In Walsh We Trust
A State of the Knicks Union heading into free agency.
by Christian Waterman
The past decade has been a trying period for fans of the New York Knicks, to put it calmly. Frankly, it’s been a living hell. The Knicks haven’t finished above .500 since 1999-2000, and haven’t sniffed the playoffs since 2003-04. The reign of terror finally ended when owner James Dolan hired Donnie Walsh, renowned Pacers architect, to resurrect the franchise. Our fearless leader has completely reconstructed this team, down to its bare, leaving just five players under contract heading into the most hectic summer in NBA history.
Many basketball “experts” have written the Knicks off in landing the top free agents, then again, what else is new. The hate for the Knicks is strong, and it’s something I’ll never understand. Gone are the days of our players dogging it on the court while collecting the riches Isiah had bestowed upon them. Allow me to state my case for the league’s elite to don the orange and blue:
Chicago and Miami have jumped into the ocean with no floaties, blindly creating cap space. Riley wants three maxes? What team would he put together with the $3 million he’ll have left? Why would LeBron go to Chiacgo, to play every night in Jordan’s shadow? Not happening. What about Derrick Rose, who needs the ball just as much as LeBron does to produce? It won’t work, not to mention all the nice things Joakim Noah has had to say in the past. I’ve become increasingly worried about the Nets, but LeBron can come to Manhattan and create a legacy, reinvigorate a fan base that’s been pushed to the brink, and see his #6 rise to the rafters of the World’s Most Famous Arena.
This is what LeBron lives for: the spotlight, the flash; or the NBA wouldn’t have a LeBron tracker, that sports network wouldn’t be shaping its entire coverage around his movement, and I wouldn’t be writing this article. The man has computers ‘puting, and where better to headquarter his global empire than in New York City?
Let’s talk a little basketball, shall we? For every “analyst” that’s written off the Knicks current roster as chopped livah, %@*# you! Danilo Gallinari, the 6th pick in 2008, is basically coming off his rookie year after back injuries marred his debut run and he’s already proved himself as one of the best shooters in the League. The Rooster also gets to the rim and makes posters like it’s his calling card. A little more assertion when he has the ball, and he’ll be a household name in no time. Wilson Chandler is a highly capable wing, and could be an effective trade chip. TD showed out given PT, doing what Toney Douglas do, hitting big shots and playing tough defense on a team that sorely lacked it. Bill Walker broke out following his arrival in New York, and is down almost 30 pounds since then.
Four first-round talents (Bill certainly goes top 30 without his injuries) and not to mention low-post stalwart Eddy Curry. Just kidding. In this wide open system, the same one that led the US to gold in ’08 and enamored LeBron, he’d be running the show, a new age Magic Johnson. And oh what a sight it’d be. Dishing to Gallo or Rautins for open threes, continuing his embarrassment of the NBA’s greatest on endless fast breaks, and leading the league in blocks in _’antoni’s defensive scheme that only entails getting back on offense.
I won’t speak for the years prior to Mike’s hiring, but the reason the Knicks have faltered these past two seasons is due to the lack of personnel. He went from Nash to…Duhon; Stoudemire to Harrington. Our center, 6-foot-9 David Lee made an All-Star team playing out of position nightly, hitting every mid-range jumper he took last season. We’ve sacrificed the last two years of our basketball lives for the coming weeks of free agency and all its uncertainties.
I’ve heard countless times that if the Knicks can’t get LeBron, they’ll be faced with some sort of eternal damnation. As if, after all of this planning, Walsh would panic and sign Rudy Gay and Carlos Boozer to max deals. This new regime is calm, cool, and collected, even when the fans aren’t and every roster move has been calculated. In a perfect world, the Knicks will sign LeBron, re-sign David Lee, and break up the logjam at the wings by trading Wilson Chandler for an athletic big to actually block some shots for us.
The talk has always been about getting two max free agents, but if it isn’t opportune for the team, I’m confident that Walsh will hold. This team is going places, because regardless of what the mainstream media would like you to believe, the Knicks have a bit more than “NOTHING!” After all of the “exclusive info” from “sources” that have been reported over the last few months, you should know that it’s all speculation, and that we won’t know any truths until contracts get signed.
A final prose: What does it matter if the Knicks have five players? If LeBron signs with the Knicks, who wouldn’t want to play here? The ring chasers will be flocking to MSG to fill out a roster prime to make a Finals run in the near future. And if he doesn’t, don’t fret Knicks fans. Donnie Walsh will put that cap space to great use, building around the young core that he’s shown confidence in.
The fate of the NBA lies your hands, along with the hopes of a city. Do the right thing, LeBron. The world is yours.
[Note: Number 39 pick Landry Fields has been omitted from this article, because no one, anywhere, knows anything about him. Apparently he’s intelligent, which can only mean great things for the Knicks. (SLAM actually caught up with Fields in the months leading up to the Draft.--Ed.]
Christian Waterman is a rising sophomore at UMass Amherst, where he is a double major in Sport Management and English. Christian is a lifelong resident of Brooklyn, and a die-hard Knicks fan, so life’s rough. Check out more of his work at writethefuture.tumblr.com.