With the 2010 NBA Finals over and the Lakers once again crowned champions, now marks the beginning of the time when various sports media outlets and personalities have relentlessly urged that I be excited about: the summer of 2010.
As a die-hard Knicks fan, the past few years have been rough.
It has been quite difficult to sit down and watch my team get blown out by teams that are only marginally in contention. At one point, I even had to re-evaluate what it was that I was doing when I found myself highly enthused about a David Lee triple-double in a losing effort against the Warriors.
Nevertheless, all of the exciting offseason possibilities should cause me to feel at least some optimism. Except it hasn’t.
So let’s start by focusing on next week’s NBA Draft. The Knicks, due to trading away all of their valuable picks for nothing, only have two early second-round draft picks—No. 38 and 39 overall.
NBA second-rounders often face an uphill battle making it into the league. However, there are a handful of potentially useful players that could possibly fall into the Knicks’ lap, including borderline first round guys such as Eric Bledsoe, Lance Stephenson, and Quincy Pondexter.
But the chances players of that caliber slip are unlikely, and a player like Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez—a big guard with good passing skills but poor defense and athleticism—is a more realistic expectation, especially with the offensively-minded Mike D’Antoni as coach.
A couple of second-round picks are nothing to get excited about, but the nearly $40 million of cap space is, and free agency is what all the excitement is supposed to be about.
Let's start with the obvious: The Knicks are not going to get LeBron James.
I’d be ecstatic if that were to happen, and I hope that I’m wrong. But I just don’t believe that it’s possible.
Were LeBron to leave Cleveland for New York, his public image would be severely damaged. Leaving would cause him to appear to be a greedy individual who turned his back on his hometown simply because of the possibility of increasing his income and brand.
Furthermore, it would seem to be unreasonable for him to leave the Cavs—the team with the best record in the NBA—for a team populated by the likes of Danilo Gallinari, Toney Douglas, and Eddy Curry. Wilson Chandler may be the Knicks' lone bright spot as he has the potential to become a very good player.
The next best free agent available, Dwyane Wade, has made it clear that he’s not leaving, so he's not even in the discussion. Similarly, Dirk Nowitzki, a famously low-profile individual, has shown no indication that he will do anything but stay in Dallas.
Amar’e Stoudemire is another big name, but at the time of the trade deadline, D’Antoni stated that he had no interest in reuniting with his former power forward. That declaration is even more damning when one considers all the other quality PFs who are available.
The Knicks probably won’t pursue Carlos Boozer either because his powerful but slow style wouldn’t fit too nicely in the D’Antoni system.
Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson? They actually seem to be legitimate possibilities. Bosh has been yearning to leave Toronto, and New York would provide a stage upon which he could become a star. Likewise, Johnson has sounded like he is ready to move on from Atlanta, and NYC could also increase his star power.
But how would the Knicks be able to acquire these players?
That is a question which genuinely frightens me.
I can only hope that the Knicks don’t attempt to sign these two players to maximum-level contracts. Bosh, Johnson, and a bunch of role players wouldn't be nearly enough to win a championship.
Rather, it would likely doom them to another generation of bad contracts and underachievers. Furthermore, I would appreciate it if the Knicks don’t dole out any more of their already-scarce future first-round picks in a sign and trade scenario.
What they ought to do is pursue only one of these players, and I’m leaning toward the younger and arguably better Chris Bosh.
They should then see what other types of players they could acquire. Players like Rudy Gay, Raymond Felton, Kenyon Martin, and a few others are available at considerably better values. And needless to say, I hope they are able to resign David Lee, albeit only at a reasonable price—in other words, nowhere near the max.
Finally, there are a number of good, starting-caliber point guards on the trading block. The addition of a Jose Calderon, Darren Collison, or maybe even a TJ Ford (or Gilbert Arenas?) could do wonders for D’Antoni’s offense.
The only problem is that the Knicks lack major trade assets, as it is unlikely that anyone would like to pick up Curry’s fat contract, and team president Donnie Walsh isn’t likely going to trade any of his remaining young talent, which I completely understand.
So basically, the Knicks need to be smart and patient while not getting overly exited about big names and rushing into signing a bunch of huge, franchise-crippling contracts.
If all else fails, and they can’t acquire the talent that they desire, there’s always Carmelo to look forward to next summer.