(Long Island, N.Y.) For the past two years, the New York Knickerbockers have played out the string and their fans didn’t even mind. The summer of 2010 was going to make it all worthwhile when one man was going to come on board and reinvigorate a franchise that has been an afterthought around the NBA for quite some time.
The one problem? No one told LeBron James, the would-be savior, that the script had already been written. When the 25-year-old self-professed ‘King James’ became a free agent on July 1, it would have seemed that it was merely a formality to have him in blue and orange. But James spurned not only the Knicks when he decided to join his friends Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.
The entire state of Ohio was left in tears and some fans even burned James’ jersey in frustration after he announced on one of the biggest dog and pony shows in sports history (ESPN’s “The Decision,” an hour long special that was made even more torturous with Jim Gray in charge) that he was choosing the Heat.
In an ironic twist, James will actually be getting less money in Florida than he would have anywhere else, especially his former team. Perhaps joining what will be a mini ‘Dream Team’ may transcend into a championship or two, and that is what James is interested in.
The Knicks signed power forward Amar’e Stoudemire to a five-year, nearly $100 million contract a few days ago hoping that would entice James. Considering that they have done nothing but clear cap space, they certainly had the room, but was this the right move for them?
The one player on their roster that came to play every night was David Lee, a restricted free agent and also a power forward. If the Knicks were going after James as their main target, then they should have waited until that situation was settled before committing to anyone else, especially a player that they did not truly need.
Sure, Stoudemire is a talented player and at only 27, hopefully has many good years left. But he already has missed a great deal of time with knee injuries (including micro fracture surgery) and a detached retina. There were more pressing needs than to sign another talented ‘four.’
So what president Donnie Walsh turned around and did was a sign-and-trade with Lee to the Golden State Warriors for three players, none that will make anyone forget the 2005 first round draft pick. Forward Anthony Randolph, swingman Kelenna Azubuike and forward/center Ronny Turiaf (along with a 2012 second rounder) was the take from the west coast.
“This trade gives us an outstanding young frontcourt talent in Anthony, and along with Kelenna and Ronny, we feel they will all be key contributors to our team,” said Walsh. “David Lee developed into an All-Star last season in New York and we wish him contributed success in Golden State.”
Having no other choice but to make good on the Stoudemire signing, Walsh had no choice but to move Lee. But are the Knicks so much better off now than they were last season? They still have a lot of work to do and may make some more moves to improve on a weak team, but without James it will all seem like secondary changes.