This was never about immediate gratification. Sure, New York fans were giddy about the acquisition of Anthony and Chauncey Billups to go with free-agent signee Amare Stoudemire, believing that would immediately make the Knicks a serious player for the NBA title.
And certainly, since the Knicks have gone 11-12 since acquiring Anthony on Feb. 22, there has been grumbling about a lack of chemistry among the star players and a lack of just about anything from anybody else.
That's been heightened because Denver has one of the best records in the league since trading Anthony.
But remember, New York clinched a playoff spot on Sunday. And with their 131-118 victory last night over the Toronto Raptors, the Knicks are only a half-game behind the Sixers for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The teams play tonight at the Wells Fargo Center, with the Knicks riding a four-game win streak.
"We're getting better and better," said Stoudemire, who matched Anthony with 23 points in the win over Toronto. "We're just getting started.
"For us to be in a position where we are in the playoffs and now we can jump forward to that sixth spot, we're doing a great job so far.
"Any time you make the playoffs and have a chance to win in the postseason, it's a lot of fun. We're in the position to do something special in the playoffs."
Everything changes for New York in another week, when the playoffs are scheduled to begin. A strong run through April into May for the Knicks will erase any lingering doubts about the Anthony swap, especially if they can upset either Miami or Boston in the first round.
Anthony and Stoudemire weren't united in New York to simply win games and make the playoffs. They were put together to win championships. That's what a lot of people tend to forget about the trade. Critics who say it destroyed the chemistry of an emerging team ignore the fact that New York was just 28-26 when it traded Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton and Timofey Mozgov to Denver.
That group was not going to win an NBA title this year and it wasn't going to contend for one any time soon.
With Anthony and Stoudemire, the equation changes. Like it or not, you need superstar players - plural - to win an NBA title. Based solely on talent, the Knicks with Anthony and Stoudemire have a pair second only to the Miami Heat duo of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the Eastern Conference.
The Heat with James and Wade and the Knicks with Anthony and Stoudemire are the only teams with two of the NBA's top five scorers.
Oklahoma City, with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, are the only other team with two top-20 scorers.
That doesn't mean it's going to happen right away, especially when the stars do not become aligned until the trade deadline. It took James, Wade and Chris Bosh nearly an entire season of ups and downs before they suddenly hit their stride.
Anthony and Stoudemire have had 23 games.
I know we all want instant gratification, but it rarely happens.
"I think more now than at the beginning when I first got here, we're starting to play off each other," Anthony said of chemistry starting to develop between him and Stoudemire.
"I know now when he's got something going and is ready to make a move, stay out of the way. As of late, we've been doing well with the pick-and-roll.
"I'm just getting a better feel each day knowing where he needs the ball, what he likes to do. I told you when I first got here, that was going to take a little bit of time to figure out."
The Knicks are not a completed roster, but that shouldn't surprise anyone.
The Heat is not a completed roster even with James, Wade and Bosh.
Both teams will have to find the right parts to complement their stars.
But as the Sixers can attest, it's a lot easier to find the pieces to go around the stars than it is to find the stars to put in the middle of the pieces.
With Anthony and Stoudemire as the core, the Knicks are positioned to put together a team that will be able to challenge Miami in the next 3 to 5 years.
Only the future will show how things play out, but getting Carmelo Anthony at least gives the Knicks a chance.
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