It seems strange to say, but should the Knicks fail to sign LeBron James or Chris Bosh, the best thing they can do in free agency may well be... nothing.
Allow me to explain my thinking. I am a lifelong Knicks fan, for whom the past decade has been first painful, then numbing. I absolutely applaud the effort to clear this cap space in pursuit of LeBron James. Even if there were no guarantees, the opportunity to sign the best player in the sport at age 25, particularly given the wretched state of the roster, made an all-in play for James the right move.
And should they fail to get LeBron, Chris Bosh is also clearly a player worth a max contract- he's 26, averaged 24 points and 10.8 rebounds while shooting nearly 52 percent from the field, and could be the anchor of a Knicks team for years to come.
But all these other potential moves? Proceed with caution. Because the fans, absent LeBron or Bosh, don't simply want the most competitive team possible for 2010 at the expense of the future. We just had a decade like that. The roster has been cleared out specifically so the Knicks don't need to face another decade like that.
It'll be a hard sell, though: the Knicks don't have a first or second round pick in 2011, unless the Knicks have the top pick in 2011. Of course, with this roster and no changes, such a scenario is far from impossible.
But the alternatives- Amar'e Stoudemire, his reconstructed knee and lack of defense, or Dirk Nowitzki and his many miles, etc.-will mean paying too much for players who simply aren't long-term cornerstones. If the NBA has taught us anything, it has taught us what a mistake that is. And with rumors swirling about a harder cap in the next collective bargaining agreement, that is only likely to become more of a handicap to building a championship team.
So if the truly right moves aren't available, it is my hope that the Knicks don't make the wrong ones. After all, 2010-2011 will be harder to watch. But sign the wrong guys long-term, and it will be 50 years without a championship (2022-2023, for those keeping score) before you know it.