September 23, 2011
Of course former New York Knick GM Donnie Walsh thinks the team he just left could be a "championship-contender." Technically, he brought the players in; though there is still some sort of consternation as to whether or not he would have given up as much as James Dolan gave up in the trade for Carmelo Anthony(notes).
And, technically, he's still a Knick employee; paid as a team consultant.
And, technically? He didn't actually say "championship-contender."
"We have a core of players we can build around to build a [championship-contending] team," Walsh said. "We're not finished. There's more pieces. But I think we got some really good players that can lead a team and form a core of that team. What we have are the most important things."
What did he say within the brackets, there? The ones that hit the Post as "[championship-contending]"? I'm having a little fun here, Berman's not going to fudge a quote, but it does leave Donnie a nice out for whenever the Knicks stop paying him.
And, technically again, he's not wrong. All cores can be looked at as championship-contending if you toss in enough caveats. And Donnie tossed in quite a few. The difference is just how close to "championship-contending" your core is by itself, or if it's merely a "[championship-contender]."
The Knicks, I'm sure you'd agree, have the former in the form of Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) and Carmelo Anthony. Stoudemire is the NBA's premier scorer at the big forward position, sorry Dirk, and Carmelo is a solid second behind Kevin Durant(notes). The problem is that someone like Dirk Nowitzki(notes) does untold things that don't show up in a typical box score (like creating brilliant spacing and working from spots that leave obvious passing angles, even if he doesn't get the assist), and things that do show up in the box score (like those once-a-week turnovers).
And Durant? Like Carmelo, he'll hardly be confused with T.R. Dunn anytime soon, but unlike Carmelo he's also surrounded by a brilliant cast of lockdown defenders and role-players.
Because the Knicks are grandfathered into massive deals with Stoudemire and Anthony, they'll hit next summer's big free-agent offseason with over $44 million in salary tied up in just four players, with the [championship-contending] core combining for just over $40 million. We have no idea what the next collective bargaining agreement is going to look like, and no clue as to where the cap is going to be set. But it nearly goes without saying that the Knicks will have to be awfully creative to finagle a max-making third star into signing a deal with New York.
And doing so, at least under the old rules, would leave New York top-heavy as they struggled to fill out the rest of their roster; not unlike last year's Miami Heat. The Miami Heat contended for a championship. Could a Knick team with an approximation of Miami's trio do the same? Hard to tell. Hard to tell if they can even get a chance to, considering the next CBA.
What's worst? Even if the NBA resolves its lockout in the next few weeks, Knick fans will have to wait at least another year before finding out if they can lose the brackets surrounding "[championship-contending]."