“Defense,” Carmelo Anthony told reporters at his first New York press conference yesterday, “I want to really focus in on that. All that takes is a lot of effort. Once we get everyone to buy into that mentality, we’re good to go.” Thus the first superstar in a long time to choose New York managed to tie an NBA record for the most clichés in a single statement.
Dave D’Alessandro of the Newark Star-Ledger, the best basketball writer in the area for my money, did the best job of putting the night in perspective:
“That the Knicks struggled to defeat Milwaukee by a 114-108 margin Wednesday night was a mere footnote to Anthony’s debut at a delirious Madison Square Garden.
“This is all that mattered: ‘He played great,’ Amar’e Stoudemire said. ‘He played Carmelo basketball. That’s what I wanted him to do out there – to be himself. And we are going to get better.’
“Well, they’ll undoubtedly be different. Or at least they had better be, because it isn’t often you yield 108 points to the worst-shooting, worst-scoring team in the NBA – and you shouldn’t be allowed to win a game when you have exactly one good defensive quarter (in this case, a very good one – the third).”
Meanwhile, across the river, there is still some debate as to whether or not Mikhail Prokhorov made a good deal or a bad one. Matt Moore of CBSSports.com asked the question with perfect clarity: “If [Deron] Williams didn’t sign off on this trade, why did the Nets do it? The Nets just got through with the Carmelo Anthony negotiations and were unwilling to take on Anthony without his extension. Williams is unable to sign such an extension until July 9, but if he’s unhappy with his trade, aren’t the Nets in the exact same position as they would have been with Anthony in a ‘rental’ situation? If Williams is unhappy in New Jersey and elects not to re-sign with the Nets, Prokhorov will have just traded Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, and two first-round draft picks for 1.3 years of Deron Williams, who could very well just take the subway over to MSG and sign with the Knicks … This is still a brilliant deal for the Nets, but now the pressure is on to make major strides in order to convince Williams he wants to commit to Brooklyn upon relocation.”
Or put another way, did Prokhorov manipulate the Knicks into making a too-costly trade, as he implied with a snicker on Monday, or did James Dolan and his people push Prokhorov into doing that to him?
The gamble is big, but there’s a potentially spectacular payoff for Brooklyn: The Nets just might have picked up a cornerstone player who could make them better than the Knicks, even with Anthony, for most of the next decade.