Michael Jordan is widely considered the greatest player in NBA history. Yet he needed a lot of help to win his titles and that help cost money. Somewhere here, I forget who so forgive me, said that the Knicks need a Luc Longley type to man the Center position and I agree. A big man with decent skills who can play effective defense in the paint and rebound would help the Knicks immensely. However that person failed to mention that when the Bulls acquired Longley to play with the greatest player of all time, it required them to come up with 10 million a year for him. Alongside Longley the Bulls had Dennis Rodman. Now Longley, Rodman, and Wil Perdue were extremely effective at defending the paint and controlling the boards during the Bulls 3peat. The price tag for that level of interior defense and rebounding; 22 million dollars. The Bulls spent 22 million dollars to support the greatest player in NBA history with enough interior defense and rebounding to win. In addition to those guys the Bulls also had a do everything 6th man in Toni Kukoc. Kukoc played big minutes for the Bulls and was a great fill in the blanks guy. The Bulls needed someone to score, Kukoc got them 20 points, they needed a facilitator Kukoc would get assists, and on the rare occasion that they needed rebounding Kukoc even could go get those. The price tag for Kukoc in 1996 was 9 million. The Bulls spent 31 million on role players to support the greatest player of all time. I have not even gone into what they paid Scottie Pippen as the greatest wing man of all time.
My point is this, if the greatest player of all time needed his organization to spent big money on role players to provide defense rebounding and help off the bench, why do so many people today think that today's stars can win titles with supporting cast of low budget cast offs. To win titles with stars you have to surround them with a considerable amount of talented role players. Talented role players cost money. If the Miami Heat's experience this past season taught us anything it should have been that there are not any short cuts to a championship. Getting three star players, paying them big money and then filling out your roster with a bunch of has beens or never beens will not win you a title, even if it can win you a still very flawed and weak eastern conference.
Now I want you to look objectively at the Knicks. This is a team that has problems with interior defense and rebounding. It is also a team that lacks depth. These are real issues that need to be addressed and cannot be addressed on the cheap if this team hopes to go anywhere. When you have a team whose interior defense routinely makes guys like Samardo Samuels look like the second coming of Moses Malone and who is so starved for depth that any injury has them playing marginal NBA talent at best like Jared Jeffries or Roger Mason Jr. big minutes in playoff games, then any reasonably sane GM should realize that these are areas that need to be addressed.
I understand the allure of three stars playing in New York is intoxicating to the media and the fans. However, it seems quite clear to me that the dream of putting 3 stars together in New York and winning championships with them died when the Knicks had to trade for Carmelo Anthony and give up several young developing assets to get him. By saying that I am not saying that the Knicks should not have traded for Anthony, but that for every action there is a reaction. I have been harping on the fact that the Knicks need a big man. Well the best way to get a long term solution at Center cheap, is to get a young big man and then invest the three to four years on average that it takes for him to develop. The Lakers drafted Bynum in 2005 and he really didn't begin to pay dividends for them on a consistent basis until 2008, the same could be said for Kendrick Perkins. Well the Knicks had to give up a young cheap big in Mozgov to get Anthony at the time he had just started to give them productive minutes. Had the Knicks been able to keep Mozgov, while getting Anthony, and allow the big Russian kid to continue to develop, then maybe by the time the summer of 2012 the Knicks would have a solid answer at Center and would be free to spend the cap money elsewhere. Think about how the Knicks roster outlook would be different in 2012 if they had Anthony a young 7'1 265lbs big ready to man the middle with potentially two other young bigs developing right behind him. But in 2012 Harrellson and Jordan will probably still be two years away from being able to consistently handle the Center position and therefore a good big man will need to be found to do the job while they continue to learn. Not to mention that players like Gallinari, Chandler and even Anthony Randolph may have developed to the point that they could give the Knicks stars high quality support off the bench.
Well we will see what happens, while I predict that if Paul is out there the allure of 3 stars will be too much to ignore, I wonder if getting 3 stars is the best basketball move.