The Knicks' Path to LeBron

David GlazerCorrespondent IApril 23, 2010

CLEVELAND - APRIL 17:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks to get a shot off over Luol Deng #9 of the Chicago Bulls in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on April 17, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won the game 96-83 to take a 1-0 series lead. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Knicks want to sign LeBron James. The primary reason the Knicks made the Tracy McGrady trade was to get so far under the cap that they could sign two max free agents.  The idea was to entice LeBron by having him choose his sidekick.

However, in order for the Knicks to get LeBron to sign, they have to be able to present him a scenario where he feels that he can be a title contender immediately. That means the team must have size and be able to defend. So here is a plausible scenario if LeBron is actually interested in leaving Cleveland.

The Knicks sign LeBron and either Chris Bosh or Amar'e Stoudemire. I would choose Amar'e because he can play center more easily than Bosh, but for this scenario, it is really who LeBron wants to join him.

Then the Knicks trade Eddy Curry to the Hornets for Emeka Okafor. The Hornets make this trade because it saves them three years of salary. The salaries fit so that the trade can be made straight up.

Okafor gives the Knicks a center who defends, rebounds and can block shots. He is not much of a threat on offense, but with LeBron, Amar'e, and Danilo Gallinari, he is not going to shoot much anyway. He can focus on setting hard picks and going to the glass for put-backs.

The Knicks then use their left over cap money on a free-agent backup point guard like Earl Watson, or maybe even re-sign Chris Duhon to be the backup.

The Knicks would then have an nine-man rotation of:

LeBron, Amar'e, Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Toney Douglas, Okafor, Bill Walker, Earl Barron, and a backup point guard. When Douglas sits, LeBron can become the point, which he basically is anyway, or the Knicks bring in the official backup point (i.e., Watson).

It appears that there is a good chance that the Knicks can get both Gani Lawal and Jerome Jordan with its two second-round picks. These picks give the Knicks two young athletic big men who need time to learn how to play, but can at least be six fouls as rookies. Since Mike D'Antoni rarely plays rookies anyway, there is little need to try and trade for a late first-round pick like they did last year to acquire Toney Douglas.

The Knicks new depth chart would look like this:

5: Okafor, Barron, Jordan
4: Amare, Lawal
3: LeBron, Gallinari
2: Chandler, Walker
1: Douglas, Watson

This team could score and defend. It has depth up front and on the wing. It lacks a top-notch point guard, but Douglas can score and defend. The beauty of LeBron is that he is the player who creates on offense so that Douglas' lack of ability to create offense for others is minimized.

It is my opinion that this team would be better then Cleveland's team this year and a legitimate title contender in 2011. With this possibility enticing LeBron, the Knicks would have a realistic chance to sign him.