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New York Knicks Summer 2012: Chris Paul or Dwight Howard?

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 08:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic reacts to a foul during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Amway Arena on February 8, 2011 in Orlando, Florida.  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 Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
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Sam SiegelContributor IIFebruary 28, 2011

The New York Knicks are back.  The addition of Amar'e Stoudemire over the summer and the recent addition of Carmelo Anthony have New York City excited about Knicks basketball again. 

The Knicks haven't made the playoffs since 2004 when they played the New Jersey Nets in the first round.  They were swept. 

The Knicks will be on their way to the playoffs this year for the first time since then.  They will most likely face the Chicago Bulls if they remain the sixth seed. 

However, there is one thing missing from the Knicks.  Defense.  If the Knicks want to go anywhere in the playoffs, they need to improve on the defensive end. 

Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.

Having said that, the 2012 free-agent class is an exciting class.  It may not be as great as the 2010 free-agent class, but in 2012 guys like Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams have the option to opt out of their contracts and become free agents. 

The Knicks seem to have the most interest in signing Chris Paul, but they should turn their attention to Dwight Howard.

Dwight Howard is arguably the best center that the NBA has had since Shaquille O'Neal when he was in his prime. 

You can't really compare Dwight and Chris considering they play two very different positions, but let's take a look at their numbers.

Let's start with Chris Paul.  For his career, he is averaging 18.8 points, 9.9 assists and 2.4 steals per game.  Outstanding numbers without a doubt.  Chris Paul is one of the top three point guards in the game today.

Let's take a look at Howard.  For his career, he is averaging 18.1 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game.  Again, outstanding numbers.  Dwight Howard is the best modern-day center in the NBA. 

However, what do the Knicks really need?  More offense?  Or more defense?

Well right now, the Knicks have two of the top five scorers in the game in Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.  However, 'Melo and Stoudemire are weak on the defensive end and they don't rebound the ball very well. 

Chris Paul is very good both offensively and defensively and would be a huge addition to the Knicks' backcourt, but the weakness for the Knicks is in the frontcourt where they lack rebounding and aggressiveness on the defensive end. 

Dwight Howard is a defensive-minded player.  He's won the defensive player of the year award for two straight seasons.  He's also one of the top rebounders and one of the top leaders in blocks in the NBA. 

Many indications point to Howard signing in Los Angeles and joining the Lakers in 2012, but if Donnie Walsh reaches out to him and lets Howard know that he's interested in signing him, Howard might think about becoming a Knick.  

I think the idea of playing with Amar'e Stoudamire and Carmelo Anthony would sound very intriguing. Don't you think? 

Here's another interesting fact:

Raymond Felton becomes a free agent in 2012.  Before he was involved in the Carmelo Anthony trade, he was having a career season for the Knicks.  He was averaging 18 points and nine assists per game.  He was almost an all-star.  Felton was a perfect fit in D'Antoni's system.  Why can't the Knicks bring him back in the summer of 2012 to be their starting point guard again?

Anyway, getting back to Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, the Knicks would be a much-improved team with either of them. 

The question is, who will Donnie Walsh pursue more?  My guess is Chris Paul, but he should focus more on bringing Dwight Howard to New York and forming a dynasty at Madison Square Garden.

With the addition of Dwight Howard and bringing back Raymond Felton, the Knicks would be the favorites to win the NBA title for many years to come.

Here's my prediction of how the line up would look in 2012 if the Knicks bring back Felton and sign Dwight Howard:

PG: Raymond Felton (if they sign him again in 2012)

SG: Landry Fields

SF: Carmelo Anthony

PF: Amar'e Stoudamire

C: Dwight Howard

Scary, isn't it? 

Who should the Knicks pursue?  Chris Paul? Or Dwight Howard?

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