WARR contributor Josh Hicks offers his thoughts on the Chicago Bulls and the NBA
After an abysmal 7-8 record in January, LeBron James went public in announcing the needs his Cleveland Cavaliers have for a backup point guard and a possible playmaker to bring James extra help offensively and to cut into his heavy amount of playing minutes.
The Cavs traded for sharp shooter Kyle Korver around the time of this insurrection, but it still seems like the Cavs need one more piece to add to their proven championship-level puzzle in order to be at full strength for a repeat run. With despondent franchise player Carmelo Anthony being put on the market by the New York Knicks, NBA followers have pondered and looked into whether the Cavs would pull the trigger on a move to get Melo — could he be the key to hold off the prohibitive Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors? The answer is yes, and here is why:
Yes, the Cavs have rebounded in February — they are currently on a hot streak, winning 7 of their last 8 games heading into the all-star break and still sitting atop the Eastern Conference with a 39-16 record, and yes, with Korver the Cavs have help to spread the floor along the perimeter, but he does not fit the bill as a consistent playmaker that can create his own shot and put other players in a better position to succeed like James and Kyrie Irving. Anthony is known to be a playmaker offensively, especially when it comes to the final minutes in a tight game situation.
One major issue in a proposed Melo trade is the likelihood of Kevin Love being in any return package headed to NYC. Love is as valuable as he’s ever been to the Cavs, averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds with his long-established ability to stretch the floor from the power forward position, so why trade him?
Anthony has a completely different style of play from Love, but he stands to bring more diversity for Cleveland’s adjustable offense. Love is a pick-and-pop big man with a soft shooting touch and is a rebounding machine. Melo can break your man off the dribble and score the ball from anywhere on the court.
Give me Melo’s skillset against the current Warriors team, who have gotten quicker and stronger on both ends of the court with the second-best player in the league in Kevin Durant helping lead the charge now. Not to mention, Cleveland has a pick-and-pop forward left in Channing Frye should Love have to be sent away.
Defensively, a Love-Melo swap levels up the defensive strategy along the perimeter. The Warriors can switch basically from every position, and with Durant having a similar skillset to Anthony, Anthony’s versatility makes Cleveland’s matchups easier to strategize and execute.
Bringing Anthony to Cleveland will also strengthen their bench. With the return of J.R. Smith and adding Anthony’s versatility, players like Iman Shumpert will be moved back to his main role as a necessary spark for the second unit.
Finally, should Carmelo replace Love on the Cavaliers roster he’d be doing the same thing he’s done this weekend in replacing him for the all-star team — he’d be a healthy body replacing an injured one.
Love has an expected 6 week lay off right now due to needed surgery on his left knee. Instead of the transition that will need to take place in getting Love back into playoff shape with a team that will sharpen itself fully over the next month and a half, the Cavs could have an in shape and motivated Anthony at the ready for the Eastern Conference playoffs and beyond.
Players and teams in the NBA have proven they will do whatever it takes to win a championship. Durant left a thriving Oklahoma City Thunder team to join the team that beat them embarrassingly this past season to improve his position to win. If Durant can leave OKC, Melo can certainly leave the disaster in New York City to go to a championship contender in Cleveland in spite of his no-trade clause.
That clause would be exercised with most franchises that hit up the Knicks, but we’re talking about the defending champs here, the team that features his closest brother in the League in James, the team with a ready-made chemistry that should excel both on and off the court, the team with the best chance to stop the NBA season from setting in the West.
Melo and LeBron have been a super pairing since they both entered the NBA in 2003, they’ve defined much of the era that’s followed, but there’s still another chapter for them to write, why not have them write it together?
Joshua M. Hicks is a sports writer and broadcaster and a recent graduate of Roosevelt University, follow him on Twitter @jhicks042