it is the Denver Nuggets who may have hit pay dirt in trading away the disgruntled Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks
All that glitters is not gold as Carmelo Anthony has proved
Since New York still fancies itself as the media centre of the universe, it came as no surprise that, when the Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony last month, all the focus was on The City That Never Sleeps.
Anthony was the one superstar in the 13-player trade with Denver, that also included the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was the man who made the trade happen.
Also, Anthony was teaming up with fellow megastar Amar'e Stoudemire to give the Knicks two of the NBA's leading scorers.
The fact the poor Nuggets were forced to trade their one superstar was nearly a basketball afterthought amid the hoopla heralding the arrival of Anthony in New York.
But only a month later, it is the Nuggets who are rolling. They are 12-4 since the trade and have climbed from seventh to fifth in the Western Conference.
The Knicks? They have gone 7-12 since Anthony arrived, have lost six consecutive games, and won one in their last 10 to fall to 35-38.
"Tough times,'' Anthony said.
Especially for fans as the Knicks have already announced they are raising season-ticket prices by 49 per cent next season.
While Anthony has struggled to blend into his new coach Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo style, the Nuggets have thrived without a main man. There is no star in Denver. Just a team.
They have eight players averaging double figures in points. They have 12 players averaging double-figures in minutes played. With Anthony, ball movement often died in his hands.
Now there is more and crisper passing. They are a quicker, seemingly more attentive, team. Defence has never been an Anthony strong suit, and now the Nuggets have tightened up.
"The difference is we have a different team,'' JR Smith, the guard, said. "It's every man taking care of each other.''
What the Nuggets do not have is that player whose hands you want the ball in during the game's decisive moments, but for now they are winning by sharing the wealth.
"People are just going out and being who they are,'' Kenyon Martin of Denver said. "Guys utilising their talents to the best of their abilities.''
Dare it be said? The Nuggets are better without Anthony. It is still early to be making a final judgement on the trade itself.
Said Jerry West, the former Lakers star player and team executive, on the early results: "[The Knicks] got not only Carmelo, they got a tremendous player in Chauncey Billups ... To me it's understandable that they wouldn't come in and burn the house down as far as winning games.''
Except, of course, the Nuggets are.