Odds of Super Friends II?

Over the last month Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony have been rumored to want out of their current teams with the expressed desire of moving to New York and joining Amare Stoudemire on the Knicks as an answer to what the Heat were able to do with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.  In a too-hilarious-to-actually-be-true-but-it-is story, Paul really fired this rumor up at Melo's wedding last month by raising a toast in the reception and jokingly suggesting that he and Melo go play for the Knicks.  Amare Stoudemire, who was in attendance, then stood up and reiterated that idea seriously.   When Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke, who was also in attendance, later stood up and joked that Paul should instead join Melo in Denver...crickets.  Just an uncomfortable pause for the whole crowd as everyone tried to avoid eye contact with Kroenke.  I can vividly picture this scene playing out in an awkward comedy movie featuring Steve Carrell.  I laugh every time I think of it playing out in real life.  But I digress.

The real question is, what are the odds that Paul and Anthony really could join up in New York for such a union, as early as even this season?  And more importantly, if such a union were to happen...should we even care?  Let's break that down into pieces and examine it a bit.

1) Can Paul get to New York?  Paul is really the key ingredient for the Knicks, because he is the player that might actually be as good as Wade or LeBron.  To win in the NBA you need a superstar, someone to define your team's identity and be the rock everyone can cling to.  Paul can be that guy.  The problem is, Paul's contract with the Hornets runs for two more seasons so he has no leverage to force himself out of town.  Last February I speculated that Paul might be dealt from the Hornets due to the surprisingly excellent play of Darren Collison, but the Hornets shot down that line of reasoning by trading Collison last week in a deal that brought Trevor Ariza to New Orleans.  That suggests that the Hornets plan to keep trying to build around Paul as opposed to dealing him, though there are rumblings that Paul still wants out.  About the only thing that would suggest at all that Paul could still be traded to the Knicks is that the Knicks also have a good young PG in Raymond Felton, so if the Hornets decide to make that move they wouldn't actually need Collison. 

Odds that Paul is a Knick this year:
1 in 10

2) Can Melo get to New York? This one seems much more likely to me.  I've listened to sports radio hosts and read articles suggesting that Melo doesn't have the leverage to force his way to New York, but I tend to disagree.  Because Melo can become a free agent this summer, so it seems to me that he holds all the cards.  Yes, it appears that the NBA could be headed for a lockout and/or changed CBA next summer that would make it more advantageous financially for Melo to sign the Nuggets' offered 3-year max extension.  But if he's really determined to get to New York, which it appears that he might be, the new CBA isn't enough to dissuade him because after all, he'll still get max money even if it's a lower amount.  And though the Nuggets, if they decide to move him, could technically trade him to any many teams are really going to give Denver great value for a disgruntled player that plans to leave within the year?  I don't see it.  And after both Cleveland and Toronto got left high-and-dry by their stars leaving this summer, I don't see any way that Denver holds onto Melo and just watches him walk for nothing.  Thus, I think Melo's days as a Nugget are over before this year's trade deadline and possibly before the season begins.  And despite it not being palatable for the talking heads, Melo is the one with the juice to heavily influence where he lands.  As such, I think there's a pretty solid chance he lands in NY before the season ends.

Odds that Melo leaves Denver this year:
8 in 10
Odds that Melo is a Knick this year: 5 in 10

3)How much should we care?  Here's the thing...even if the Knicks get both Paul and Melo this year, I still don't think they can beat the Lakers.  Or the Celtics.  Or the Heat.  Or maybe even the Magic.  Because we've seen a version of this match before.  Paul and Stoudemire playing for Mike D'Antoni would just be a slightly modified version of the '05 - '08 Suns.  They would be very, very good...capable of winning a title if all fell right in the right year, but not a team with the upside of some of the epic squads we've got this year.  And while Melo may be more talented than Shawn Marion, he doesn't fit nearly as well as the third member as Marion did because Melo needs the rock.  Marion could score 20 points without ever having a play called for him, just off garbage-man put-backs and open treys.  And he could still make his huge impact defensively and on the glass.  But Melo's claim to fame is scoring...I just don't see his contributions making the team that much more formidable.  Which means that a New York Super Friends reunion, while fun, likely wouldn't result in a title.

What it WOULD result in, though, would be a lot of excellent pub for the NBA brand.  Commisioner David Stern would have a dream scenario: contenders in every major NBA market (LA, Boston, New York, Miami) with lots of drama swirling around all of them.  This would be huge for the league, and in some weird way could maybe help avoid the threat of a lockout because this kind of groundswell in popularity, coupled with the potential of an NFL lockout, could threaten to make the NBA the king sport again next year for the first time since the early 90s...and they would be fools to squander that kind of opportunity with a lockout of their own. 

Plus, the fantasy ramifications of such a union are mouth-watering.  Paul playing for D'Antoni with those kinds of running mates could average 15 assists per game, and both Amare and Melo could average over 25 on uber efficiency.

But at the end of the day, as I said, the chances of Paul joining Melo in New York this year are pretty low.  I'd put it around 5% of it happening.  I'd go so far as to say it's more likely that Paul ends up joining Dwight Howard in Orlando while Melo gets to New York, to be joined next offseason by Mr. Longoria...err, I mean, Tony Parker.  Either way, though, the most buzz-worthy NBA offseason that I can remember continues to chug on.  And we're still 2 months from tip-off.  I love this game.


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