Free agency begins in 23 hours and 16 minutes as of when I'm typing this sentence, and I can't freaking wait. It got worrisome for a minute there when my Twitter feed, which is normally flowing with scary but hilarious stuff like this or this, was clogged with stuff like this, which was scary, but certainly not hilarious. The thought of ol' Jimmy boy suing the NBA and stopping free agency? I shudder at it. But alas, as we all know, the NBA and NBAPA (I prefer NBAPA to NBPA because I like saying things that are redundant things to say; technically NBAPA isn't redundant but it sounds redundant, so whatever) reached a settlement and eliminated any chance at free agency starting on time. Thank heavens for that, because like the title says, free agency is the best time of year.
I think I've told this story on P&T before, but I'm relatively new to devoted Knick fandom, having started watching religiously near the end of the 2008-09 season. I watched a bit in the late 90s with my dad, but he stopped watching after Ewing was traded, and so did I. Honestly, a large part of the reason I started watching then was because I was expecting the Knicks to sign LeBron in 2010 but didn't want to seem like a fairweather fan. I fell in love with the Knicks soon after, LeBron notwithstanding, and have watched almost every game since.
Enough about my Knicks fan origins though; this is about free agency. I'd like to use my reactions to postings on P&T during free agency in both 2010 and 2011 as a case study for why free agency is so great. I'm sorry in advance if this has read and continues to read a bit like an essay; I just finished writing an essay on the decline of isolationism as an American ideal in the 20th century (bonus points if you know what the hell I'm talking about) about an hour before I began writing this so I'm still in essay mode. But I digress. Onward we go.
The 2009-2010 season ended on April 15, 2010 "with a defenseless loss in Toronto" (Rosenthal 1). (Sorry, I had to.) The headline is "I feel strangely at peace right now" and I think that pretty much captures my mood. The Knicks had been supbar all year, but there were some positives: 1. Gallo had matured greatly in his full year and would continue to do so; 2. Bully looked like a legitimately solid player; and 3. LeBron James. Armed with these ideas, I couldn't wait for next season. Of course, it would turn out that only one of these hopes was fulfilled, but that's not the point. The point is that I was about to watch the Knicks-less playoffs, fully expecting that in a year's time, I'd be watching the Knicks-ful playoffs.
Fast forward a month, to May 17, 2010, and this post. Reading this (I didn't start commenting until later), I remember being pretty embarrassed for boasting to all my friends that LeBron was going to be wearing a #6 Knicks jersey in November without a doubt. Seeing fans who'd followed the team through thin and thin the past ten years be so annoyed with questions about LeBron when I loved them made me feel like a bandwagoner (which, as aforementioned, I wanted to avoid); I got over it pretty quickly, however.
July 1, 2010. Liftoff. First, the meeting with Joe Johnson, which I don't really care about, since I wasn't too into Johnson. Then, at 1:56, an update regarding something Broussard said about the Knicks signing all of LeBron, Johnson, and STAT to something less than the max and eventually trading for Melo. I'm peeing my pants, even though everyone in the comments is saying Broussard is a blowhard, which he is. Still though, imagining that starting five, especially after the followup rumors regarding the Knicks chasing Chris Paul, is scintillating. Just as a point of clarification, I'm not sure how the Knicks get to this point trade wise (Gallo for CP3/Okafor, Melo in 2011 in a s&t for Okafor and Chandler maybe? Who cares.), and the team would have to play with one MLE guy, our 2011 first rounder, and a bunch of vet's min players on the bench but take a gander anyway:
PG: Chris Paul
SG: Joe Johnson
SF: LeBron James
PF: Carmelo Anthony
C: Amar'e Stoudemire
Why did we draft Josh Selby, you ask? Because Melo said we had to or he wouldn't come, that's why. Darius Miles was arrested on August 3, 2011, so he might have been a late arrival to camp; on the other hand, lockout. This team is either better than the 1995-96 Bulls or worse than the 2011-12 Bobcats. Maybe it's best we'll never know. On second thought, it's definitely best we'll never know. This exercise may have been ridiculous, but there's a point. Again, the prevailing thought is hope.
July 5, 2010. AMARRRRRRR'EEEE STOUDEMIRE!!!!! The first step in securing a winning team! Delirium! Hope!
July 7, 2010. This and this. Boozer, Bosh, and Wade are off the table. Whatever, LeBron is announcing his decision on live TV in Greenwich. Plus, everyone's been freaking out for a week now. I'm not a bandwagoner for caring!
July 8, 2010. 8:30 PM. This prophetic comment from mangu is a great way to look at it: "even if we dont get this guy, i’m just happy we have so much to look forward to." Hope! Twincitiesknick has some hope for us too: "No matter what... I will be happy with where Donnie’s taking us. Even if LeBron goes to Miami, Amar’e is a good pickup, we needed to clear cap space, the possibility of the Warriors trade for Randolph is pretty sweet. Hopefully Walsh will get water from the rock tonight, but if not, the slower climb to quality will be okay too." Here's Rohpuri: "Fellahs, I just wanna say, the next era in Knicks history with or without LeBron will be fun." MetsKnicksRutgers: "For real, if he goes to Miami I can’t wait till we got Paul and melo and ball movement just destroys them." Hopeful, but sadly not prophetic. Paul? Melo and ball movement? Johnny Ryall: "Knicks will build a team around Amar’e and will be more entertaining and enjoyable to watch for it." 9:28 PM. Sadness. Anger. Jaxis: "Amare > LeBron" HOPE! Ridiculous hope in that case, but hope nonetheless. Branta: "lets pull it together and get a winning team as well to challenge those guys." News of the David Lee trade soon hits and we all love Turiaf, Buike, and Randolph. More hope. Free agency, y'all.
July 9, 2010. Ray Ray! Here's The Rooster: "Just preserve the 2011 max... Felton is a great fit for us and he’ll be able to show everything he was forced to hold back in Charlotte. He’s very fast and is great on the break." Hope, hope, hope.
Let's jump ahead. We all know how 2010-11 went. Early swoon, huge streak, leveling out, Melo, playoffs! Injury, injury, sweep. :( Crazy season, and I think we were all expecting at least a competitive series with the Celts. Injuries suck. Lockout, lockout, lockout. Settlement! Here we go. Free agency 2011!
Dec 1, 2011. Trade rumors. Seth sums it up: "Listen, I don't want to talk about this. I really don't." Unlike with LeBron in 2010, I agree. The Melo rumors took a lot out of me, and trades are so much more volatile. Free agent rumors are much better.
Oh! Here are some! Largely inconsequential, even Wil, since he's stuck in China.
One week later. Woah. Here's my take: "I was in class from 12 until now. Got a text from my roommate: 'Chandler’s going to the Knicks.' Then I came straight on here, saw the Amar’e thing, and I was like: 'Not worth it… not worth it.'" As we all know, Chandler joined us, and STAT stayed. Here's Major: "What is a better big 3? Lebron, Wade, and Bosh or Melo, Stat and Chandler? Personally, Chandler is better than Bosh so I go knicks." There's some hope for ya! Russ, throwin' out more hope: "The Knicks are now the Beast of the East!"
We all know how this season went as well. Ups and downs, Shump, MILPCAT! Again, something a bit better would've been nice. Injuries suuccccckkk.
Look, I've been writing for 2 hours and 56 minutes as of this sentence, and my writing has almost definitely devolved to middle school levels, but I think I'm getting the point across: free agency breeds hope. Hope that the players we sign will lead our beloved Knicks to a championship one day. It's what brings us together as a community, and I love every second of it. That hope probably won't be the reality, but no one can say for sure right now, and anyone who tries to can shove it.
20 hours and 17 minutes. What will free agency 2012 bring? I for one can't fucking wait.