Knicks 'zzone

Newsday's Al Iannazzone takes you inside the Knicks.

Knicks have reason to be concerned about Calipari rumors

On the same day Vinny Del Negro was fired, the rumors immediately started to surface that the Bulls could be targeting John Calipari. And that had everyone at 2 Penn Plaza grumbling.

This morning, Calipari already had the denials in place to counter the rumors, which began with Yahoo! Sports' report. Let's confirm right here that we've heard the exact same information and, in fact, there's no doubt that Calipari has had an eye on the NBA. His name had come up as an option for the Nets months ago when it was first reported that new owner Mikhail Prokhorov planned to spare no expense in putting together a new staff.

But how does this impact the Knicks? Because it could be a direct hit that torpedoes their already slim hopes to land LeBron James.

First of all, Calipari would love to be reunited with Derrick Rose and the Bulls have a very talented young big in Joakim Noah. His spread offense would be perfect for that personnel. But that isn't what has the Knicks so alarmed.

It really is the connection Calipari has with LeBron, through, of course, the ubiquitous William "Worldwide Wes" Wesley. This past summer, in fact, LeBron met with Calipari to talk about his system and basketball philosophies.

At first glance, that could be considered a threat to Mike Brown, especially if the Cavaliers fail to reach the NBA Finals once again this season. Supposing LeBron (through Wes, of course) makes it known he'd prefer Cal over Brown, the Cavs certainly would have to react before July 1.

And perhaps this is why LeBron was so notably non-committal on Sunday in Akron, when he won his second MVP award and sidestepped questions about his future.

But if the Bulls act now and Jerry Reinsdorf lays out the money he wouldn't pay for Mike D'Antoni two years ago, Calipari could already be in Chicago when (or if) LeBron finds himself storming off a court in either Boston or Orlando as a result of another premature exit from the playoffs.

Perhaps then LeBron's New York State of Mind reconsiders his options and begins to think that maybe Chicago is his kinda town.

For the Knicks, this summer comes with the anxiety of being unpredictable. But what would hurt more than not being able to lure LeBron to New York is if he still does decide to leave Cleveland and yet is lured somewhere else. Especially Chicago.

You could argue that the Bulls make no sense for a player like LeBron, who would always be in the shadow of Michael Jordan's statue. Then again, LeBron, who grew up a Bulls fan and idolized Jordan, might enjoy re-writing the record books there.

And with young guns such as Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah already in place, the Bulls would certainly have championship-caliber talent.

That's just what Knicks fans want to see: the Bulls once again with the best player in the league surrounded with talent.

Meanwhile, have you seen Joe Johnson in the post-season?

Tags: NBA , Knicks , LeBron James , John Calipari , Chicago Bulls , Derrick Rose , Joakim Noah , Joe Johnson

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