Never say the New York Knicks don't have a plan, because they do. It might not be a foolproof plan, or even a half-baked plan, but it's a plan.
How will they implement said plan? Step 1: Hope against hope. Step 2: Repeat Step 1.
That's correct, the Knicks plan on improving their future by—potential tongue-twister incoming—hoping against hope, because hoping against hope is what they hope will get them Rajon Rondo, according to USA Today's Sam Amick:
With all due respect to Anthony's wife, La La Anthony, her recent proclamation that her husband was "definitely" going to re-sign in New York wasn't enough to allay the Knicks' concerns. They know full well that making roster improvements sooner rather than later would increase their chances of Anthony re-signing, meaning the Knicks are known to be on the lookout for a blockbuster-type deal and still are hoping against hope that it involves Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.
This only sounds familiar because the Knicks have been here before in 2010, when they were left hoping against hope they could sign LeBron James. They signed Amar'e Stouedmire instead.
New York was here again in 2011, when it was hoping against hope it could acquire Anthony at a reasonable price from the Denver Nuggets. Then-Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri, who had next to no leverage, wound up fleecing the Knicks of four rotation players and this upcoming summer's first-round draft pick instead.
Time and time again we find ourselves saying they're hatching unrealistic plans. It's been a common theme these past few years, and it's become standard practice, specifically with regard to 2015 free agents.
But don't worry. Not only do the Knicks have a plan, they have a backup plan.
Rondo, along with LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol, Roy Hibbert, Tony Parker and Kevin Love, can hit free agency come summer 2015. If all else fails and Rondo is unable to force himself out of Boston and into New York before then, ESPN's Brian Windhorst says the Knicks believe they can sign two of the aforementioned players:
If that fails — and who knows how Rondo will mesh with this Celtics team, it could work well and he could want to stay — the Knicks fully believe they will get one or two of the following in free agency in 2015 when they expect to have large salary-cap space: Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Roy Hibbert, Marc Gasol, Tony Parker or Rondo when his contract is up. Under certain circumstances, [LeBron] James himself could be a free agent again that summer.
At least this scheme makes some kind of sense.
There's no guarantee the Knicks land one or two of the 2015 free-agency class' superstars, but they could have the means to make their dream a reality. Whether or not they do is besides the point. It's actually possible compared to their current plan.
Trading for Rondo isn't a realistic option. Amick writes that the Knicks can offer players such as Amar'e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton in any deal. Neither is an assets. The Knicks also don't have convoys of first-round draft picks to offer Celtics general manager Danny Ainge. The soonest they can offer one is 2018, when Boston will presumably be done rebuilding.
As far as enticing assets go, the Knicks have only two things to offer the Celtics: rookie shooting sensation Tim Hardaway Jr. and the willingness to assume Jeff Green's or Gerald Wallace's bloated contracts. Or both. That's it.
Will the Knicks land Rajon Rondo?
Unless Ainge and the Celtics are interested in cleaning house for 2015 and nothing else, though, the Knicks have basically nothing to offer. The only way this becomes remotely interesting is if Rondo demands a trade to the Knicks and them alone. That could force Ainge to deal with New York.
Even then, the Celtics could be content with cutting Rondo loose in 2015 or flipping him for whatever another team willing to take him on as a rental would give them. That's how barren of assets New York is.
The Knicks can only hope against hope that's not true, before hoping against hope that Ainge is feeling crazy, borderline self-destructive generous.