Newsday's Al Iannazzone takes you inside the Knicks.
Turning the LeBronathon back on
Melopalooza may have some old competition. As word continues to emerge from national writers about LeBron James' Miami Misery, the Knicks find themselves paying more attention to the Heat while the Denver Nuggets continue to fight the currents of that great river known as Da Nile.
But what if the Heat decide to destroy this ill-fated superteam before it destroys itself? Pat Riley has to see the reality that faces his franchise as a new collective bargaining agreement, which is expected to result in a hard cap and increased restrictions on spending. So while Micky Arison might be willing to dump more millions into the team (and even pay luxury tax), he may not have that option in the next CBA.
So how do you improve a team with obvious needs at PG and C (not to mention depth) when you're already capped out and can't add payroll?
You trade one of your stars, preferably the one you can live without the most.
Let's leave the LeBashing to others and get right down to business: The Knicks wouldn't think twice about sloppy seconds here and they shouldn't. So how can we help both franchises? Allow me to do some spit-ballin' here:
First, we address the needs of the Heat: talented, affordable youth (which they gave up in Michael Beasley -- yikes, how's that looking? -- just to clear cap space for LeBron) and future cap space to make a run at a floor general-type PG to run Erik Spoelstra's offense and make life easier for Wade and/or an athletic, defensive-minded center to complement Bosh.
So the Knicks can offer Eddy Curry's expiring contract (helps money-match, we won't try to suggest anything more), Danilo Gallinari (perimeter shooter and affordable youth they need), Wilson Chandler (improve bench, pending restricted free agent who could melt off the payroll if you want to open more space) and Toney Douglas (backup PG who can defend and play off Wade), plus $3 million in cash to help the Heat pay off some of those vets min contracts they'd have to waive to fit this into their roster. If the Heat insist, you could always toss rookie Landry Fields into the mix. As much as you'd hate to give up such a gem, if that is what gets it done, that's what gets it done.
And if Miami wants a first round pick, you see if you can still send Anthony Randolph to Indiana for that first rounder that Larry Bird offered back in August.
For the Knicks, you'd take James ($16M in 2011-12) plus two one-dimensional players who have thrived in D'Antoni's system before, James Jones ($1.2M player option in 2011-12) and Eddie House ($1.1M player option).
With all contracts and player options (but not qualifying offers) factored in, the Heat would save about $13.3M in cap space for 2011 -- Hey, maybe THEY could make a run at Carmelo -- and even more in 2012.
What that means to Miami can't be figured until a new system is in place, but it would lower the Heat's payroll to around $52 million. This year's cap was set at $58 million, so it's potentially not a great deal of savings, but it's much more than they had. And if the league gets its hard cap and also the rollback on current contracts, it could result in even more savings.
For those who feel a player of James' caliber can only be traded for another superstar, you aren't thinking like a general manager. This team already has two star-quality pieces, what it needs now are complementary players to fit into the team concept, not another element that needs the ball and pampering.
Rehabilitating a tattered image would then be in the able hands of the New York market, which has done this before (see: Latrell Sprewell) and also embraces egomaniacal villains (see: Alex Rodriguez). Then Mike D'Antoni can give the ball to LeBron and have the system work around him similarly to how it worked with Steve Nash in Phoenix. He could run a lethal pick-and-roll with Amar'e Stoudemire, while Raymond Felton can concentrate on being a defender and a scorer at the point. For LeBron, there would be no need for deferring. He would be the center of the offense, with everything else revolving around him, just as he apparently views the universe.
LeBron said he doesn't want to be a point guard, but, really, in this system, he wouldn't technically be the point guard even though 90 percent of the offense would run through him. If there is a system in the NBA that suits LeBron and his conflicting demands -- wants the ball, but doesn't want to be the point guard or a post player -- it's this one.
Of course 28 other teams, fans, reporters and whomever else will say they have far more to offer than the Knicks. If you do, I'd like to hear your pitch and why it makes sense for Miami.
But I'll give you one simple reason why this entire blog was a waste of time: No way Arison or Pat Riley move the two-time reigning MVP to New York. It's a shame, though, because it would re-ignite a wonderful rivalry between the two franchises, who would battle each other for supremacy in the East for years to come, when the Celtics are holding Alumni nights to celebrate the 2007 championship team.
Instead, what we have tonight is Knicks-Nets at the Garden. Two teams fighting for not a playoff series or a championship, but a player that neither may get. I think we've already seen that movie. Nobody on either side liked how it ended.