If Knicks lose out on LeBron James and only land Amar'e Stoudemire, Donnie
Walsh's plan was worth it
Monday, July 5th 2010, 4:00 AM
Judging from his first comments in New York, Amar'e Stoudemire thinks along the same lines as Knick fans who are busy wondering why the team isn't making progress on a sign-and-trade for LeBron James.
Or why Donnie Walsh isn't calling the Thunder to ask about Kevin Durant's availability.
Or why Walsh hasn't made a move in the last two years for Dwight Howard.
Around here, everybody dreams big.
With the emphasis on "dream."
So when Stoudemire talked about playing at the Garden alongside Tony Parker and Carmelo Anthony, you knew he'd fit right in with all the other dreamers.
Dreamers don't worry about such small details as the salary cap or what teams are looking to get back for All-NBA performers such as Parker and Anthony. They live in a fantasy world and for them, the Knicks compete in a fantasy league.
So may we be the first to give Stoudemire a real-world take on the Knicks, who know they need to find a top-notch playmaker to get the most out of one of the best finishers in the game: If you bring up Parker Monday when you meet with Knicks brass, don't expect to hear that he's flying in from San Antonio.
The player the Knicks are more likely to tell Stoudemire about is Raymond Felton, the Charlotte playmaker who is free. Michael Jordan's Bobcats have moved on from Felton, who can play at Mike D'Antoni's preferred helter-skelter pace and would undoubtedly welcome the change from Larry Brown's highly structured halfcourt offense to a faster, looser style.
"He's on the Knicks' short list," one NBA executive said Sunday.
You know what list Parker is currently on? The wish-upon-a-star list.
Maybe Eva Longoria's better half will come to New York next summer, after his contract runs out.
But as for Parker being in the Knicks' starting lineup this coming season, Stoudemire might be disappointed to learn that it's quite unlikely. If he's surprised by that, well, he needs to take a look at the bare cupboard he's going to agree to join for around $96 million.
"The Spurs are going to want a ton," said the executive. "For one thing, they'll want a young franchise-type of player in return."
If the Nets, say, were to offer a package that included Derrick Favors, the third pick in the draft who is seen as a young Stoudemire, then the Spurs would strongly consider it. Favors and Tim Duncan would make a nice pairing, right?
As for the Knicks, Stoudemire is about to learn his first hard lesson in the big city.
The roster isn't exactly bursting with marketable assets.
He's not in Phoenix, anymore, in a lot of respects. When he was a Sun, the team's general managers, Bryan Colangelo and later Steve Kerr, always managed to have players who other teams wanted. So they were constantly able to tweak the roster and remake a playoff team that went to the Western Conference finals three times in a six-year span. Among the bigger moves:
Before the 2005-06 season, the Suns shipped out Joe Johnson for Boris Diaw, who had his best days playing under D'Antoni.
In 2007-08, the Suns sent Shawn Marion, a key member of the D'Antoni teams that went to two conference Finals, to Miami for Shaquille O'Neal.
In 2008-09, with D'Antoni coaching the Knicks and Diaw's play suffering, the Suns still converted him into a starting-quality player, Jason Richardson.
As the Suns were reloading and had Steve Nash to get the ball to Stoudemire, who has made an All-NBA team four of the last six seasons, the Knicks were busy unloading salaries. They could have kept their best pieces - Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph - and had a nice, 38-win team that could have pushed for eighth place in the East.
But Donnie Walsh didn't come here to preside over a team destined for the treadmill of mediocrity. Anyone can do that.
Walsh had bigger plans, namely getting in position to make a run at a franchise player, the kind of talent that hardly ever goes on the open market. So he spent the last two seasons preparing for the great free-agent gold rush of 2010. The emphasis was on shipping out players and taking nothing of consequence in return, especially where the salary cap was concerned.
Even if LeBron James tells the Knicks no thanks, the game plan was definitely worth the try. Unless you know a better way to acquire the kind of player who can finally replace Patrick Ewing.
If you think you know, you probably also believe that the Knicks were stupid not to trade for Kobe Bryant a long time ago.
And other such fantasies.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/ba...#ixzz0sno1BrOH