We are not giving up on the notion that LeBron James might still pull a crazy insane manic rabbit out of his proverbial crazy insane manic magic hat tonight and announce that he will play for the New York Knicks next season. (This whole process has been so disorienting that we actually took legitimate hope this morning from a tweet by P. Diddy. One he was just kidding about!) It could still happen, and we encourage everyone to watch “The Decision” accordingly and to remember to mute when Stuart Scott is talking. But: What if he doesn’t? What if he stays with the Cavs? What if he — gulp — goes to the Heat? What do the Knicks do next? Would anyone want to watch the 2010–11 Knicks?
As of this second — after their official unveiling of Amar’e Stoudemire today — the Knicks have six players on their roster: Wilson Chandler, Eddy Curry, Toney Douglas, Danilo Gallinari, Stoudemire, and Bill Walker. (If you want to include draft picks Andy Rautins and Landry Fields, feel free.) They also have a massive amount of cap space, considering only one guy, in our theoretical concept, took the max contracts they were offering. (SADFACE.) Assuming Curry doesn’t actually play, that leaves the Knicks with Amar’e and four shooters/scorers.
A common report has the Knicks signing and trading David Lee to Golden State for Anthony Randolph and “possibly Ronny Turiaf, Kelenna Azubuike and/or Brandan Wright.” This is not a terrible consolation prize: Randolph has been a slight disappointment so far in his NBA career, but he’s oozing potential — his game, at its best, has a Lamar Odom feel to it — and he won’t turn 21 until next week. He’d be a fun guy to see running up and down the court with Amar’e and the gang.
The Knicks would also look to sign a point guard, though probably not for longer than a year or two. (They’re eyeing Deron Williams and/or Chris Paul down the line.) Here’s a rundown of the best available ones: The Knicks would be looking at maybe Raymond Felton, Luke Ridnour, or even Jordan Farmar as fill-ins for a year or two. And then the Knicks would hang on to their salary-cap space — and the more they get when Eddy Curry’s contract is gone, unless they trade that for first-round draft picks, always a possibility — for the next round of free agents.
That is to say: They wouldn’t be a disaster. Is that a playoff team? We think that’s a potential eighth seed, sure, particularly if LeBron goes to Miami rather than stays with Cleveland. (The Cavaliers collapse, immediately, if LeBron leaves; the Heat are a contender either way.) Would you take an eighth-seeded Knicks team that is free of Isiah Thomas’s salary-cap hell, with a few young players like Gallinari and Randolph to build around, and Amar’e dunking on fools every night? It’s not LeBron, sure, and it might not have been worth all the trouble, but it’s something. It’s something better. The Knicks will still be more fun, no matter what.
But we’re rationalizing. We still want LeBron.