If Carmelo Anthony were drafted by the Pistons….. That is what we have been talking about this week and we finish it off with what happens to Anthony, the Pistons, and the rest of the league in this hypothetical. So let’s say the Pistons take Anthony and they beat the Lakers like they did and by substituting Anthony in for the likes of Bob Sura, and Darvin Ham, they beat the Spurs. So we are now in year 3 of the Carmelo Anthony experiment. As stated in our last article, Anthony is not shy or lacking of self confidence. It is totally possible Anthony, believing in himself and wanting more responsibilities and spotlight, asks Larry Brown and the front office for exactly that. Ideally, the Pistons allow it, keep Prince as a 6th man and maybe they make another finals run or two. But because we can control hypotheticals, let’s just say Brown prefers the defensive-minded Prince. This can lead to two things. Anthony stays on the team disgruntled and leaves via free agency after his 4th season. Or he gets traded. Regardless, at this point, it’s looking like Anthony is no longer a Piston. At this point, Anthony’s rookie contract is up and he is free to sign anywhere. This leads to two more possible outcomes. Anthony finds a way to get to New York and play for the Knicks like he ended up wanting to in our reality. Or, he signs elsewhere, and signs a shorter deal, like his fellow classmates Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. This would give him the ability to go to Miami and team up with them instead of Chris Bosh, which was originally the plan.
So what happens in the resulting years? Well, at this time, the Knicks are still somewhat in shambles. But assuming they make space for Anthony and his new contract, they would most likely have traded Steve Francis and Jerome Williams or Malik Rose along with Eddy Curry. They make up more than the necessary the roughly $15million annually Anthony made in his contract extension. They then would have been able to keep Channing Frye instead of trading him to acquire Zach Randolph as they would not be able to afford both forwards. The one big thing that I believed this reality would benefit the Knicks the most, besides getting Carmelo Anthony earlier, would have been that they don’t make the trade for him in the first place, and just allow him to walk over for nothing during free agency. That would have originally meant keeping Danillo Galinari, and Wilson Chandler. But if we were to find a suitor for Eddy Curry, or Malik Rose and Jerome Williams, we may have had to trade a way a pick to do so. Just so we aren’t speaking only in ideals and are being at least somewhat realistic, let’s say that one of those 1st round picks do end up getting traded away. Afterall, the Knicks were notorious for trading away picks like it was nobody’s business. With Anthony, the Knicks do not need a forward, but instead need some big man depth and take Thiago Splitter who was picked just a few picks after Chandler. For the next few years, the Knicks are looking at a lineup of Stephon Marbury, Quentin Richardson, Carmelo Anthony, David Lee and Thiago Splitter with Jamal Crawford coming off of the bench. Is it a great lineup? No.
This team still lacks depth, leadership, defense and is still filled with ball-dominant scorers. But that has to do better than the 23-59 record they ended up with despite having the 2nd highest payroll that year. Lets say they go 38-44. Good enough for 8th in the east and a playoff birth. They obviously still get bounced by the 66-16 Celtics, but Knicks fans back then would have taken that over what they had to witness in reality.
07-08 is actually Stephon Marbury’s last year in New York. With his $23million off the books, the Knicks now have some options in free agency. Being the Knicks, which means giving out contracts to stars past their prime, we go with them signing Baron Davis to a 3-year contract. With averages of 14.5ppg, and 7.5apg, the next few years, he is still a solid option. The idealistic part of me hopes the Knicks can sign Matt Barnes to a contract as well.
That would give them Baron Davis, Quentin Richardson, who was in his last year as a Knick, Anthony, David Lee and Thiago Splitter with Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes coming off the bench. Again, this team does not win a championship, but it would be interesting to see how high this team could go.
So what happens if Anthony goes to the Heat? If the Heat have Anthony instead of Bosh, they probably beat the Mavericks. Chris Bosh was solid in that series but was still getting outplayed by Dirk Nowitzki. Anthony would have the option to be very aggressive as Rick Carlise and the Mavericks played LeBron James very well that series. So maybe Nowitzki and Kidd never get the ring he worked so hard to finally attain. They probably still beat the Thunder and Spurs once.
So if Anthony goes to the Heat, LeBron and Wade would both have an additional ring, and with the 2 that he could have won in Detroit, Anthony would also be sitting at 3 now. But maybe the Thunder match up better and Kevin Durant, Rusell Westbrook and James Harden win a ring together. That Ray Allen shot doesn’t happen.
Regardless, the Heat would definitely have looked different. Bosh was a better off ball player than Anthony and was a way better defender, being one of the best pick and roll defender in the league at the time. But as an individual player, in almost everything but defense, Anthony was a superior player. The Heat would still have to find a way to make it work in terms of hierarchy and it is very possible that they have a way harder time doing so, making winning more difficult. But if the 3 that ended up going there could figure it out, chances are that Anthony, who is even more close personally with Wade and James would have found a way to fit in. People thought that Russell Westbrook and James Harden would not be able to coexist, but their friendship has allowed them to figure things out as the season has gone on and at times, they looked like the best duo in the league this season. Obviously all of this is hypothetical and everyone is free to have their own opinion, but in an alternate reality where Anthony is drafted by the Pistons, there is a chance that is impacts not only Anthony and the Pistons but so many other players and teams.