Since the trade in which the New York Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks have won only seven of seventeen contests. Their loss last night at home to Orlando took them below .500 on the season (35-36) and for the first time since they were 8-9 on November 27th. The blogosphere is now asking if the trade was in error, especially given the price the Knicks paid - Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, two second round picks and a first rounder.
Early in ESPN's telecast, broadcaster Mike Breen mentioned Nueva York's recent 1-7 record and was interrupted by his colour commentator, former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy, who blurted out "You can't put everything on one guy. Is it's Carmelo Anthony's fault that Chauncey Billups had eight turnovers? Is it Carmelo's fault that Toney Douglas shoots one for twelve"?
In short, Jeff, we can. It may not be entirely accurate, but it's possible.
'Melo decided that there was only one place he wanted to play, New York, to play with Amar'e Stoudemire and for his hometown team. Though popular opinion had the Nuggets preferring the New Jersey Nets trade offer, Anthony steadfastly refused to commit to extending his contract in Jersey and publicly nixed any other potential relocations by doing the same. A further complicating factor included Anthony wanting (needing?) to sign a new contract in-season (rather than after the season) because delaying until northern Summer would cost him somewhere in the region of $20 million. In that scenario it's eminently possible he would have signed for whoever threw him the most money and unlikely to be in Manhattan.
In almost the truest sense of the word, Carmelo Anthony wanted his cake and to eat it, too. The Knicks wanted him and were prepared to pay handsomely; Anthony wanted the Knicks and he wanted a maximum-dollar contract extension. The entire Melodrama (sorry) was engineered by Carmelo Anthony and his agent and it worked out well for the small forward - until the Knicks' form took a sudden turn for the worse. Mid-season trades usually mean one of two things for a team: a club could struggle to incorporate the player into their tactical schemes and form suffers; or the club is revitalised by the talent injection and start to win more games.
To go back to our initial question, can you blame all the Knicks' recent woes on Carmelo? Because Anthony orchestrated the entire scheme to play where and for the salary he wanted, he is indirectly responsible for the current New York Knicks playing roster. He forced Denver to deal him, and compelled New York to come and get him. The Nuggets then had the responsibility to get the best package possible, meaning rather than Danilo Gallinari or Wilson Chandler taking shots, it is Toney Douglas - an inferior outside shooter. Instead of Raymond Felton with the benefit of a training camp, it's Chauncey Billups charged with bringing the ball up the floor, a player trying to learn coach Mike D'Antoni's system on the fly.
In short, we can blame Carmelo Anthony for the Knicks' recent woes. It may not necessarily be entirely accurate, but the argument is there.