NBA Free Agents 2010: Why New York Knicks Shouldn't Shoot For The Stars
Former Denver Broncos' tight end Shannon Sharpe had a reputation for letting his mouth run like a faucet.
Never was this more apparent then in the days prior to Super Bowl XXXIII when he engaged in a rivalry with Atlanta Falcons' Pro-Bowl corner back Ray Buchanan.
Buchanan ripped Sharpe to shreds with his trash talk, saying he looked like Mr. Ed.
When Sharpe was informed of this banter he gave us a response that has since lived in infamy, "I'm not gonna get into a peeing contest with a skunk, you'll lose every time."
As silly as it sounds, Knicks' President Donnie Walsh should take a lesson from Shannon Sharpe here.
The New York Knicks cannot get into a peeing contest this summer, because if they do, they'll lose.
Allow me to make a connection here between Shannon's statement and the New York Knicks' situation:
It's looking more and more likely by the day that this summer's three most highly touted free agents-LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade, will be playing their home games away from the Big Apple.
While not giving up hope, (Although it seems like it's about time to start) Walsh has instituted what appears to be a Plan B. He has decided to take his first two recruiting trips to California to meet up with Joe Johnson and Amar'e Stoudemire.
Joe Johnson and Amar'e Stoudemire. Sounds good, right?
It is good, but simply not good enough . Do you really think a Johnson/Stoudemire led team is anywhere near good enough to get past Miami's squad consisting of Dwyane Wade/(insert two "max" free agents here) or Chicago's LeBron/Rose/Bosh or Boozer trio come playoff time?
In seeing the Bulls and Heat acquire big names, acquiring Johnson and Stoudemire would be the Knicks attempt at matching the talent brought in by the aforementioned teams.
It would be the Knicks getting into a peeing contest with a skunk.
The Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat will become the NBA's skunks this summer, and Donnie Walsh must learn that he cannot contend with them by landing superstar talent, because his superstars (Joe Johnson and Amar'e Stoudemire) will only be outdone by their's (Wade, Bosh, LeBron, Rose, etc.).
Walsh has freed up about $36 million for this summer.
In NBA Free Agency terms, this is known as, "enough money to offer two 'max' contracts."
However, the New York Knicks have an opportunity to flip the script. Rather than bringing in two maximum contract players that will never be good for more than a first round playoff exit anyway, the Knicks should use this $36 million to fill out a roster consisting of good-but-not-great players.
Because what has been lost in the mix this summer is that this is not only one of the most star studded free agent classes of all time, it is also one of the deepest.
Donnie Walsh needs to think 2004 Detroit Pistons. None of those guys were on the same level as Shaq and Kobe, but they dethroned both of them by using teamwork.
Right now, the Knicks have the right pieces in place towards creating a high-chemistry team, but they still have a lot of work to do.
They have a three point specialist in Danilo Gallinari, a decent wing man in Wilson Chandler, and a point guard who can run the floor and shoot the three ball in Toney Douglas.
In my mind, where the Knicks need to start is simple: They must re-sign David Lee.
I know he's a liability on defense but he has proven to be one of the leagues most unselfish players, and he has been lethal on the offensive end and on the glass.
If you pair Lee with a legitimate defensive Center, and allow him to shift back to his natural position of power forward he should be fine.
Lee's contract is likely to cost the Knicks around $12 million, leaving them plenty of more cash to fill out their roster,
After Lee is re-signed, the Knicks would have no choice but to go after a legitimate NBA Center who specializes on the defensive end of the floor.
Brendan Haywood and Jermaine O'Neal come to mind. Considering both O'Neal and Haywood are celebrating their 30th and 31st birthdays respectively, they likely won't command large contract's, but there's no doubt that their defensive presence would be a perfect fit to play alongside David Lee.
If the Knicks could convince one of them to sign for around $5 million per year they should jump on the chance.
After the Knicks are finished constructing their front line they would still be left with around $19 million to shore up the rest of their team.
There's no doubt that the Knicks would need to use this money to bring in a point guard who could flourish in Mike D'Antoni's run-and-gun system.
While Steve Blake is certainly no Steve Nash he could offer a valuable learning experience to Knicks point guard of the future Toney Douglas while providing the Knicks with a heady point guard who can command an offense and stretch the floor.
Blake could likely be signed for around $6 million per year.
This leaves the Knicks with $13 million to fill out their rotation.
I think the Knicks should look J.J Redick's way.
Redick may be pathetic on the defensive end of the floor, but he has proven in the past that he can score. Jamal Crawford anyone?
If the Knicks could sign Redick and give him around 30 minutes off the bench a night he could be the spark plug that ignites the Knicks offense.
Redick is a restricted free agent, but chances are the Magic wouldn't match any offer to Redick that exceeded $6 million.
With Redick and Douglas now offering energy off the bench it would be time for the Knicks to pursue another big man.
Here's where they could bring in the real X-Factor: Udonis Haslem.
Haslem may not put up incredible stats, but the guy has been around the block. He plays defense, rebounds, plays unselfishly on offense, and most of all he offers veteran leadership.
The Heat are likely to try to re-sign Haslem but if they get too caught up in the big names, Haslem could fall right into the Knicks laps.
The $7 million remaining would likely be more than enough to bring in Haslem.
Finally, the Knicks could use their Mid-Level Exception to try to convince a forgotten about veteran like Roger Mason or Kyle Korver to come to town. While neither of those players are great, they can both shoot and handle the ball.
Let's take a look at that team for a second:
PG: Steve Blake, Toney Douglas
SG: Wilson Chandler, J.J Redick
SF: Danilo Gallinari, Roger Mason/Kyle Korver
PF: David Lee, Udonis Haslem
C: Jermaine O'Neal/Brendan Haywood
While this team doesn't jump out at you on paper it could during a game. They posses a defensive post presence at Center, a 20-10 Power Forward, a Small Forward who is one of the best shooters in the league (he's also seven feet tall), a Shooting Guard who is athletic and brings decent scoring and rebounding abilities, and a point guard that is smart, and a shooter.
Not to mention a solid bench.
However, even after the Knicks finish up with the 2010 free agent bonanza, they won't be done. The Knicks still have one very valuable asset: Eddy Curry's contract.
Curry's $11 million contract concludes at the end of this season and could prove to be a valuable trade asset.
Darren Collison, Tony Parker, and Andre Iguodala are among the most talked about players in Eddy Curry trade discussions.
However, if the Knicks can't find a deal that satisfies them for Curry they could wait for Curry's contract to expire at the end of this season and try to improve even more with $11 million to spend during the 2011 Free Agency Period.
Overall, the Knicks need to get creative this off-season.
But as Shannon Sharpe would say, "I'm not gonna get into a peeing contest with a skunk, you'll lose every time."
And the Knicks shouldn't either, because if they try to match the star power of the Bulls and Heat, they'll fail miserably.
Donnie Walsh, it may not seem logical, but this summer when you get the Joe Johnson itch, use ointment.
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