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What The Knicks Must Do To Get LeBron

By Canbek Alakay

Fast forward to Opening Night 2010. MSG is buzzing with a low hum. The teenagers in the nosebleeds are fighting over who gets to eat what, the WAG section is alight with the latest gossip and fashion talk. Suddenly, the lights go down and everything becomes quiet. The PA announcer's voice roars over the silent crowd. Everyone gets ready to witness a spectacle that has been matched only by a certain other number 23.

Sounds enticing, doesn't it? It's the dream of every Knick fan who's been following them for the last few years. We've endured through too many sub-.500 teams, and it's high time we get back to the days of Clyde, Willis, King and Ewing. Who better to ring in a new era of "I Love This Game!" basketball in the Big Apple than the most exciting player of the decade?[1]

Now it's time to get realistic. LeBron James has shown us that he can carry teams by himself. But can he really carry the Knicks back to the glory days? Who bites on Jeffries' and Curry's contracts? (I'm looking at you, Chris Wallace). Let's fast foward to the Summer of LeBron. Here's the list of guys who are still under contract with the Knicks and their respective salaries; Guards - Douglas ($1.07m), Forwards - Jeffries ($6.9m), Gallinari ($3.3m), Hill ($2.7m), Chandler ($2.13m), Centers - Curry ($11.3m). That's around $27.4 million. ESPN reported the cap might not drop as much as expected ($51m), and said the Knicks were using $53 million as their cap.[2]

That's around $25 million in cap space to spend on LeBron and Star X and maybe Star Y. With $25 million? Not happening. LeBron alone will cost us around $20-25 million. Douglas, Gallinari, LeBron, Hill and Curry with Chandler as the sixth man. Do you really see this team going anywhere? Bill Simmons[3] summed it up perfectly by saying we need to get rid of Gallinari and Hill to shed the $18 million fat of Curry and Jeffries.

Let's fast forward again to the Summer of LeBron. We've cut another $24 million after getting rid of Gallo, Hill, Curry and Jeffries. Only Douglas and Chandler are under contract, which amounts to $3.2 million, leaving us with roughly $50 million to play around with.

LeBron ($23m) + Bosh/Wade ($20m) + 1 mid-level exception (let's pretend Grant Hill opts out of his Phoenix contract and joins the Knicks for $3 million) + 1 role player ($3m) + 6 minimum rookies ($3m).

That means...
Douglas/Chandler/LeBron/Bosh/Center X with Hill, Role Player X and Y coming off the bench.
OR
Douglas/Wade/LeBron/Chandler/Center X with Hill, Role Player X and Y coming off the bench.

And then we wait. Trade away our picks in the 2010 draft for picks in the 2011 and 2012 draft, because we aren't getting John Wall and there's no one else besides him in the draft (then again, didn't we say this last year?). I don't know if I'll ever get over taking Hill ahead of Brandon Jennings. Imagine Jennings, LeBron and Bosh on the court at the same time. Damn.[4]

In a perfect world, we would have drafted Jennings ($2.3m) instead, with LeBron ($20m) signing and Wade ($13m) and Bosh ($13m) slashing their wages to build the greatest team of the millenium (even though we don't have Jennings, this is still the best three-man tandem of the millenium). Why wouldn't Wade and Bosh do it? You get a chance to play with the most exciting young player since Magic and Jordan, as well as a pretty much guaranteed title.

Come on, Donnie, offer them gigantic bonuses if (and when) they win (a) title(s). It's a win-win situation! If Shaq and Kobe and Duncan/Parker/Ginobili can win 4 titles, imagine what LeBron/Wade/Bosh could do? 6, 8, 10 titles? It's possible. All else that's needed is a competent point guard who can do all the point guard stuff and nothing more (think Andre Miller/Brevin Knight mold) and a rebounder/defender (Rodman type preferred, but do they really need another Grade A stopper when they already have Wade and LeBron?) and they're set.

Knicks and New York fans in general aren't exactly the most patient bunch in the world. But if we want to see New York become relevant again, we have to bide our time. Good teams build through the draft, and that's what the Knicks need to do. I'm not saying we need to land LeBron-type caliber draftees, we just need good solid players who know their roles. All Jordan needed was his Pippen and a bunch of role players around him. LeBron isn't the next coming of MJ, he's not the modern day Russell; he is LeBron James, the kid from Akron who has the chance to go down as a top-5 player of all time.

Then again, this could all blow up in our face, but here's to hoping and wishing that it doesn't.

Footnotes
[1] - Originally, I had "talented" in place of "exciting", but then I remembered that Duncan, Kobe and Shaq hit their peaks during the first half and some of the second half of the decade. Isn't it crazy to think that LeBron, a guy who went 28-7-7 last year, still hasn't hit his ceiling? Man.
[2] - http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/11723/what-will-next-summers-salary-cap-be
[3] - I have the biggest man-crush on Bill Simmons. Seriously. If I was a girl I'd probably cut out pictures of him and paste them on my Math binder.
[4] - What was the front office thinking when they made this decision? "Hey, let's take this young undersized power forward who still needs at least 20 pounds of muscle and post moves ahead of the most exciting guard in the draft." I know there were questions about Jennings, but he's the kind of talent you roll the dice on. Will Hill turn into a good player? Maybe. But never did I look at him and think, "man, this guy is going to be some kind of player!".

1 comment:

  1. not a bad fantasy world sadly three things would have to happen that won't happen to make your ideas come true. First the Knicks would have to make all those trades and cut all that cap which simply won't happen. Second Lebron, Wade and Bosh would all have to decide to want to leave their repsective teams which def won't happen. and thirdly even if they did all leave they would all have to decide A they want to go to NY and play with each other and not be the man (no way) and B all agree to take pay cuts to play with each other (least likely part of the whole thing!) So while I like the sound of it I just don't see it happening.

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