Knicks Dolan caught flat-footed by D-Will trade

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:16 PM ET

TORONTO - Even if he had known Deron Williams was up for grabs, it’s doubtful Donnie Walsh would have gotten his hands on the game’s premier point guard.

Had James Dolan been more open and less myopic, it’s possible Amare Stoudemire would have been riding shotgun with D-Will and not Carmelo Anthony.

Such is the uncertain business of basketball when a trade catches a well connected executive such as Walsh off guard.

Basketball wise, the Knicks couldn’t have acquired a better fit for Stoudemire, who fetched a $100 million deal this past off-season, than Williams.

Instead, it’s believed Dolan was so fixated on Melo that the MSG chairman masterminded the blockbuster with Denver.

“No, I didn’t. I really didn’t,” Walsh said when asked if he was aware of Williams’ availability. “I probably should have thought about it because of Jerry (Sloan) when he left.”

A day after Melo arrived in Gotham, the Nets scooped up Williams, whom many claim forced Sloan to retire following 23 years of service in Utah.

“Not really,” Walsh added when queried if he felt not getting Williams represented a lost opportunity. “And I’m not going to comment on what I really thought. But I thought something.”

BEASTS IN THE EAST

The NBA’s landscape has clearly tilted to the East, a conference that’s poised to dominate for years.

Carlos Boozer joins the Bulls, Amare Stoudemire goes to New York and within two days Carmelo Anthony (Knicks) and Deron Williams (Nets) move East.

“Everybody’s bringing their talents to the East,” LeBron James said. “It’s going to be fun.

“We came here to team up and we knew we were starting a trend. Teams are going to have to load up because the competition level is rising.”

No team draws better on the road than the gang from South Beach featuring James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

People can debate the merits of players joining forces, but the fact remains that NBA ratings are up with no signs of slowing down.

What impact a new CBA will have remains to be seen, but the Knicks are relevant again and basketball’s so-called big markets are bigger than ever.

“We took two of the best players in the West and brought them to the East,” James said. “D-Will has been a multiple all-star in the West and Melo, of course, has been a multiple all-star and now they’re in the East. Amare Stoudemire was a multiple all-star in the West and now he’s in the East. So it is shifting.”

PERKINS PERFECT FIT

At his introductory news conference, Kendrick Perkins said all the right things, oozed sincerity and humility.

The native of Beaumont, Tex., seems to be the perfect fit with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but money has a way of changing people and Perkins’ words will be put to the test when it comes time to negotiate a contract.

“I hope I can be here,’’ said Perkins, a free agent this summer who turned down a lucrative extension with Boston. “I want to be here. I couldn’t find a better situation for myself. I really want to be here. The city’s just so great. The organization is overwhelming, so I do want to be here and hopefully we can work something out. They are the first option.

“I am gonna miss Boston, but I am happy to be here. It’s a new start for me and hopefully I can come in and make a great impact and a positive impact. I’m just happy to be here.”

Perkins gives the Thunder precisely want it needs, a defender and rebounder who has the length and toughness to battle anyone in the post.

Perkins’ addition notwithstanding, it’ll now be up to Kevin Durant to take his game to another level when the post-season begins.

Durant isn’t exactly known for late-game heroics, but OKC has that coveted piece to protect the paint and on paper the Thunder can go only as far as it wants.

“We just gotta put it together,’’ added Perkins. “We look good on paper, but I think we gotta put the work in and put it on the court.”

BILLUPS’ CASUALTY OF MELO DRAMA

Parting with Carmelo Anthony wasn’t difficult because Denver knew for months that Melo wanted to take his act to the Big Apple.

The difficulty involved Chauncey Billups, Mr. Big Shot who calls Colorado his home, a place where the former Raptor continues to be admired.

“When the trade went down, I was more sad than happy, and that was mostly because of Chauncey,” Nuggets head coach George Karl said.

The whole Melo drama seemingly took forever because Denver tried to make whatever deal as big as possible to bring back as many assets, which meant Billups’ big-time contract had to be included.

“As much grief as this process has caused, as many sleepless nights and countless hours of talks, as difficult as this process was, at the end of the day you do want to do right by Carmelo,” Nuggets president Josh Kroenke added. “I hate the fact that Chauncey is in it, but I think that we understand that not only would including Chauncey allow us to make the deal bigger, but it also gives Chauncey a chance to win.’’

The Knicks represent Billups’ seventh team.

When the deal was consummated, Anthony contacted Billups.

“His first question to me was: ‘How was your family taking it? How was everybody doing?’

“I know that he pretty much feels bad about it, that I got intertwined in his deal, in his situation.”


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