The NBA’s Eastern Conference has endured a shakeup of the grandest proportions! The New York Knicks finally got their man when they traded four starters to the Denver Nuggets for small forward Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks now possess one of the strongest 1-2 scoring punches in the NBA with Melo and Amaré Stoudemire. The Knicks had been pursuing Carmelo since before the season started, along with their inner city rivals, the New Jersey Nets. Everyone (including myself) was growing really tired of these rumours; with the other top teams in the East pulling away from the pack, the Knicks knew they finally had to make the move.
Along with Anthony, the Knicks received veteran point guard Chauncey Billups, who is no slouch. He won an NBA Championship with the Pistons in 2004, and has a reputation of stepping up in big games while showing leadership and confidence. The Knicks also received former duke standout Shelden Williams, and journeymen Renaldo Balkman and Anthony Carter. The Nuggets benefitted from the trade as well, receiving Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, a first-round draft pick, a couple of second-rounders, and cash. The Nuggets are 5-1 since the Anthony deal and are looking like a more complete team. There is balanced scoring and their team defence has looked exceptionally better, allowing 10 fewer points per game to opponents in the six games. I know it’s a small sample, but it’s a positive sign nonetheless.
The Knicks are now one of two teams in the NBA with two players starting in the All-Star game, Melo and Amaré, who were both top 10 in league scoring. The Knicks make the Eastern Conference a lot more interesting. The Celtics are still in first place; however, Miami and Chicago are only two and three games back respectively, and the Orlando Magic are 8-2 in their last 10 and now the Knicks, who currently occupy the sixth seed, are looking more and more dangerous. The Knicks defeated the Heat in Miami last Sunday night in a thriller that went down to the last second, with Amaré blocking LeBron’s last second layup attempt.
The Eastern Conference is one of the most intriguing stories in all of sports right now. The Celtics, Bulls, and Knicks are franchises with great legacies, and as a purist, I believe when these decorated sports franchises are performing well, it can only benefit the league. They are benefitting it already and I for one can’t wait for the NBA playoffs; I think they might give the NHL playoffs a run for their money, entertainment-wise, that is.