With nothing left to do during this basketball season to gaze into our navels and raise a bemused eyebrow to another round of Eddy Curry's coming back fluffery, it's hard not to obsess about the offseason to come. We've long known the stakes and long ago swallowed the Kool-Aid, so all there is now is to wait and wonder just how things will play out.
The Knicks aren't the only ones playing this game. Teams like the Heat, Bulls, Nets and Clippers are also in the same unseaworthy boat and hoping that a superstar or two deigns to grace them with his presence for the next few years. These teams all have various pros and cons which led Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus to try and rank them in terms of desirability for free agents looking to hop on board a winning team.
Surely you know the Knicks' ledger by now. Cap room balanced by a lack of talent on hand and few draft picks in the future, with each of those cons largely negated if good enough players join the squad come the summer. They rank in the middle of the pack, with the Nets finding their way to the top despite winning a third of the games that the Knicks have won this year. That's due to Brook Lopez, Devin Harris and a high draft pick this year, which are three assets the Knicks would surely like to have on their side.
Pelton's analysis is useful but it's hard to say how helpful it will be in the ultimate reckoning. It's strictly based on objective factors like cap space, draft picks and players on hand. That makes sense, since you can't quantify any of the subjective things that will ultimately force the upper echelon players to sign a contract with one of the hopeful suitors. How much does the coach matter or is it the location of the team that makes the biggest difference?
This isn't just an attempt to feel better about the Knicks' chances because New York rocks. Look at the Nets right now and think about the Knicks of 1985. They had Bernard King, Bill Cartwright coming back from an injury (akin to Devin Harris in the middle of a dreadful season) and a high pick in the draft to come. You'd fall over yourself to sign with that team, but by the time the Knicks actually made that pick -- Patrick Ewing, of course -- King's knees were in shreds and Cartwright became a superfluous player who was soon to be traded.
The subjective stuff, then, is all that really matters because you can't assume that what looks good today is what looks good three years from now. None of us really know what that means for LeBron James or Chris Bosh beyond the fact that it's probably not going to wind up being as simple as the facts about which team has the best players currently on their roster.