Peter Vecsey, the once retired sports writer and TV analyst, is back at it with his Patreon website, which has broken a few story for its paying customers. On Sunday, he decided, with the aid of one Billy King, set the record straight on how the Knicks trade for Carmelo Anthony back in 2011 was driven by a competing bid from the Nets.
A number of long time Nets fans will remember the MeloDrama. In 2010-11, after Melo announced he wanted to play somewhere other than Denver, the Knicks and Nets went round and round with the Nuggets and Melo’s agent, Leon Rose. It all ended on a cold February night when the Knicks outbid the Nets.
Recently, Vecsey noted, there’s been a lot of revisionist history about the move. Specifically, he points to claims that James Dolan’s impatience to acquire Melo made him rush a deal when all he had to do was wait till free agency. Vecsey is correct that Melo, concerned about the uncertainty of the next CBA, wanted to be traded, then re-signed.
Mikhail Prokhorov first blessed the pursuit of Melo, then famously decided in a bizarre press conference that he was washing his hands of it all, then quietly changed his mind at Billy King’s insistence, leading to a meeting in L.A. just before the All-Star game. (It should be noted that several Nets executives claimed the team was not
Here’s Vecsey’s take, from King, on that famous meeting...
The 2011 All-Star Game took place in Los Angeles. The night before, with the Nuggets’ permission, the Nets’ upper crust — owner Mikhail Prokhorov, Chairman of the Board, Dmitry Razumov, CEO Brett Yormark, part owner Jay-Z and GM Billy King — met with Melo and agent Leon Rose at Philippe Chow restaurant in Beverly Hills.
“Carmelo liked everything we were pitching,” King said yesterday. “He understood, if the Knicks refused to give the Nuggets everything and everyone they wanted, he’d play one season in Newark before we moved to Brooklyn.”
Simultaneously, King was talking with Masai Ujiri, then Denver’s GM.
“We had an agreement,” King stated definitively. “Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Troy Murphy and three first-round picks every other year would’ve been sent to Denver.”
There was one qualification, though. “Masai told me we had a deal if the Knicks didn’t include Mozgov,” who weirdly wound up with the Nets.
That would have been the Nets 2011, 2013 and 2014 picks.
Vescey also discloses a conversation had with Donnie Walsh, who was King’s counterpart with the Knicks. Walsh, says Vecsey, recounted what Dolan told him about the deal. The Knicks were indeed reluctant to give up Timofey Mozgov, then a rookie, and Raymond Felton.
“James said it up to me, that I was the personnel guy, and I could do whatever I felt was right,” Walsh told me a couple years ago in his Pacers’ office. “I did not want to give up Mozgov. Nor did I want to give up Felton. But I did want Carmelo. I really wanted him. I felt getting a scorer like him was a rare opportunity, so I signed off on the whole deal.”
So the deal got done. The Knicks gave up Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Mozgov, the team’s 2014 first-round pick, a pair of No. 2 in 2012 and 2013 that belonged to the Warriors, plus $3 million. Going the other way, in addition to Melo, were Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Renaldo Balkman and Anthony Carter.
To make the deal work, the Knicks had to add Minnesota to the trade. Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry plus another $3 million were sent to the Timberwolves for Corey Brewer who was waived by the Knicks.
The very next day, the Nets and Jazz did their deal for Deron Williams, with some of the same assets offered Denver now headed to Utah. And for a moment, it looked like the Nets, not the Knicks, had the won the MeloDrama. As it turned out, it could have one of those cases where no one won.