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No LeBron? No Wade? Knicks pay price

Set to get ready for his own free agent sweepstakes, CC Sabathia chatted it up a couple of times with buddy LeBron James once his baseball season with the Milwaukee Brewers ended in October.

It took a while for Sabathia to make up his mind, but back in November, when the Cavaliers made their first trip of the season to Madison Square Garden, James knew exactly where Sabathia fit in best, explaining how it would be good for the lefthander to do his thing with the Yankees. They, of course, are the team James roots for and he caught flack for showing up to 2007 ALDS game between the Yankees and Cleveland sporting a Yankees' cap.

Sabathia eventually landed with the Yankees in December after they threw a seven-year, $161 million contract at him like a 100-mph fastball. So with one former star Cleveland athlete signed, sealed and delivered, there's always the possibility another could wind up in New York -- if James does become a free agent in 2010."I think it would be fun for him to come here," Sabathia told Newsday the other day in Tampa. "I know I'm definitely glad to be here in New York. I know he'll love it."

If anything, Saturday night's five-point loss to Miami further underscored the Knicks' shortcomings in the go-to guy department and probably left Knicks fans salivating about the possibility of James or one of the other expected big ticket 2010 free agents awaiting their huge pay days, such as the Heat's Dwyane Wade.

Wade went berserk in crunch time and was unstoppable, ripping off 24 points in a span of 8 1/2 minutes on the way to a 46-point night. The Knicks, who were off yesterday and resume practice today, were left seemingly helpless and could do nothing to stop the deafening sound of the crowd reverberating around American Airlines Arena with each huge bucket by Wade.

The dramatic difference in having a superstar on the floor, ready to take over the game, and what the Knicks can offer was readily apparent with the less than 30 seconds left and the Knicks trailing by three. They turned to their most effective play: the old school pick-and-roll with Chris Duhon and David Lee.

The two weren't on the same page, though, and Lee wasn't in position to receive Duhon's bounce pass. That constant mental telepathy Duhon and Lee have built in their first season together was nonexistent when the Knicks badly needed it.

"I thought he'd roll like usual," Duhon said. "But it was just miscommunication on our part."

There was no miscommunication when it came to Wade, however. Just give him the ball, get out of his way and let him make plays. Who knows? Roughly 16 months from now, the Knicks could have a player of Wade's caliber and Sabathia will have a front-row seat at the arena that he's yet to visit.

Said Sabathia: "I've never been to the Garden."

Wait, never? "Never," he repeated.

That should all be changing soon, though, especially if his good friend currently wearing No. 23 for the Cavs eventually makes his way to the Big Apple.

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