Finally, A Chance to Talk Actual Basketball

Knicks hopes survive the lockout

By Josh Alper
|  Monday, Nov 28, 2011  |  Updated 8:17 AM EDT
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When the lockout fires were raging, there weren't many teams willing to give the players anything they wanted.

Most owners wanted Draconian rollbacks and they conducted themselves in salt the Earth style negotiations as a result, something that doubtlessly extended the pain of the labor struggle long enough to lose more than a month of the season.

James Dolan was one of the few owners who wanted to settle and get back to work.

Part of that was business-related, because he wasn't making any money in the renovated Madison Square Garden as long as the Knicks weren't playing games in the refurbished arena. But there was also a basketball reason, because Dolan and the Knicks know that fewer restrictions on spending and player acquisitions are going to work out well for the team in the future.

In the end, things wound up going more Dolan's way than it did the hardliners. There's no hard cap, so teams can spend more than the notional salary cap, and mechanisms for navigating north of the cap like extend-and-trades (i.e. the way Carmelo Anthony came to town) and mid-level exceptions remain part of the game.

For a team like the Knicks, that's a wonderful development because it keeps them alive in the hunt for pending free agents like Chris Paul and Dwight Howard while also making it possible to build a strong supporting cast for whoever they bring in to play alongside Amar'e Stoudemire and Anthony.

The downside of that means that we'll have a season filled with trade rumors to make the Anthony talk seem sane and measured, but if it ends up working out no one will mind all that much.

There's also an amnesty clause, allowing the team to jettison one contract from the salary cap. This is the kind of rule Donnie Walsh could have used three years ago, but losing Renaldo Balkman's modest salary will still help them as they put together a team capable of building on what they did last season.

So nothing wound up getting derailed by Michael Jordan, the Spurs or anyone else who seemed determined to actually be the one to drive the car into the lake to prove a point that no one really seemed to understand in the first place.

The Knicks still actually have to do it, of course, and Walsh's departure leaves the cupboard pretty bare in the front office at present, but they are going to have a chance to do it.

After things looked so bleak for so long, that's about all you can ask for as far as a lockout result. Now we can actually talk about potential roster moves, reacquaint ourselves with the guys still on the roster and look forward to a Christmas Day date with the Celtics.

At long last, basketball!

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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