It's a foregone conclusion that the Knicks' only hope of contending any time soon is through this summer's free agent spending spree. However, it's appearing more and more likely that Dwyane Wade and Lebron James are staying with their respective teams. Wade loves Miami, they're only another scorer away from being a top 3 Eastern Conference team. Lebron is on the cusp on a Championship. If the Cavs lose, then the chances he leaves become more likely, but still a long shot.
Without Lebron and Wade, where does that leave the Knicks? They've got the money to throw at 2 max free agents. After that, things get murky. First of all, who amongst the FA market deserves a max contract? Secondly, if all of the money is tied up in 2 guys, and without a first round pick, how do the Knicks fill out their roster with quality players?
Currently, the Knicks have the following players under contract next season:
Eddy Curry (Player option, not opting out)
Sergio Rodreguez (Qualifying offer)
JR Giddens (Team option. Will get cut)
Bill Walker (Team option. Will not get cut)
That's 5 players that are almost a lock to be Knicks next year. We can go ahead and count Eddy Curry out. He'll ever work in D'Antoni's system and should never touch a basketball again.
Toney and Gallo are starting at PG and SF, they're the best players on the roster. Wilson Chandler is the backup SF. He can defend and rebound well, something Gallo isn't terribly proficient at.
So we have 6 positions to fill. SG, PF, C, 6th man (a 2-3 hybrid) and backup PG (0 guard), and a backup PF/C. Those are the 8 basketball players needed to win a championship. Any more are just fluff and benchwarmers.
The best possible scenario, in my opinion, is as follows:
Joe Johnson gets a max deal, 6 years $100 million. After Lebron, Wade, and Bosh, he's the best FA available. He has no ties to ATL, and will be looking for the money. He can work in D'Antoni's system, he's a great scorer and a decent defender. Easily the best player on the Knicks, and good for 22/5/4 a game.
Tyrus Thomas gets 4 years, $30 million. That's a lot of money for an unproved guy, i know. But he's a former lottery pick playing well in CHA. He needs a fresh start and is not even close to his peak yet. He's athletic, can rebound and defend, and score well as a third option. Can get 15pts/8 reb/2 blk a game.
Brendan Haywood gets 4 years, $40 million. Haywood is a good defensive stopper and can deter a lot of shots. He'll be the fifth scoring option, but will get his points off of offensive rebounds due to the pace of the offense. 12/10/3 per game.
Luke Ridnour 4 years $20 million. Ridnour is a decent defender and can run the offense well. Can score and won't have any problems coming off the bench. 10 pts/ 5ast.
And finally, provided Bill Walker does not get cut, he would play the 6th man behind Gallo and Chandler.
Adding in the 2nd round draft pick (used on a SG), the final depth chart looks like
PG: Toney Douglas/ Luke Ridnour
SG: Joe Johnson/ Drafted Rookie
SF: Danilo Gallinari/Wilson Chandler/ Bill Walker
PF: Tyrus Thomas
C: Brendan Haywood/ Earl Barron
Final salary: ~$60 million.
Before you begin to doubt, think about this: This team is built in D'Antoni's offense. It's made to score, and have a lot of options to score. Defense is not a premium notion for this team. They can rebound pretty well, and through team D they can get stops when needed, although they lack a true stopper.
However, this team can score at will. That's what D'Antoni wants, thats what this team does well. Through run and gun, inside-out, or true pick-and roll. Flexibility is key.
Your comments are appreciated. Thanks for reading.