LeBron James made it clear he wasn't going to address any specific questions about free agency. But he did address the most glaring issue with one of his potential suitors this summer after the Knicks put forth a total sell-out performance on defense in a 124-93 loss here in Cleveland to LeBron's Cavs.

The Knicks gave up 66 points in the paint and 33 of Cleveland's 51 field goals were scored there. They attacked David Lee almost as if that was the game-plan, but also scored plenty of easy baskets by merely sprinting up the floor well ahead of the Knicks (22 fast-break points).

Lee played right along with the scouting report on the Knicks by not laying a hip on anyone when a shot went up. Anderson Varejeo hustled his way to six offensive rebounds in 16:17. There was very little physical contact Lee made in the game as the Cavs continually headed to the rim undaunted. He had two fouls in 33:12, one was a deliberate foul on LeBron as he attempted one of several fast break dunks.

Lee has to compete better here, but let's also acknowledge that it's become a well-known fact that he is completely out of position defensively as a center at the NBA level. And it seems LeBron is quite aware of that fact, not only because of the ease in which his team scored in this game, but also because it is obvious to anyone who has any idea about this game that Lee doesn't have the kind of attributes to survive as a undersized five-man: muscle, meanness or major hops.

So in a way, LeBron seemed to take all of this into consideration when he was cryptically asked if he could ever see himself playing for a team that cared so little about defense.

"I've yet to play for a team that doesn't like defense in my career," he said. "But it's not about individuals first. Individuals have to take the responsibility to guard the guy in front of him and that makes it a lot easier as a team."

In other words, when Eddie House started barking at Lee for not being there to stop Delonte West after he had just blown by House for a layup, the true issue from LeBron's perspective was that House didn't keep West in front of him.

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But, yes, it would be nice if Lee had the type of personality that brought the wood every now and then, just to send a message. But that's just like hoping Al Harrington would be more interested in playing team-concept offense. Sometimes a player is what he is, no matter what you ask of him.

The main thing that people -- LeBron included -- need to remember is that the Knicks of today bear no resemblance to what the Knicks of 2010-11 will be. Of the nine players who were in this game for the Knicks, perhaps three (Danilo Gallinari, Toney Douglas and maybe Bill Walker) are expected back next season. Lee is not a given, considering that he will be getting offers elsewhere and may be more inclined to find a more stable environment, not to mention a team that has a legitimate center. Wilson Chandler should be included on the list but he did not play in the game because he was home tending to a personal family situation.

LeBron has a great situation here in Cleveland. The players around him are all ready, willing and able to play at a high level to match his standard. They follow his lead, willingly accept roles and emphasize the team concept. The environment within that locker room is as perfect as you can get. And that is all attributable to one player: LeBron.

Remove him from this equation, not for a few games, but for an entire season, and you will see that standard drop. It's only natural. Great players, the best of them, make the talent around them play to another level.

So don't believe that supporting cast is that great of a concern for LeBron when he does finally reach the point where he will consider New York. He's well-aware that the roster will be an empty canvas. He's also aware that whatever players they do build around him -- and specifically for him -- will immediately raise their level to meet his.

Like when Kevin Garnett arrived in Boston, LeBron and great players at his level believe their impact will be enough to change the culture.

* * *

* - Mike D'Antoni was asked if the slash-and-burn strategy to clear cap space for 2010 is worth suffering these losses for two very long seasons. "I'll tell you next year," he said. "I can't tell you right now. Right now it's pretty frustrating for everybody. This is what we're doing. We'll see how it works out."

D'Antoni has looked overwhelmed for most of this season dealing with a daily hailstorm of issues from complaining players worried about their playing time to criticisms for coaching strategy and, of course, his team's awful defensive efforts on most nights since about mid-January.

One thing fans need to understand is that his hiring was part of Donnie Walsh's 2010 Plan. D'Antoni was supposed to only add to the lure of New York, along with the Garden and Madison Avenue. His player-friendly system, his proven ability to coach and handle star players, were meant for 2010, not to coach an incongruent roster of expiring contracts without a true go-to player, a bona fide leader or any legitimate sense of collective loyalty.

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D'Antoni knew coming into the job that these first two years would be a challenge, but what has to be concerning is how much has this experience tainted his image, if not his own self-confidence as a coach?

Consider that Doc Rivers, who had some success previously as a coach in Orlando, was on the verge of being fired in Boston before the trades for KG and Ray Allen changed everything.

* - It was pretty much an awful night for everyone in a Knicks uniform, except for Bill Walker. He had a career-high 21 points and made 9 of 14 from the floor with five rebounds in 35:24. The Knicks really like the potential of Walker, who will continue to get plenty of looks as the season winds down. It could be enough to earn a contract for next season. One observation: Walker definitely needs to cut his body fat before next season. He's solidly built, but very loose in the cage. For a player with a history of knee issues, that kind of extra weight is detrimental.

* - Speaking of which, Eddy Curry will start seeing burn once he's cleared to play. D'Antoni assured this when asked about it before the game. "We'd like to get him back to where he's playing and have him finish out the year strong," D'Antoni said. "That would be really good. That would definitely be the plan."

Curry seemed mildly amused by the fact that he was asked to react to D'Antoni's promise for playing time. Remember, Curry was livid when D'Antoni pulled him from the rotation in December when Curry was trying to play his way into game shape and it negatively impacted the offense. D'Antoni had told Curry he would stay with him through the process of getting his game back, but then couldn't afford to give him those 5-to-10 minutes a night when they caused such a problem in the offense.

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Of course now the wins and losses don't mean as much, so if Curry slows things down, it doesn't have as much of an impact.

"He said it," Curry replied of D'Antoni's new promise. "Coach doesn't lie so, he said it."

Can you just feel his excitement?