As the rumor mills continue to swirl for where Denver Nuggets' forward Carmelo Anthony ends up, all signs continue to point toward the Big Apple.

New York is where Carmelo wants to play, and the Knicks would love to have him.

But do the Knicks really need him?

The Knicks have a record of 27 wins and 26 losses, and if the playoffs were to start today they would be the sixth seed, and would face the Chicago Bulls, a team lacking a dominate center.

Since arriving in New York, Amare Stoudemire has been rejuvenated and playing some of the best basketball of his career. With Stoudemire leading the way, it wouldn't be surprising for the Knicks to pull off an upset over the Bulls, and find themselves in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals.

But that's this season.

When next season rolls around, the Knicks may not have the luxury to be in a conference that lacks playoff depth.

Indeed, the East still appears to be a three-team battle to make the Finals, with Boston, Miami, and Orlando leading the way. Unfortunately for the Knicks, they're not among the upper echelon.

For this season, and after having labored through the Scott Layden and Isiah Thomas years, Knicks' fans would be more than content to make the playoffs and advance to the Eastern Conference Semi-finals. But if they aren't contenders for the NBA title by next season, fans and the press will return to grumbling.

That's where Anthony comes in.

A pairing of Anthony and Stoudemire will offer Knicks' fans optimism for several years. Both are talented front court players who are hungry to win.

Stoudemire and Anthony are 28 and 26, respectively. If on the same team, their styles of basketball won't interfere with scoring output. Anthony is averaging 24.9 point and 7.5 rebounds per game this season. Those numbers could dip if he went to the Knicks by playing with Stoudemire, but not my much.

Should point guard Raymond Felton maintain his level of play, or even better, improve it, the Knicks could very well become contenders this season, and perhaps next season.

One line of thinking is that the Knicks should wait for the off-season to try to sign Anthony, which would mean that it wouldn't cost them any players to acquire him. That would make sense if there weren't signs that the NBA's collective bargaining agreement may mean that Anthony would need to accept a sizable pay cut by signing after the season as opposed to this season.

If Anthony doesn't get traded by the February 24 deadline, don't be surprised to see him re-sign with Denver, and get the maximum deal.

For the Nuggets, the option of sending Anthony to the Knicks in exchange for spare parts isn't all that appealing. Danilo Gallinari, Landry Fields, and Wilson Chandler, are all fine players but they are not enough compensation for Anthony, even when all three are packaged together.

Unlike the East, the Western Conference is stacked with teams over .500 who have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs. Denver is one of those teams.

If the playoffs were to start today, Denver would be a seventh seed. But the Nuggets could very easily fall out of playoff contention with Utah, Memphis, and even Phoenix, all trailing not far behind.

By dealing Anthony, the Nuggets would basically be starting over, and that means their playoff chances would be slim or none for this season. For following seasons? Well, let's just say the Sacramento Kings can tell you how hard it is to rebuild when you're not a big-name organization like the Lakers.

By retaining Anthony, Denver can try to add better building blocks around him, and possibly dethrone aging powerhouse teams in the West, the Lakers and Spurs.

Easier said than done, but if the Nuggets are trying to compete for a championship, holding on to Anthony needs to be a top priority, and caving into a bad deal with New York can prove catastrophic in the short and long term.