Everyone with even a minor interest in basketball knows the free agency period, A.K.A the apocalypse, starts on July 1.
More than a third of the NBA’s teams are anxiously awaiting midnight to have a go at one of the best free agent classes ever. But around the league, most of those teams only care about the Big Three.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
The media has covered these three so much, you’d think they were the only players in the league.
Sure, people talk about the other free agents a wee bit, but many teams seem to feel that if they don’t sign one of the top three, they will be bigger losers than Alf Landon.
Luckily for the Knicks, that isn’t the case.
Yes, I know Spike Lee probably vomited at the thought of life without James in N.Y.C.
But look carefully at the Knicks' unique situation. Even without James, Wade or Bosh, they can give the city the biggest comeback since Mickey Rourke, minus the drug addiction.
As much as I hate to say it, James Dolan might have made some good decisions. After all the roster shuffling and dealing, the Knicks have the freedom to sign two max contracts, as long as they renounce all their free agents.
Outside of David Lee, that shouldn’t be hard. The Knicks' free agents have as much talent as William Hung.
If they do that New York can reunite coach Mike D’Antoni with Joe Johnson and Amar’e Stoudemire. Both players already know the system. And with the remaining money, the Knicks could grab a cheap point guard and some bench help.
In D’Antoni’s run-and-gun offense, a starting five of Johnson, Stoudemire, Chandler, Gallinari and someone like T.J. Ford would be mighty dangerous.
They would score more often than Wilt Chamberlain.
Or, the Knicks could go a different route. New York could keep their All-Star forward David Lee’s Bird rights, leaving them with enough money to sign one max guy and a lower-tier free agent.
No blue and orange fans could complain about nabbing Lee, Stoudemire, and Rudy Gay. If they could get one of those two new guys to take a pay cut, they could grab some role players as well, which are critical to contending for a title.
Just ask LeBron.
But the biggest selling point is what the Knicks can do with Eddy Curry.
And not because of his weight.
The Knicks are burdened with one of the biggest busts in NBA history. At least Kwame Brown was nice enough not to single-handedly hold his team’s budget at ransom.
Curry just invoked his contract option for $11.3 million, which are near crack prices for a player of his “caliber,” if you can call it that.
But the deal isn’t all bad news. If more teams become open to sign-and-trades, the Knicks could add a fourth piece, using Curry’s expiring deal as a centerpiece. The Lakers did it in turning Brown into Pau Gasol, so why can’t New York?
Adding CP3 to a lineup such as Lee, Carlos Boozer and Joe Johnson makes this team deadly.
Okay, so that scenario might be unlikely. But look just a year ahead and there’s a cornucopia of excellent options for the Knickerbockers.
And I’m not talking about gourds.
Not a single player on New York’s current roster is guaranteed a contract for the 2011-2012 campaign. Even if the Knicks sign two big free agents, and possibly keep Lee, they will still have a lot of cap room after next season.
Guess who still hasn’t signed his contract extension, and will be available that off-season?
Sure, Madison Square Garden would have to wait a year, but this gives the Knicks a huge bargaining chip. No other team can say, “If you sign with us in 2010, we can add another max guy next season to make our team champions.”
If you told Knicks fans they could run with Gay, Anthony, Stoudemire and Lee, they wouldn’t care who plays point guard.
Except Smush Parker. He was the worst player in the NBA.
So let’s set the record straight. While a lot of teams are freaking out over possibly missing on the trifecta of James, Bosh and Wade, the Knicks must stay calm.
As long as Walsh and Dolan keep their eyes on the prize, and don’t just throw their money around aimlessly, New York could have a contender soon.
So Knicks management, please don’t go make it rain. Your opportunity is at hand.
And not James’ hand.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!