In the event you hadn't seen Melo's appearance on "All The Smoke", this little nugget from that interview is making its way around Twitter today. Here's the clip in context
I've said it before and I'll say it again. I cannot get enough of these player interviews. Doesn't matter if it's guys talking with former players, or someone like KD or Dame going on Million Dollaz Worth Of Game
I cannot get enough. Especially when the player is older and already proven and feels like they can say whatever they want. So to hear Melo dive into that 2011 trade was pretty interesting. Obviously this is tilted a little bit towards Melo's side, but it didn't feel like he was giving them a load of bullshit. Even if it makes your eyes roll a little bit that a big determining factor in that whole situation was the decision to trade Dahntay Jones, I don't think anyone can blame Melo for not wanting to stick around for a rebuild as he was entering his prime. Going from being so close to the Finals in 2009 to a rebuild is not exactly ideal. I do think it's a little easy to say now that he never wanted to leave and that the team basically forced him, but I bet there's a good amount of truth to that.
I won't try and tell Knicks fans how to feel about Melo, I know it's a complicated issue. But as an outsider looking in, I do think he deserves credit for taking on the challenge of turning that franchise around. Not every star player wants that pressure. I also don't think the team did the best job of maximizing Melo. His rosters weren't exactly great during that era. So while it's true that he deserves some of the blame for never getting over the hump, I wouldn't call his Knicks tenure a disaster or anything. He produced at a virtually identical level in his 7 seasons there
8 seasons in DEN: 24.8/6.3/3.1 on 45/31% splits
7 seasons in NYK: 24.7/7.0/3.2 on 44/36% splits
In the playoffs, it was more of the same outside of a little drop in efficiency
7 playoff seasons in DEN (45 games): 24.5/7.1/3.0 on 42/33%
3 playoff seasons in NYK (21 games): 28.0/7.7/2.3 on 40/29% splits
I'm sure as a Nuggets fan, this isn't exactly what you love hearing. One of the greatest Nuggets in franchise history (I have him #3 after Alex English and Dan Issel, but Jokic could very well pass him as well) it's never great to hear that the player never wanted to leave but the team forced his hand. They went on to make the playoffs and lose in the first round the next two years, then had a 5 year gap of missing the playoffs all together. You heard what Melo said though, nobody was coming to Denver in free agency. That's honestly still pretty true to this day. Their success has mostly come from drafting and developing their own talent. Jokic, Murray, MPJ, Monte Morris, are all home grown guys. Unless they felt like the team could trade for the better talent to surround Melo with in 2011, I'm not sure how they make it worth it for Melo to stay.
As someone who believes that Melo is absolutely a deserving first ballot Hall Of Fame player, he is definitely a player who has a crazy "what if" career. What if the Pistons took him instead of Darko? Does he have one or more rings? Does he ever go to the Knicks? Do people look at his entire career differently? It's a fun game to play.