Free Agency Updates on Potential Knicks: Carmelo Anthony, Tony Parker, Mike Miller, Ray Felton, Luke Ridnour, Monta Ellis & some guy named LeBron

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Amar'e, already acting like a regular New Yawker, caught a Yankee Game on July 4th. Can he draw other stars here? Or will we end up not even giving him an offer? (Source: Yardbarker.com)

Amar’e Stoudemire, out on the town catching a musical, revealed that he’s already trying to recruit players to join him in New York:

“I’ve talked to Carmelo Anthony that he needs to come out here,” Stoudemire said. “I’ve talked to Tony Parker. Both guys are ready to join me if I decide to come here. So we will see if we can work it out.”

Discussing that possibility, ESPN’s Chris Sheridan wrongly reports:

Parker would have to get to New York via sign-and-trade and Anthony could sign as a free agent next offseason, provided he doesn’t sign an extension with the Nuggets this summer and that the Knicks clear enough salary cap room.

Parker actually also becomes a free agent next season (and Sheridan himself points this out in the previous paragraph so it’s odd he wrote that we’d have to get Parker in a sign-and-trade). Either player could come as a free agent or via sign-and-trade. However, and perhaps this was Sheridan’s point, the Knicks wouldn’t have enough cap space to sign them both outright, so at least one of ‘em would have to be a sign-and-trade.

The Knicks’ best trade asset right now is Eddy Curry’s expiring contract, but since both ‘Melo and TP’s contracts expire themselves, neither the Denver Nuggets nor the San Antonio Spurs would be interested. Which brings up an interesting thought: even if the Knicks sign Stat, should they also re-sign David Lee? Conventional wisdom was that the Knicks would go after one of the top PFs (Chris Bosh, Amar’e and Carlos Boozer) and if they couldn’t get them, they’d try to keep David Lee. Neither Lee nor Amar’e are particularly good defenders, and whoever played center would be undersized. However, if Lee can be re-signed for a fair price, isn’t he a more valuable (and productive) piece than say pursuing the second tier perimeter players of Richard Jefferson, Josh Howard and Mike Miller?

Speaking of Mike Miller, the NY Daily News reports that since Joe Johnson is no longer an option, Miller is now a top possibility:

“I think that one looks good for the Knicks,” said a person familiar with the talks. “(Miller) and Mike D’Antoni really like each other, and the sense I get is that D’Antoni feels Mike can play three positions, including point guard.”

Miller, 30, a 6-8 swingman who played for the Wizards last season, can expect an offer from the Knicks that is a little better than the five-year, $30 million one he received from the Lakers.

While Miller unquestionably was born to play for Mike D’Antoni, is he really worth that much? Particularly since most swingmen tend to decline around the age of 32 or 33. Then again, Miller’s game certainly isn’t about athleticism, so that might not be much of an issue. The question becomes more about whether we want to take ourselves out of the running for 2011′s free agency by signing mid-level talent now. Yes, if Miller’s the only other person besides Stoudemire that we sign for more than the minimum (and more than a one-year deal) then we’d still have space. But ideally we should be looking more to fill up iffy spots at the point guard and center positions. Particularly considering 3 of the only 5 players we currently have under contract play that swing position (Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Bill Walker).

Thus I find it more intriguing that the same article also says:

The Knicks are waiting to confirm a meeting with Charlotte free agent point guard Raymond Felton for later this week.

Although the New York Post states that the Knicks:

feel Raymond Felton could be too pricey and would be happy with Luke Ridnour.

That article also bring up the intriguing possibility of Monta Ellis:

There’s been rumors of a three-way trade talk between Golden State, Minnesota and the Knicks where Lee winds up with the Timberwolves, Monta Ellis comes to the Knicks and Al Jefferson goes to Golden State. Lee visited Minnesota yesterday and it has only $7 million in cap room, meaning he’d want a sign-and-trade.

That makes a bunch of sense for Golden State since they haven’t been sold on having the undersized back court of Monta and Stephen Curry (and they’ve clearly decided Curry is the one to keep). I’m not certain why Minnesota’s been so hot on David Lee. After a season where they realized they couldn’t play their two power forwards of Al Jefferson and Kevin Love together ‘cuz both were to undersized to play center and sucked at defense, they now are interested in getting Lee… who is both those things.

Another interesting tidbit in that article:

The Knicks would also hope to have enough room to add a low-priced veteran center such as Kurt Thomas or Theo Ratliff, both high on their pivot list.

I’m sure most of us would love to have our old sturdy no-nonsense pro Kurt back, although I’d also like us to try to re-sign Earl Barron if we do have some dough leftover. While Thomas would be great, Barron showed some real promise and is about 43 years younger.

Backing up, in terms of Amar’e, despite his talk, that still isn’t a done deal. Yesterday Chad Ford quoted Donnie Walsh as saying:

“We’re meeting with [Stoudemire] tomorrow. We haven’t sat down and talked contract [with] him at all.”

Plus it seems both sides want to at least check out other possibilities first. NBA FanHouse writes:

But two sources who spoke with FanHouse and have knowledge of Stoudemire’s plans, said he is scheduled to talk to more teams than the Knicks [...] with a visit to New Jersey on Tuesday to be followed by a trip to Chicago to talk with the Bulls.

Of course the plans can always be called off, so the tone and outcome of the Monday meeting will ultimately determine if his itinerary holds up.

That said, the Knicks are still holding out hope for that guy LeBron. LeBron has said he’s not going to make a decision before Thursday because he’s running a bball camp through Wednesday. Also of note is that Thursday at 12:01am is the first time free agents can actually sign a contract. For example, at this point, even though say Joe Johnson has verbally committed to Atlanta, he could still back out of it (don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen). As a matter of fact, that’s what happened last year with Hedo Turkoglu who told the Portland Trailblazers he was coming, only to then change his mind and go to Toronto since he hadn’t signed anything binding.

But back to LeBron, in the Sheridan article referenced up top, he reports:

The New York Knicks held a second meeting with LeBron James’ representatives to clarify exactly where they stood in regards to signing Amare Stoudemire.

The second meeting was attended by James’ agent, Leon Rose, Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald and others, on Saturday morning in Cleveland before James himself met with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls.

It lasted about an hour, with James’ representatives wanting to know whether it was true (it wasn’t) that New York had already formally offered Stoudemire a five-year, $100 million contract.

James did not attend, nor did Knicks president Donnie Walsh or coach Mike D’Antoni.

A second meeting sounds promising, no? No. The article continues:

A second source said it was the Knicks, not James, that requested the second meeting.

If LBJ does miraculously decide to come to NY, it could mean Stat’s out of luck ‘cuz Sheridan says:

The Knicks told James in their initial meeting with him Thursday that if he signs with New York, he can choose which free agent big man he would like to play alongside.

[Thus] Stoudemire will be seeking employment elsewhere if James tells the Knicks he wants to play in New York alongside a different big man.

The concern becomes what if Amar’e demands a concrete offer today? Or what if we wait for LeBron to decide and in the meantime Amar’e gets another offer which he takes? In the above Chad Ford article, Walsh was asked if NY strikes out in free agency, would they consider just saving that cap space until 2011′s free agency? Walsh responded:

“You could put it off until next year, but it’s tough to do, especially with the direction we’ve been going,” Walsh said. “But you can do it. At the very least, you have to start building into place some of the supporting cast now. If we can’t get the stars this summer, we’re at least going to put some players into place that will complement.”

Sounds like a good plan to me.

One last free agency thought I had about LeBron, Dwayne Wade & Bosh. With Wade strongly considering going to Chicago, and Bosh thus likely to follow, could it be LeBron who gets shut out and ends up regretting his decision? A Chicago team of Derrick Rose, Dwayne Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Joakim Noah (with at least solid players Taj Gibson and James Johnson on the bench) seems like championship material to me. If LeBron stays in Cleveland while Chicago turns into perennial contenders or a mini-dynasty, that would have to sting. If I’m him, I don’t wait for Wade to make his decision first, or he, much like New York, could be left out in the cold.

Tags: Amare Stoudemire Carmelo Anthony Chris Bosh David Lee Donnie Walsh Dwayne Wade Kurt Thomas LeBron James Luke Ridnour Mike Miller Monta Ellis Ray Felton Tony Parker

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