No LeBron... What's Plan B?

Matthew JonesContributor ISeptember 28, 2009

TORONTO,ON - APRIL 26:  Chris Bosh #4 of the Toronto Raptors tries to break away from Jameer Nelson #14 of the Orlando Magic in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2008 NBA Playoffs on April 26, 2008 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. The Magic defeated the Raptors 106-94 to take a 3-1 series lead. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Let's be honest for a minute. Yes, it's New York City. Yes, it's the media capital of the world. Yes, MSG is the Mecca of basketball. Yes, it's a marketing dream. Lastly, Yes, LeBron is staying in Cleveland. There, I said it, now we can get down to business.

We all know the Knicks plan, and we've known for what seems like 50 years, the goal for that summer of 2010 is cap space, cap space, and more cap space.

The Knicks have always stressed that they would like to get two big names next summer. However, with the salary cap being lowered, there has been some question as to if that goal will actually become reality. 

According to Marc Stein of ESPN. com, the cap for the 2010-11 season could drop "$5 million to $8 million from last season's $58.7 million," to around $50 million. If Eddy Curry doesn't opt out, their would be about $22 million on the books. Leaving $28 million available to the Knicks.

There is an unprecedented amount of talent and sheer number of players entering the free agent market next summer. Taking into account opt-out clauses, unrestricted free agency, and restricted free agency, 194 players could be on the market next summer.

Talk about choices!

With the assumption that LeBron is out of the picture, the best choice for the Knicks will be a combination of Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudamire. For all three players, the maximum salaries each could be paid is $15 million. Meaning, that the Knicks really need to trade Eddy Curry if they want to have a chance at getting two, they would be $2 million over the cap.

The best combination would be Wade and Bosh, imagine what kind of pick-and-role combo that would be? However, the more realistic possibility is Wade and Stoudamire.

The vibe I'm getting is that Wade seems unhappy in Miami. If Beasley continues to have issues off the court, as well as with his attitude on the court, I see that being a situation he'll want to leave. Amare, I'm sure would love to reunite with Mike D'Antoni. Maybe even at a little discount, something I don't think Bosh would do.

Say Amare doesn't take the discount and the Knicks can't dump Eddy Curry's salary, which is a very real possibility. There would be enough cap space to only get one star, leaving $13 million left to build around. Who's the best fit?

Choice One: Dwayne Wade

Signing Wade suddenly makes the need for a solid player to run point less of a priority. The ball would be in his hands most of the time anyway, making him the facilitator. He's averaged 6.7 assists-per-game in his career.

The problem with Wade is that he's isn't a very good long range shooter (career 28.5% 3pt shooter). You would need to sign someone that knocks down shots. Ray Allan or Jason Kapono (if he opts out) maybe?

Secondly they would need a big man that he could play off. If David Lee has another great year, look for him to be resigned. That's a nice pick and roll threat.

Starting Five: Wade, Kapono, Gallinari, Chandler, Lee

Choice Two: Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudamire

Both Chris Bosh and Amare Stoudamire could be the big man the Knicks need. Other than David Lee, in the past years, low post scoring was sparse. Bosh has averaged over 22 pts/game the past four years. Defensively, he's averaging 1.2 blocks and 9.1 rebounds a game.

The signing of Bosh or Amare, coupled with loss of Duhon, makes the need for a point guard that much more important. They needs someone that can distribute, Raymond Felton could fit well. His lack of outside shooting shouldn't be a problem, so long as he does his job and finds the other offensive threats.

Lastly, they would need one more shooter, for Bosh to be able to kick out to when double teamed. Again, I would look at Kapono or maybe Ray Allan.

Bosh it the type of player that can stand out on his own, where Amare probably would need another top free agent playing with him. If the Knicks have a choice, they would probably pick Bosh.

Starting Five: Felton, Kapono, Gallinari, Chandler, Bosh/Stoudamire

So what's the answer? Right now, I'm leaning towards Chris Bosh. Personally, I think that having a dominating post player more valuable to build around. Good guards are a easier to find, than good big men. I'm not trying to diminish Dwayne Wade, he's a great player. However, for the good of the franchise, you gotta sign the best big man.

It's a very long shot, but maybe Eddy Curry will be have a comeback year and get traded. If that happens, it will be open season in New York. No matter what plays out next summer, it'll be fun to watch.

Check out ESPN.com's list of 2010 free agents.


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