The Knicks have failed in their effort to lure LeBron James to Madison Square Garden, with the added pain of having to hear Pat Riley hailed as a genius for finding a way to package him, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh into one team. That stings, although we all know that things have a way of working out in the Knicks’ favor when facing a heavily favored Heat team coached by the faxing bandit.
Still, they’re now left trying to figure out how to move forward in their quest to put a team that can actually make the playoffs and make that happen back in the building. Amar’e Stoudemire is a talented young man who is better than anyone else who has been a Knick in the last decade but he isn’t going to be able to lead the team back to the promised land all by his lonesome.
You have to imagine that the Knicks will now turn to figuring out a way to send David Lee wherever he might like to go in a sign-and-trade that nets them a few players in return. There’s thought to be one on the table with the Warriors for shot-blocker Anthony Randolph, a player who would give the team much-needed interior defense and, at 21, he’s got loads of room to grow into a player adept at either end of the floor.
There’s a need for a point guard, too. The Knicks are thought to be interested in Luke Ridnour, late of Milwaukee’s bench. He’s a guy who can run the pick-and-roll and knock down an open jumper without knocking your socks off, hence his role as backup to a rookie with the Bucks last season. He’s better than what they’ve had, though, and is a good signing assuming he’s a stopgap for something better – Paul or Williams – down the road.
One name that you’ll likely hear linked to the Knicks now is Gilbert Arenas. The gun-slinging Wizard is going to be on the market and the Knicks could use a player with his skill set, if not his character flaws, as a way to sop up the bad vibes emanating from James’s decision to pass on the Knicks offer. You’ll hear discussion of how Latrell Sprewell worked out and of how Arenas is devoted to rebuilding his image, but we’ll pass all the same. James was a unique player, you don’t just move onto the next highly paid big name. That’s what got them into this mess in the first place.
More names will be added to the mix now that James is off the table and the Knicks are in good financial position to round out their roster with whatever is available. Another shooter and a couple of guys actually interested in playing defense probably top the list but all the names in the world can’t make up for feeling like the team swung and missed on the best pitch they’ll ever see.
That’s not a swipe at Donnie Walsh’s efforts to get under the cap because that’s in the best long-term interests of the Knicks. He had no way of knowing that LeBron would choose to hide from the spotlight at the moment it was shining brightest. What’s more, James Dolan couldn’t even leave it in his hands and sent Isiah Thomas to make the team’s final pitch.
It’s simply an admission of fact. The Knicks have given away top-10 picks in five of the last seven years, might be giving away two more in the next two years and have Stoudemire to show for their efforts right now. That's better than what they've had in the past but it is no one's idea of enough to launch the bright new era of Knicks basketball we so desperately need.
The door is still open, though, and we have Walsh’s efforts to clear cap space for that. That’s something to be optimistic about as the Knicks move forward although, again, Dolan’s insistence on keeping Isiah on hand makes you think they’ll screw this up too.
If you’re looking for a reason to keep hanging on, we’ll leave you with this. The rallying cry of late has been “C’mon LeBron.” Now it is “Beat LeBron” and that might just wind up tasting sweeter in the long run.
You always need a good rival and the Heat are poised to be the biggest one the Knicks have had since the halcyon days of battling the Bulls, Pacers and, yes, the Heat. For now they are a target in the distance but one day we hope they’ll be a team that the Knicks conquer on their way back to the top.
Rationalization? Big time. But desperate times call for desperate measures.