. There is no doubt the Knicks got the best player. Anthony, for all his flaws — defense, his love of shooting the contested long two pointer and more — is one of the game’s elite scorers. At the end of the day, the game is about putting the ball in the basket and only a handful of guys in the league can do that like Carmelo Anthony. He can drive, he can post, he can drop shots from beyond the arc. Few can create their own shot or one with a hand in their face like Anthony. He is an offensive force.
The hardest part of assembling a championship team is getting one of the few elite players in the league. The Knicks now have two of them. That is a core they can put the right pieces around to contend. And that is a reason for hope.
They are not contenders now because they gave up a lot to get ‘Melo. Not necessarily too much, they got more talent back certainly, but they gave up players that are not just a dime a dozen. Yes, they got a quality point guard in Chauncey Billups, a veteran savvy one who knows how to win. But Billups is a poor fit for Mike D’Antoni’s running system. Billups is 34 and not so fleet of foot anymore. He has one year left on his deal after this and can be bought out after next season for $3.7 million (according to Sham Sport’s figures).
The Knicks are going to miss Danilo Gallinari. They will miss Wilson Chandler but they were going to have to renounce him this summer anyway to make room to sign Anthony as a free agent. Timofey Mozgov is a project that may develop into a rotation player but you don’t let him get in the way of a deal for a superstar.
The Knicks are not contenders and they are farther away from it still than many Knicks fans want to admit. Your starting five is Billups, Landry Fields, Melo, Stoudemire and probably Ronny Turiaf. With a very thin bench behind them. That’s good but not great, and there will be serious questions about how well they defend.
Those fans fully expect the Knicks to go get Dwight Howard or Chris Paul, either as a free agent in the summer of 2012 or in a trade or next season. The kind of trade that looks a lot like the one ‘Melo just got where the team has to move him or risk him leaving as a free agent.
But the Knicks very well may not be able to get those guys. We don’t know what the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will look like, however you can bet that it will be much more restrictive than what we see now. The current salary cap is $57 million and you can bet that will go down. With Anthony and Stoudemire the Knicks will already have about than $40 million wrapped up in two players. If the salary cap drops to $50-$52 million, the Knicks would not be able to sign Paul or Howard to a max deal.
Then there could be a franchise tag — something some owners became more interested in as they watched Anthony force his way out of Denver — and that could keep Paul and Howard with their current teams.
Even aside the difficulty of getting one of those two, there is the challenge of filling out a roster on a tight budget — have you noticed the lack of depth in Miami? Where they spent their money on stars and had little for everyone else? It will be even tougher to spend with the new CBA and the Knicks will have to do a lot of it. The Knicks had some nice role players but they turned out to be the price for Anthony.
Knicks fans don’t care. They got their guy. The hope, the expectations of Knicks fans are about to go through the roof.
Those fans are going to learn some hard lessons about how far away this roster is right now. That hope they celebrate today could tear them apart in a few years.
For a few days though, the Knicks got their man. They should celebrate. Today is a day that hope should be celebrated in New York.

NBA Power Rankings
1. Celtics (40-14, LW #2). Doc Rivers played Kevin Garnett 7:32 in the All Star Game and LeBron James 32:20. Take that Erik Spoelstra.

2. Spurs (46-10, Last Week #1). Derrick Rose shredded them on national television last Thursday. What should we take away from that? Only that it was the last game of a 9-game road trip and the last game before a vacation.

3. Mavericks (40-16, LW #3). Dallas is 9-1 in the last 10 and got better by adding Roddy Beaubois to the lineup this week. They head into the final months 2.5 games ahead of the Lakers, they will need that home court advantage to stand a chance against L.A. in the playoffs.

4. Heat (41-15, LW #5). LeBron James with the All-Star triple-double, joining Jordan as the only other guy to do that.

5. Bulls (38-16, LW #6). They keep looking to trade for a two guard. What they get depends on what they will give up, but it shouldn’t be much for Anthony Parker.

6. Magic (36-21, LW #7). Dwight Howard was non-existent in this All-Star Game. Next year the game is in Orlando, expect him to win MVP.

7. Lakers (38-17, LW #4). Kobe’s All-Star MVP not enough to wipe away stain of loss to Cleveland. People around the Lakers were less shocked by that loss than the fans — if the Lakers don’t respect an opponent they barely show up. Throw in last game of a road trip and it was a trap game. By the way, the Lakers have one of the toughest schedules in the league from here on out.

8. Thunder (35-19, LW #8). It was clear that Kevin Durant came out trying to win the All-Star MVP as well, but he shot 5-for-14 in the first half while Kobe was hot.

9. Blazers (32-24, LW #11). LaMarcus Aldridge has been playing like a guy who was ticked about not being an All-Star. They have played well of late, the question is how they blend in Brandon Roy on his return.

10. Grizzlies (31-26, LW #12). They are currently tied for the eighth seed in the West, but they are playing better than several of the teams ahead of them now. They keep it up and they are in the playoffs easy.

Brackets for the WGC Accenture Match Play
1 Lee Westwood, Eng vs. 64 Henrik Stenson, Swe (Westwood)
32 Nick Watney, USA vs. 33 Anthony Kim, USA (Kim)
16 Retief Goosen, Zaf vs. 49 K.J. Choi, Kor (Goosen)
17 Francesco Molinari, Ita vs. 48 Ryan Moore, USA (Moore)
8 Steve Stricker, USA vs. 57 Matteo Manassero, Ita (Manassero)
25 Charl Schwartzel, Zaf vs. 40 Ryo Ishikawa, Jpn (Schwartzel)
9 Luke Donald, Eng vs. 56 Charley Hoffman, USA (Donald)
24 Edoardo Molinari, Ita vs. 41 Martin Laird, Sco (Laird)

2 Martin Kaymer, Deu vs. 63 Noh Seung-yul, Kor (Kaymer)
31 Zach Johnson, USA vs. 34 Justin Rose, Eng (Rose)
15 Robert Karlsson, Swe vs. 50 Hiroyuki Fujita, Jpn (Karlsson)
18 Hunter Mahan, USA vs. 47 Sean O’Hair, USA (Mahan)
7 Rory McIlroy, Nir vs. 58 Jonathan Byrd, USA (McIlroy)
26 Adam Scott, Aus vs. 39 Ben Crane, USA (Crane)
10 Jim Furyk, USA vs. 55 Ryan Palmer, USA (Furyk)
23 Miguel A Jiménez, Esp vs. 42 Yuta Ikeda, Jpn (Jimenez)

3 Tiger Woods, USA vs. 62 Thomas Bjorn, Dnk (Woods)
30 Geoff Ogilvy, Aus vs. 35 Padraig Harrington, Irl (Ogilvy)
14 Dustin Johnson, USA vs. 51 Mark Wilson, USA (Johnson)
19 Bubba Watson, USA vs. 46 Bill Haas, USA (Haas)
6 Paul Casey, Eng vs. 59 Richard Green, Aus (Casey)
27 Kim Kyung-Tae, Kor vs. 38 Jason Day, Aus (Day)
11 Ernie Els, Zaf vs. 54 Jeff Overton, USA (Els)
22 Tim Clark, Zaf vs. 43 Camilo Villegas, Col (Villegas)

4 Phil Mickelson, USA vs. 61 Brendan Jones, Aus (Mickelson)
29 Rickie Fowler, USA vs. 36 Peter Hanson, Swe (Fowler)
13 Matt Kuchar, USA vs. 52 Anders Hansen, Dnk (Kuchar)
20 Louis Oosthuizen, Zaf vs. 45 Bo Van Pelt, USA (Oosthuizen)
5 Graeme McDowell, Nir vs. 60 Heath Slocum, USA (McDowell)
28 Robert Allenby, Aus vs. 37 Ross Fisher, Eng (Allenby)
12 Ian Poulter, Eng vs. 53 Stewart Cink, USA (Cink)
21 Alvaro Quiros, Esp vs. 44 Y.E. Yang, Kor (Quiros)

AP Top 25 College Hoops Poll 2-22-11

AP Top 25 Rank Team Record Pts Pvs
1. Duke (35) 25-2 1,531 5
2. Ohio St. (10) 25-2 1,519 2
3. Kansas (5) 25-2 1,457 1
4. Pittsburgh (12) 24-3 1,452 4
5. Texas (1) 23-4 1,395 3
6. San Diego St. 27-1 1,327 6
7. BYU (2) 25-2 1,261 7
8. Purdue 22-5 1,182 11
9. Notre Dame 21-5 1,036 8
10. Arizona 23-4 942 12
11. Georgetown 21-6 929 9
12. Wisconsin 20-6 921 10
13. Florida 21-5 841 14
14. Connecticut 20-6 768 13
15. Villanova 21-6 697 15
16. Louisville 20-7 593 16
17. Syracuse 22-6 527 17
18. Vanderbilt 20-6 499 18
19. North Carolina 20-6 495 19
20. Missouri 21-6 378 20
21. Texas A&M 21-5 342 21
22. Kentucky 19-7 301 22
23. St. John's 17-9 214 --
24. Temple 21-5 199 23
25. Xavier 20-6 103 24

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