On a night when New York honors some legends of the past, the player that could be the franchise’s next one is likely to don a Knicks uniform for the first time.
Sixth in the Eastern Conference and seeking their first playoff berth since 2004, the Knicks (28-26) made a blockbuster move Tuesday when they acquired Anthony from Denver in a three-team trade that also involved Minnesota. New York also received guards Chauncey Billups(notes) and Anthony Carter(notes), and forwards Renaldo Balkman(notes), Shelden Williams(notes) and Corey Brewer(notes) in the deal, while giving up forwards Wilson Chandler(notes) and Danilo Gallinari(notes), guard Raymond Felton(notes) and center Timofey Mozgov(notes), draft picks and cash.
The deal became official after Anthony signed a three-year, $65 million contract extension.
While the Knicks gave up a lot, they gained one of the league’s stars.
“When you go out hunting, would you rather have a bigger gun or a little gun?” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We got a bigger gun.”
The presence of Billups - a former NBA finals MVP and All-Star - and fellow All-Star Amare Stoudemire(notes) gives New York an impressive three-man arsenal to compete with those of East heavyweights Boston (Kevin Garnett(notes), Paul Pierce(notes), Ray Allen(notes)) and Miami (LeBron James(notes), Dwyane Wade(notes), Chris Bosh(notes)).
The combination of Stoudemire’s 26.1 points per game and Anthony’s 25.2 scoring average could be tough to stop.
“Every team needs a 1, 1A punch,” Stoudemire said. “And so with the ways that we both can score …. we’re very versatile, so it’s hard to guard us.”
Anthony, a New York City native, will surely be excited to suit up for his hometown team.
“It’s what he wants. It’s what I wanted, to come to New York and play on the big stage,” Stoudemire said of Anthony, who has averaged 30.4 points in eight career games at MSG. “He has the same type of swag. This is what he wants and he can handle it. We’re going to do it together.”
Fittingly, Anthony’s likely debut will take place on the Knicks’ third annual Legends Night, when the franchise pays tribute to some of its past stars. Allan Houston(notes), John Starks, Mark Jackson, Earl Monroe, Dick Barnett and Harry Gallatin are scheduled to be honored Wednesday.
With all the star power on hand, the Bucks (22-34) are almost certain to be overshadowed. However, the Knicks may choose to overlook them at their own peril.
Milwaukee has won four straight meetings with New York, eight of nine in the series overall, and four consecutive visits to MSG. The Bucks haven’t lost a road game to the Knicks since a 91-88 defeat Nov. 30, 2007.
Brandon Jennings(notes) had 19 points to lead seven Bucks in double figures in this season’s previous meeting, a 107-80 Milwaukee victory Nov. 9 at the Bradley Center. The 80 points is still a season low for the Knicks, whose worst offensive output last season was an 83-67 home loss to the Bucks on Feb. 22, 2010.
Milwaukee had dropped eight of 10 heading into the All-Star break, but started its second half on a positive note Tuesday by beating Minnesota 94-88 at home. Jennings scored 27 points and Corey Maggette(notes) added 20 off the bench for the Bucks.
“Second half of the season so, you know, you have to get a little more serious,” Jennings said. “We have to come more mentally focused and ready to play.”