Courtesy of The Bleacher Report.
Both of the Knicks targets in the free agency draft, LeBron James and David Lee are now off market. While LeBron had his one hour special on ESPN, David Lee accepted a sign and trade to the Warriors. The transaction would give the Knicks Anthony Randolph, Kelena Azbuike, and Ronny Turiaf.
The deal was dependent upon the decision of LeBron James, and the terms of Lee’s contract had already been agreed to. Had LeBron chosen New York, the Knicks would’ve renounced David Lee and Lee would’ve become an unrestricted free agents.
Knicks fans are heartbroken as they’ve been hearing for the 2010 plan for two years. The Knicks fans were led to believe two years ago when Donnie Walsh took over that after the summer of 2010, a championship roster would be in place.
Knicks front office was a bit more realistic, as head Coach Mike D’Antoni was on a flight to Las Vegas to get ready for the summer league, and Donnie Walsh stated he would not watch the decision, but would be informed by the phone.
The Knicks however netted themselves some nice pieces out of this David Lee trade.
Anthony Randolph is the center piece of the deal; the young forward was the 14th pick of the 2008 draft. Randolph possesses freakish athleticism, and has been coveted by Knicks president of basketball operations Donnie Walsh. Walsh feels Randolph and Stoudemire would provide great length in the front court.
Randolph and Stoudemire could form the most athletic front court in the league. Randolph was extremely productive in the limited minutes he got under Warriors head coach Don Nelson. Randolph averaged 11 points, 6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.
Randolph was injured last year and played only 33 games last season; however he turns 21 in about a week, and is thought to have one of the largest upsides in the league.
As for the other pieces, Turiaf is a veteran, who is big enough to play center for the Knicks. Azubuike is a young wing player who can defend, a wing defender is something the Knicks will need moving forward. Azubuike had a great year in 2008-2009 where he set career highs in most stats, as he averaged 14 points and five rebounds.
The Knicks now can move on, but they do need a point guard to run the offense. Luke Ridnour is on the market. Ridnour is a terrific ball handler who can operate the pick and roll which is essential when you acquire a player like Amar’e Stoudemire. A pricier option would be Raymond Felton, but Felton wants a team to commit long term money to him.
My guess is the Knicks will try to acquire Ridnour, as they still have hope that they can eventually trade for a star point guard like Chris Paul or Tony Parker down the road.
The Knicks have also looked at guard Mike Miller who seems like a good fit. Miller is a terrific fit in D’Antoni’s system as he is a knock down shooter, and a great passer especially for a two-guard. The knock on Miller has been his health as he’s struggled to stay healthy, plus he’s already 30-years-old.
The ultimate dream for Knicks fans now shifts from LeBron James, to another member of the 2003 draft class, Carmelo Anthony. Many people around the league believe Anthony wants to sign with New York. The feeling around the league however is that Anthony will sign the extension under this current CBA, and then force a trade to a contender as the Nuggets roster is not set up to be a contender in the western conference.
The Knicks have some young talent moving forward, Danilo Gallinari showed growth as a young player last season, he’s a lights out shooter, he’s going to get better, and his stats compare well to Dirk Nowitzki at the same stages of their careers.
Wilson Chandler played well last season, he’s a great slasher, he’s very versatile as he could play many different positions, and his stats have improved every year he’s been in the league. Chandler and Gallinari are going to be the key homegrown Knicks moving forward.
Moving forward the Knicks didn’t get the king, but they didn’t strike out in free agency. The Knicks had a fairly successful free agency period as they acquired a superstar in Amar’e Stoudemire, a potential superstar in Anthony Randolph who could be the next Chris Bosh, and two rotation players in Azubuike, and Turiaf, plus the Knicks appear to be in the market for a point guard.
Another advantage the Knicks have moving forward is some cap space. The Knicks have Eddy Curry’s contract coming off the books next season, and they’ll be in the market for another star to anchor a potential championship roster with Amar’e Stoudemire.
The bottom line is the days of the Knicks being the laughing stock of the NBA are over. The Knicks have almost fully recovered from the dreadful Isaiah Thomas era.
Donnie Walsh has done an excellent job in digging the Knicks out of deep hole, and while they are still far away from building a championship contender, the Knicks have taken steps that allow us to believe they are committed to winning and will eventually build a title team.