Donnie Walsh has done all in his power to have the Knicks to be a major player in this summer’s free agency. With players such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson and Amar’e Stoudamire potentially being available, the allure of New York might attract a few players. Or will it?
Picture Monica Bellucci. Imagine her as the hot woman that you have come to repeatedly try to catch in movies, interviews and celebrity shows. You have an attraction to her because in your heart and your mind, she is the marquee hot actress of the day. Now imagine the likes of Dennis Rodman, Tommy Lee, Screech Powers (his real name is Dustin Diamond, I know), Ric Flair, Mick Foley and Soulja’ Boy all getting a piece of Ms. Bellucci; would she still give you the same feeling as before? You might still be attracted to her, but in the back of your mind, she still hooked up with some screwed up dudes, and that would make you think twice, right? Well in a nutshell, that’s the New York Knicks.
The likes of Isiah Thomas, Stephon Marbury, Jerome James, Eddy Curry and Steve Francis (to name a few) have somewhat tarnished the image and prestige of a once proud franchise. Luckily for Knick fans, Donnie Walsh has done a great job of cleaning up the mess and putting the team in a position to land marquee free agents this offseason. However, what happens if New York fails to land LeBron James or Dwyane Wade? What if some of the lower tier free agents are unsure about the bright New York lights? Should it be prudent for them to possibly wait until next summer to land a few quality free agents? The idea is interesting, but who will be available next summer? Let’s have a look at the 2011 NBA free agents.
Dirk Nowitzki (has option to become free agent this summer)
Carmelo Anthony (Early Termination Option)
Nene HIlario (Early Termination Option)
Kenyon Martin (has option to become free agent this summer)
Chris Wilcox (has option to become free agent this summer)
Vladimir Radmanovic (has option to become free agent this summer)
Yao Ming (has option to become free agent this summer)
Mike Dunleavy Jr.
T.J. Ford (has option to become free agent this summer)
Sam Young (Team Option)
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
Charlie Bell (Early Termination Option)
Michael Redd (has option to become free agent this summer)
John Salmons (has option to become free agent this summer)
Ryan Hollins (Player Option)
Kris Humphries (has option to become free agent this summer)
David West (Early Termination Option)
Darius Songaila (has option to become free agent this summer)
Eddy Curry (has option to become free agent this summer)
Nenad Krstic (has option to become free agent this summer)
Mickel Pietrus (Player Option)
Goran Dragic (team option)
Leando Barobsa (Player Option)
Amar’e Stoudemire (has option to become free agent this summer)
Grant Hill (has option to become free agent this summer)
Channing Frye (has option to become free agent this summer)
Chris Bosh (has option to become free agent this summer)
Do any of the names listed above sound like franchise players? Can you see any one of these potential free agents making the Knicks a perennial playoff team? Not at all. So the time is now for the Knicks. But what options will they have if LeBron and Wade turn them down?
Great question. Since New York will have a lot of cap room to spare this offseason, one option that they might be able to look at is the possibility of trading for a good/great player that’s trapped on a bad team. Have a look at the players that fit this description:
Not a bad list at all. Chris Paul and David West are probably off limits for now because the only reason they failed to make the playoffs this year is because Paul missed a big chunk of games due to injury. The rest of the players on the list can probably be had for the right price. Let’s go through some hypothetical scenarios for the Knicks:
-So let’s say the Knicks go after a point guard (Gilbert Arenas, Baron Davis, Devin Harris or Chris Paul); then they can go after a big man (Boozer, Stoudemire or Bosh) and then compliment all of that with a solid wing player (Rudy Gay or Joe Johnson). Those three players just ate up the Knicks cap room but the roster still includes Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Toney Douglas .
-In addition, Donnie Walsh can probably sell Kurt Thomas on the idea of signing for half of the midlevel exception (you always need an enforcer).
-Once he’s done with signing Thomas, he can go after Matt Barnes for the remainder of the midlevel (Barnes has the option to become a free agent this year, and considering that he would be making $1.6 million next season if he keeps his current contract with the Magic, I think he makes the decision to become a free agent to double his salary).
-Now have a look at the rest of the players that the Knicks can target (they could actually sign all of them) for the league minimum: Shaun Livingston, Tim Thomas and Raja Bell.
-Remember Eddy Curry’s contract? Well Walsh could trade it to get some additional cap space; although that might prove to be hard. If unsuccessful in doing so, the Knicks could trade Curry to Charlotte for Boris Diaw (thus giving Bobcats salary cap relief).
In case you hadn’t noticed, we just built the Suns of the Eastern Conference with Mike D’Antoni coaching the team. Keep in mind, this is the worst case scenario for the Knickerbockers. Indeed, this summer’s free agency might play itself out differently; there is still the possibility that New York might get either LeBron or Wade. However, in the event that such is not possible, I still think that this is a fairly decent contingency plan. What do you think?
Feel free to share your opinions in the comments section.
NBA BOXSCORE: A quick look at the NBA.
Points: Congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers for clinching home court throughout the playoffs.
Rebounds: After losing to the Knicks on Tuesday night, the Celtics rebounded with a win in Toronto on Wednesday night that propelled them into the #3 seed (Atlanta lost in Detroit).
Assists: The Chris Bosh injury might have actually given the Chicago Bulls a shot at the playoffs. Can the Bulls capitalize though?
Steals: 1. Spurs are on the verge of being able to keep Manu Ginobili off the free agent market by giving him a three year extension. 2. Utah Jazz got a gift on Tuesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Durant was fouled at the end of overtime but the refs swallowed their whistle and allowed the Jazz to walk away victorious.
Blocks: Coach K is not going anywhere near the swamps of New Jersey.
Turnovers: Does Kevin Garnett’s tough guy act even work anymore? It seems as though he actually fires up his opponents now. Just something to pay attention to.
Photo by: AP/Kathy Kmonicek
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