Amar’e Stoudemire is a Knick and Tommy Dee of The Knicks Blog and the SNY Network knew it before anyone else.
With Stoudemire making his new home in New York City, and LeBron James and Dwyane Wade still up grabs on the free-agent market, the man who broke the Amar’e Stoudemire signing, Tommy Dee, joined me to talk about what the next few days hold for the Knicks, and what we can expect the roster to look like for 2010-11 and beyond.
If you’re a Knicks fan, you will like what was said.
Keefe: For the first time in a long time, the Knicks are the main story in the NBA, and it’s for a good season. A week ago, no one was giving the Knicks a chance in this free-agent frenzy at coming away with any of the big players, but now they are the first team to make a splash. You are credited with having the news about Amar’e Stoudemire joining the Knicks before everyone else, so it only makes sense to ask you what’s next for the Knicks and their aggressive plan?
Dee: Well, we reported last week that the Knicks were confident that they had a real shot at Amar’e, which is why they didn’t rush to meet with him first on July 1. Logically, from a basketball standpoint, many people felt like the Knicks roster wasn’t comparable to other suitors. I debated that at the time. I think Danilo Gallinari is a piece for any star. He’s 6′ 10,” has guts, can make big shots and he’s a team guy who has a really strong skill set. Toney Douglas is a player who will be a really good rotation guard, if not more, on a championship level team. People forget his resume because last year’s draft was so guard heavy. If he were eligible this year he would have easily been a top-20 pick. Wilson Chandler also has great qualities in terms of defense and scoring ability to go along with great athleticism.
The idea is to strengthen their case, roster-wise, as much as possible and set up LeBron or Dwyane Wade to be paired with the best pick-and-roll big man in the NBA. Can you imagine Amar’e and LeBron in the pick-and-roll for 82-plus games? That, along with the amenities in New York, has to be on LeBron’s mind. If he passes, what does Wade do? What does he do without a big like Amar’e or Chris Bosh?
Keefe: The whole free agent period has been about LeBron and his need to team up with one of the best big men. Now that the Knicks are guaranteed to have that, I don’t know how he can risk going somewhere that might not end up getting that complimentary piece for him.
At this point, I just can’t see LeBron going back to Cleveland, even though that might be the easy decision and logical choice for him. But say Wade chooses Chicago before LeBron makes a move (even though it appears as though he is headed back to Miami) … then you have Kobe in L.A. going for a 3-peat, and Wade (arguably the third best player in the league) with a new team in his hometown, making the Bulls a true contender once again. If those scenarios happen, how could LeBron possibly go back to Cleveland and become the third most intriguing story in the league and possibly the third most significant player?
I think LeBron needs New York as much as New York needs LeBron. Not only would he be passing up the opportunity to become the biggest athlete on the biggest stage, but he would also be risking the opportunity to continue being the face of the league. Call it being biased or wanting basketball to be relevant in New York again, but I don’t see how LeBron can stay in Cleveland with the chance to be the most captivating storyline heading into the 2010-11 season.
Dee: Very astute and let’s not forget that Cleveland has had many years to pair LeBron with a complimentary piece. Bosh is the key now that Amar’e is in New York.
I can’t believe that Bryan Colangelo has any interest in what Cleveland is offering. They don’t have to sign and trade him. They can just let him go, but the best sign and trade for the Raptors is with the Rockets it appears.
Keefe: Do you believe that LeBron, or Wade for that matter, have actually needed the last week to make up their minds about where they are going? The two of them have known they were going to be free agents for a long, long time. They have to know where they want to play and where they are going to play.
The whole process over the past week seems a bit ridiculous, unnecessary and even immature. Like the Entourage episode where all the different agencies are trying to court Vincent Chase by comparing him to global icons like Microsoft and McDonald’s, it’s unnecessary that the Knicks need to put together a film with appearances from James Gandolfini and Edie Falco and Chris Rock and other superstar athletes from the city to show LeBron what New York has to offer. It seems even more unnecessary that the Cavaliers would need to put together a similar presentation for LeBron to know what he would be giving up and missing if he leaves Cleveland.
Can you honestly say that July 1 came and LeBron and/or D-Wade didn’t actually know where they would be playing basketball in 2010-11?
Dee: I agree, at least from the media standpoint, that this thing feels very scripted. I mean how can a reporter from ESPN claim that the Raptors are now discussing Bosh to Cleveland. That’s ridiculous. But it’s added drama.
I think LeBron made up his mind a long time ago. Just my personal feeling based on basketball IQ and the like. They have no roster flexibility and a team that he can’t win a championship with. I hear all the time that they have these pieces and 60 wins, but I guess experts only knock things in the “regular season” when business isn’t attached.
Logically, I just don’t believe that a decision still needs to be made.
Keefe: When LeBron makes his announcement on Thursday, won’t any answer that isn’t the Knicks be a disappointment? Knicks management has led the fan base down the LeBron Path since Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni came on board, and July 2010 has been the date that has helped keep Knicks fans from completing jumping ship on the team?
There are obviously solid alternative plans for the Knicks if LeBron chooses somewhere other than Madison Square Garden to call home, but after hearing the front office preach about the 2010 free-agent class and having to watch two more terrible seasons from this team, I just think anything other than LeBron James as a Knick at the end of this week will be huge disappointment, a massive letdown and somewhat of false advertising and a lie from the front office.
Dee: I completely disagree in this regard. The Knicks, particularly Walsh, have made it a point to stress “flexibility.” Look, the reality of the situation for those of us who have been paying attention for a long time and still suffering through every game was that this thing needed to be fixed. And when you consider that all of Isiah Thomas’ mistakes would have been wiped clean in 2011 is fair, but how do you sell your fan base on players and management that stained things in a way that had rarely been seen in sports history. They were a mess that needed cleaning.
Yes, this is about a game-changing superstar, because ultimately it’s about winning a championship. Trust me when I tell you that Walsh and D’Antoni want that more than anything.
They’ve both positioned New York in the most attractive light they could. And when you consider all the amenities, the financials, and now a huge piece of the pick and roll puzzle, it’s nearly impossible for LeBron to pass. Will Wade? Will Carmelo Anthony? There is an opportunity to own this town and anyone who’s ever played sports knows there’s nothing like winning here … cliché or not.
If the big names pass, the game goes on and yes it’s a disappointment. This is a gamble, but it’s easy to think that it will be a ton better than it was, either way.
This is about a superstar and championships. Make no mistake. I have to believe that someone will come and take on the challenge.
Keefe: I agree it’s nearly impossible for LeBron to pass up on the Knicks, and that is why I am puzzled to hear “experts” say that he isn’t going to go to New York.
Maybe Chicago is better built and has better pieces in place right now, but there is nothing LeBron James could ever do that will make him a bigger start than Michael Jordan ever was there. With several big city possibilities, why pick the one where he would always be the No. 2 legend no matter what he achieves?
New York presents the unique chance for LeBron to bring New York basketball back to the forefront of the sport and serve as the face of the league for as long as he desires. In Cleveland, his story gets old and with the free agency of 2010 passed, his attraction and what he represents won’t be as polarizing as it was entering this summer.
New York makes the most sense, and to me the only sense for a player who wants to be the most recognized in the world and for a businessman who wants to potentially become a billionaire.
On Thursday, I expect LeBron James to be a Knick.
Dee: Bosh is the wildcard. If Bosh takes less money to play in New Jersey, maybe the Nets win this thing and I’m forced to do vodka shots with Evan Roberts.
I think he leaves Cleveland. That said, logic and reporting has brought me this far.
I’m sticking with the Knicks.