Are the Magic better off without Carmelo Anthony?
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: two NBA players walk into a bar, sit down next to a contender, and ask for a tra… oh, you’ve heard this one?
Unless you have been living under a rock lately, most Magic fans are familiar with the Chris Paul to the Magic rumors and the more recent alleged statement that Carmelo Anthony is interested in a trade to the Magic. Even further, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, says the Nuggets are ready to trade Carmelo Anthony. The Summer of LeBron has turned into the Summer of Self-Absorption. All of LeBron’s BFF’s are starting to get jealous, and likely scared, that they will never have a chance to compete with the Triad in Miami so they are wisely trying their best to attach themselves to the game’s best big man in Dwight Howard. The question becomes, even if their respective teams would pull the trigger on a trade, is making a trade the right move for the Magic? After the jump I will present the case as to why the Magic are better off this season with their current roster.
The argument for saying ANY team would NOT be better with Chris Paul or Carmelo Anthony is obviously a very difficult one to approach. In the end, I’m not even sure I’ve 100% convinced myself of my case, but I’m at least pretty close to getting there. Below is a flurry of thoughts I have, that when combined, have led me to be believe these potential additions, mainly Carmelo Anthony, would be a bad idea:
- Fresh off an appearance in the NBA Finals, the 2009-2010 season brought a substantial roster makeover for the Magic’s rotation. Out were starters Courtney Lee and Hedo Turkoglu and in came Vince Carter and Matt Barnes. In addition, reserves Ryan Anderson and Jason Williams would provide major minutes off the bench. Starting PF Rashard Lewis would miss the first 10 games of the season and injuries here and there from Vince and Jameer Nelson would keep the Magic from truly “clicking” until the month of February. Coincidentally, that was around the same time that Vince started playing more comfortably in the offense.
- If the Magic were to add Carmelo Anthony to the team right before the start of training camp, it would likely require a substantial shift in the offensive philosophy of the team. The current 4-out/1-in scheme that has led Stan Van Gundy to a 69% winning percentage as the Magic coach, would likely look much different with Carmelo playing the 3. One month shy of training camp opening, I don’t think the gains of a player like Melo overcomes the need for continuity and chemistry. In this world of advanced stats, you can NOT ignore the importance of chemistry on a basketball team.
- I am not fully convinced that the 2010-2011 version of Carmelo Anthony is any different than the 2004-2005 version of Vince Carter. Has Carmelo shown that he is capable of being the best player on a championship level team? Great scorer, yes. Great leader, no. The Denver Nuggets with Carmelo as their centerpiece have made it out of the first round only once, losing in the Western Conference Finals in 2009. The key piece on that team? Chauncey Billups, not Melo. Also, Melo hasn’t played more than 80 games in a season since 2005-2006.
- In addition, Carmelo is a volume shooter that needs the ball in his hands, ala Vince Carter. With Dwight, Vince, Jameer and Rashard all needing touches, the shots just won’t be available for Melo the way he is used to. Do we really need Vince Carter 2.0?
- The Magic would be forced to immediately sign Carmelo to a contract extension thus even further limiting their already slim options for future roster flexibility. A lot of things can happen and with no flex room, Otis Smith would be severely handcuffing the franchise. If Melo does turn out to be Vince 2.0 as I expect, then the franchise will find it very difficult to compete with the Heat and others.
- The relationship between Chris Paul, Carmelo and LeBron is just too close for my comfort (as witnessed by the famous toast at Melo’s wedding and the stories of CP3 and LeBron gallivanting around Vegas as well as everywhere else this offseason). The bottom line here is that you will never want to truly annihilate your besties on the basketball court. It doesn’t matter how much of a competitor someone is, a human being just cannot have the same will to destroy a team when your best friends are the opposing stars.
- And most importantly, the Central Florida Crime Line would not appreciate Carmelo coming into town and issuing a new “Don’t Snitch” PSA.
While we all know at this point that Chris Paul is not going to be traded, and that it’s unlikely that Orlando could provide the type of young athletes that Denver desires in return for Melo, it hasn’t stopped the average Magic fans from proclaiming that Otis Smith as an idiot for not making it happen. One, it doesn’t work that way. Trades involve two teams and that doesn’t even include the ego of the players, agents, etc. Two, and most importantly, the Magic are better off without Carmelo Anthony. As Jameer Nelson and company conclude their annual “Building Magic” offseason training and team building program in Philly, the team is moving forward with the squad they believe can lead them to a ring in 2010-2011. While Magic sans Melo might be a tough sell to the average fan, it’s the right thing to do.
Repeat after me… I will not listen to unrealistic rumors. I will not listen to unrealistic rumors. I will not listen to unrealistic rumors. I will not listen to unrealistic rumors. I will not listen to unrealistic rumors…