The Knicks remain in a holding pattern awaiting the hopeful landing of Flight LeBron out of Akron. James' announcement is expected to come Thursday at 9 p.m. in a one-hour ESPN special.
Thursday marks the day the NBA's moratorium on signings and trades is lifted, and transactions may be officially announced. Regardless of James' decision to announce his team of choice Thursday evening, the Knicks said last night that they plan to go ahead with a news conference to officially introduce Amar'e Stoudemire at the Garden Thursday afternoon.
The Knicks have seen reports that they are no longer in the mix for LeBron, but has that message been delivered to them directly from James' representation? "No," Donnie Walsh said. "We have not heard anything."
As a result, the Knicks have suspended any further free-agency activity until they get word from James or Dwyane Wade. The team had initially planned to bring point guard Raymond Felton in for a visit this week, but that, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, was put on hold. Also, the Knicks have swingman Mike Miller on deck; Miller, like many other free agents, finds himself waiting for LeBron and Wade.
So that puts Miller and Felton (or Luke Ridnour), as the likely backcourt combination should the Knicks fail to land James or Wade and can't get Tony Parker in a trade. The Knicks would go forward with that scenario and consider this offseason the first step toward a rebuild.
Indications from those close to James' group is that the two-time MVP is inclined to re-sign with the Cavaliers, but the consistent message is that no one other than James knows what the end result will be. In fact, there are reports that he and his longtime girlfriend, Savannah Brinson, were recently house-hunting in the West Village - apparently one of Billy Joel's former townhouses was among his list of choices - and Brinson was in New York last night. But according to a source close to James, she was there to attend Lady Gaga's show at the Garden. James spent another day at his Nike-sponsored basketball camp at the University of Akron.
The couple is expected to be in the city this weekend to attend the wedding of Carmelo Anthony and television personality LaLa Vazquez on Saturday. Stoudemire will be there, as well.
Anthony has told friends he isn't sure whether he wants to sign a three-year, $65-million contract extension to stay in Denver. But the Denver Post reported Monday that Anthony was more likely to sign it, but first wanted to see what Denver would do to improve the roster. According to two NBA sources, the Knicks last week made a call to check on Anthony's availability and were told he would not be traded. It's still a situation that the Knicks are monitoring.
James, meanwhile, is believed to be doing the same: waiting for the Cavs to improve. So far, however, it's been a fruitless endeavor, according to multiple NBA sources. Chris Bosh is a player James would like to see the Cavs attempt to acquire via sign-and-trade, but two issues stand in the way: 1. the Cavs would have to deplete another area of their roster (for instance, guard Mo Williams) to make that kind of a deal work. 2. Bosh, who is very conscious about boosting his image off the court, doesn't really want to go to Cleveland.
In fact, Bosh may be more likely to team up with Wade in Miami. But he could throw a serious wrench into the works if he accepts a sign-and-trade with another team, such as the Rockets. That would leave Wade to consider returning to Miami to play with, say, Carlos Boozer, or go to Chicago or, perhaps, join Stoudemire in New York.
Chris Paul was in attendance at James' camp Monday, which is interesting because the Cavs, according to published reports, are believed to have made overtures to the Hornets for Paul.
James was at the camp Tuesday with former teammate Damon Jones and worked out in the afternoon with some of the high school-age campers. Among the instructors at the camp are former St. John's coach and current ESPN commentator Fran Fraschilla and, coincidentally, Knicks assistant coach Ken Atkinson, who would only offer a smile when asked if there was any news on the Knicks' pursuit of James. Atkinson, who was at the camp working for Nike, declined to comment.
With Arthur Staple