Wednesday, February 8, 2017

On Carmelo Anthony, the Cleveland Cavaliers & the New York Knicks Dilemma

By Katelin Marshall, @KatelinKnowsCLE

While watching the Cavaliers take on the Wizards on Monday, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News comes out with an article "LeBron pushing Cavs to acquire Carmelo Anthony even if it includes Kevin Love: Sources". I usually take articles like this with a grain of salt. And hell, even LeBron called Isola and his article "trash". But this article and many reports of "Melo to the Cavs" got me thinking. How would Carmelo fit on the Cavs...and why in the world would the Knicks want Kevin Love?

Now we all have an idea how Carmelo would fit on this Cavalier team. Whether he or LeBron move to the power forward and the Cavs play small ball going forward. Also the addition to Melo would give the Cavaliers another ball dominate shot creator they've been lacking since the "Big 3" teamed up in 2014. But my questions to the idea of Melo for Love (or anyone on the Cavs) is why?

This team took a year and a half to understand how to play together. They had to fire their coach mid-season last year and are just over a calendar year in coach Lue's system. A system which uses Love's strengthens, which we can see by his stats (19.9 PPG 11.1 RPG 38% from three and shooting 15 shots per game, which is up by three from the previous two years in Cleveland) and being named as an All-Star. Love is also one of the top scorers in the first quarter (putting up 34 points earlier this year which is a NBA record). The way Lue tries to get Love going early is a spark the Cavs use day in and day out and it keeps the opposition honest throughout the game, knowing Kevin Love can take over at any point. And let's not forget to mention Love's ability to rebound which is one of the best in the league. His play next to Tristan Thompson only helps the Cavs ability to play with so many shooters. If the Cavs only had Thompson and Frye as 'true" front-court players it would force LeBron or Melo to attack the boards a lot more which could limit the Cavs in transition both offensively and defensively.

Adding Melo to a lineup with Kyrie Irving and LeBron only seems to look good on paper or on NBA 2k. Melo or LeBron aren't the spot-up shooters Love his and aren't the type of players who would consistently play down in the post like Love does. Sure, adding Melo would help in a number of ways. LeBron could take over as point guard of the second unit and give that second unit a legitimate scoring threat. And it could ease LeBron going forward, the Cavs could cut James' mins the rest of the season and in future years. But, it would still force LeBron to play inside more, which could hurt him more than what he's playing now. I understand LeBron would love to play with one of his best friends but trading for Melo seems to be a "robbing Peter to pay Paul" type of situation. Yes, adding another elite scorer is never a bad thing but let's not discredit Kevin Love and what he does. This team finally knows how to play together and they showed us all that its a championship team without a "playmaker" outside of Kyrie and LeBron. So why would they make such a drastic change mid-season.  

The most complex part of this deal is Kevin Love on the Knicks. I just don't understand the thinking adding him. The Knicks already have multiple front court players. They just drafted Kristaps Porzingis 4th overall last year to be their guy paired to Melo, but without Melo and adding Kevin Love does that mean Porzingis will move to Center permanently? Spacing wise it might work out with both Love and Porzingis switching back and forth in the post but they'd still be lacking a Scorer can create for himself and teammates.

And its just not the Porzingis factor. The Knicks gave Joakim Noah a 4-year/$72 million deal this past off-season. And with his inability to stay healthy this season its not like Knicks have teams lining up to trade for him. Speaking of Noah's injuries, his replacement Willy Hernangomez has played really well in Noah's absences. Hernangomez is another young front-court player who was drafted last year. The Knicks traded two second round picks to get him and in his rookie season this year has averaged 6&5 in 15  minutes per game. And I didn't mention Kyle O'Quinn who's on his second year of a four year deal he signed in 2015.

So why all the love for Love in New York? Is it just to get Melo out of town or is it to potentially trade Love this upcoming off-season? Whether the answer to that question is one or the other, or a combination of both, Cavs and Knick fans should be extremely surprised if a deal is even made at all.

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