The Knicks have Amar’e Stoudemire, so they’re officially not shut out of the free agency calliope. This is good. Obviously the work is not yet done, but it is worth noting that if Stoudemire is the only big name to come to New York, it is not a matter of the Knicks flushing two years down the commode solely for Stoudemire. The Knicks would have been bad the last two years regardless; Donnie Walsh and company merely cleaned up the Isiah Thomas mess and put the team in position to compete. LeBron James was the plan, of course, but if he doesn’t come, it doesn’t mean everything was a waste. The Knicks are going to be competitive over the next few years, and after the last decade, that is not nothing. Now, what’s next?
The first question to be answered: Is LeBron coming? There’s all kinds of “news” out of LeBron camp, which is to say there’s none. You keep hearing word that the Knicks aren’t among LeBron’s top choices, but until LeBron says otherwise, they’re staying in the game. If LeBron says yes to Amar’e and the Knicks, everything else falls into place. The Knicks can grab a cheap free agent point guard, one other than Chris Duhon (who just signed for $15 million!), fill in some roster flotsam and jetsam elsewhere and start printing finals tickets. (Sure!) But what if LeBron goes elsewhere?
Well, the Knicks have a couple of options, depending on where LeBron goes. If he stays in Cleveland and gets Chris Bosh to come in a sign-and-trade, that leaves Dwyane Wade on the outside, having spent the last week flirting with the Knicks and Bulls. Wade could go to the Bulls, or he could even look in the Knicks’ direction. Or he could go back to the Heat, a team that’s now worse than last year’s uninspiring model. Also: LeBron could go to the Bulls, and Wade could bring Bosh with him to Miami. (Currently, the Heat don’t quite have enough cap space to make this happen. LeBron could also stay with Cleveland in this scenario.) Or LeBron could go to Miami with Wade and Bosh — that’d be a pisser. In any of those scenarios, there are no real major free agents left for the Knicks. What happens then for the Knicks, if it ends up being Amar’e and that’s it?
All is not lost. There have been several reports that Stoudemire is trying to get Tony Parker to come here. The Spurs, thanks to the emergence of George Hill, don’t need Parker as much as they used to, and Parker would love to come here. There’s even a way a trade could work, in which the Spurs wouldn’t get a ton back, but would certainly have some flexibility as Tim Duncan’s and Manu Ginobili’s careers wind down. If that happened, the Knicks then could use some of Eddy Curry’s money that comes off the books next year — the Eddy Curry contract is actually a hammer the Knicks have that few others do; the Knicks can essentially go after another max guy next year — and use it toward signing Carmelo Anthony, who has said he thinks the Knicks are “startin’ something” and will be actively recruited by Amar’e. On the other hand: He might sign an extension with the Nuggets, thwarting that whole idea. (The finances encourage him to do so.)
The Knicks have a million options, and they have none. As always: Everyone’s waiting on LeBron, and no one knows anything.