Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/7/13
I really want to believe that the New York Knicks can’t possibly miss the playoffs in the top-heavy but still eminently shallow Eastern Conference even if the freshly injured Tyson Chandler misses a full six weeks. I want to believe it for the Knicks’ sake. I want to believe it because the mood could otherwise get really dark in one of my favorite buildings on Earth. Really, really gloomy even before we get to July 1 and what all this means for Carmelo Anthony’s impending free agency. NBA muckrakers obviously can’t leave that one alone, but the impact a long stretch without Chandler and what a season of underachievement might do to Anthony’s willingness to re-sign with his beloved Knicks next summer is not today’s focus. Ponder this instead: New York must convey a fully unprotected first-round pick to Melo’s old friends back in Denver in June ... so missing the postseason would obviously make that a lottery pick for the Nuggets. Based on the terms of the original Melo trade in February 2011, New York is required to send its 2014 first-round pick to Denver no matter where it falls in the June Draft. The Nuggets then have to send the worse of two picks – either its own 2014 first-rounder or New York’s – to Orlando as a condition of the four-team Dwight Howard blockbuster in August 2012. So that means Orlando, in the stunning event that the Knicks and Nuggets both unexpectedly miss the playoffs, would thus inherit one of Denver’s two lottery picks in one of the most-anticipated NBA lotteries ever. Which merits a collective Whoa. We repeat: the inevitable panic you’re hearing this week, which we’re now admittedly stoking, might well prove to be unfounded because the East is so underwhelming outside of the Miami/Indiana/Chicago/Brooklyn quartet. For all of the Knicks’ considerable issues on the front line – whether it’s the minutes restrictions placed on both Amar'e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin or the distinct possibility that the completely lost Andrea Bargnani has actually landed in a worse situation pressure-wise than he was in Toronto when we all thought he was getting the fresh start he so badly needed – they can get back on a playoff course if Melo finally gets going.
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