The Knicks are not getting LeBron James.
That is step one in the Knicks return to greatness. LeBron is fully focused on winning and not the location of his victories, which is the only thing the Knicks have to offer. The Bulls and Heat seem to be the favorites at this point with New Jersey also making a push to get him.
The fact that the Nets have more to offer than New York might puzzle Knicks fans but it is true. The Knicks won more games but the there is minimal talent on the team going forward. When you’re biggest asset on the team is Danilo Gallinari, something is wrong. He’s a good 5th option for a good team – not a possible sidekick. Lucky for Knicks fans, the Nets won’t land anyone spectacular in free agency either.
Knicks fans will try to point out that they can sign two top free agents, but so too can the Heat and Bulls—along with either Wade or Rose. Bottom line, the Knicks are getting any of the major free agents.
The Knicks aren’t going to compete for a championship after a reload without LeBron. Most fans will call for the team to sign Joe Johnson and Amare Stoudamire. Yes, that squad will return to the playoffs.
It will be entertaining to see the Knicks running and gunning with some more talent. The problem is that they’ll end up stuck in mediocrity – good enough to make the playoffs but never win a championship.
The Knicks must rebuild.
The Celtics were able to reload and go on to win a championship since they had a great player (Paul Pierce) and young assets that turned into great players (Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett). The Knicks have neither. They should look at how the Thunder-then-Sonics developed the squad they currently have – rebuilding.
The draft provided the first opportunity for development, and the Knicks failed. Instead of looking at the potential in the prospects, New York simply went with role players (if they ever make it that far).
The Knicks are breaking a cardinal rule in searching for a supporting cast before the star is onboard. With players such as Willie Warren, Solomon Alabi, Paulo Prestes, and Tiny Gallon still on the board, the Knicks needed to swing for the fences instead of just trying to get on base.
On top of that, there were plenty of chances to get into the first round of the draft. Teams were trying to get rid of picks in return for taking contracts off their hands. The Knicks should have been the team trading with the Bulls and Heat, conceding they are out of the sweepstakes, and put themselves in a better position for their future. Unfortunately, the Knicks failed at the draft and will move on to free agency.
For the last few years, the Knicks have been trying to correct the financial mess set by Isiah Thomas.
Now that they can be players in free agency, it is very tempting to spend. They can try all they want to get LeBron, but they can’t waste the cap space when they fail. Rudy Gay, Joe Johnson, and Amare Stoudamire are not the answers to the Knicks’ problems. Their first priority should center around David Lee and ensuring they don’t lose him for nothing – especially to the rival Nets.
After they get something in return for Lee, even if it is just a second round pick, the Knicks should then focus on two free agents, assuming the price for them isn’t too high.
The first one is Randy Foye. Coming from the four-out, one-in offense at Villanova, Foye has a chance to excel in D’Antoni’s offense. He’d have the shooters on the wings he didn’t have while he was with the Wolves. Foye has the potential of a player that bounced around the league while finally finding the right coach (Larry Brown) in the right system (Detroit Pistons) at the point guard position. That player would be Chauncey Billups.
The other player to focus on during free agency is J.J. Redick.
No, he won’t be able to handle the ball much in the offense but can you imagine the possibilities with Gallinari and Redick on the wings. No one will be helping from the wings. This pick up would only occur if Redick didn’t get the contract offer he was looking for and needs more minutes and points in order to get the money next offseason. Most likely, he sees the light that he is in a perfect system for kickouts as long as Dwight Howard is in Orlando.
The most important moves New York would make would be through trades.
The first name that comes up is Michael Beasley. It’s amazing how he scores 15 points per game at the age of 21 and no one wants anything to do with the kid. He still has a lot of talent that has not been turned into production. Understandably, the Heat want to compete for a title with Dwayne Wade in town and don’t have time to watch Beasley develop.
However, the Knicks are not constrained as such and could swoop him up. It’s very similar to the Tim Thomas acquisition back in Phoenix – when D’Antoni told him he will only yell at him for not shooting the ball as opposed to shooting. Maybe all Beasley needs is a fresh start in a new system. The best part about him is that the Heat will pay someone else in the form of a draft pick to rid them of his contract.
The other move that the Knicks should consider making is for a young point guard.
Ty Lawson and Rodrigue Beaubois both come to mind as points stuck behind a future hall of fame point guard on a contending team that could use David Lee. Lawson proved he can shoot and score in the NBA this past year. We all knew he could push the pace and that could make him an asset in the Knicks’ offense. Beaubois was thought to struggle offensively as well but ended up shooting over 40% from beyond the three point line.
Either of those point guards could be obtained with Lee. Altogether, the lineup for the Knicks going forward could look like this:
PG- Ty Lawson / Randy Foye / Toney Douglas
SG- J.J. Redick / Bill Walker
SF- Michael Beasley / Wilson Chandler
PF- Danilo Gallinari / Kenyon Martin
C- Filler FA / Eddy Curry
Going forward, the team has a chance to develop.
Making the playoffs this year will be a struggle. But that’s exactly what the Bulls did before they got Jordan, the Cavs before they got LeBron, and the Magic before Howard. Regardless, it’d be an exciting team that leads the league in three pointers until they get the chance at Harrison Barnes in next year’s draft.
The only thing that would help D’Antoni get through this year would be Kevin Pittsnogle. You put him on the Knicks—Championship.