Tagged: donnie walsh

The Centers Of Attention

We previously examined what point guards [1, 2] could be available this summer. Let’s turn our attention to the pivot-men.

Marcus Camby would have been perfect but I didn’t envision the Knicks competing with a 2 year, $20 million offer for a 36 year old. But the fact that Camby banked that much cash speaks to how thin the market is for legitimate defensive centers. Alan Hahn put together a list of bigs for the Fix yesterday and it’s pretty exhaustive. The list included was populated with power forwards and centers and included Amar’e Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Amir Johnson, Ty Thomas, Chris Kaman, Brendan Haywood, Sam Dalembert, Emaka Okafor, Tyson Chandler, Brad Miller, Shaq, and Jermaine. I’d add the Warriors’ Andris Biedrins, the Rockets Luis Scola, and Tiaggo Splitter, the Argentinian center currently playing in Europe whose rights belong to the Spurs, to the list.

Marc Berman wrote that the Knicks fallback could be Brad Miller. Miller is slightly younger than Camby but is still a very slow 34. Unlike Camby, he does not block shots and he does not accumulate rebounds. It’s true he’s a gifted passer and shooter but so is David Lee. Those weren’t the Knicks’ problems last year. The Knicks need defense in the front court and if the Knicks do come away with only Miller, Berman is going to kill Miller and Donnie Walsh once he realizes that signing Miller accomplished nothing to address that need.

I won’t address every player on the list above but here is my take on a few of them:

  • I’d be happy with either Amare or Bosh. Amare isn’t much of a defender either but he brings an intensity and a nasty demeanor that the Knicks have been lacking.
  • Amir Johnson would be a good get for the bench. He oozes potential and was once compared to a young Kevin Garnett. We’ll see. He can’t be the only guy the Knicks get for their front court.
  • I could see the Knicks addressing their two main needs in one fell swoop by trading for Kaman and Baron Davis. I wouldn’t make the trade unless Eddy Curry was a part of it so that the Knicks retain some flexibility.
  • Haywood is a tough, shot blocking, rebounding defensive big. I’d like to see him here.
  • If it is unlikely that the Knicks would give Camby $10 million I can’t see them being willing to give it to Dalembert unless the Sixers really make it worth the Knicks’ while somehow.
  • I like the idea of trading for Tyson Chandler who will be in the final year of his contract so concerns about his injury history are somewhat mitigated. I’d try to expand the package and get Gerald Wallace. A front court of Chandler, Wallace and Gallo would be pretty nasty.
  • Splitter belongs to the Spurs but he isn’t signed to a contract. According to DraftExpress, Splitter has a reputation as a ferocious defender and rebounder who is nice around the basket on offense. He has an opt-out this summer with his European team and if the Spurs can’t put together a financially impressive deal they might lose him for many years if he chooses to sign an extension overseas. The Spurs are over the cap and can only offer Splitter their mid-level exception. That may very well be enough to get him to the States but if it isn’t the Spurs could explore moving him to a team that is under the cap rather than getting nothing for him for several years or maybe ever. That begs the question though, not having played in an NBA game, how does one gauge whether he is worth more than the mid-level?
  • Don’t forget about Eddy Curry…[vomit].

While it seems like the market is slowly drying up and certainly its discouraging that the Knicks won’t be able to woo the likes of Manu Ginobili or Marcus Camby, there remain options to improve the team.

When The Story Becomes The Story

I wish this post was about the Knicks gearing up for a playoff run. It’s not. It’s the twilight of yet another miserable Knicks season and instead of the team, the story has become the story. It has been a bitter year on many fronts: A lot of consternation has flowed in a dizzying array of directions: Players to coach; coach to players; players to media; coaches to media; media to management; media to coaches; blogs to all of it. Losing will bring out the worst in everyone pulled into the franchise’s orbit.

From a fan’s perspective, the most despicable aspect of the last decade or so has indisputably been the play on the court. The next is the mismanagement. Then comes the press corps. At its best, the Knicks’ beat is intelligent, analytical, honest. At its worst it is defensive, dishonest, demeaning to its readers, hypocritical. Some of the writers fall consistently into the first category. Others into the second. Sometimes, rarely, they change hats.

This is a theme that has recurred in this space. It has been touched upon elsewhere but judging by some comments and tweets, I’ve probably developed a reputation as the guy who takes the writers to task when I think they deserve it. I call them out when they publish propaganda, when they fail to fact check, when they fail to recognize obvious truths to suit the predetermined direction of their coverage, and when they lie to get start a controversy in an effort to get a sound byte that will help them sell papers. For example, when:

It should come as no surprise that certain publications are featured prominently in this list while others are conspicuously absent. That makes it all the more puzzling that of all the writers who cover the Knicks, it was Alan Hahn of Newsday who was the prickliest about Tracy McGrady’s assertion that “you guys”, e.g., the press, will keep players away from New York. Hahn took exception, writing:

Apparently NBA players prefer hero worship over raw honesty and unfettered opinion. They prefer the big fish/small pond ratio in smaller markets, where the coverage has the intensity of a street light.

NBA players who relish a challenge should most definitely be willing to subject themselves to the spotlight. But what about the interrogation lamp? That’s why I’m not sure it’s really Hahn that McGrady had in mind. Hahn continued:

How should this team be covered at this point? Should we just shrug when Eddy Curry continually gets injured and yet still makes every single road trip, pocketing per diem and enjoying the free travel?

I can’t disagree with Hahn that if players are upset about the coverage that exposes:

  1. Eddy Curry for failing to properly condition himself for the rigors of the NBA despite collecting an $11 million salary; or
  2. Larry Hughes for pouting the night of a monster 43 point win over the Pacers; or
  3. Darko Milicic for wanting the Knicks to cut him, and let him return to Europe while still guaranteeing him his full paycheck; or
  4. Nate Robinson likely instructing his agent to complain in the midst of the Knicks’ best month in a decade; or
  5. their general and individual poor play in a losing season;

then that is a problem with the players and not the writers. But I think McGrady may have been referring more to the unfair treatment some writers bestow on some players (and the coaches, and management), the most glaring examples of which I’ve referenced above.

You better believe it’s a circus.

And McGrady isn’t the only one holding that opinion. Hahn points out that Ron Artest said that players are “scared of the fans and the media”. And Chris Bosh stated his distaste for the Knicks’ beat too.

It’s hard to tell if Hahn was sticking up for his colleagues or just himself. Without naming names, probably as a professional courtesy, he wrote:

I can’t speak for everybody in this business, but I can say there is not supposed to be agenda in any of this. It’s merely unbiased observations from those closest to the team without being part of the team. Most of us ask questions not because we don’t know the answers, we ask them because we DO know the answers.

Look, some of that is true. For Hahn, it certainly is. But even if Hahn asks honest questions seeking honest answers, let’s not pretend that there aren’t others who carefully engineer loaded, indefensible questions to solicit a frustrated response – to make news. You can’t honestly suggest that no writers have an agenda. Not when we’re still getting updates about what Stephon Marbury thinks about the Knicks. Not when they are openly calling for the Coach’s head (are journalists supposed to report the story or be a part of it?). There are plenty of fans who recognize that Mike D’Antoni has not been perfect, not even close, but are tired of reading diatribes, insulting to their intelligence, positing that all of the blame falls at the Coach’s feet. Will Berman, who had D’Antoni up in slings when he benched Nate Robinson refer to Nate’s latest benching with the Celtics as “Nate-Gate”? Will he recognize, as every single one of Nate’s pro coaches has that Nate’s best spot may be the end of the bench?

The Knicks are out of the playoffs because D’Antoni didn’t play Darko? Really? Is it truly a meaningful issue that Mike D’Antoni didn’t coddle Larry Hughes and Eddy Curry enough?

Marc, we know you’re worried that people aren’t going to pay attention to you if the Knicks aren’t good, but don’t you have some sort of professional responsibility as a journalist?

And as for Isola: look, we get it, the Knicks have PR people who follow you around with blackberries and take notes. Get the hell over it already. You’re a journalist, don’t let it taint your coverage. Fans want intelligent, honest coverage, not someone with a vendetta pledging to make things right for the time the Knicks “screwed me over.”

For all of the professionalism supposedly absent from the Knicks organization, from the coaching staff to the players (and yes, some of the players don’t know what that word means), the last ones to judge should be those who call their assignment “a gulag”, or “depressing”, and who pine for the old Checketts days when the Knicks treated the beat writers to a catered trips on yachts. Guess what Frank? I don’t get catered trips on yachts at my job either but I don’t elevate that grievance over my duties.

Granted, the good one’s like Hahn, Steve Adamek and Howard Beck are honest. They’re professional. They can have their negative opinions of the organization, as immortalized in the New York Observer article, without letting it cloud their work product. Marc Berman and Frank Isola are driven by personal issues and it’s a waste of time to argue otherwise.

These are circling vultures waiting to twist words and parse statements and misrepresent them, and take them out of context. They do this in order to generate enough controversy to satisfy a decade old grudge, or satiate some narcissistic thirst for attention/sell papers for News Corp. Despite their presence, you can understand why a player like LeBron James would put up with it anyway. He has an empire he wants to build and New York may be the best place to do it.

For an average or even above average player though, all other things are more or less equal. So what is there to gain by subjecting yourself to the daily dishonesty and mind bending disingenuousness? I have some news for the writers on the beat that hate their jobs and take it out on the organization. LeBron might not come, and if McGrady, Artest and Bosh represent the feelings of the rest of the players in the league, you’ve got a number of “depressing” years left in this “gulag”.

In The News: McGrady, Toney, LeBron, Kobe, Mullin

Here’s my own skewed view of recent Knicks news:

  • Apparently Mike D’Antoni doesn’t want Tracy McGrady back because he has to far to go in his recovery and is an injury risk. Come on Mike. I mean, he’s better than Penny was when he was a Knick. But seriously, I can’t wait for Berman to approach T-Mac and ask him: “Do you have any reaction to Mike D’Antoni saying he hates you and thinks you’re a an awful basketball player?”
  • In other T-Mac news, according to the New York Post, the Knicks let his body guard, Harveaire Berrien, have access to the locker room. That’s cool, just don’t let him cross paths with Hassan Gonsalves.
  • When Toney Douglas was drafted by the Knicks, he didn’t know who Walt Frazier was. He learned about him though, and I’m glad to see that Toney plans to pick Clyde’s brain. Clyde’s a legend and should be able to teach Toney a lot about offense and defense.
  • LeBron James said he “won’t stop” until he brings a championship to Cleveland. I’m not sure what that means. After he brings Cleveland a championship, he stops? At any rate, I think this means I’m supposed to be rooting for Cleveland, although I hate them. I hate their city, I hate their teams, I hate their faces. Honestly, as badly as I want LeBron to come to the Knicks, I want to see the Cavs get knocked out by Orlando again.
  • Frank Isola updates us on the Chris Mullin situation, which, so far as I’ve been able to tell, hasn’t changed since a year ago. Also, way to be creative with your headlines Daily News.
  • Kobe Bryant just signed a roughly $90 million extension to stay with the Lakers. Kobe, can I just have $1 million? I won’t tell anyone, I swear. And it’s not like you’ll even realize it’s gone. In all seriousness, Kobe was eligible for so such a monumental contract because he’s stayed with the same team for so long. That made him eligible to receive a fixed percentage raise every year and with every new contract. If he had hypothetically decided to switch teams he could only sign for roughly $16 million in his first year, which is roughly the max salary for free agents who switch teams (unless he switched in a sign and trade, in which case he could’ve gotten his $90 mil). At any rate, LeBron and other future free agents will likely never see that kind of money, even if they stay with their current teams, because under the forthcoming collective bargaining agreement, not only will the maximum salary likely go down, but there will also be a hard cap, meaning teams won’t be able to exceed the cap, even to re-sign their own players.

If Only The Knicks Had Darko, Kurt Rambis, Or Both

We liked Marc Berman’s latest blog entry over at the New York Post so much that we asked him to come over to our site and expand on his thoughts (Note, this is a parody, Marc Berman did not write the entry below, but I’m in tune to his special brand of propagandistic muck-raking, so I know that if the Bermanator did write a guest spot for us, it would go a little something like this:)

Darko Milicic has exactly one more ring than Mike D’Antoni, so who would have been more crucial to the Knicks’ success going forward? The guy with the ring obviously. The second overall pick behind LeBron James and ahead of Carmello Anthony earned that ring playing a key role for the Detroit Pistons during their 2004 championship run. He averaged 4.6 minutes, 1.4 points and 1.3 boards. Without those contributions, the Pistons might not have even made the playoffs. But the Pistons, for some reason, gave up on Darko. What a waste. They traded him to the Orlando Magic where he averaged career highs in points (8) and rebounds (6.1). Then the Magic inexplicably gave up on Darko Milicic. Who knows why. Morons. He signed a free agent deal with Memphis, where the Grizzlies gave up on him. For some reason. I bet they wish they still had him, since now they are left with second overall pick Thabeet “patrolling” the paint. If only the Knicks had Thabeet. Alas, that’s a topic for another day.

Anyway…

Then after all those teams gave up on Darko, Mike D’Antoni made the inexcusable, indefensible coaching decision to give up on Darko. D’Antoni apparently thought Darko was lazy and mailed it in. There’s no credibility to that assertion. I know Tommy Dee routinely noticed that Darko was always the first player off the court after practice, but what does he know, he’s just a blogger.

What was D’Antoni thinking???

Sadly, since D’Antoni folded his hand, Donnie Walsh traded Darko to the Timberwolves, a team Darko has powered to a STAGGERING 1-15 record since the trade while averaging 7.0 points and 5.6 rebounds. THIS COULD HAVE BEEN OURS!!!! If Mike D’Antoni knew how to properly value his players the Knicks could be more like the 14 win Timberwolves, who astutely drafted Johnny Flynn and Ricky Rubio.

And Darko has found so much success in Minnesota because they know how to treat their players. In fact, Darko, who was pining to get back to Europe when he had to collect his mammoth game checks to do nothing in New York, now wants to stay in the NBA. But only if the team guarantees him the 30-35 minutes he’s earned by carrying them to a .062 winning percentage.

If D’Antoni only had a clue, the Knicks would probably have at least 50 wins by now, all due to Darko’s dominant scoring and boardwork. And if he never planned on using the guy, at least the Knicks could have still had Quentin Richardson, who is averaging a Darko-esque 8.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in a shade under 30 minutes for the Heat. Another chance at 50 wins squandered! Ugh!

Donnie put together a title contender for Mike D’Antoni. But D’Antoni didn’t play the studs. Darko? Banished! Hughes? Banished! Nate? Banished during Nate-gate (“haters” might say the Knicks had their best month in close to a decade during this time. But that is just a “fact”, which we don’t value over here at News Corp.)! Curry? Banished! Here’s what the Knicks could have been if not for that know-nothing D’Antoni:

PG: Duhon or Marbury

SG: Nate

SF: Hughes

PF: Darko

C: Curry

You mean to tell me that this squad wouldn’t have more than the 26 wins the currently mismanaged group sports? Please. The problem in New York isn’t the lack of talent of the players, it’s the lack of talent of the head coach, who should’ve played Darko at center for his added 5 boards instead of their current all-star center. Case closed. I’m smart.

Does Donnie Know A Secret About 2010?

If the Knicks start next season with Joe Johnson and Carlos Boozer as their primary 2010 free agent additions I will be underwhelmed. I mean, they did give up a lot to be able to clear enough cap space this summer to be far enough under the cap to sign two max free agents. As loyal commenter Italian Stallion and Twitter agitator ( 😉 ) @LoveThoseKnicks often remind me, the Knicks could have kept all the assets they traded in the McGrady deal and still had max cap space in 2011 (assuming the cap mechanics stay the same) without giving Houston the right to swap ’11 picks, their ’12 pick and Jordan Hill.

The argument carries some weight. And I’ll admit that aside from the picks, losing Jordan Hill alone stung. My counterargument is always that:

  1. The Knicks lost a net of 1 draft pick in the deal, which is the 2012 draft pick. The Knicks retain their ’11 pick, and if the Knicks vastly improve this summer, there is a strong chance that Houston will not invoke its option to swap. And if that is how things play out, the Knicks won’t miss their 2012 pick too much either. (Here the argument devolves into Stallion and @LoveThoseKnicks saying something like, “But the Knicks lose a pick.” To which I respond, “They can just buy another one in the late round.” To which Stallion or @LoveThoseKnicks will reply, “Well then they could have had two picks because they can buy one anyway.” To which I respond, “Well then they can buy two picks.” And this continues for awhile.)
  2. Aside from everything in point 1, I still think clearing the extra cap space in the TMac deal was a worthy risk. A calculated risk. Some might say it was a gamble. Still worth it from where I’m sitting if it increases your chances of getting a better player than you otherwise might’ve if you just had room for one player.

But Stallion and @LoveThoseKnicks make a good point and I have to acknowledge it. If you think of the TMac trade as “mortgaging the Knicks’ future” or a colossal gamble then you have to wonder why Donnie did it. By all accounts Donnie is a shrewd, calculating, patient and opportunistic executive. If the TMac trade was just a roll of the dice then you have to wonder why he would do something so uncharacteristic.

I’ve often tried to think of it this way and I come to the conclusion that Donnie must know that he can do something special this off-season. At least I hope so. In a chat today, Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com expressed similar sentiments:

Rob (NY)

Any credence to the rumor that if Knick’s sign J Johnson, LBJ is more likely to come to MSG?

Chris Sheridan

(3:20 PM)

No credence that that rumor, but you get the distinct impression that word was somehow passed to the Knicks that having enough cap room for just one max player was not going to cut it for a certain free agent, which was why they were willing to throw so much into the Jeffries deal to get McGrady’s contract. I ask this: Why would anyone in their right mind trade away what amounts to three No. 1 picks just to clear cap room? It’s just plain crazy … unless there is a confidence among the Knicks their Plan A will succeed.

So I ask you, if you’re Donnie Walsh, and William Wesley approaches you and says, “Donnie, enough cap space for one max contract isn’t going to cut it. You need to have room for two.” What do you do?

Oh, and Chris, the Knicks traded one draft pick.

With Jordan Hill Emerging, Stakes On Donnie’s Gambit Increase

Jordan Hill’s last two games for the Houston Rockets have been pretty productive. Averaging 25 minutes, Hill has had 11 and 12 points, and 8 rebounds in both games.

We were never in the “Jordan Hill is a bust so Donnie Walsh is a washed up hack” boat. It’s funny to see many of the folks who pushed that line so aggressively now argue that “Jordan Hill is an all-star so Donnie Walsh is a washed up hack.”

I think Hill projects as a borderline starter or productive rotation player. But as he proves that he can be productive, the pressure increases on Walsh to justify trading him. The better Hill gets, the more crucial it will be this summer for Walsh to make sure Hill doesn’t turn into another good-asset-squandered for the Knicks. In the highly unlikely event that Hill does turn into a in-his-prime Jermaine O’Neal, or the next Amare Stoudemire, the trade will be looked at as a colossal mistake if Walsh doesn’t score big time in free agency.

There are so many possibilities this summer, and that’s the main reason Donnie was willing to add Hill and his $3 million to Jeffries $6.5 million. If Hill continues to play well, the pressure on Walsh to replace him with something better is going to intensify.

Note To Peter Vescey: Easy To Second Guess, Harder To Propose A Better Alternative

It’s easy to second guess.

I think most people are on board with the 2010 plan, recognizing that the team Isiah constructed was going nowhere fast anyway. There are differences around the fringes, such as, did the Knicks give up too much to clear Jeffries and Hill when they already had max cap room? Fine. Fair enough. The New York Post‘s Peter Vescey makes the point in his typically carmudgeony way:

Judging by their reaction, Walsh’s latest moves had gone over big with New York’s renowned “sophisticated” fans. Potentially, he had traded three pristine picks to the Rockets for a micro-surgically repaired 30-year-old (Tracy McGrady) in order to build for the future, yet they anointed him with oil.

It’s fine to disagree with the Jeffries move. There is an intelligent and rational way to do it. We have a great reader/commenter (Italian Stallion) who does it all the time. But the way Vescey did it is just wrong. The Knicks traded a single pick: the 2012 one, which is protected. They also traded Jordan Hill, who may or may not be a contributor in this league. They also gave Houston the right to swap 2011 picks. Depending on how things go, this right may or may not be exercised.

But the Post has taken its penchant for revisionist history to new levels with a decidedly faulty outlook at what-might-have-been:

Despite the reality, had Walsh selected his draft picks more prudently and chosen a path of resistance vs. concession, the Knicks’ current starters would be Randolph, David Lee, Brook Lopez, Brandon Jennings and Crawford . . . and they would own their own first-rounders in 2011 and 2012 instead of the distant hope of landing James, Wade or both.

But wait a minute Peter, surely an astute basketball mind like you would realize that a playoff caliber squad like the one D’Antoni inherited [sarcasm] wouldn’t have had a lottery pick two drafts ago, so they wouldn’t have had a chance to draft Lopez, the “dominant” center on a 6 win team.

But playing Vescey’s game, Lopez would only improve the Knicks with his dominating play and therefore they surely wouldn’t have had the opportunity to draft the amazing Brandon Jennings [sarcasm]. If you want to be completely honest rather than trying to have it both ways, I’d grant you that the Knicks could have been Ty Lawson, Crawford, Lee, ZBo, and Roy Hibbert. AWESOME!!! Move over Raptors!

Anyway, the completely mythical lineup that Vescey proposes has Lee as a small forward (surely he’s capable of containing athletic NBA wings out on the perimeter), two ball dominating guards with poor shot selection and another ball hog at power forward. Surely the recipe for success right?

I dont know as much about Lefty McCorish, Patches O’Barnaby, Solomon “One Foot” Bilzheimer, or Moishe “48-minute clock” Rothman as the venerable Vescey does, but to my novice mind, if my options were Vescey’s impossible fantasy line-up or a roll of the dice coupled with future cap flexibility that has value well beyond Plans A-C that Vescey purports to be privy to, I go with the latter.

Destroy And Rebuild

Listen up gangstas and honeys with ya hair done
Pull up a chair hon’ and put it in the air son
Dog, whatever they call you, god, just listen
I spit a story backwards, it starts at the ending

-Nas, Rewind

***

I’d rather die enormous than live dormant that’s how we on it.

– Jay Z, Can I Live?

***

No matter how convinced you are that you’re right, there are people who will disagree. And they have a right to. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Some opinions are defensible.

I got Zach Randolph for 25 and 15 tnt at MSG. If all goes right, Walsh can sign Zach and Jamal in summer, 2011 with their cap space.

-Marc Berman, via Twitter.

That isn’t one of them. Clearly Marc Berman thinks that Donnie Walsh’s plan is already a meaningless failure.

Always a good plan in designing team for 2 seasons @HowardBeckNYT fans wigging out, apparently forgetting this team wasn’t designed to win.

-Marc Berman, via Twitter, sarcastically referencing Howard Beck’s excellent article urging observers to remember the forest from the trees.

The visceral impatience is understandable because losing is painful. The outlook though is tragically flawed. It’s like criticizing a architect halfway through a project, judging him or her at the premature point when all there is to look at is a pile of materials strewn across a vacant lot. It looks ugly so far and so it was a pointless endeavor to build it. The old decrepit house was better.

Will the new house be better than the old decrepit one? Not sure, but I’ll let the architect finish before I convince myself that it wont.

Steve Adamek tried a very creative approach to getting through to those who are so shortsighted that they would criticize a plan that is in the most unseemly part of its execution phase and instead long for a plan of stasis. Adamek indulges them:

Let’s bring back Jamal Crawford for Al Harrington. And bring back Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins for Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley.

You’d undo those deals (from November 2008) right now, wouldn’t you?

Let’s even undo the cap-neutral deals of a little over a year ago. Jerome James, Anthony Roberson and Tim Thomas return for Larry Hughes. And Malik Rose makes it back for Chris Wilcox.

Bring Quentin Richardson back and undo this past summer’s deal that brought Darko Milicic to New York.

And finally, undo the ones the Knicks just made. Get back Jared Jeffries, Nate Robinson, Jordan Hill and Marcus Landry. Give back Tracy McGrady, Sergio Rodriguez and the rest.

Oh, and Mr. Vaseline Man can return from his sneaker-sales trip to China.

So basically here’s what you’ve got. Crawford, Randolph, Richardson, Rose, Collins, Jeffries, Robinson, James, Mr. Vaseline Man … In other words, pretty much the 2007-08 roster.

Which went 23-59.

Let that sink in for a minute. It’s such simple and cogent logic. If it doesn’t seep through then your judgment must be clouded. This Adamek piece was so good I’m struggling to find things to cut for the sake of blog brevity…

This is what some folks think the Knicks should’ve done, though. Held onto most, if not all of those players. That way, they figure, the Knicks might’ve put up a legitimate playoff run this season. Maybe finished seventh or eighth.

And then, because of those players’ contracts, they could’ve done the same thing next season. Seventh or eighth place. One (round) and done, most likely.

Meanwhile, they would have no chance to take a run at the best player of this generation, as well as some of his subordinate superstars.

If that’s what you would’ve preferred _ Crawford, Randolph, Vaseline Man, et al, still in Knicks’ finery this season, then you’re a fan of mediocrity.

Yes, the Knicks were 6-3 when Donnie Walsh traded Zach and Jamal. It’s foolhardy though to project results off such a small sample, as this season exhibited first when the Knicks were 1-9, then in December when they had their best month in close to a decade. As Adamek astutely notes:

Mike D’Antoni would’ve had to coax 15-20 more victories out of that group than Isiah Thomas did. Could he have done that? Could Red Holzman have?

(For that matter, how many games would Red have won this season with David Lee as his best player?)

I know that I’ll rest easy no matter what happens in July. The Knicks don’t have to get LeBron James, the possibilities are limitless. But if they do get James, I’ll look back at the haters — who criticized the architect before he got the chance to even start rebuilding the decrepit house I lived in before — and I’ll laugh at their folly.

If the Knicks compile some other group of talent and win 50 or so games, I’ll still be happy knowing that I tried to build the nicest house on the block and failed, but that I still have a better house than I had before.

If You Think The 2010 Plan Is Just About LeBron, You Don’t Know How Deep This Rabbit Hole Goes

Updated 12:04

In a little less than two years, Donnie Walsh did what everyone thought was impossible. He traded away the likes of Zach Randolph, Jamal Crawford and Jared Jeffries, all grossly overpaid. Was he able to improve the team in his tenure? Well, the record will most likely not improve from last year’s, but Donnie’s presidency has so far been about accomplishing two goals. One was cleaning away the messes of the previous regime. Another was making his own mark.

The first is a precursor for the second. Just as Isiah systematically removed every Layden player from the Knicks roster and then remade it, Donnie Walsh has wiped out all remnants of the Isiah era except Lee, Chandler and Curry, the latter not for a lack of trying. He told you all along that he would do this and that he would do it in time to sell the idea of playing at the Garden to arguably one of the best players to ever play the game. Even if that one player does not choose to suit up in the orange and blue, the Knicks will be able to make a run at other guys who would be at home amongst legendary forerunners. This is where the imagination of many Knicks fans probably ends. Anything short of nabbing one or more of the big 3 free agents would be a failure to them.

But this terminal point in the imagination of some is also probably where Donnie’s imagination starts. If Donnie doesn’t execute plan A, I have no idea what he will do. But there is one thing I doubt he will do and that I hope he does not do: overspend for lesser “stars”. Donnie Walsh should not give Joe Johnson the max. He shouldn’t give Rudy Gay $10 million. He shouldn’t give Carlos Boozer $11 or $12 million. He shouldn’t spend all his money for the sake of spending it.

I know what you’re thinking: If the Knicks don’t spend every single penny they earned through the trades (about $10 million) then they wasted Jordan Hill and a draft pick (some in the blogosphere and in the media sensationalize and assert imprecisely, that the Knicks will have wasted “three picks”). To an extent, you might have a point. Obviously the Knicks could have let Jeffries simply come off the cap in 2011 and retained Hill and the one future pick they traded. But that would have given them less of a chance at LeBron James and a max buddy. It would have diminished the chances for the plan to succeed.

There are reasons to maintain the cap space instead of spending it unwisely aside from just the welfare of plan A though: The benefits of cap space do not vanish if you don’t use it all at once. Sure, the gamble in the trade was primarily about 2010 but if 2010 doesn’t work out it doesn’t follow that Donnie should sabotage 2011 and beyond. If the alternatives are to preserve cap space or spend it all on Rudy Gay the Knicks would be better off preserving it, regardless of the heavy sacrifice they made to get that extra $10 million a year early.

Detroit lost the gamble last year. They traded Chauncey Billups for cap space. They didn’t come away with any star free agents. But instead of preserving the cap space that they freed, they felt they needed to justify the trade. They compounded their gambling loss by taking on two long term contracts for role players (Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva). It destroyed their cap flexibility and gave them little room to improve. Had they been patient they could have had max money this summer. Instead they’ll be at the cap.

So then where does that leave the Knicks?

Even without LeBron, the cap space gives Donnie infinite options. The Thunder used their cap space this year to absorb Matt Harpring’s contract and for their trouble were able to pry Eric Maynor away from the Jazz. Would the cash-strapped Hornets part with Darren Collison to lose the last year of Morris Peterson’s contract? Conceivably. How badly would the perennially in-the-red Pacers want to shed TJ Ford’s last year? Enough to part with a lottery pick? I’m sure Detroit would like to get out from under Tayshaun Prince. Would the Warriors be desperate enough to unload Vladimir Radmanovic that they would let go of…who am I kidding on that one (a man can dream, but I think they realize they have a superstar in the making at the 1).

A lot of people rag on James Dolan and deservedly so. He’s clearly been a destructive force for most of his reign. One good trait that he possesses from a fan’s standpoint though is that he has never been afraid to spend money if he’s convinced it will help the team win. In the past he’s been convinced that it was a good idea to spend it on Stephon Marbury, Eddy Curry and Steve Francis, but it wasn’t Donnie doing the convincing. And that’s why its also a blessing that Dolan swims around in cash like Scrooge McDuck. With cap flexibility the Knicks can be a predatory team like the Thunder that turns cap space into first round picks by absorbing a year of Kurt Thomas, or into Eric Maynor by absorbing a year of Matt Harpring. Donnie has been distinguished from the likes of Sam Presti but the two may have more in common that a facial glance might reveal.

There are so many other options too including Lee sign and trade scenarios, thousands of combinations of outright signings, and other possibilities that I can’t list because only a seasoned hand like Donnie Walsh can fathom them.

Don’t be short-sighted by declaring this summer the end-all-be-all of the Knicks rebuild. There’s the simple plan. But if that fails, there are other plans. When it comes to those other plans, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that Donnie is one of the few people who knows his away around the rabbit hole.

***“[W]hat I do not know I do not think that I know either.” –The Apology of Socrates***

Framework For TMac Deal In Place

The unparalleled Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has sniffed out a significant scoop. Apparently the Wizards, Rockets and Knicks have the framework of a deal in place that would land Tracy McGrady in New York:

The centerpieces of the trade would include the Washington Wizards shipping forward Caron Butler and center Brendan Haywood to the Rockets. The Knicks would send Al Harrington to the Wizards. For the Wizards’ part, they would still need another player, as well as a draft pick and cash to make this a workable scenario, sources said.

The first thing I’ll note (as did Wojnarowski) is that this trade doesn’t work. http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=yk2aly2. One variation that does: http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=yjyflq6.

The next item of note is that, assuming Jeffries is not going to be included, it seems like someone at MSG thinks the Knicks are going to make the playoffs this year. But if the Knicks have the chance to shed Jeffries in this deal, it would be the height of folly not to pull the trigger. Is it possible that TMac will return from his year off and average 27 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds, and lead the Knicks to the playoffs? Anything is possible, but don’t hold your breath.

Besides McGrady, hopefully the Knicks have something else in the work to address some of my other grievances.