The New York Knicks landed All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony to play alongside Amar’e Stoudemire, bolstering a team seeking its first winning season in a decade and a return to National Basketball Association relevance.
Anthony, 26, will go to New York along with 34-year-old Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter and Renaldo Balkman. In exchange, New York will send Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov and a 2014 first-round draft pick to the Nuggets.
“We now have a great frontcourt tandem in Amar’e and Carmelo,” Knicks President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh said in an e-mailed statement today. “Carmelo is in the prime of his NBA career, having already established himself as one of the game’s elite players, and the opportunity to add him to our roster was one we could not pass up.”
The trade puts Anthony back in New York, where he was born, and with the team he said repeatedly was his first choice as a destination.
“I believe he will really embrace the opportunity to play back home in New York and help us continue our goal of building towards a championship,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said in the statement.
New York also acquired Corey Brewer from Minnesota and sent Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph to the Timberwolves. Minnesota gained a future second-round draft pick from Denver for Kosta Koufos. Denver also got the Golden State Warriors’ 2012 and 2013 second-round draft picks and $3 million in cash.
Anthony, who wore No. 15 in Denver and at Syracuse University, will wear No. 7 with the Knicks. New York has retired No. 15, which was worn by Hall of Famers Dick McGuire and Earl Monroe. Kelenna Azubuike was No. 7 for the Knicks, and will now become No. 17.
The Knicks will boast an offense with two of the NBA’s top 10 scorers. The 6-foot-8 Anthony ranks sixth, with an average 25.2 points per game this season, while the 28-year-old Stoudemire has scored an average 26.1 points per game, to rank second, since joining New York in July from the Phoenix Suns, where he spent eight seasons.
The Knicks (28-26), who host the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow, are second in the Eastern Conference Atlantic Division behind the Boston Celtics, a year after posting a 29-53 record. New York hasn’t had a winning season since 2000-01 and last won a playoff series a year earlier, in Hall of Fame center Patrick Ewing’s final season with the team.
Walsh’s failure to sign two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James in July gave New York salary cap leeway to negotiate with a player such as Anthony, a four-time All-Star who is in the final year of his five-year, $79 million contract.
The New Jersey Nets last week reached an agreement with the Nuggets on a trade for Anthony that was contingent upon his willingness to sign a three-year, $65 million contract extension, the maximum allowed under the current collective bargaining agreement, the Record of Bergen County, New Jersey, reported.
Walsh said today that Anthony had agreed to a contract extension with the Knicks before the trade was completed.
With the labor agreement ending June 30 and uncertainty surrounding what the next accord will look like, it was in Anthony’s financial interest to sign an extension with the Nets or Knicks rather than wait for free agency.
Anthony has finished among the top eight in NBA scoring in each of the past six seasons and is fourth among active players with a career average of 24.7 points per game.
He played on the 2008 U.S. squad that won gold at the Olympics in Beijing and also was on the team that took the bronze medal in Athens in 2004 after becoming the first U.S. squad with NBA players to lose at the Games.
Anthony, who played in the All-Star Game on Feb. 20 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, was the No. 3 pick in the 2003 NBA draft after leading Syracuse University to the National Collegiate Athletic Association championship in his only season at the school.
He’s married to actress and television personality Alani “La La” Vazquez.
Knicks in Playoffs
The Knicks made 14 straight playoff appearances from 1988 through 2001, during which time Ewing twice helped them reach the NBA Finals. The Knicks lost both appearances, in 1994 to the Houston Rockets, and in 1999 to the San Antonio Spurs.
Since losing in the Eastern Conference finals after the 1999-2000 season, the Knicks have made the playoffs twice and were eliminated in the opening round both times.
With one of the league’s highest payrolls and playing in the nation’s largest media market, New York has compiled a 173-319 record over the past six complete seasons. The low point was a 23-59 mark in 2007-08, when the Knicks matched a franchise record for losses in a season and endured turmoil off the court that led to the firing of Isiah Thomas as coach. He was replaced by D’Antoni and the team went 29-53 last season.
Just before James opted to join the Miami Heat during the offseason, the Knicks signed Stoudemire, an eight-year veteran who’s the most experienced player on a young roster. In adding Anthony, the Knicks may be hoping for a run similar to the one that followed their last prolonged losing stretch.
New York had one winning season over a 12-year span from 1956 to 1967. It then won NBA championships in 1970 and 1973 behind players such as Walt Frazier and Willis Reed, now in the Hall of Fame. They remain the only titles in the history of a franchise that started play in 1946.
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