In one day the New York Knicks managed to undo two of the major acquisitions from the Isiah Thomas era and stay on course to free up enough cap space to lure Lebron James and another all star caliber free agent.
Jamal Crawford went to Golden State for Al Harrington, and Zach Randolph went to the Clippers along with Mardy Collins for Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley. While this doesn’t make New York better now, Donnie Walsh is staying true to his master plan to resurrect this once proud franchise. In order to do that he had to get rid of their highest salaried players that have contracts that run past 2010.
Many Knick fans will question this move because they are tired of the Knicks being one of the laughing stocks of the league, and they will have to endure at least one more year of losing. One has to remember that New York has been miss-managed and in bad shape for so long that they needed a complete overhaul from the front office down. That doesn’t happen over-night.
They brought in Walsh to run the show. They brought in Mike D’Antoni, a high profile coach that has a track record of success, and they have a plan to not only make the Knicks competitive in the short run, but to make them perennial championship contenders. The plan is bold, but it is well-calculated and better than the hit and miss strategy of Isaiah Thomas.
They hope to lure LeBron James to the Garden and make it his home and work on his legacy. He has money and fame, but he doesn’t have championships and a legacy. Resurrecting the once proud Knickerbocker franchise and bringing back the glory days in the city that never sleeps, the mecca of professional basketball, sounds better than languishing in Cleveland. He doesn’t have enough help there and it is time for him to move on.
The beauty of this for New York is that there is a bumper crop of All-Stars that are free agents aside from James. Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Steve Nash, and Amare Stoudemire will be available to name a few. Pairing James with Bosh and a good point guard and a supporting cast would ensure that you have a title contender for years to come.
Let’s say they don’t get James. There are enough studs available where they can still sign more than one of them. Keep in mind that the players know that they have a better chance at success if they are paired with another star, Ala the Boston Celtics, then they do if they go to a team by themselves.
Other teams are starting to model what Boston did in a bid to get in on free agent frenzy in 2010. Chauncey Billups was traded for Allen Iverson to get Detroit more cap flexibility and other franchises are being very careful how they spend.
The Knicks still have more work to do to completely wipe away the memory of the past regime. They have to permanently sever ties with Stephon Marbury. Many of the fans resent how Marbury has been treated, but D’Antoni as the coach has the right to play or sit whomever he chooses, and it is obvious Starbury is not in the Knick’s future plans. It is unfortunate that he is not playing, but they don’t owe him anything except his salary.
They have to do what they feel is best for the team, and right now Marbury is basically an expiring contract. The culture is changing in New York and for the better. They weren’t going to contend for a championship with what they had anyway.
There is one more move that they need to make and it will be the toughest. Moving Eddy Curry and his huge contract will take some doing because he is out of shape and not playing right now. Getting that done gives New York the opportunity to not only bring in James plus another all star, but they would be in a better position to re-sign David Lee and Nate Robinson. I wouldn’t be surprised if Steve Nash takes a look at the Knicks if they snag James as well. What better way to finish his career than to be in the system he is comfortable with along with his former coach, and in position to win a championship.
If things fall right for New York they could have three all stars playing for them in 2010. Of course there is a chance none of this pans out, and the Knicks end up settling for second tier all stars, but it is worth the gamble. The elite players in the league know that their best chance to win it all is to play with each other not against each other. Boston did it, and now New York is in position to do it.
There are probably angry Knick fans because they want to win now and are tired of seeing an inferior product on the floor, especially since they have looked a lot better so far this year. Be strong of heart. This is not a step backward. They had to be torn down so they can be built up the right way, and that takes time. Don’t let impatience dim your vision. The goal is a championship, not a decent team that gets the eighth spot in the playoffs.
I think they get LeBron, and if that happens others will follow. The Cav’s will be in New York to play the Knicks on Tuesday. Think LeBron will be asked a few questions? Nah, this is just another game against another team in another city.