In this week’s Posted Up, Eric Todd and I get to the heart of what everyone’s talking about: why Carmelo Anthony wears sunglasses in pre-taped chats with sports networks.
Eric Todd: So it happened, just as we had all assumed it would: Carmelo Anthony is a Knick. I for one could have and have been more excited about a good sandwich or a new pair of shoes. I don’t want to suggest that all of this is not a big deal (excuse [or don’t] the pun), but I think the ‘big’ part of this deal is precisely the problem. In watching the weeks and months of NBA coverage that somehow got us to this moment, the repeated clips of the same Melo interview, in which, cornered like a feral cat, he equivocates like the head of the CIA while wearing dark sunglasses indoors like a cool Cory Hart or a stoned rapper on Oprah, I couldn’t escape the feeling that all of this is strangling the life out of the thing I love, that just like last summer’s decisions we’re focusing on all the wrong things, that what I really want more than anything is a just little mystery.
Jacob Mustafa: In a respect, I agree that this league and its fans’ unfortunate preoccupation with trade talks and player movement in the wake of one of the best seasons in recent memory is troubling, but this is how we got here. The only reason that more than just you and me were geeked for the start of this season was that some guy acted like a jerk and left his old team (by the way, I’m not saying he was a jerk for leaving, just a jerk while he did it). Trade talks have become the mysterious, semi-embarrassing marquee matchup, a way for fans to still be judgmental and pedantic while simultaneously getting to giggle with glee when Bron Bron or Blake Griffin destroy all in their respective paths. Honestly, if we’re going to play Doucheface McGee and dig on this deal, I think the on-court product would be the way to go. Most seem delighted about the idea of D’Antoni getting the weapons that are STAT and Melo because of the Pringles Man’s intricate, innovative offenses, but everyone remembers Shaq in Phoenix, right? That wasn’t that long ago. Trying to superimpose a completely anomalous style onto a superstar scorer generally doesn’t work, and I would not be surprised if after a first-round exit that sees a lot of ball-stopping by Mr. Anthony-Vasquez, the Knicks unfairly took a second look at D’Antoni’s prospects moving forward.
Mr. Todd: OK. A couple of things. First off: Did you really just call me a “doucheface”? Seriously? Is that where we are as friends now? And not just a regular “doucheface” but a formally addressed “doucheface” with a generically demeaning last name? Seriously? I am not above completely embarrassing you on the internet. Secondly, “trade talks have become… mysterious”? Have they? Is the outcome of this Melo-business any different than what every un-lobotomized dude on the planet thought it would be? Was Carmelo not literally badgered with the same exact (non-game related) question by literally every media rep he spoke to for six months straight, and did he not give the exact same pre-recorded answer to every one of them? I don’t see a lot that’s “mysterious” there. Sorry. And lastly, this trade is in no way comparable to the Shaq/Phoenix deal. Shaq was 36 and fat, was traded for a guy with better numbers, and went from the fifth slowest pace in the league at the time to the third fastest. Melo is in his prime and moving from a team that doesn’t really play defense (23rd in defensive efficiency) to a team that doesn’t really play defense (20th in defensive efficiency), from a team that plays at the third highest pace in the league to the team that plays at the second, and from a tenured coach known for his exciting teams that score a lot but don’t win quite as much to basically the same guy. And they’re “superimposing a completely anomalous style?” Really? I don’t necessarily think the Knick’s are winning the East this year or anything, but to say they’re going to fall apart and that D’Antoni will be looking for a job in three months? They’re not winning anything because they just traded away all their depth to add a gunner who doesn’t play much defense to a team that’s best player is a gunner who doesn’t play much defense. But to say he doesn’t fit? He fits perfectly and will perfectly help them continue to be exciting and mediocre.
Mr. Mustafa: Say what you will about the ubiquitous coverage or the constant leaks, but in a world of William Wesleys and Isiah Thomases, you and I don’t have a ******* clue to what might actually be happening in NBA boardrooms (and general manger’s iPhones). Yes, the mystery is being paraded before our faces by anyone who thinks we might care, but the enigma remains intact. We all knew this deal was going to happen, even in almost an identical form to the one that actually went through, but anyone other than Isiah that feels like he or she has the pulse of this league probably needs to cut down on the delusion sauce (and as for Isiah, he’s too far gone to know any better). Anything could have happened with this; the fact it didn’t proves nothing. Methinks you’re a bit too quick to forget that the league’s best player (a guy who quite possibly could end up being the best ever) went to Miami on a whim this offseason after years of flirtations with every other team in the NBA. As for the Knicks abiding Melo on the court, taking quick (often bad) shots that pump up a team’s pace does not equate “fitting perfectly”; the guy likes to play ISO ball, plain and simple, and without sweeping reforms for his offense, D’Antoni might not make this thing work quickly enough to convince Donsaiah Dolan Thomwalsh that he’s the guy that can make this mess work. Sebastian Pruiti put it much better than I did (doesn’t he always?), but I haven’t seen a thing out of Carmelo that screams “motion-based offense” once in his seven-year career. Everyone keeps talking about defense and rebounding, and everyone is absolutely right. But assuming this thing is just going to roll right along offensively would be at best jumping the gun and at worst, not noticing the hulking iceberg in view.
Posted Up is a weekly conversation between two friends and basketball enthusiasts: Jacob Mustafa, a big man jump shooter a la Mehmet Okur with the skills to box out a much smaller man and the speed to pass after two dribbles, and Eric Todd, an exclusively right handed dribbler who calls for the ball much more often than he actually gets it and who is usually pretty tired after about ten minutes.